The drive for innovation in sound is what signifies Vex’d. The duo, producing a combination of London and Bristol-inspired dubstep, were responsible for a debut album Mary Anne Hobbs described as “the single most accomplished and important record in album form of the genre”…
Roly Porter & Jamie Teasdale, obsessed junglists and friends from school, were pioneers in the formation of dubstep.
In 2003 they started producing music together, while sharing a flat in Bristol. Although some people refer to Vex’d as a part of the Bristol sound, Roly claims the influence was more from London. In an interview with Beats Per Minute in 2010, when Vex’d had called time on producing, Roly stated:
“The first clubs I went to were all in London and although a lot of that music was very much what people think of as Bristol sound, for me I related the whole experience to being in London. I still find it a hugely inspiring city, I just can’t handle living there any more.”
Jamie explained how fond he was of the Bristol sound:
“One of the reasons I moved there was because I was so into Bristol music, though: Portishead and Full Cycle, particularly DJ Krust, when he was doing really future tracks like Soul In Motion and Future Unknown. They had a huge influence on us.”
In the early days, Jamie and Roly were in contact with Pinch and James ‘Ginz’ Ginzburg. This connection gave Vex’d a stage to release their music on – thanks to the formation of a new label called Subtext (started by both by Roly and Ginz). Vex’d’s debut release (2004’s Pop Pop and Canyon on SUB001) highlights the duo’s love of grime and jungle. Distorted basslines, post-apocalyptic atmospheres and grimey rhythms – not to mention the pioneering use of distortion. The imperfection of noise is still a tactic used by many producers to this today (The Bug is a good example).
Degenerate is seen as one of the first dubstep albums, a release that documented the progression and movement of the scene at that point in time. Like many other dubstep forefathers, Vex’d were wary of the praise they received off the back of the LP – they disagreed on calling their sound dubstep and were very careful with pigeonholing their musical endeavours. This was in spite of support from people like MAH (who invited them on the legendary Breezeblock Dubstep Warz show) and DMZ (who asked them to play at their events).
As far as dubstep albums go, Degenerate is one of the best long player releases the genre’s ever seen. Matching the space and musical experimentation early dubstep was known for with influences drawn from industrial, metal, DnB, grime – Degenerate acted as a calling card that announced the arrival of a genre that had found itself.
Cloud Seed, their second album, was in many ways different their debut. Jamie explained in the 2010 BPM interview:
“There was a point in time after Degenerate when I became aware that we stood a fair chance of garnering a certain kind of popular success if we focused on the aggressive, dancefloor tunes like Lion or Angels. We knew we could make bangers, that this could pull in a certain kind of attention for us. That some people expected that of us. That whole Cloud Seed period was a deliberate disavowal of that. I would hate ending up being one of those producers who knowingly bang out trite, just because there’s a demand for it. That’s so fucking cynical. We saw artists going toward that, and they’ve done well, they’re big, I’m sure they feel great about that. They are recognised, they have money. But we don’t respect them for it. And we deliberately broke away from that.”
With most innovators, their will to innovate reached further than the genre they had helped create. After releases on both Subtext and Planet Mu, the producers took their own paths – away from the pressures of Vex’d…
“We were becoming seen as this core dubstep act, which we didn’t intend to be, and we were increasingly uncomfortable with the way that scene was developing, getting more and more formulaic. Halfway through it, we both had enough of London, but I went to Berlin and Roly settled in Bristol. The intention to write more is fully there: we just can’t say when.”
Much akin to the other founding fathers who helped create this wonderful sound and have since departed, Roly and Jamie have now both moved into other areas of electronic music. Given the market forces looking to them for a particular sound or style, it is understandable the duo wanted to take a step back.
But, if the reappearance of many old school dubstep producers returning with new music is anything to go by, we may one day see new Vex’d material. We may not – but it is, however, undeniable that Vex’d were a large part of the driving force responsible for creating dubstep as we now know it.
An invaluable chapter to the dubstep sound’s story.
Click to DOWNLOAD (74MB)
- Vex’d – Crusher Dub [Planet Mu, 2005]
- Vex’d – Bombardment of Saturn [Planet Mu, 2006]
- Vex’d – Killing Floor [Planet Mu, 2006]
- Vex’d – 3rd Choice (Loefah remix) [Planet Mu, 2008]
- Vex’d – Corridor [Planet Mu, 2005]
- Vex’d – Angels [Planet Mu, 2005]
- Vex’d – Pop Pop VIP [Planet Mu, 2005]
- Distance – Fallen (Vex’d remix) [Planet Mu, 2007]
- Vex’d – Out Of The Hills [Planet Mu, 2010]
- Kuedo aka Jaimy Vex’d – Starfox [Planet Mu, 2010]