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Speed garage

Related: garage (dance music) - UK music - Todd Edwards - Armand Van Helden

When, around 1997, some London DJs took the descendant of this music and latched it to some cavernous, half-tempo basslines, speed garage or UK garage or the London Sound was born. Just to make things even more complicated, this actually took its first steps thanks to records by New Jersey producer Todd Edwards and adopted New Yorker Armand Van Helden.

Speed Garage The Armand Van Helden remix of CJ Bolland's "Sugar is Sweeter" defined the whole [speed garage] sound with that huge breakdown and massive bass-line. He was the first one to really come up with any sort of formula for the music.


Speed garage is an early development of 2 step.


2Step (also known as 2 step, two step or 2 step garage) is a typically British style of modern dance music, and one of the two major sub-genres of UK Garage (although UK Garage is sometimes imprecisely used as a synonym for 2Step), together with its brother 4x4 Garage.

The roots of 2Step are embedded in (US) garage, a form of house music named after the legendary New York club Paradise Garage, where some DJs (e.g. Larry Levan) started playing this style of dance music during the 1980s.

In the UK, where jungle and techno were strong at the time, Garage was played in the second room at Jungle parties (as counterpart to chill-out rooms at techno parties). As Jungle tracks are usually much faster compared to (US) Garage, DJs in the UK started to speed up Garage tracks to make them more suitable for the jungle audience in the UK. The media started to call this fast-played garage music ”Speed Garage”, 2Step's predecessor. DJs usually played dub versions (arrangements without vocals) of Garage tracks, which do not sound odd when played faster. The absence of vocals left a lot of empty space for MCs, who started rhyming to the records. Since then MCs became one of the vital aspects of Speed and UK Garage parties and records. Early promoters of Speed Garage included the Dreem Team and Tuff Jam and many pirate radio stations like Magic FM, Deja Vu, Erotic FM or Kiss FM. The Speed Garage scene was also called the "Sunday Scene". The reason behind this was that it was difficult to hire a club at that time for a party playing any other sound than the predominant Jungle or Hardcore. So the only available night for Speed Garage was Sunday night. Popular party labels who focused on this kind of music were Deja Vu, Spread Love and Twice as Nice.

Speed garage already incorporated many aspects of today's UK Garage (and 2Step) sound like sub-bass lines, ragga vocals, spin backs and reversed drums. What changed over time, until the so called 2Step sound emerged, was the addition of further funky elements like RnB vocals, more shuffled beats and a different drum pattern. The most radical change from Speed Garage to 2Step was the removal of the 2nd and 4th bass kick from each bar (see "Characteristics" for more details). So you could say that 2Step actually has taken the speed out of Speed Garage. This energy-deficit is compensated by syncoping bass lines and the percussive use of other instruments like pads, strings and pizzicatos. "Re-rewind": The 2step anthem from Artful Dodger and Craig David

While there were many key players involved in making UK Garage the most hyped dance music genre around the turn of the century, some of them really stand out. Among those Todd Edwards, who is sometimes cited as the most influential person on the whole UK Garage scene. The producer from New Jersey, who never actually made any 2Step track, changed the whole way of working with vocals. Instead of having full verses and choruses, he picked out vocal phrases and played them like an instrument. This became possible trough the use of sampling technology. Edwards' way of chopping vocals and using them in a very unusual manner was adopted by many UK Garage producers and is still a very characteristic element of the whole UK Garage vibe.

The UK's "answer" to Todd Edwards was MJ Cole, a classically trained oboe and piano player, who became very successful with his own songs "Sincere" and "Carzy Love". Even more successful became the producer duo The Artful Dodger, aka Pete Devereu and Mark Hill, who (together with Craig David) were very successful with the track "Re-rewind", which became an anthem for the whole 2Step scene.

Recent developments are showing an evolvement into two main directions: firstly, 2Step is moving away from its glamorous appeal into a darker direction called Grime. This sound is much harder and rougher than its predecessor. This is one of the reasons why 2Step is being pushed back underground again, as more and more people turn away from the "negative" sound. Secondly, you see 4x4 Garage gaining popularity, which is a convergence towards UK Garage's mother House music. This sound abandons the classical 2Step patterns used for UK Garage, as it employs the old "4 to the floor" drum pattern (see "Characteristics) as it is used in many forms of electronic music. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2Step [Apr 2005]

Definition by Simon Reynolds

So what is it, this genre-without-a-name? It's the latest in a series of mutations spawned from London's multiracial rave scene, the next evolutionary stage beyond speed garage (itself a swerve sideways from jungle). And the new style does have a name, albeit an unsatisfactorily dry, technical one: "2-step," increasingly a general rubric for all kinds of jittery, irregular rhythms that don't conform to garage's traditional 4-to-the-floor pulse. Somebody really should coin a more attractive name, though, one that captures 2-step's lipsmacking lusciousness. Because all the juice squeezed out of jungle by the post-techstep school of scientific drum & bass has oozed back in the succulent form of 2-step. -- Simon Reynolds The Wire , April 1999 http://members.aol.com/blissout/2step.htm


DJ OJI on speed garage

[...] Perhaps now I will step on some toes. I will apologize in advance. Why is it that the industry in England feels that is necessary to re-classify or categorize House music ? Every six months there is some sort of new twist on an old sound and it is born a new name. They come and they go. That sound is then changed and exploited by UK industry strong-arms, labels and producers and the creator never gets credit for his/her originality.

Ex. Speed Garage. First of all, it has nothing to do with "the Garage" This music was never played at "the Garage", nor is it what one could assume to make sense, a sped up version of Garage style music. Second Armand Van Helden developed a style of production. He didn't give it a name other than Armand mix. Well somewhere along the line, his style was adopted by a whole nation of producers oversees and it was deemed to be Speed Garage. Not once have I seen him get any recognition for being the creator of this style of music. I have seen producers emerge from the UK . So, I guess I am not a big fan of this style of music.

Every once in awhile, I will hear a song in its classification that will catch my ear, but for the most part it all sounds the same and there are usually no vocals. How can this be helping our industry if there are never any words to identify the song or no focus on the development of artists. Again, I apologize, if I am stepping on any toes, but these things are important to me.

Armand Van Helden

Sugar is Sweeter

The Armand Van Helden remix of CJ Bolland's "Sugar is Sweeter" defined the whole [speed garage] sound with that huge breakdown and massive bass-line. He was the first one to really come up with any sort of formula for the music.

In His Own Words

"For me when I first started to make speedgarage, I didn't term it as speedgarage. I'd been into drum and bass for years. The scenario was, I'm not gonna try and make drum and bass, I'm gonna take it and put it with house and see what happens. That's all it is, that's the birth of Speedgarage." -- [...],

Todd Edwards

One of these people doing it well is New Jersey based producer Todd Edwards. Van Helden cites Edwards as the best of the "other side" of Speedgarage, that of tight beats with an underlying garage influence. This style is most evident on Edwards' single "Dancing for Heaven".


  1. http://www.garage-music.com/sg2step.htm Has Speed Garage or Underground Garage, now evolved into 2 Step Garage?


  • Basslines - Various Artists[Amazon US]
    1. Sugar Is Sweeter [Armand Van Helden Mix] - CJ Bolland 2. Hideaway 998 [187 Lockdown Hidden Vocal Dub] - De'Lacy 3. Burnin' Up - Wild Cat 4. Rip Groove - Double 99 5. Ultrafunkula - Urban Funk 6. Line [Loop Da Loop Gangster House Mix] - Lisa Stansfield 7. Move You Body [DJ Jean & Peran Speed Garage Mix] 8. Love Commandments - Gisele Jackson 9. Kick the Party into Full Effect - Ruff Da Menace 10. Bassline 11. New Generation [Ruff Da'Dub Mix] - The Dance Federation

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