Just a couple years ago, Toronto’s dubstep community neared a standstill thanks to a multitude of global factors. At the time, leading promoters Bassmentality and Destiny’s relentless bookings in Ontario slowed down, Skrillex drifted to a more commercially sensible brand and dubstep neared a severe low for sales in online music marketplaces. It seemed like the end was nigh for the genre made famous by syncopated rhythms and a forceful basslines.
Fast forward to 2017, and bass music is a global sensation and far from being just a nostalgia sound. A major part of Ontario’s resurgence of this brand of music is Toronto Bass Community (TBC) a now 3-year-old Facebook group of Canadians infatuated to the core with dubstep, jungle, drum & bass, and the deepest of house music. Initiated by patriarch Justin Bella, the fan-driven space quickly transformed into a club event production team, capped off with two cornerstone series’ NXT LVL and Low Frequency.
“When I think of TBC, I think family,” says Ruben Reyes, a Toronto-based DJ who performs under the pseudonym of Hydee. “The group has become a fun, safe environment for people to post and educate with music without negativity, and that’s important in a world where the internet trolls are always out and about,” he adds.
In spite of the world of social media housing a minefield of trolls and negative nancys when it comes to pretty much any topic, TBC has been able to cultivate a drama-free zone of over 7,000 private members who want to share good vibes and appropriate music. Longtime group devotee Hanna Valle says that she’d never felt so connected to a collective of people before joining this one. “We are so much more then just a group, we are a family.”
Crystal Holmes says, “When I joined the scene, I was friends with the wrong people. I knew there was more to experience out there than just getting messed up, so I took it upon myself to find friends that shared the same interests as me. I like going to events that cater to different genres and meeting new people. So, that’s when my friend suggested that I join TBC – and seeing how much it has impacted her – I felt that I was longing for that sense of a positive community.”
An active user of the message board, Richard Andrews indicates that the Toronto Bass Community has become a sanctuary to which he inundates himself with music, not simply by attending events – but in the form of a ritual. “No other musical community has the same convivial warmth and welcoming atmosphere. We are united with our fervid love for all things bass; and The Toronto Bass Community makes it so. For that, I am forever grateful.”
“To me, TBC shows just how positive a community built on music can be,” says Biz Davis, director of marketing and media partnerships at Fource Entertainment, the buyer behind concert brands like Wayhome Music & Arts. Formerly one half of the Killabits, a dubstep duo who inspired much of Toronto’s current bass music climate, the digital marketer has been an active voice throughout TBC’s speedy ascent. “From Toronto’s early jungle raves through Bassmentality and beyond, Justin and his crew have given a great home to grow the sound of our city for an all-new generation of bass-heads where everyone’s welcome.”
As a mother and emerging DJ herself trying to find the right path, Jade May says the camaraderie of the community motivated her to follow her passion thanks to endless support. “TBC is where I cut my teeth djing, and found the confidence and support to keep pursuing music even though I wasn’t the usual demographic. Without [the group] taking a chance on me, I wouldn’t have found the addictive obsession of djing that keeps me going when everything else is falling apart.” This is a sentiment that Stephen Jover, also known as Thrizzo, takes to heart as well. “This factor is very important because it has allowed many artists such as myself to gain a following/fan base to appreciate their art/creations. The bonus on top of that is that your new-found fans become your friends/family and that is really key.”
This grassroots digital movement populated by mid-to-late twenty-somethings has inspired countless of other GTA promoters to step up their game when it comes to bass music event producing. Gigantic concert stalwarts like INK Entertainment and Live Nation have shifted much of their commercial talent buying to embrace this newfound movement, while emerging brands like Ever After Music Festival, Hamilton’s Club 77, Dead Royalty Productions, and Visions provide additional parties for show-goers to navigate.
April 7th, Toronto Bass Community celebrates its 3 Year Anniversary at College Street’s Nest nightclub – BadKlaat, Ponicz and Bukez Finezt headline. With a tier of tickets already sold out, one can easily see why Ontario’s bass scene’s future has reversed its dystopian premonitions of the past.
Photos by Insight Imaging