Texas Toasting: UK Bass Culture Heads South by Southwest

Words by Jesse Serwer—

The annual South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas, is set to get a little island flavor this year. “Island flavor,” in this case, referring to both Jamaica and England (it’s an island, too, in the geographic sense of the word). U.K. reggae and sound system culture, and the vital influence Jamaican music has had in the development of jungle, drum & bass, dubstep, grime and other British-born music genres, will be the focus of Bass Culture, a SxSW performance showcase and panel on March 16 and 17.

The first of two events at the Driskill Hotel‘s Victorian Room, on the 16th, will feature performances from U.K.-based artists Gappy Ranks, Little Roy (who recently released the Nirvana covers album, Battle For Seattle), Natty, rising rapper Lady Leshurr, the Rasites band, and pioneering jungle DJ Kenny Ken. The following day will see a discussion exploring the history and resurgence of reggae in the British music scene, with panelists including Mykaell Riley of Steel Pulse, DJ Mikey Dread, BBC 1Xra’s DJ Robbo Ranx and Lady Leshurr.

The events are part of a broader Bass Culture effort put together by British Underground, an organization responsible for bringing U.K. talent such as Amy Winehouse to South by Southwest in past years. An official website, ukbassculture.net, will launch February 1 and unveil an archive of key tracks, podcasts, rare documentaries, editorial, directory and schedule of events. A one-off Bass Culture fanzine designed by Swifty of British magazine Straight No Chaser will also be distributed exclusively at SXSW.

U.K. bashment is something we delve into quite regularly here on LargeUp, and most of the aforementioned artists have been spotlighted in some fashion or another (see our Gappy Ranks and Natty interviews) but should you need a primer on the aforementioned acts, we’ve pulled out some choice Youtube clips showing each in action, starting with Little Roy’s recent performance of Nirvana’s “Lithium” on the Jools Holland Show.