The Pure Filth Stacks

Pure Filth originally starting out in April 2007 as a Dubstep weekly & Soundsystem. While scouting locations a colleague of mine, Derrick from Baseck, told me about this magical speak-easy in a basement beneath an art gallery in downtown Los Angeles. After a bit of investigating and a meeting with the wonderful owner and gallery curator Martha Higgins, a deal was struck and the adventure that is now Pure Filth began in the now-infamous Higgin’s Gallery.

Every Tuesday afternoon, myself, Pablo, Tony K, Magi, DLX, Kemst & Breakage met faithfully at the gallery downtown in the following months. Each week we unloaded the leftovers of my old rave soundsystem, precariously down the narrow Higgin’s stairwell. The soundsystem, comprising mainly of massive subwoofers (originally used in theaters for George Lucas’ epic movie “Earthquake”) powered with heavy, old-school QSC amps would be set up from scratch every week. We then invited some DJ friends and guests down to come play the latest & greatest dubstep tunes, and crossed our fingers that some folks might show up to dance!

Our first night started out with 30 people, but word soon spread and 3 weeks later 300+ heads showed up for Hyperdub label boss and all around Badman Steve “Kode 9” Goodman. From then on we seemed to maintain a solid weekly crowd of “dubsteppers” who faithfully came down to dance and support DJs and artists like Mala, Headhunter, N-type, Caspa, MRK 1, Juju and a host of L.A. & Bay area talent as well as the resident DJs known as the Professionals (Sam XL, Pablo Hassan, and Breakage).

As the club became more popular and we trucked in more and more speakers, the constant vibrations from the soundsystem became so heavy that pieces of the ceiling began to shake loose and became lovingly referred to by the DJs and crowd as “ceiling crumbs.” Visiting DJs like Kode 9 said we were “mad” for carrying so much equipment down the tiny stairs, but to us it was worth all the effort, as we could have never have imagined just how good Dubstep could sound in that basement. It was music to our ears and the Pure Filth Sound was born!

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and 6 months later, the City of Los Angeles decided to demolish the historic building to build a parking lot (in true LA style). We closed the last night with 450 sweaty people singing along to Mala and his remix of “Cay’s Crays” by Fat Freddy’s Drop, an absolute barnburner of a night, and something that will live with all of us lucky enough to bare witness forever! Many a smiling “ceiling crumb addict” had made the pilgrimage to climb down those Higgin’s basement stairs to have a dance & a beer and get fully immersed in the sounds of Dubstep. We didn’t know it then, but our run at the Higgin’s Gallery helped lay the foundation to what is now the thriving L.A Dubstep scene. After Higgin’s, Pure Filth moved to a series of venues in Hollywood like The Blu Monkey and the Play Lounge but the new settings just couldn’t match up to the ambiance of our original Downtown location. Shortly thereafter, Pure Filth decided to bring it back to the Downtown urban core of Los Angeles downtown with a new endeavour called BASSFACE.

After looking at photographs of past Pure Filth events, I started noticing a common trait running through the crowd at our shows. As basslines would drop on the sound system, the crowd would contort their faces in unison into a twisted expression that became lovingly referred to as the “BASSFACE.”

About a year later, I decided to move forward with a new series using the name and did the first show in June of 2008 with BENGA, who coincidentally had a tune that was getting serious dubplate support called…BASSFACE! It was a great night and returning to the urban-industrial setting of Downtown L.A. added an extra element that really helped to solidify the Dubstep vibe. As Summer got into full swing, interest in hiring the Pure Filth sound system began to grow with a number of local promoters and we started doing sound for, among others, Daddy Kev & the Low End Theory crew on Wednesdays at the Airliner. Because of the high demand for the sound system, I decided to put BASSFACE on the back burner for a while. While doing Low End Theory every week, I heard the types of artists they were bringing through and couldn’t help but notice a lot of common ground between what they were doing and what was going on in the Dubstep scene.

After an amazing Summer of music, I felt L.A needed a weekend outlet that would focus on local & international talent across the entire range of bass-heavy music genres. There was a buzz in the air & I felt the timing was right to act, so the BASSFACE moniker was resurrected to incorporate these elements and we did our second BASSFACE in December of 2008 with Flying Lotus, Daedelus, MRK 1 of Virus Syndicate and LA’s own 6BLOCC and the rest, as they say, is history.

We started to throw BASSFACE shows more regularly and began incorporating Pure Filth resident artists and beatmakers from Low End Theory & Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder crew. Along with a rotating cast of visiting UK talent like Mala, Skream, Benga, and Joker, the parties have since gone on to gain worldwide recognition & acclaim.

In 2009, The highly-regarded event promoter Goldenvoice extended an invite to Pure Filth to throw a BASSFACE event at California’s uber festival Coachella. Pure Filth, Low End Theory & Brainfeeder residents alongside Hyperdub boss Kode 9 gathered in the desert for a friendly soundclash of sorts. That Saturday night Flying Lotus got to play an extended set to a crowd of about 12,000 people on a pyramid of bass cabinets that literally shook Indio Valley to its core as noise complaints were reported about the bass from over 2 miles away!

In 2010, Pure Filth has continued to push the boundaries of bass music with the ongoing BASSFACE series of events and we look forward to doing the same for a long time to come. To all of those that have attended our events over the years, I want to personally thank you for all of the support as we really could not have done it without you. From the early days of shuffling down the hidden staircase at Higgin’s to our latest run at Downtown’s Lot 613, I’ve always been happy to see so many other people from LA and beyond who really get excited about what we’re doing. We’ll keep hauling those speakers as long as you keep showing us your BASSFACE!

– Sam XL