Why Trench?

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UPDATE 8/2023: About 9 months after this article, I wrote another article to reflect on the current state of “Trench” as a name for the sub-genre. You can read it here.

For the last decade, we’ve been casually referring to the more minimalistic and flow-focused side of dubstep as “Riddim”. However, many artists and fans have not been happy with this name and its increasingly loose definition and usage. Let’s take a look at the reasons, how the name “Trench” can serve as a solution, and what differentiates the genre from other styles of Dubstep.

Origins of the Sound

When the sound was first pioneered around 2010 by artists like Jakes, Subfiltronik, Akirah, Shiverz, etc, the artists themselves were referring to it as “Dubstep”. In the early days, they didn’t think it needed to be separated from the genre. However, as Dubstep grew bigger and became more diversified—even reaching mainstream popularity—people felt that it was hard to find specific underground styles without giving them names for categorization. 

The Problem

As the sound was gaining more fans, a website called ClublandLV (which was popular among Dubstep fans, but was infamous for piracy), published a new category for this sound and called it “Riddim”. Many fans and producers of the sound were extremely reluctant to use this term. Nobody really knew who came up with it, why it was named after Jamaican ”riddims”, and they especially didn’t want to validate a piracy platform that was generally looked down upon. Overall, “Riddim” just didn’t seem like it was a good fit for the sound. For the first few years, you would always see people use it as a joke. Then suddenly, bigger artists started to use it (often ironically), and it ended up getting so much attention that the name was now inextricably linked to the genre, much to the dislike of many of its own producers. And then because the term was so widely used—often simply because it got a lot of attention, even if it wasn’t fitting at all—the definition of the genre got lost almost completely.

Change is Possible

In 2022, me and many other artists and fans feel like it’s time to take control over the name of our genre back, and find a new name that’s more suitable. Now that the genre is well established, and we don’t need to rely on ironic marketing, we can take matters in our own hands, and redefine what we want Trench to be! 

Origins of Trench

In 2014, Getter, who was previously making heavier Dubstep, started to be interested in the more minimalistic side of it, but didn’t want to go with the name “Riddim” (for similar reasons I mentioned above); so he came up with “Trench” and released his EP “Trenchlords Vol. 1” which featured two collaborations with artists who were popular for the minimalistic sound: Deemed and Algo. The style he came up with for this release was unique, influential, and different from what we had heard before. It opened up the doors for experimenting with new types of sound design within the genre. At the time, the name didn’t catch on, so the term “Trench” ended up being closely linked with this specific Getter sound, even though it was intended to be more widely used. 

Where do you see Trench going?
I don’t know. There’s no real goal except to push quality heavy music and get rid of that god awful term “riddim” that some 15 year old kid made up to describe dubstep. That’s all it is, dubstep. So shush.

Getter Interview on YourEDM.com, Nov 2014

Trench as a Solution

Thinking about it from a 2022 perspective however—a perspective where the genre is more popular than ever, and the term “Riddim” is still being used reluctantly by many—the name “Trench” can come back into consideration as a replacement, and a more serious alternative. “Trench” as a genre name conjures up images of dark, deep, and grimy scenery—perfectly fitting for the sound, how it’s evolved, and where it’s headed now, while still being flexible enough for innovation. It’s a term we can be proud of, a term that sounds appropriate for the music, and that has some history in our scene. It can help us redefine what we want the genre to be, rather than letting it be used as a loosely defined blanket term for marketing.

What defines Trench?

There are a few key factors that differentiate Trench from other styles of Dubstep. I would summarize these as follows:

  • Trench has a minimalistic sound, with fewer layers and basses than other styles of Dubstep
  • Trench is less focused on loudness, and more so on flow, groove, and atmosphere
  • Trench is often more repetitive, trance-like, with longer basslines
  • Trench often has a darker, and/or atonal sound
  • Trench often uses claps instead of snares
  • Trench is usually between 140 and 145bpm, but can go up to 150
  • Trench often doesn’t have a build in the intro; the surprise of the drop is a key element

These factors don’t always have to apply—leaving room for creativity—but they can serve as general guidelines to identify the sound.

Personal Decision

Since my suggestion has been met with a lot of positivity on my Twitter and Instagram, I, personally, choose to refer to the genre as Trench from now, and anyone who is open to the idea can join me in doing so! I’ve always loved and respected our community, so I don’t want to force anything on anyone, or make people pick sides. This is first and foremost a decision I’ve come to for myself because I’m passionate about this genre and I think it deserves to be taken seriously, and I would love to see others adopt the name.

Thank You

Thank you to our community for helping me with this article, contributing to the movement, and for being receptive to the idea in general. Thank you also for being respectful towards each other, and those who don’t agree with the change! I appreciate all of you.

44 replies on “Why Trench?”

Agreed! I’m glad Chime coined “Colour Bass” as well, because Melodic Riddim was moving even farther away from its roots.

Always thought that Riddim was too broad of a term to the point where it was hard to differentiate between it and Dubstep. Reminds me of a Boogie T lyric that goes “Everybody talking Riddim man, but all it is is Dubstep”
Trench with a clear definition is a good change!

Absolutely love the write up and think the discussion needed to happen. A playlist with examples of songs/mixes that fit the genre would also be a super helpful resource if you wanna nail down the definition even more.

As a deep enthusiast of this specific sub-genre of Dubstep, I do 100% agree that it’s name needed to be changed sooner or later because of it’s ridiculous name-redundancy with the pre existent genre “Riddim” in Reggae Music.
(Also many times misunderstood with the general “Rhythm” pronunciation, even if that wouldn’t make a big deal but still…)

I’m 100% open to the “Trench” name since it got solid historical context, shoutout to both you Chris & Tan for being OGs and taking care of the current scenario.

Stank Faces and High Knees,

It is a great idea tho, however there’s already millions of videos, tweetd and content which refer to it as riddim, but what about making this “riddim” and trench mean the same? like a synonim? and slowly making the term trench more used so people used trench more than rididim

This is what inevitably will happen anyways. No worries…
Everyone will still understand what “riddim” means ofc so the transition will be slow and not at once…

A while back I had a bit of a talk with a old friend that isn’t into EDM and eventually I brought up “Riddim” and had a bit of a talk about the name. They mentioned the name being basically stolen off of actual riddim and how that was dumb, which honestly opened my eyes a bit on that.
Changing the name to Trench will honestly make the genre stick out way more and it sounds much more badass.

(Ps. hi Hosh which is the person that argued with me about the genre name that im gunna send this to lol)

I started listening to this music in 2017 and never quite thought about the roots of the name, but it always was some kind of cringy to tell my people about something called “Riddim”, like, the sound of this term does not refer to the actual music. When you hear the word “Riddim” you think of something else than dark and minimalistic bass music.
The term “Trench” tells more about the music in its pronunciation already then “Riddim” ever did. I hope it will spread fastly and give the genre the recognition it deserves. I’m totally behind this.
Greetings from Germany – keep the scene alive!

Yes! I’m 100% down for this! Finally a word specifically for this genre! So Tired of it getting mixed with Jamaican rhythm lol Trench is much more fitting.

Yeah, this was really helpful to me to understand what is happening with this change and the origin of it, I totally agree with the change, I don’t knew the origin of the name “riddim” but now that I know, I think it really needs that change, thanks for the info man, really helpful ❤️❤️

Agree. It’s hilarious music that pushes the limits of sound and rhythm manages to get so caught up in the metadata.

I should have probs read this before commenting on any side of arguments.

Thank you for the informative article! I’m liking the sound of Trench more now 🙂

(apologies for shunting it at first)

This article is great!

I always felt that riddim was a really broad termto define what Trench music really is, It definitely feels like going down some trenches.

Something I just dont wrap my head around is the word itself, I believe trench fits perfectly for the name, but the word riddim has a better flow to saying it, that’s what makes people choose opposite sides in my opinion, whichever one sounds better when shouting It aloud I guess.

The most important thing is contributing positively to the scene that we all love and cherish for, getting it’s own identity with Trench seems awesome to me!

But, we’ll see in a few years what happens and what we all end up using haha.

Rename the genre to “Sawing”. The core flow of the genre is a 1 2 1 2 alternating pattern with the synth, which is the same sound a saw makes as it moves back and forth. Saws are tracks that are perfect for CHOPPING.

I agree with this article but I personally believe we should keep the term “Riddim” around only because it has history within this culture. We just need to find a home for it which i describe below.

Dubstep: complex drum arrangement / complex loud sound design / minimal quiet space in track
Example Artists: Excision, Phaseone, Ghastly

Trench: Simple Kick / Clap drum arrangement / 1 to few bass lines focusing on flow and stand out characteristics / more quiet space in track
Example Artists: Infekt, Chibs, Subfiltronik

Riddim: The cross over area between Dubstep and Trench. Where it may have complex drum arrangement with malstrom style sound design basses. Or Simple kick clap drum arrangement with multiple complex basses.
Example Artists: Subtronics, HOL!, Jiqui

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