How do I make Dubstep?

Latest posts by Liya Swift (see all)

Like many other forms of electronic dance music (EDM), dubstep originated in London in the late ‘90s as an evolution of UK garage, two-step, dub reggae, and a host of other styles. Because of the amount of freedom it allows, subgenres of electronic music production take from one style, leave behind aspects of another, and come up with something new altogether.

Heavily influenced by the Jamaican sound system party scene of the ‘80s, dubstep songs were usually b-side material, experimental remixes of other songs or increased use of drum samples, bass sounds, and basslines. As artists began to incorporate these sounds, they gave birth to something new: the wobble.

Instead of using a series of bass notes, different strains of dubstep would manipulate a single bass note. At lower, slower rates, the dubstep bass almost sounds like “wob,” hence wobbly bass. But when that wobble is sped up or used at higher frequencies, producing dubstep music can be an exercise in just how different you can make a single kick drum beat sound.

Growth and the Dubstep Invasion

Dubstep artist Skrillex in all black and glasses.In 2003, events showcasing the dubstep sound began to outgrow their venues as international fans began flocking to South London to hear this new form of EDM. By 2005, dubstep nights began appearing at nightclubs in San Francisco, Seattle, Houston, and Denver, although the first dubstep tracks played on North American soil came from a Baltimore radio station.

By 2008, the sound with deep UK roots now belonged to the world. Rhianna, Snoop Dogg, and even Britney Spears began incorporating dubstep into their albums. However, dubstep hit its commercial U.S. peak in 2011 with the arrival of Skrillex and his “brostep,” a more aggressive style of dubstep that attracted the attention of heavy metal enthusiasts.

From its minimalistic beginnings in South London to being featured at international festivals to providing mosh pit aggression, dubstep has become a great many things to a great many people. How does that happen? Because of its accessibility. That means anyone – including you – can learn how to create bass drops, loops, and wobbles of your very own.

How do I get started in dubstep?

The fact that you’re researching how to make dubstep is a great first step. Before starting any endeavor, it’s a good idea to find out exactly what you’re getting into. Also, ask yourself why you want to start making dubstep. Is it because of the way it makes you feel? Do you need a hobby? Or do you want to try to make a career in the industry?

All three reasons are fine, actually, because you’ll start the same way: figuring out what you need and when you need it. Although it may be tempting to load up on gear from the start, you don’t need to drain your bank account to get a solid understanding of how to make dubstep. All it takes is a computer with the right processor, RAM, a good amount of memory, a soundcard, and access to the internet.

When it comes to creating EDM, not just dubstep, a digital audio workstation (DAW) is your best friend. Your only friend. You need to become proficient with how to use one, feature by feature, and that can cost you a lot of weekends. On the plus side, there are a lot of options that won’t cost a thing.

FL Studio (FruityLoops), GarageBand, and almost every DAW operate the same way: a list of prepackaged instruments, a stage to set up your tracks, faders, and the like. Don’t worry about mixing, parallel processing, and mastering just yet. This is dubstep – you’ll need to learn to wobble before you can run.

Once you’ve mastered the basics, how are you feeling? Are you thirsty for more, or is your interest waning? If you’re ready to forge ahead, get ready. You’ll have to throw yourself in with both feet. This doesn’t mean quitting your job of course, but it could mean posting up in your room, basement, or even a studio during your free time.

Learn It, Then Make It

Although not as prevalent as it once was, plenty of dubstep tutorials can still be found online, along with YouTube playlists and message boards full of quality information. Listen to the artists you enjoy and try to replicate their sound. Then make changes to something that’s a little more you.

Attend local shows featuring the music too. Part of learning dubstep for public consumption is developing a stage presence. Find a DJ or MC that you really enjoy and ask if they have a few minutes to spare. And be prepared to have questions if they say yes!

We’re not saying present a list of 10 problems you need solutions for – keep it casual. If you develop a relationship, then you can get more in-depth. But for now, just be chill. By doing this, you’re learning a very important aspect of the music business: how to network and make connections.

Now is the time to upgrade your studio. You’ve maxed out what you can learn on those free Daws, so it’s time to shell out for something more robust for sound design. Ableton Live 10 and Logic Pro X are industry standards used by artists worldwide. Consider adding monitors, midi, and so on to fill out your studio.

You may find it necessary to acquire sample packs, bass patches, and more to really have the opportunity to get the most out of yourself. Yes, it’ll cost some money, but if this is what you want to do with your life, you don’t want to cut corners.

While there is no timeline to feeling comfortable with your ability, once you’re there, you should give yourself a deadline to finish a song. On that day, stop what you’re doing and release it to the masses. Or at least a few friends on social media. Maybe fire it off to the DJ you met with earlier. Feedback is important, good and bad.

Set another date, release it again, use the feedback you get. Rinse and repeat. Then move on to the next song, and then another, and another. Have enough for a full set? Then find somewhere to play, show up on time, and do what you say you’re going to do. Bookers don’t like flakes and if you show yourself to be responsible, you’re on the way to becoming a fixture.

Speed up the Process

It takes time to get to that point. In between learning on your own, slowly acquiring gear, and chasing down feedback, it could be a year or more before you find yourself in a good place. With Recording Connection, we can cut that time in half and work within your schedule.

Through our Ableton Electronic Music Production and Logic Pro Electronic Music Production programs, we will place you with a mentor to provide a one-on-one learning experience. Working side by side with an industry professional, you’ll get the feedback you need almost immediately and get a jump start on making the connections that will help you in the future.

But actually making a career out of dubstep? Well, that’s up to you. If you work hard with your mentor, show up when you’re supposed to, and be responsible with your time, you’ll already have better credentials than 80 percent of the musicians out there. It’s up to you to make the music that covers the final 20 percent.

If you have what it takes, apply today.

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