TikTok: the perfect antidote to boredom. With this generation chronically online and focus shorter than the length of this article, TikTok has established itself as an excellent time waster – a place to invest half an hour of free time injecting data into bespoke content of an algorithm. However, in this space the forums of many subcultures thrive, in particular those of the music. As with the creation of Internet chat rooms in the early 2000s to discuss all things music, TikTok is coming as another place to engage, share and create in these scenes: the underground, in many respects, spreading (again) online.
The UK dance scene, with everything from drums and bass to bass music, footwork, house and garage, is no exception. Newcomers and oldtimers have found a place in the realm of TikTok, promoting the scene’s staple tracks with new creative edge to an ever-expanding audience. PinkPantheress is the most obvious example. After all, his escape route To break up heavily samples classic drum and bass Circles, released in 1997 by Adam F. It’s a fantastic cut: PinkPantheress’ smooth, bright vocals complement the backing breaks, set to a slightly faster tempo that gets you moving. Big on TikTok with many audiences outside of drums and bass, the song has had an extended life on the dance scene as well. I vividly remember audiences chorusing to their enchanting hook when Four Tet unleashed the track at Brixton Academy in October 2021. Getting that kind of recognition from established acts confirmed that PinkPanthress had found a winning formula.
The success of PinkPantheress, riding the waves of the dance scene into mainstream consciousness, shows the vitality of TikTok as a place to share music. It’s not original in that regard, but the potential global audiences that can be reached are nothing to sneeze at given the cultural porosity of virality. It seems that across multiple online platforms there is widespread access to different music scenes as these many scenes migrate to online spaces. Listening to the sounds of a PinkPantheress can easily lead fans to Nia’s archives, labels like Lobster Theremin and other flavors of British dance music outside of TikTok. Artists and stage promoters were quick to take advantage of this. Bristol-based Keep Hush regularly posts clips of its raves and promotes fresh DJs on the block, from relative newcomer Hamdi to Dr Dubplate and so on. Other chamber DJs and old heads rinsing vinyl classics using TikTok’s Live feature are fleshing out the outskirts of British dance in the online space. Not bad for an app initially used by lip-smacking teenagers.
The insane scroll turned into random hotspots, an in-depth view of many electronic dance scenes, with moments captured in each serving as windows into these disparate styles. TikTok may even be a place where new subgenres can thrive. Nourished by Aphex Twin and claiming broken breakbeats, a strange ambient subgenre centered around cutting breaks has emerged from the interstices of TikTok. Both nostalgic and modern, the sound is distinctly familiar yet entirely his own. In many ways it is reminiscent of LTJ Bukem’s Logical progression series, The Wax Doctor classic Selected ambient works, 94-96or the timeless Photek Ring around Saturn, the audioscape is more dystopian in its reverie, maintaining a clear visual aesthetic to match the sound. With appropriate visuals from Wong Kar-Wai’s films alongside genre-defining anime series like ghost in the shell, Akiraand Neon Genesis Evangelion, the atmosphere is futuristic and ethereal. Some sample tracks include: BAKGROUND – Gotham LoveTOKYOPILL- ETHEREALSewers – Cyberia Lyr1and (described as “breakcore”) Xxstarlit – Ephemeral Frozen Heart.
Weird niche subgenres built on ambient breaks filtering down to escapist names like PinkPantheress suggest TikTok is another subgenre incubator in the same way Boiler Room was for post-dubstep and the British bass on YouTube in the early 2010s. Working on a rapid exposure level born from the ‘FYP’ (page for you) generated by TikTok’s algorithm and the short video format, it seems contact with what is new and hot is just one passive scroll away. Of course, the flip side of a story like this is the issues of data protection, data collection, and targeted advertising. But it seems that, despite this, these mechanisms were somehow appropriated by niche groups to promote and flesh out new approaches to electronic music and dance. Either way, the next new artist promoting a new sound could pop up in TikTok’s endless library at any time. This is definitely a space to watch.