In a city of anarchy symbols tagged along cobble stoned streets, youth taking over abandoned banks and schools, and a recent memory of dictatorship, it should be no surprise that Drum N’ Bass is the face of electronic music.
When I moved to Spain and searched for an electro haven to let off steam and shuffle with like minded Madrileños, I discovered the biggest electronic club event: Twist. With a roster of Noisia, Pendulum, The Upbeats, and more international D&B legends, this is no fringe culture but the most lit club night I’ve had here in Spain, including my visit to Ibiza.
That night, Dirty Phonics took the stage and rocked us with trippy visuals, thundering bassline, and crazy catchy vocals. Everyone went mental, moshing and head banging and blazing up.
A week later, I visited Madrid’s own FewButCrazy in their warehouse studio to get the inside scoop on D&B’s rocket to the top in Spain.
Can you describe the culture of electronic music in Spain today?
Few but Crazy: Globalized capitalism is sweeping Europe, causing a huge shift in the last two years. The economic crisis favors the capitalism system over culture. In place of underground events, we see more and more bottle service clubs playing EDM and pop music. People in Spain are starting to realize they are being spoonfed and are rebelling against that. There is a shift away from mindless consumption toward consciousness.
And how does bass music fit into this cultural landscape?
FbC: Bass has frequencies that stir your soul and affect your state of being. Here in Madrid the hippies and the punks have come together under the sound of DnB, because it has both hardcore and spiritual elements. Bass is spiritual music and with this push for freedom of speech and expression in Spain, it makes sense that bass music is growing.
So do you play mostly clubs or underground events?
FbC: Well, in 2006 the Spanish government outlawed raves or “free parties”. You could be fined 2,000 to 6,000 Euros, which is big money for a party without profit.This was a big blow to our community.
But surely there are still some underground parties…
FbC: There are some parties inside of okupas (vacant buildings that have been taken over for housing). Sometimes I spin at El Johnny (a occupied school building) inside the old auditorium. We have lasers and great sound and the party lasts all night. Those free parties have the spirit of D&B for sure.
So does that mean the music should be shared for free as well?
FbC: Well, that depends. One day this guy in Honduras wrote to me and said “I love your music, but 5 Euros on iTunes is like 50 Euros for me”. So I sent him a free disc. Most people who listen to electronic, just stream it online. The folks who really want to download it are DJs, to mix it. And if they are being paid to mix tracks other people produced, they should support the producer, not pirate their work.
Makes sense! So where is D&B headed in Spain?
I believe that D&B will be the stepping stone to an even more futuristic sound. Producers are always looking for something new and as technology progresses, they will create an evolved style of D&B, like neurofunk is today compared to oldschool D&B. But the classic elements that make D&B rattle your soul will still remain: the deep dub bassline and the broken drum solo that originated in funk.