Lately, names like Kaskade and Swedish House Mafia have been dominating the pages of Rolling Stone, indicating an upswing in mainstream interest in electronic dance music. But Dev79 and Starkey (Gair Marking and PJ Geissinger, respectively) aren't so much capitalizing on EDM's rise in popularity as they are offering up what they love — a quality mix of bass and hip hop — and hoping to appeal to a discerning audience.
"For every 10,000 mindless rave kids," says Marking, "there's 100 who know there's something better and are just trying to find it."
In an effort to offer that "something better," the pair started Seclusiasis, an umbrella organization that encompasses a record label, radio show and party series whose events take place in Philadelphia and New York. Along with Seclusiasis, Marking and Geissinger run sister label Slit Jockey, which tends to release artists who delve into the darker realms of what the two call the "street bass" sound.
The imprint's forthcoming release, Dev79 Presents Street Bass Bootlegs Vol. 2, is an amalgamation of countless styles and genres. But, says Marking,"I think when people hear the phrase ‘street bass,' they can kind of get a good idea of what they're in for without really even knowing exactly what it is." He continues: "You know, really, it's obvious to anyone who's minorly hip to music culture."
The compilation includes remixes and reworks of Lil Scrappy, 2 Chainz, 50 Cent, Lil Wayne and Gucci Mane, among others. It's a who's-who of contemporary hip hop, all reworked and laid over heavy bass and electronic dance beats. Simply calling it "street bass" makes it a lot easier to understand — and in a music landscape riddled with hyphenated genre terms, Marking and Geissinger would rather keep their sound simple and straightforward.
"Doing hip hop or urban music at large mixed with bass music isn't nearly as groundbreaking as it was when we first started doing it," says Marking. "It was much easier to garner attention simply from throwing the terminology around."
The music they play, meanwhile, is a reflection of the cities from which they hail.
"Philly and New York are probably the most opinionated [scenes] in rap music in the country, if not the world," says Marking. "Motherfuckers come up to you in the club and rap in your ear 'cause they know you're a DJ. They're like, ‘Yo, what'd you think of that? I got it on CD. Would you play it out if I give you the CD?'"
The answer depends on whether it advances Marking's goal of keeping it street bass — even if it's hard to define that precisely.
"We say it's a movement, because it sounds fun," he says. "But it's like 18 genres smashed together. We just didn't feel like using all 18 hyphens, like everyone else."