What the Hell Is Global Bass?

Even if you can’t answer this question, you’d have to have been living under a rock not to have come into contact with some aspect of the Global Bass scene. You’ve probably heard of Diplo who runs Mad Decent, is one part of Major Lazer, and has his fingers in a truckload of mainstream and underground pies all over the world. But these sounds have been evolving long before Diplo threw a spotlight on them.

So back to the question: What is Global Bass? Think heavy electronic bass mixed with traditional musical elements from regions around the world – from the Balkans to Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. Global Bass stretches from UK Grime to Cumbia, Moombahton, Juke, Trap and many other different roots and beat incarnations. Look out for Dengue Dengue Dengue, Buraka Som Sistema, Uproot Andy, Tropkillaz and Copia Doble Sistema, Munchi, Otto von Schirach and Caballo (for more Global Bass tips).

In Germany, Oliver Lüddecke (his mates call him Lyde – pronounced luddah) is a man of many projects. He first fell in love with Drum & Bass over 20 years ago and jumped on the decks as Ly.da´Buddah. He also produces and DJs under the name Dazed Dog, where he combines Juke, Reggae, Trap, Tropical Bass and whatever tickles his fancy. And if that’s not enough, Lyde also runs Headliner Magazin, where he explores his love of global bass and street art. To clear up some of the confusion and to spread the Global Bass word, Lyde is putting on a party this Friday night, May 9th, in Berlin called “What the Hell is Global Bass?” There you can catch some of the biggest names in the German scene including Daniel Haaksman, who is credited with bringing Baile Funk to Europe back in 2004, as well as Dutch Trap duo, The Mine, Liedersofthenewschool from Cologne and Tonga, and Eli Pavel (Oye Records). Lyde also invited the Berlin-based crew, Eck Echo, to put together a line up for the Cumbia stage.

The Eck Echo crew formed last year with members from different Latin American countries. Julio Lugon AKA Toasting Dubz and Diego Hernandez AKA Q Richi, from Eck Echo come from Peru. “In Andean tradition, Ekeko, is the god of abundance, who brings luck to the person who venerates him and it was one of the traditions that entered the modern age. This is a little guy dressed in typical Andean costume, carrying symbols like cars or dollar bills, or bottles of shampoo and traditionally you put a cigarette in the mouth of this creature and then he brings you luck.”

Roll over Zeus, this is one of the coolest deities you’re likely to meet.

The Eck Echo guys switched up the spelling to incorporate a little bit of wordplay. Eck means corner in German, and echo is echo (obviously), Diego says the name represents their idea of a distant sound from a corner, reverberating out. Initially Eck Echo just began as a group sharing music tips, and then they started doing parties.

“Berlin is a very exhilarating city. I love it with all my heart,” says Diego. He also enjoys techno and tech-house, but right now his passion lies with global bass and his mission is to spread the bass word. For Diego one of the fascinating observations about this new wave of music is that it’s roots are black, the same as rock and roll.

Eck Echo Berlin.Global bass for the Kiez
Originally from Lima Peru, Petardo is now based in Tubingen, Germany. He was just in Berlin to play at the latest Eck Echo party and describes his sets as a cocktail of beats, where you’ll find Reggae, Dub, Reggaeton, Dancehall and of course Cumbia. Every Saturday he does a two-hour radio show called Cumbia Dub Club where he showcases artists like Chancha Via Circuito from Argentina, artists on the ZZK label, Dengue Dengue Dengue from Lima, Peru, Terror Negro, Deltatron, Chakruna, Sonidos Profundos, Elegante and La Imperial.

Petardo says that Global Bass is gaining momentum in Europe. “Many people don’t have any idea what Cumbia is, but they just let themselves be pulled by the bassline and they feel it and they like it,” says Petardo. “It’s about 80 or 100 bpm, so they can dance it like Dancehall, Reggae, Hip Hop or Drum & Bass or Dubstep when its slower.”

Each country has its own sound
Julio Lugon AKA Toasting Dubz AKA Pira Lemu from the Eck Echo crew, says that the Global Bass scene is a fascinating phenomenon because each country has its own unique sound. Bass artists from the Caribbean and Latin America fall under Tropical Bass, which is largely influenced by Cumbia, Reggae and Reggaeton. “Each country across Latin America, from Columbia, Mexico, Peru, Argentina – has its own sound in Cumbia,” explains Julio, “Cumbia Villera in Argentina, Chicha in Peru, Cumbia Rebajada from Mexico, which is kind of like Cumbia from Colombia, but pitched down, so it’s really slow. All of these producers are taking the roots from their own country and blending it with global bass sounds. So in a set you can have like all these different blends and at the end maybe the bassline is the thread.”

"...The concept of the parties is to
go from the past to the future....”
So if you’re new to Global Bass, expect eclectic sets packed with different rhythms and styles that will keep you on your toes. Toasting Dubz admits that he’s “never played a set with just one BPM – that’s kind of boring for me. I go from slow music to really fast music in the set, so I have to solve this with different effects and genres like slowed down sub-bass and at the end it’s like Footwork at 160 BPM.”

This kind of philosophy infiltrates the Eck Echo parties. “We often start with classic Cumbia - straight records,” explains Julio, “over the course of the night we mix it with electronics, and then at the end it’s often straight electronic with tropical flavours. The concept of the parties is to go from the past to the future.”

From the past to the future
20 year-old Marco Polo Gutierrez AKA Siete Catorce (seven fourteen) is the future of Mexican music . He just performed for the first time in Germany at the last Eck Echo party, after playing in Stockholm the night before. Siete Catorce was born in Mexicali, but raised mostly in Oakland, CA. until his Mum was deported in 2007 and he and his family followed her to Mexicali. Siete Catorce started out making drone, noise and glitch-hop tracks that weren’t really danceable, but this all changed in Tijuana when he met some friends making ruidosón - electronic music combined with Latin sounds, that is politically and socially driven.

“I really liked how they made very danceable music with profound sounds,” remembers Marco and decided to try to do that too. He began with Tribal music from Monterrey – really pre-Hispanic sounds that’s also really danceable and started like combining that with other types of electronic music like Glitch, Techno, and Dubstep. “Right now I’m doing more Juke stuff, Footwork, stuff like that and I’m trying to combine it. I guess I’m always changing. I don’t always have the same sound, but it always has the same dark feeling to it.”

"...Mexican soap operas are really
dramatic and really stupid..."
Siete Catorce’s music has been described as braindance. Heavy on the atmospheric side, he draws inspiration from his experiences, and incorporates field recordings and samples from his daily life into the mix of stripped back Latin elements. 

Siete Catorce explains that his track, Verdad, has the same melody from a track on a previous EP he did that was inspired by a really bad experience he had with an ex-girlfriend. On Verdad he took that really sad song and made it more aggressive and it’s about overcoming that bad experience. “I used samples from Mexican television, Televisa – it’s like the monopoly of Mexican television. In-between programs it says “Televisa presenta”, like a little jingle with some bells and I noticed it had the same exact melody, so I tried to melt it together,” says Siete Catorce, “You know Mexican soap operas are really dramatic and really stupid. So I used that sample to talk about how I was looking at my life, that I was really just overthinking things and being really dramatic and it really didn’t matter, so that’s why it’s called Verdad which means truth. So that’s where the inspiration for that song came from.”

"...The deeper you dig,
the more you will find.
Just follow the smoke...”
But sometimes people read different things into a track. Siete Catorce says that “A lot of people thought it was political because Televisa just gives really bad news reporting. It makes Mexican people stupid. All television makes people stupid, but Televisa really dumbs down the whole culture in Mexico. Everybody thought it was political, but I had another reason for it.” Many people think his music is political because he's associated with Los Macuanos from the ruidosón movement, but that’s not the case.

Does Siete Catorce’s music come across differently in Mexico compared to Europe? “I noticed that people in Mexico get really weirded-out in some parts of my set that are really experimental,” says Siete Catorce, “I feel like Mexican people accept it and they understand it, but they don’t really enjoy it as much as the Cumbia and Tribal parts of my set. But in Stockholm they liked it all, even like the weird drone parts that were really glitchy. I feel they responded equally to that and the other parts. It was a different vibe. They danced the whole set. In Mexico it’s really ups and downs.”

Having said that, Siete Catorce points out that there are more experimental scenes and parties in Mexico, but the guys he usually performs with aren’t as experimental as he is, so sometimes it’s a little more challenging for the punters.

If you like your music challenging, Global Bass is the way to go. Oliver Lüddecke AKA Dazed Dog loves the fact that the Global Bass scene is so fresh. He says it’s about smashing borders and listening to other people with respect. “I love to travel and see other cultures. I enjoy different arrangements of colours and fragrance. It is the same with music. I love to mix special grooves and rearrange them in my way. The deeper you dig, the more you will find. Just follow the smoke.”