Kahn is a torchbearer.
The flame of dubstep has wavered over the last few years, seeing many of the scene’s forefathers moving into the house and techno realm. Even Skream, whose pivotal Midnight Request Line blasted the scene out of its Croydon digs and into global dance music consciousness, has hung up the towel on the genre he helped popularize. The rapidly shifting musical landscape we live in is exciting, but it is also refreshing to hear a purist who has stuck with and honed his craft over the years. Joe McGann, otherwise known as Kahn, is that man.
Growing up in Bristol, Kahn found himself sucked into the city’s ripe soundsystem culture early on. The seminal Teachings in Dub provided a proper education in honoring the roots and upholding the values that shape the bass heavy sound. It also played a role in turning the young DJ into a self-proclaimed wax romantic:
“When you see people just playing dubplates, it sets a standard. I can’t really rock up with a laptop can I? You put the work in and do it properly. It’s a tradition.”
This tradition adds to the live experience that soundsystem culture is all about — hearing tunes that nobody else has on a system that has taken years of effort and dedication to build up.
“The physical impact is such a big part of it.”
With his recent release, Abbatoir, on the time honored DEEP MEDi imprint, McGann is clearly hearkening his words and testing the low-end of subs everywhere.
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Kahn’s bass driven output has worn a few different hats over the years — early effort Illy showcases colorful synth work, Way Mi Defend is a DMZ style bass meditation, and Chevy, produced alongside frequent collaborator fellow bass enthusiast, Neek sees the duo in full-on grime mode. This is in addition to the pair’s rootsy side-project Gorgon Sound, the name that the most dubwise dubplates find themselves under.
Even with these stylistic forays, the bass still takes center stage, and Kahn‘s time honored approach rings through. The only way to really understand any of this is to hear it out for yourself.