Consider the occupation of Kevin Martin’s parents and it might not come as much of a surprise that he turned out as the eclectic dubstep DJ known as The Bug. “Both of my parents were musicians so it’s literally in my blood,” he says. From a young age, Martin was drawn to making music as a way of coping with what he saw as a very messed-up world. “I was sort of infected with post-punk. Weird groups like Joy Division and The Birthday Party that were heavily anti-social.”
Post-punk gigs were feeding grounds for angry youngsters, so Martin says that he had a moment of revelation the first time he encountered the music scene in London’s East End. “It was the first time I experienced the awesome power of the sound system. I started really realising the potential of music made in a studio, which is a truly magical environment,” he says. Martin began collaborating in the studio, creating projects like Techno Animal, which heavily experiments in bass-driven tunes that anticipated London’s later dubstep and dancehall explosions.
Although The Bug is deeply immersed in London’s dubstep scene, Martin says he doesn’t really consider his music ‘dubstep’ per se. “I’ve been doing bass-driven music for a long time. For me, music is an exorcism − a catharsis. It’s my purpose and my escape. It’s something I just have to express.” Martin’s music is wildly and purposefully eclectic, drawing from sources as diverse as post-punk and reggae. He sees this diversity as an essential feature of dubstep – and perhaps part of the reason that London gave birth to the art form. “There’s not the same ghettoisation of culture in London as there is in America,” he notes. “Reggae and hip-hop culture is everywhere. You can’t escape it.”
Because of his own complicated beginning, Martin’s attitude towards dubstep outgrowths that might seem corrupt to purists (namely the wildy-popular ‘bro-step’ prodigy Skrillex) is lenient. Whenever someone is expressing himself, Martin can get behind it. “If there’s anything good about dubstep,” he says, “it’s that it’s so eclectic.”
The Bug spins at XXX Gallery with MC Daddy Freddy and Kuedo on Saturday March 10 from 10.30pm