Follow us:


A blog for Seattle music lovers of all stripes, from hip-hop and indie rock to jazz and world music.

January 16, 2015 at 5:30 AM

RL Grime – EDM trend follower or trend setter? | Concert preview

(Andi Elloway)

(Andi Elloway)

The popularity of Los Angeles producer and DJ Henry Steinway — who plays the Neptune Theatre Tuesday, Jan. 20, and Thursday, Jan. 22 — is a testament to electronic-music fans’ changing and expanding tastes.

Steinway first got attention for a remix of Avicii’s “Levels” that he made under the name Clockwork in 2011. The song and the remix were emblematic of electronic-music trends at the time: The original is an electro-house banger; the remix is built around American dubstep’s signature buzz-saw bass.

Around the same time, he began producing as RL Grime. The new alias freed him from EDM expectations and allowed him to make more-experimental tracks that draw from hip-hop, dubstep and U.K. club music.

In doing so, he’s become quite successful. He’s racked up more than 350,000 Soundcloud followers, collaborated with A-listers like rapper Big Sean, and plays large venues and festivals.

Steinway’s main focus is trap, a genre heavily influenced by Southern rap — minor-key synth lines, overdriven kick drums and rapid-fire hi-hats. It’s become a force in electronic and pop music; two huge hits from last year, Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” and DJ Snake’s “Turn Down for What,” borrow heavily from the style. So to some degree, RL Grime is cresting on popular trends.

He’s also shown a willingness to mix things up. Debut album “Void” is a stylistic grab bag. There are plenty of club-friendly tracks, but there are also beatless interludes, hazy R&B experiments and nods to underground styles from across the Atlantic like grime, jungle and 2-step. It’s uneven to listen to from beginning to end, but unlike other popular producers, Steinway shows a desire to interface with sounds and ideas upon which mainstream dance music is built.

In an interview with Pitchfork in 2012, electronic musician Matthew Dear speculated that the new wave of electronic-music fans from the early part of the decade would eventually grow tired of the formulaic music at big-budget EDM events and “start finding avenues toward Aphex Twin, Kraftwerk and Basic Channel.”

The rise of producers like Steinway proves him half right. Though he’s certainly not an Aphex Twin-level innovator, he’s an intermediary between EDM’s biggest names and electronic music’s underground. Fans come to his shows for the bass; with any luck, they might leave curious about where that bass comes from.

RL Grime

With Lunice, Tommy Kruise. 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 20, and Thursday, Jan. 22, at The Neptune Theatre, 1303 N.E. 45th St., Seattle; $21.50-$25 (206-784-4849 or

Comments | More in Electronic | Topics: "Void", Concert Preview, neptune theatre


No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.

The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.

The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►