Throughout 2003, DJ Hatcha pioneered a new direction for dubstep on Rinse FM and through his sets at Forward>>. Playing sets cut to 10" one-off reggae-style dubplates, he drew exclusively from a pool of new South London producers—first Benga and Skream, then also Digital Mystikz and Loefah—to begin a dark, clipped and minimal new direction in dubstep.
At the end of 2003, running independently from the pioneering FWD night, an event called Filthy Dub, co promoted by Plastician, and partner David Carlisle started happening regularly. It was there that Skream, Benga, N Type, Walsh, Chef, Loefah and Cyrus made their debuts as DJ's. South London collective Digital Mystikz (Mala and Coki), along with labelmates and collaborators Loefah and MC Sgt Pokes soon came into their own, bringing sound system thinking, dub values, and appreciation of jungle bass weight to the dubstep scene. Digital Mystikz brought an expanded palette of sounds and influences to the genre, most prominently reggae and dub, as well as orchestral melodies.
After releasing 12-inch singles on Big Apple, they founded DMZ Records, which has released fourteen 12"s to date. They also began their night DMZ, held every two months in Brixton, a part of London already strongly associated with reggae. DMZ has showcased new dubstep artists such as Skream, Kode 9, Benga, Pinch, DJ Youngsta, Hijak, Joe Nice and Vex'd. DMZ's first anniversary event (at the Mass venue, a converted church) saw fans attending from places as far away as Sweden, the U.S., and Australia, leading to a queue of 600 people at the event. This forced the club to move from its regular 400-capacity space to Mass' main room, an event cited as a pivotal moment in dubstep's history.
In 2004, Richard James' label, Rephlex, released two compilations that included dubstep tracks – the (perhaps misnamed) Grime and Grime 2. The first featured Plasticman, Mark One and Slaughter Mob, with Kode 9, Loefah and Digital Mystikz appearing on the second. These compilations helped to raise awareness of dubstep at a time when the grime sound was drawing more attention, and Digital Mystikz and Loefah's presence on the second release contributed to the success of their DMZ club night. Soon afterwards, the Independent on Sunday commented on "a whole new sound", at a time when both genres were becoming popular, stating that "grime" and "dubstep" were two names for the same style, which was also known as "sublow", "8-bar" and "eskibeat".