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The Breakbeat Story : Kotori Magazine

The Breakbeat Story
By Norman Mayers

There is nothing in the world like a breakbeat. That thick 808 bass with a snare that makes your ass pop and your neck snap is one of electronic music’s simple pleasures. Despite some mainstream successes by the likes of The Chemical Brothers and The Crystal Method, the genre as a whole has never had the profile of trance or house. But things are changing. All around the globe, breaks are gaining momentum and things are just getting started.

Breaks as a genre has its roots in hip-hop and soul. While the foundation was laid down by James Brown and his fellow funk pioneers, it was when Afrikaa Bambataa’s seminal “Planet Rock gave birth to electro that things became even more interesting. Dynamix II pushed the breakbeat further with their classic “Give the DJ A Break, rooting the sound in cut and paste montages and signature scratching. As raves began to take hold in the 90s, various regions began to interpret this emerging genre into bold new directions. Their untiring dedication has led to the popularity the genre enjoys today.

The state of Florida will always be regarded as the home of funky breaks. Orlando’s DJ Icey is often credited with creating the style by combining elements of classic funk, early hip-hop, Miami Bass, and the emerging dance/rave culture. This inventive sound caught on quick and today Florida has more artists than any other state that exclusively represent the Breakbeat and Electro sound, a sound punctuated by heavy bass, rapid edits, chopped-up vocals and samples, and slithering synths.
With high profile events during Miami’s Winter Music Conference, a national tour, a mix compilation, and a partnership with Los Angeles based Insomniac, Florida promoters The Future Sound of Breaks (FSOB) are representing a level of professionalism and production that hopes to elevate the entire breaks community. Glyn Morgan, the mind behind the Future Sound of Breaks says, “The FSOB crew has brought back life to the promotional end of the Breaks and Electro market stateside. While a lot of producers across the pond are consistently promoting themselves with creative marketing, the US market needed some life pumped into it. Our approach was to give the genre some credibility.

As a result of their efforts, a brand new crop of DJs and producers are following in the illustrious footsteps of DJ Icey, including Trevor Rockwell, Hydraulix, J-Break, and Ghosts in the Machine. Although in a recent interview with LA-based Jointz Magazine DJ Icey clearly seems content with the breaks scene remaining underground he continues to represent his Florida roots and support new talent. “There are some great new Electro Bass outfits, says Icey. “Ghosts in the Machine, A.T.F., and Hydraulix out of South Florida are all set to rock it.
  But Icey is one the rare American breaks DJs to experience international success. The true spirit of the Florida movement is expressed through South Florida scene veteran DJ Storm who maintains, “We want to bring musical enlightment to all audiences that haven’t been exposed previously to the vibe or the sound. We want to keep this sound alive and known.

The United Kingdom
Although Florida might be credited with the creation of the genre, the UK sound is the most dominant force on the international scene. As the birthplace of the dark and gritty sounds of drum and bass and trip hop, the UK interpreted breaks through its own unique prism. By incorporating newer production techniques pioneered by drum and bass producers, artists such as Rennie Pilgrem and Adam Freeland created a new scene that pushed breaks into the new century. The futuristic themes expressed by Nu Skool and UK breaks relate the forward-thinking philosophy evident in all electronic music.

  Rennie Pilgrem’s London based label TCR is acknowledged as the label that started it all, creating the Nu Skool Breaks scene. The label was established in 1993 with a mostly house output, but interestingly enough after Pilgrem took at trip to Florida in 1994 he was enchanted by the breaks culture flourishing there. Since then breaks has been the backbone of the label and the 1995 release “A Place Called Acid became their first bonafide underground hit selling 15,000 units.

  The UK’s innovative style of breaks has spread across the globe thanks mostly to the relentless touring of international DJs and acts such as Pilgrem, Freeland, DJ Hyper, Hybrid, Plump DJs and Lee Coombs. The UK scene also boasts a tremendous number of excellent labels that consistently pump out high quality productions including Distinct’ive Breaks, Marine Parade, Bedrock Breaks and Ministry of Sound. The number of events, Internet radio shows and websites coming out of the UK has also propelled their sound to the forefront representing a level of professionalism and promotion that has gone unmatched.

California has produced some of the break community’s major players. Out of the legendary desert parties and the growing rave scene in the mid-90s emerged influential artists such as Simply Jeff, John Kelley, Uberzone, and the Crystal Method. Currently the Los Angeles scene is supported by the work of artists like Robtronik whose successful events Speed and Compression showcase the best in both breaks and electro. Long-standing promoters Insomniac, the minds behind such memorable and iconic events as Electric Daisy Carnival and Nocturnal Wonderland, also incorporate impressive breaks lineups into all their major events, supporting both homegrown and international talent.

  “I think Cali breaks have always embodied the freedom of the urban west coast lifestyle, says California desert party legend John Kelley. “It’s both easygoing and intense at the same time. You can hear this in the music to me.

  San Francisco’s eclectic urban sensibilities have also nurtured the breaks community in recent years. San Fran’s DJ Aaron Jae contends that, “There’s been a couple of new breaks dedicated promoters that have started up and they’ve been bringing out a lot more breaks headliners. Also, some of the more established promoters in the city have also begun to book breaks headliners.

Working Together
“Increased communication between DJs and promoters from different regions of the country can only serve to benefit everyone involved, says Stuart Fingerhut, founder of Bijoubreaks.com. In order to raise awareness of the genre as a whole, partnerships are being forged across regions and oceans. Events such as the Winter Music Conference, Burning Man and high profile festivals such as Ultra Music Festival and Nocturnal Wonderland are allowing the international breaks community to redefine itself and create a diverse soundscape that is linked by a common goal. “There are talks of more creative concepts in the works from The Future Sounds of Breaks and Insomniac, promises Glynn Morgan of FSOB. “So rest assured, we are making efforts to take this coast to coast and worldwide in the days to come.

  As the breaks community begins to grow, the sound is emerging in cities and countries around the globe. New York is on the rise, Berlin is holding down the electro vibe and Russia is making a name for itself (www.nubreaks.net). It’s been a long time coming but it looks like the time for breaks has truly arrived.


Essentials Breaks Guide

With each region delivering their own unique interpretations of the Breaks, we though it would be a good idea to let you know the best of what is supporting each scene. From the DJs that defined the sound to the hottest clubs, here is our list of Essential Breaks.

Essential DJs and Producers

DJ Icey
Jackal & Hyde
Dynamix II
Storm & Trevor Rockwell  

United Kingdom
Adam Freeland
Rennie Pilgrem
DJ Hyper

Simply Jeff
John Kelley

Essential Clubs

House of Blues Orlando
1490 E. Buena Vista Dr.
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830

50 NE 11th St.
Miami, FL 33132

200 W Broward Blvd
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312

King King Hollywood
6555 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90028

Fabric London
77a Charterhouse Street
London, EC1M 3HN

Club Mighty San Francisco
119 Utah St
 San Francisco, CA 94103

Essential Websites

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