In issue 20 of one small seed, as part of the ‘& the beat goes on’ feature, we took a look at dupstep duo Biscope. Check it out.

Biscope Originals by biscope

Richard Rumney is perhaps better known as electro producer Richard the Third. His younger brother, Robert (aka Twelv), produces breakbeat and psychedelic trance. Together they form Biscope, one of the only South African acts making original dubstep for live performance.

A glance at a flyer for nights like Step Up at Cape Town’s Fiction Bar or Rub-a-dub at Mercury Live reveals that many drum ’n bass DJs have been moving over to playing dubstep.  “It has the same appeal,” tells Richard, “Moody, bassline-driven dance music.” He adds, “When I first properly got into dubstep back in 2007, it excited me very much the way drum ’n bass did ten years ago. Although initially I also thought about dubstep as I first had of drum ’n bass: ‘How can you dance to this stuff?! Oh, wait. Listen to that bass! Listen to the rhythm! I get it! This is amazing!’”

Biscope bootleg remixes have been furiously trading hands on music share sites like SoundCloud (an online audio distribution platform, like Flickr, but for songs). Their takes on classic cuts by anyone from smooth soul divas Erykah Badu and Jill Scott to grunge icons Nirvana has made them highly sought after. “With the Jill Scott and Erykah Badu bootlegs the mission was to make ‘lovestep’: deep, sensual dubstep for the ladies,” grins Richard, “and the Nirvana thing was just a nostalgic trip that got a lot of downloads and plays.”


The two sides to the Biscope coin are actually quite distinct: the one side likes fun, dancefloor dubstep with distorted basslines and catchy hooks. The other favours deep, soulful, even psychedelic-sounding stuff (Richard)


The sheer number of different styles one can identify in Biscope’s tracks hint that there’s a whole lot of variation within dubstep as a genre. There are a lot of different strains at the moment. We’re interested in all of them. (Richard)


Richard also lets on that the small but rapidly growing scene is becoming divided – bizarrely along the issue of basslines! Dupstep’s trademark wobbling bassline to be exact, allegedly as there are those who feel it and those who just don’t. “The really hard, distorted, fast basslines – popularised by overseas guys like Skream and Rusko – are where most people find the hype and swagger,” he tells. “But it’s also very overused and kind of base (not bass). It’s like distorted guitar riffs – fucking exciting when you first hear it, but quickly boring after you’ve heard a thousand derivatives,” he laughs. “Down in Cape Town, many of the original DJs don’t like it, now favouring the mature, deeper and more progressive sounds coming out on labels like London-based Hyperdub.”


Biscope are not alone in this genre.

Mix n Blend is doing some worldclass stuff with African Dope and Muti Music. Fletcher too. I always play their stuff out, maintains Richard. Other artists making some insane music include Binary, AudioPhile 021 and Callan Maart.

If you need an introduction to the genre as a whole, the Rumneys suggest you check out Breakage, Nero, Datsik and Excision, Joker and Joy Orbison. For a great overview, an essential album to check out is Diary of an Afro Warrior by London dubstep producer Benga. “It’s quite dated, but for me it kind of outlines the entire sound of dubstep over the past five years. It’s all in there.”

Biscope Boots by biscope

words: Daniel Friedman

photography: Sian Lloyd