Having delivered cutting edge bass music to the world from their headquarters in sunny Los Angeles for the past eight years, many would agree that SMOG Records has been responsible for pioneering a musical movement in America. 

The SMOG collective began nurturing bass, a sound then relatively unknown in the States, years ago. Thanks to the efforts of label-heads Drew Best, Danny Johnson and John Dadzie, the last of whom performs as 12th Planet, dubstep is now a household name.

On a recent overcast and chilly Los Angeles evening, we went to the historic Regent Theater in downtown Los Angeles for SMOG’s eight-year anniversary party. Whispers of who the evening’s special guests might be could be heard throughout the excited crowd lined up outside. Fans ran through the doors the second their tickets were ripped.

The attendees reflected SMOG’s tenure, with seasoned scene people, young ravers, and industry figureheads coming out to show their support. A sense of pride and accomplishment filled the air.

The theme of this year’s SMOG anniversary was Magic 8, with the poster art expanding on ‘60s psychedelia with trippy, colorful artwork. Early attendees were rewarded with an unannounced back-to-back set featuring SMOG Records A&R and producer Pavarotti, along with his special guest Bukez Finezt, a recent Skrillex favorite also known as “Germany’s Next Top Wobble” who is currently on tour in the U.S.

Following sets from SMOG’s label manager Taurus Scott and special guests Flinch and Infuze filled the venue with the cool low-end vibe the label is famous for.

Fan favorite Son Of Kick later stepped up to the decks, transitioning into an eclectic mix of trap and 140 bangers. By this time, the entire building was packed with SMOG supporters. Label favorites including Starkey and Antiserum then took things to another level with their own brands of bass.

Bassrush caught up with SMOG founder Drew Best, who said he was “just so happy to come back home to this!” after putting in work on Bro Safari’s recent Animal House tour. This sense of happiness was shared by the entire SMOG crew, who has and grown an independently run underground label from the last days of vinyl through the tumultuous rise of EDM and mp3’s.

At this point, the sense of anticipation for 12th Planet’s appearance was palpable. His talent, along with his continued push of genre-evolving producers including Savage Society, Bommer, and Dubloadz has brought a new, raw energy to a genre once considered in peril. This ability to evolve with the times is why SMOG has become one of the genre’s most celebrated and well-recognized labels. His set destroyed.

With the Regent Theater now full on both floors, the crowd erupted into loud applause when the promised special guests, Protohype, Datsik, and Dirtyphonics, joined 12th Planet for an all out murder session. Fans flooded to the front of the stage, and the bass waves could be felt all the way at the back of the room.

With the variety of talent on display, the set exposed most everyone to at least one new sound style. Spanning trap, drum & bass, dubstep, and experimental sounds, no beat was spared as cut after vicious cut was doubled up on by the next DJ. Overall, the party was a thrilling celebration for a label that we love.


By Amanda Ross