“Things Had to Change”: WORSHIP on the Drum & Bass Revolution in the United States

Drum & bass has functioned as the heart and soul of the UK electronic music scene for decades, but we've only recently seen it blow up in the United States. Why has its emergence taken so long?

Enter Dimension, Sub Focus, Culture Shock and 1991 of WORSHIP, a supergroup of influential drum & bass artists redefining the genre for a new generation of fans. We caught up with the collective and their manager, Sebastian Weingartshofer, to discuss the genre's stateside boom—and its longevity within the electronic music scene.

"For a long time, a lot of drum & bass artists were drawing huge audiences around the globe, then traveling to the U.S. and playing to half-empty clubs," Dimension tells us. "Artists were left demotivated. I had the same experience. After a bad show in New York, I remember phoning Seb and we agreed things had to change."

"I remember the moment of driving back to the airport in New York City with Rob [Dimension] and saying, 'It shouldn't be like this,'" adds Culture Shock. "We then really made a conscious effort to put our heads together and present the music the way we thought it should be. We've had to invest a huge amount but it really feels like it's working and the momentum is building."

Amid drum & bass' volcanic rise in the U.S., the group developed a master plan. They saw major potential in North America, Dimension says, to "create something fresh" by joining forces.

"Our goal was to help bring the genre back into vogue by encouraging a fresh, young, inclusive community of fans into the genre through investing heavily in production and creative, while working with top venues and promoters," he explains. "It’s been unbelievably humbling seeing a new community of fans grow, with crowds and venues increasing in size. We like to think we've played a key role in this growth."

1991, Culture Shock, Dimension and Sub Focus of WORSHIP.

Sam Neill

When it comes to each of WORSHIP's members, it's clear they believe drum & bass culture is a priceless part of the electronic music zeitgeist, and its spirit simply can't be captured anywhere else. They've always lived and breathed the genre, and they're now positioning themselves as lynchpins of today's movement.

"I got into drum & bass pretty much at its inception, as it morphed from jungle," Sub Focus recalls. "It means so much to me to now be a part of its story. I love how it’s like a secret subculture that we are all a part of."

"My love for drum & bass started around 15 years ago," 1991 adds. "What largely drew me to it was how much of a rogue genre it is. It’s not always been the coolest genre, but it’s certainly the most fun. For the most part, it’s an inclusive scene where anyone is welcome. I think that’s why I’ve always stuck by it. It feels like a family."

Taking the necessary risks

Ever since drum & bass first piqued their interest, Culture Shock, Dimension, Sub Focus and 1991 have spent years climbing to its upper echelon at breakneck tempos of over 174 BPM. Getting to the top, however, was only the beginning of their widespread influence. 

While their dedication to the culture is an important factor, many risks needed to be taken in the States for drum & bass to have real staying power.

"Big homegrown acts are a big part of what leads the scene to thrive in different areas," says Sub Focus. "There's Pendulum and Luude from Australia, Netsky from Belgium, Camo & Krooked in Austria and many more examples across the globe. Homegrown drum & bass acts from the U.S. flourishing will help the scene no end here."

As artists like REAPER, Kumarion, AIRGLO, Justin Hawkes and so many more lead the charge in the U.S., the growth of drum & bass has continued to skyrocket. WORSHIP are doing their part too as their current tour continues on as one of the electronic music scene's most in-demand.

Sam Neill

They're immensely grateful for the stateside promoters who took a chance on them in the beginning.

"We’ve been building this project for four years now," Dimension explains. "I remember for the first tour we literally had to create a presentation explaining who we are, what country we were from, and list everything we were doing differently in order to make the tour tickets sell. We had to put ourselves out there with the very real possibility that the whole WORSHIP tour could be a complete failure."

"Deep down, all of us really believed in the idea, but in hindsight, it was the promoters and agents that took on the most risk," he continues. "The North America drum & bass scene was in such bad shape that we arguably had nothing to lose, but the promoters and agents deserve a massive amount of gratitude for backing us and believing in our concept."

Keeping the drum & bass revolution alive

Ultimately, WORSHIP did become a key player in drum & bass' growth in the region—but their work isn't done yet. Trends, especially in electronic music, can be hot and cold.

However, something as addictive as drum & bass has major staying power for a multitude of reasons.

"The energy of the genre is addictive and unparalleled, whilst constantly pushing boundaries and setting the standard," says Weingartshofer, WORSHIP's manager. "Generally the demographic of the genre remains young, which helps refresh engagement in consumption and event attendances over many generations."

Culture Shock agrees, calling the energy of drum & bass crowds "unmatched."

"As an artist, it's a really fun genre because you can incorporate any style you like," he says. "I feel like other genres within electronic music can be more restrictive and don't allow for as much expression."

WORSHIP North America 2024 Tour (0:17)

The unbridled energy of drum & bass isn't its only cornerstone—its origins are just as pivotal. The underground is crucial to any genre of music, considering its artists challenge boundaries when things above become stale.

"Drum & bass is completely on its own in terms of style and speed—there really isn’t any other genre like it," says Sub Focus. "It’s got a rich history and a fertile underground scene, which has given it huge staying power. Whilst it has had moments of commercial success, it has always had a large group of people pushing its limits and boundaries away from the glare of the spotlight."

Hitting the road (again)

With a great deal of both experience and passion, the WORSHIP collective are flying the flag of drum & bass in the States. It's their third collaborative North American tour, which culminates in their biggest show to date on March 30th at Los Angeles' famed Hollywood Palladium.

A few months later in May, the entire crew will return for one of the most anticipated performances at EDC Las Vegas, one of the world's biggest electronic dance music festivals.

"Being part of this tour has been one of the most satisfying projects I have had the pleasure of been involved in," Dimension gushes. "It's been so rewarding seeing the community explode. I'm predominantly a solo artist, so achieving something together with your friends has made it extra special. Personally, I would love for fans to walk away from our shows feeling that a drum & bass party can be a crazy amount of fun for anyone. Everyone is accepted."

"The more people who enjoy what we do, the more fulfilling and inspiring it is for us as artists," 1991 adds. "I’ve left the two previous WORSHIP tours feeling inspired to come back bigger and better, so that’s all I can really hope for again this time around."

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While WORSHIP's crusade to embed drum & bass into the American electronic music terrain has been a long and tortuous uphill battle, 2023 was a breakthrough year for the genre. And we've only seen it take off further in the early months of 2024—a trend Weingartshofer believes is here to stay.

"We’re now seeing both fans and DJs who are more open-minded to the genre, as well as other genres in dance music in the post-dubstep/EDM boom," he explains. "Headliners like Tiësto, John Summit, David Guetta and Dom Dolla are playing drum & bass in their sets and getting great reactions."

Weingartshofer also credits grassroots artists and brands in North America for propelling the scene forward with unabashed passion.

"Brands like Brownies & Lemonade are creating culture on the ground with their DNBNL series, exposing impressionable dance music fans to the genre," he continues. "Record labels like Deadbeats and Monstercat are getting behind the music and supporting artists from around the world. A decade ago this infrastructure didn’t exist. It’s great to see more confidence towards drum & bass in all areas."

You can purchase tickets to WORSHIP's North American tour and find out more about the collective here.


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