It's hard to keep track of UK 2-step garage and its countless permutations. New terms seem to crop up every few months—future garage, nu-garage, post-garage, post-dubstep—and all this change is making us want to re-rewind back to the good old days of classic 2-step. Of course, there's no turning back the clock, so we've satisfied our craving for throwback beats by looking to the handful of new school producers who have drawn inspiration from the genre's origins. These guys conjure the same feeling of joy we used to get from DJ EZ's Pure Garage compilations, but they also incorporate fresh elements into their productions, like deeper basslines and new-school vocal chirps. We caught up with some of the artists who champion the 2-step sound of the late 90s and early 2000s in their contemporary productions, and are blazing a trail for UK garage 2.0.
: Huddersfield, England
"I first came across garage music way back when speed garage was kicking around, stuff like Armand van Helden's remixes—that was around '96 or '97. I was hooked instantly; it was slightly different from the stuff I had previously heard. I was young, so my exposure to garage was through CDs, vinyl, and tape packs."
"My style of garage is a blend of everything that has influenced me during the many years I've appreciated the genre. I like to think my garage tracks have the full package: heavy basslines, swinging beats, melodies, and sick vocal chops—something you can't help but bop your head to. If I'm making a track and I'm not bopping my head while making it, then I know it's no good. The bass influences come from Wookie, and my beats are influenced by Steve Gurley. The way I chop vocals, I'd say that's heavily influenced by people like Todd Edwards and Dem 2."
"To be honest, I'm not sure about the future of garage music—it all depends on how the music gets labeled in the media. Quite a lot of garage tracks have broken into the mainstream over the last 18 months, but it never gets labeled as garage, for some reason. For me, garage is still as strong as ever. There's a few exciting producers who all bring their unique twist to the sound, so it'll be interesting."
: London, England
"When I was little, a friend's brother had a tape pack that my friends and I got ahold of and used to listen to." -Joe
"I used to steal Joe's
tape packs when I was about 12." -Adam
"We've had some quite melodic tracks, like our our first track, 'Respect.' If we're doing remixes, sometimes the original track leads us—our recent remix of the Cuban Brothers carries on the original's feel-good melody. But there are also some more bass-y, hard-hitting tracks that lean more toward grime, like 'Wanted Man.'" -Adam
"I think garage will continue to inspire other productions and be morphed and molded into new genres. There are people like DJ Q and Conducta who are making almost throwback '90s garage, with a little twist. Then there's also the growing movement of Jersey Club; I see a bit of garage influence in that as well. Producers nowadays are always merging old influences into new stuff—people like Falcons from the USA and the Soulection movement definitely excite me." -Adam
Flava D is on that "I don't do interviews" grind, but we ain't mad. The first lady of the British underground label Butterz has built a reputation on the strength of her thumping, bass-heavy garage productions, which are laced with '90s R&B samples. Later this month, she's set to turn in On My Mind, a collaborative EP she made with label mate Royal-T. All hail.
Joseph 'JP' Patterson is a UK-based music writer and radio host. He's on Twitter: @Jpizzledizzle