Despite the consistency of Punch Drunk and Hessle Audio and the exciting schedule of future releases on Apple Pips, the most forward-thinking dubstep label of 2008 has been Kode 9’s Hyperdub.

More prevalent in the first half of the year, it became an outlet for producers like Rustie, Zomby, Samiyam, Darkstar and King Midas Sound, all of whom have pushed the boundaries of recognised bass music with their releases on the label.

The most exciting new star created by Hyperdub though, is Ikonika. Her first release, ‘Please’, combined addictive post-Dilla off-beats with four-to-the-floor breakdowns and was an instant success – its maker instantly lauded as part of the new wave of ‘Wonky’ producers along with the likes of Joker, Rustie and Hudson Mohawke. Although Ikonika describes herself as “really influenced by Dilla, Rich Harrison, Neptunes and Timbaland”, a less obvious influence on her work is that of Glassjaw, one of the twenty-first century’s great forgotten bands. Their debut album Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Silence is a minor classic, and a master-class in heartbreak.

“I played in various metalcore/post-hardcore bands playing the drums” explains Ikonika, and traces back to those days her desire to make music that’s “violently beautiful, a concept me and my old guitarist came up with. Kind of rough but soulful. I’ve always been into contrast – that’s why I was so into Glassjaw, but also bands like Poison the Well and perhaps Pretty Girls Make Graves for their ability to just completely switch a tune and take you on a different route; the idea of being surprised by something better, a new emotion… Songs like ‘Pretty Lush’ and ‘Siberian Kiss’ (both Glassjaw) have influenced my productions so, so, so much”

Her latest release, ‘Millie’  b/w  ‘Direct’ pushes her music further into a dead zone of squelching bass, at some points submerging the tune to its waist in white noise. But like ‘Please’, it’s got that pumping breakdown and addictive, serpentine melodies that make it as danceable as it is stylistically challenging, and as poignant as it is violent.

Tom Lea



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