Wonky (genre)

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Wonky is a subgenre of electronic dance music known primarily for its off-kilter or “unstable” beats, as well as its eclectic, colorful blend of genres including hip-hop, electro-funk, 8-bit, jazz fusion, glitch, and crunk.[1][2] Artists associated with the style include Joker, Rustie, Hudson Mohawke, Zomby, and Flying Lotus.[1][2] The genre includes the related styles of purple sound and aquacrunk.[3][1]


Wonky initially emerged in 2008 as a colorful, exuberant style drawing on hip hop, synth-funk, glitchy electronica, and more eclectic influences, in contrast with the austere sound of the UK's ongoing dubstep and grime scenes.[4] Other influences included American hip hop producers J Dilla and Madlib, with some artists drawing more explicitly on an instrumental hip-hop sound rather than dubstep.[4] The term "wonky" has been rejected by various artists associated with the style.[2]


Wonky is known for its off-kilter rhythms and typically features garish synthesizer tones, melodies, and effects.[3] The "unstable" sound of wonky is often achieved by producing unquantised beats, abandoning the metronomic precision of much electronic music.[4] Artists also use heavy sub-bass, which has been attributed to synergistic effects of bass with the drug ketamine, which became popular in UK clubs during the dubstep era.[4] BBC Music called it a style of "slightly out-of-phase beats and synthesisers that wobble woozily, like they've warped after being left out in the sun."[5]

Purple sound emerged in Bristol in late 2008 out of the splintering dubstep scene and took inspiration from wonky, which it is sometimes considered a part of. It incorporates synth-funk from the 1980s and G-funk production from the '90s into dubstep, while also introducing many aspects of grime and 8-bit music (several prominent purple sound artists cite video game music as a large influence).[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Martin Clark (2008-04-30). "Grime / Dubstep". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 2018-06-12. Retrieved 2016-07-18.
  2. ^ a b c Reynolds, Simon (2011). Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to Its Own Past. Farrah, Straus & Giroux. p. 76. ISBN 9781429968584.
  3. ^ a b Thomas de Chroustchoff, Gwyn. "The Dummy guide to purple". Dummy Mag. Archived from the original on 11 October 2017. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d Reynolds, Simon (5 March 2009). "Feeling wonKy: is it ketamine's turn to drive club culture?". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 September 2022.
  5. ^ Pattison, Louis (2009). "Hudson Mohawke - Butter - Review". BBC Music. Retrieved April 28, 2015.
  6. ^ "Maintenance Mode". The Stool Pigeon. Archived from the original on 2016-03-24. Retrieved 2016-07-18.