Vancouver’s local Dubstep community represents at New Forms Festival

The New Forms Festival will also promote Vancouver’s independent and grassroots Dubstep community.

Credit: Emily Gera

Vancouver Dubstep artist Calamalka, plus live PA artists Shamik and 8 CHANNELS, perform at New Forms Festival

It’s a subculture that grew around the outskirts of clubs in South London, with influences that stretch from UK Grime and Drum&Bass to the Jamaican Sound System culture of the late ’60s. Heavy with deep bass-beats, electronic instrumentation and a stomach for technological experimentation, Dubstep has become part of an ongoing movement that has helped to raise the role of the sound-mixing engineer to a rank of creativity typically only reserved for musicians.


“Dub is the original original music technology!” says Vancouver-based artist Calamalka.


The genre’s roots in Jamaican Dub put it in a historical context where music is equal to its mode of production. Whether using tape machines or professional editing programs, the process of creating the music is as much a part of the art as the end product.

Dubstep at New Forms Festival

Sept 18–19, 2009

Advanced tickets available at Zulu Records, Highlife, Scratch and Beatstreet or online.


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“I think technology is changing the way all musicians are performing or having their sound represented,” suggests local artist Shamik. “DJs are using Ableton Live, Serato, loopers, samplers and MIDI controllers, and band members don’t even record at the same time when making records.”


In fact the proliferation of basic recording technology, both online and even around the house, has made the process of creating Dubstep that much more accessible.


“When I was a kid,” Shamik continues, “I made a copy of a tape and then played the tapes on both decks. However, I pushed play on one deck a bit faster than the other. I think that was the first time I was fascinated by echo and manipulation of music.” (WATCH: Vancouver Dubstep artist Shamik)


From programs like Ableton Live and FL Studio to basic tape recording devices, the genre’s grassroots are basically stuck somewhere between the wires of a laptop and the AA batteries of your old boom box.


Even beyond the music itself, interest in Dubstep has organically developed into its own full-fledged community through networks of friends and word-of-mouth, including in BC.


“Back in the late ’80s my friend gave me some crazy mixtape he bought in Gastown. It was all Dub,” says Vancouver’s 8 CHANNELS of his introduction to the foundational genre.


Over the last decade this has evolved even further. The Dubstep community has branched to online networks like and Gutterbreakz, helping to introduce music to a broader audience online as well as an international one. From Jamaican Dub to London’s Dubset to Vancouver’s New Forms Festival.


On September 18 and 19, 2009, the New Forms Festival will feature the likes of Calamalka, Shamik and 8 CHANNELS to promote Vancouver’s independent and grassroots Dubstep and electronica communities as part of an exploration of the evolution of new media and technological art.


Advanced tickets are available at Zulu, Highlife, Scratch, Beatstreet or online.

WATCH: Vancouver Dubstep artist Shamik



“Dub on the Radio,” Shamik (recorded in Bangkok, Thailand)


Shamik live in New York City


Emily Gera

Emily Gera is a music and video game reviewer from Vancouver. She has previously contributed to Beyond Robson, Tiny Mix Tapes and Adbusters.