Proof in the pudding: How Wakaan’s Dubbi stage takeover further cements their commercial dominance [WATCH]
Photo credits: OHDAGYO!, Shutter Klick, Morse Code.x
Never mind the ear-to-ear packed fans at every stage, or ravers crowded at the rail shoulder-to-shoulder. Never mind that the venue wasn’t capped at a limited attendance or that social distancing was nearly impossible to enforce in a sea of bodies at the main stage. Ubbi Dubbi Festival actually did a surprisingly impressive job at instituting safety measures for all intents and purposes, but the question over whether where the promoter’s responsibility stops and the attendees’ begins is a discussion for another day. In fact, readers will hear all about that in CE‘s official event review.
What we’re interested in here is bass music, and specifically bass music. It’s no secret that, here at Conscious Electronic, we live for left-field bass. That’s why we narrowed down our Top Five must-see bass music acts to preview the Dallas-based festival, and it’s no coincidence that Wakaan-signed artists making up four of the five. However, the days of Liquid Stranger‘s beloved imprint being considered “underground” are now officially over, as the crowd at the festival’s bass-dedicated Dubbi stage has proven. Just as the first-and-only Wakaan Festival had proven back in 2019 with its sold-out attendance. And just as Wakaan’s deep roster of talent, pulling from Warpath and Optimystic (who together seem to gobble up every promising rising bass talent making headway), has proven again and again.
The proof has always been in the pudding with Wakaan. Here are several reasons behind how and why Wakaan Records has become commercially successful and sits poised for dominance as festivals begin resuming in 2021.
1) Wakaan has mainstreamed their “weird and wonderful” world of left-field bass.
As much fun as one may get out of lamenting the “good ole days” when Wakaan was the “new kid on the block.” Or getting nostalgic over a time when there just wasn’t yet a place for off-kilter experimental music. Those were the days when Wakaan artists were just starting to carve out a niche with their corky sounds and paralytic bass. Or worse of all, running the tendency to sink into hipster diatribes accusing Wakaan of being “sellouts” for going commercial and losing their “heady” appeal. This is merely the way of things. Commercial success means popularity, and it’s not a dirty word—no matter how many hipsters may try and convince otherwise.
There’s no reason to fret, either, because Wakaan is still home to all things “weird and wonderful.” The only difference now is that Wakaan, under the helm of their beloved leader Martin Stääf, has mainlined the “weird and wonderful.” Above all, Wakaan hasn’t lost their heady personae. They’ve just normalized it for the masses. Look no further than to the behemoth crowds that flocked to their takeover on day two of Ubbi Dubbi 2021, where there was a sizeable difference from day one to day two.
2) The Wakaan crowd continues to grow noticeably…
and it doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.
Whereas one could easily snake through the crowd on day one of Ubbi Dubbi, ready to experience the neck-breaking sets of Kompany and Wooli, or Boogie T‘s signature swamp-step, and more, the second day was already packed to the rails by the time INZO‘s 4 o’clock set hit. That’s not to say these dubstep heavy acts weren’t amazing in the deliverance of their respective sets. The second-day crowd size was just more sizeable and noticeable. In a crowd littered with pashminas, a sea of totems, and bodies moving in all different directions, it was clear to see bass music aficionados were camping the stage for Liquid Stranger, LSDREAM, and Dirt Monkey.
What CE remains more interested in, however, was the rising talent like INZO, Mersiv, Shanghai Doom, and NIK P— each of whom proved they could not just handle a large daytime audience, but that they could influence the overall vibe and dictate the direction of the mood. With each set building on the last, these Wakaan rising stars already carry themselves on-stage like veterans. It’s large part in thanks to the expert talent scouting of one of Wakaan’s own, Loper, who is very hands-on with the Wakaan artists and who has an eye and ear for new talent.
3) Wakaan’s roster has become somewhat of a “Who’s Who” of bass…
and Ubbi Dubbi was their showcase.
With two full-service talent agencies now fueling the ever-expanding Wakaan universe, it’s becoming clear Wakaan Records is outgrowing its skivvies. With the newly-launched Optimystic Group representing the likes of Champagne Drip, INZO, Jaenga, Lucii, LUZCID, MIZE, Sully, TVBOO, Canabliss, and Liquid Stranger himself, and the infamous Warpath Group still representing Dirt Monkey, TYNAN, Protohype, Shanghai Doom, Au5, and more, Wakaan now has a two-way funnel of highly-talented bass names feeding its success.
These are no longer names relegated to the “underground” of bass. These are all artists well-known across the dance music genre spectrum who, each in their own right, all come with large followings. The Dubbi stage takeover represented the pinnacle of how these two management firms can come together seamlessly at the crossroads for a spectacle-like showing with mainstream appeal.
4) Wakaan has yet to even hit the ground running for 2021…
and they’ve already got a head start.
With confirmed festival stage takeovers on the docket like Ubbi Dubbi and Imagine Music Festival this fall, Wakaan is already up to their ears in bookings. Plus, Wakaan Festival has yet to even release their 2021 line-up (although it’s still unconfirmed whether this year will happen due to varying pandemic conditions). To be able to book, curate, and host your own stage, while cherry-picking your creative and technical teams, must be every label manager’s dream… especially at huge festival gatherings like these. As much as it’s a huge honor and privilege, it’s also a huge responsibility and one that takes an entire village.
If this past weekend out at Ubbi Dubbi were any indicator, it’s that the Wakaan team can not only handle the workload, they will exceed all expectations. Only time will tell how Wakaan’s showing will play out live at Imagine, but fans can surely remain hopeful that they’ll have something freshly weird in the works for this highly-anticipated stage takeover. View the full 2021 line-up here.
5) Wakaan’s mission is strong…
and its professional support team is stronger.
With Warpath continuing their path of booking dominance, and industry trailblazer Loper running the newly-minted Optimystic Group, and recently-named CE Female Power Player Chloe Suit as head of Wakaan’s marketing and social media, Wakaan artists are privileged to have a team of powerhouse workers supporting them every step of the way.
All of this doesn’t even consider the talent funnel beginning to form at Wakaan’s downtempo label off-shoot, SSKWAN. Just look to the artists who’ve already been releasing on the imprint: artists like Au5, LSDREAM’s meditative alias LIGHTCODE, Headphone Activist, MIZE and Super Future, and the list grows stronger with each passing day. When one simply looks back to when Liquid Stranger announced SSKWAN back in 2019, he cemented the labels’ two-fold mission rather strongly in the collective EDM consciousness:
“Wakaan in Native American for ‘Grandmother Earth,’ for the female essence of God. Sasquaan is similar, for ‘Heavenly Father,’ the male essence of God,” said Liquid Stranger of the two imprints’ yin-and-yang relationship. “So together when we have these two components, I feel we have something pretty unified. I’ve been working pretty hard on the first release for Sasquaan. I know it’s weird names, but they make sense to me [because] I came to American to study martial arts and shamanism.”
In sum, the weird and wonderful world of Wakaan and SSKWAN are here to stay. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Be sure to check out CE’s playlist of fresh-off-the-weekend Ubbi Dubbi sets from LUZCID, Mersiv, TVBOO, LSDREAM, Liquid Stranger, and more.
Wakaan Ubbi Stage Takeover – Ubbi Dubbi 2021
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Information seeker. Dog lover. Ph.D. drop out. Avid collector of pashminas, plants, and experiences. College professor by day, EDM photographer by night.