The U.K.’s bass culture will receive its first introduction to the South By Southwest music conference this year, thanks to Lady Leshurr and a devoted panel. Immersed in heavy bass lines with exaggerated and multi-layered sound effects along with a rhetorical rhythm, bass music is becoming a dominant force on the U.K. music scene. Massively influenced by Jamaican dub, a sub music genre pioneered by legends like King Tubby and Lee Scratch Perry, bass is also built upon the creativity of drum and bass, dubstep and grime.
Londoners have been two–stepping, skankin’ and bubbling to this music since jungle and drum and bass star Goldie hit the scene in the early 1990s with his first hit, “Innercity Life.” Now SXSW will introduce bass culture at the taste maker conference through a showcase boasting some of the U.K.’s most promising acts including Lady Leshurr as well as a panel discussion (details below).
Parlour chatted with Birmingham’s Lady Leshurr on the eve of her debut U.S. performance.
Parlour: How would you describe your music?
Lady Leshurr: It’s a fuse between edgy, sharp, fast-spitting lyrics and calm sweet talking with a laid back feel. If my music was an animal, it would be half a tiger and half a cat!
How has Jamaican dub and bass music influenced your work?
I grew up in a household full of reggae, hip-hop, drum and bass and R&B but if it wasn’t for Sister Nancy’s “Bam Bam” track I probably would never have picked up a microphone. Her melodic rapping and singing vibe was crazy and made me start writing little hooks and verses in a singing tone.
How does your album sound?
Expect the unexpected. There will be so many different genres of music on my album because every genre has inspired and influenced my sound. I’m also experimenting with my voice too.
What keeps you motivated?
My passion, my mother and my listeners. Without any of those things, music would be nothing to my life so it’s very important that I keep that in mind whenever I’m feeling negative.
What challenges have you faced as a female MC from the Midlands?
I never saw it as a problem because I was doing my thing in Birmingham but as soon as I went to London I realised that they had a different mentality down there and being an MC was a competition. There was only a few female MC’s out at the time, I was often compared to other people but now it’s so much easier. People’s opinions are more respectable but no matter what, women will always be compared to the next best thing.
Tell us about your Gutter Strut Recordings label.
When I was younger, I always wanted to be my own boss and have creative control over my music so I made it happen. At the moment the label is set up to only release my music independently but my plan is to start signing fresh talent when I’m in a stable position myself. It also puts into perspective that anything is possible. Hopefully it inspires up-and-coming artists that are passionate about their music to create opportunities for themselves in the future.
SXSW U.K. “BASS CULTURE” SHOWCASE
DATE: Friday, March 16
TIME: Doors open at 8 p.m.
PERFORMANCE: Lady Leshurr starts at 12 a.m.
DATE: March 17
TIME: 2 p.m.
WHERE: Austin Convention Center
Moderator Mykaell Riley, Head of Music Production at University Westminster
Lady Leshurr, artist
Mikey Dread, Channel One Sound System DJ
Robbo Ranx, BBC Radio/BBC Radio 1 DJ
Karl Neilson, AEI Media/UKF Director