Exploring the Diverse Subgenres of UK Garage

Exploring the diverse subgenres of UK Garage from Old School to Future Garage

1/6/20245 min read

UK Garage, also known as UKG, has evolved over the years to encompass a wide range of subgenres. From its roots in the 1990s, it has branched out into various styles, each with its own unique characteristics and influences. Grime, Funky and UK Bass have all emerged from the remains of the golden garage era but yet still to some peoples surprise UK Garage has continued throughout and in this blog, we will explore some of the most prominent subgenres of modern day UK Garage and provide examples of tracks that fit into each category.

1. 2-Step

2 Step Garage is one of the foundational subgenres of UK Garage. It emerged in the late 1990s and is characterised by its syncopated rhythms and distinctive two-step beat pattern that has producers reaching for that essential 'swing' groove pattern. 2 Step Garage often features soulful vocals, melodic hooks, and a combination of electronic and organic sounds.

Example tracks:

  • Amira - My Desire (Dreem Teem Remix)

  • Antonio - Hyperfunk

2. 4x4

4x4 Garage, also known as 4-to-the-floor, is a subgenre that in the early days, covered everything that wasn't 2 step but as we've progressed the variations have gained their own audiences. It emphasises a steady four beats to the bar pattern incorporates elements of house music, with a focus on driving basslines, energetic rhythms, and catchy melodies. 4x4 Garage is often associated with high-energy club tracks.

Example tracks:

  • "Shut The Door" by Todd Edwards

  • "Reasons" by MPH & Oppidan

3. Funky

Funky, or UK Funky, is a subgenre that emerged in the late 2000s. It combines the rhythmic elements of UK Garage with influences from Funky House, Afrobeat, and other genres. Funky Garage tracks are identified by their infectious grooves, lively percussion, and vibrant melodies.

Example tracks:

  • "Do You Mind" by Kyla & Crazy Cousinz

  • "In the Morning" by Egypt

4. Bassline

Bassline Garage, also known as Niche (named after the club that DJ Q pushed this style in) is a subgenre that originated in the mid-2000s in the UK. It is known for its heavy basslines, energetic beats, and rapid-fire vocals. Bassline Garage often incorporates elements of speed garage and 4x4 and is best served fast.

Example tracks:

  • "Heartbroken" by T2 ft. Jodie Aysha

  • "You Wot" by DJ Q ft. MC Bonez

5. Speed Garage

Speed Garage emerged in the mid-1990s and is characterised by its fast-paced beats, pitched-up vocals, and prominent bassline. It draws influences from house music, UK Garage, and jungle. Speed Garage tracks are known for their energetic and frenetic nature, played above the normal pitch at 135-140bpm.

Example tracks:

  • "RIP Groove" by Double 99

  • "Gunman" by 187 Lockdown

6. Vocal

Vocal Garage is a subgenre that places a strong emphasis on soulful vocals. It combines elements of UK Garage with influences from R&B, soul, and pop music. Vocal Garage tracks often feature powerful vocal performances, heartfelt lyrics, and melodic hooks.

Example tracks:

  • "Strawberries" by Wilfy D

  • "Imagine" by Shola Ama

7. Jazzstep

Jazzstep Garage, also known as Jazz Garage, is a subgenre that fuses UK Garage with jazz influences. It incorporates elements of jazz, including improvisation, complex chord progressions, and live instrumentation. This sub group was pretty much coined by Mr Jazzstep himself, Phonetix, who's garage tracks often feature intricate melodies, sophisticated harmonies, and a laid-back groove that is said to involve the added talent of playing live instruments to bring that authentic jazz sound.

Example tracks:

  • "Other Plans" by Phonetix

  • "Luminance" by Shunji Fujii

8. Garage House

Garage House, as the name suggests, is a subgenre that combines elements of UK Garage with the soulful and melodic elements of house music. It often features uplifting piano chords, soulful vocals, and a driving rhythm. Garage House tracks are known for their infectious energy, feel-good vibes and a slightly slower tempo than the usual 130-135bpm of mainstream UKG.

Example tracks:

  • "Deep Inside" by Hardrive

  • "The Groove We're On" by Babs Presents

9. Bumpy

Bumpy UK Garage, also known as Bumpy House, is a subgenre that emphasises a rough and raw sound. It often features gritty basslines, chopped-up beats, and distorted samples. Bumpy UK Garage tracks are epitomised by some of Tuff Jams 4x4 releases and remixes, known for their percussive, and for want of a better word, bumpy and underground feel.

Example tracks:

  • "Missing" by Para

  • "Happiness" by Pepper Mashay (Tuff Jam Dub)

10. Rollin' UKG

Similar to the Rolling or Intelligent Drum n Bass of the late 90's, the drums do the heavy lifting backed by a rolling bassline. Rather than the breakdown, build up and euphoric drop of many of the genres, Rollin' UKG flows in steady waves of layered percussion, building out a more subtle but no less emotive journey.
Arfa has been one of the main purveyors of this more recent take on UKG as can be heard in these example tracks:

  • "Feel Good" by Kishin & Arfa

  • "Skyline" by Arfa

NUKG/Future Garage

New UK Garage (NUKG) or Future Garage as its often known in the USA, is less of a sub genre and more of a distinction of the movement that has taken place since the founding days of yesteryear. It encompasses all of the new sub genres mentioned, and more, and is finding its way across the globe in a way that Old School Garage perhaps didn't have the opportunity to do.
We have a UK contingent of the long term players like Para and MJ Cole through to the newer breed of talent such as Oppidan and Champion but we also have multinational producers from Russia, USA, Canada, Australia, Japan and Europe all making strong contributions and long may that continue.

Old School Garage (OSG)

Old School Garage is still the guilty pleasure of many 40ish year olds be it in their car or down a local bar after a few drinks. Much has been written about it and you can read more on its history in our other blogs on this site but it is often viewed the big brother to NUKG when you look at events, mainly due to the reminiscent nature of OSG and the crowd that know it either from living through it first hand or the new crowd that have Kisstory to re-distribute the sound.
The lack of prominence of New UK Garage at these events is more down to promoters pushing the more well known sounds than the DJ's themselves choosing not to play it but that can easily change by feeding these new tracks into their sets as there are many deserving tracks out there. But most will say there's nothing like the old school days, and they're likely right, but there is equally nothing like UK Garage as a whole, and everything since the golden days has built a solid and still under rated sound.

man standing on stage
man standing on stage