Submerse Marks A Milestone With “Works”
The blending of genres and styles is becoming more present than ever with the introduction of the internet and the ever increasing accessibility of music creation and recording software.
If you ask anyone who keeps an ear to the electronic and hip hop spheres about an artist named Submerse, most will tell you that the UK to Tokyo export has been increasingly gaining steam with his strong signature sound of textural and spacial electronic beats.
His latest collection of tracks released on Project: Mooncircle is entitled “Works” which he describes as a checkpoint to showcase where he’s been and where he’s at sonically (and physically).
We were able to catch up with him regarding his newest release and how moving to Tokyo has shaped his sound.
Mike: So, tell me about your latest album “Works”. What’s the inspiration behind it?
@Submerse: Works is a compilation of previous tracks that I’ve released over the past 5 years via Project: Mooncircle. I picked out a bunch of a tracks that I feel represent where I’ve been at in the last half decade, there are also about 4 new bonus tracks too. I guess it’s like a checkpoint for me, as I get older and my style kind of shifts it’s cool to kind of put a checkpoint in somewhere, it feels like “Works” is that checkpoint.
Okay that makes sense. If you were to call it something, would it be an album, a collection, a beat tape? How does it feel to you in terms of a full piece?
@Submerse: I guess it would be a collection. It’s pretty strange for me to hear the whole thing from start to finish. I have such vivid memories of making every track because I had just moved to Tokyo 5 years ago and I move around a lot here. I think most tracks were made in a different place, using different monitors and different equipment. It’s like a 5 year collage. For me, as a full piece I think it works and I think that if you are maybe new to my stuff you can get a pretty good feel of what I’m about.
That’s great, personally I really like “albums” that have a good mix of styles and feelings because I think they show a certain level of versatility.
@Submerse: Yeah dude, I totally agree.
I guess that leads me to my next question, what made you decide to move to Tokyo?
@Submerse: I’ve been really into Japanese video games and soundtracks since I was a kid so I was stoked to come out and play a few shows back in 2010. I just really liked everything about Tokyo. Everyone was real nice and something about this place just grabbed me. After I got back to England I saved up some money and just moved out here on my own. I’m from a pretty small town in England so Tokyo is like a different world to me.
Haha yes, absolutely! It’s a definite bucket-list spot for me as well. How has living there shaped your sound? What is the electronic / beat scene like over there opposed to in England?
@Submerse: My sound has changed pretty drastically since I moved here [laughs]. From pretty much the day I arrived here everything I made got a bit more mellow and slower. I was really influenced by the electronic / beat scene here for sure, there are so many rad producers / beat makers out here. I didn’t really feel like England has a scene for that kind of stuff so much, it always felt more dominated by other types of dance music.
Tokyo is a hub for all kinds of music from all over the world so it was super refreshing to go to a show here and hear LA style beats, Japanese boom bap and then across to a totally different show 5 minutes away and hear only chiptune and anime OP remixes. Even Square-Enix runs parties out here. Its like 5 hours of only Final Fantasy music and remixes.
That’s a good move then! So going all the way back, what were your first musical memories? What did you listen to as a kid?
@Submerse: I was real big into hiphop when I was a kid. I had an uncle who was into making mix tapes so he used to pass them onto me. Once the internet became more common I got more and more into video game music. I’ve been into game music since as far back as I can remember, I didn’t even know it was a thing until I read about it online. I guess having the internet as a kid I kind of tried to listen to everything, from ambient to math-rock. Maybe my earliest memories of music are my mum playing Led Zeppelin to me constantly [laughs].
When did you start making your own music?
@Submerse: I played a couple instruments when I was young, then when I was 15 I started using Cubase in school. From there I started making my own stuff when I was 16. I made just electronic / electronica at first, I was just playing around really. I think the first track I ever exported was a remix of the Jurassic Park theme song.. I wish I still had that.
Yessir! There was for sure a point in my life as well where all I listened to was chiptunes (RIP 8bitcollective.com) [laughs]. Was it first electronic music or hiphop that struck more of a chord with you to begin with?
@Submerse: I mean at first everything was so new to me it was just like anything I could make I was happy with. I think at the time I was using Logic for Windows. Once I felt I was able to grasp how to program a synth I was making everything from hiphop to ambient to jungle/garage. Everything I tried was anywhere between 80 to 170bpm. It was only really in the past 6 years that I’ve settled into a more regular BPM.
Things like video game music and drone for instance I always wanted to make but when I was starting out I had no idea how to even approach making something like that.
So when starting a song, where do you mostly get inspired?
@Submerse: Video games and movies inspire me the most I guess but it can be anything really. I think I usually feel most inspired after playing a show on the way home at like 5am. I’m always trying to make the perfect walk home alone at night kind of track.
Do you start with samples or do you start by writing melodies, or something different?
@Submerse: It depends, most of the time I program drums first, I can spend hours just working on drums, adding noise, field recordings and textures etc. Then I’ll dig for a sample or start playing around with chords. For some of my more ambient stuff I’ll build a patch on a synth or VST, re-record it and just play around with delays and reverbs for hours.
Word, yeah your stuff for sure has a very full and textural sound. I wanted to ask, how would you describe your music to someone who was deaf?
@Submerse: Man, thats a tough one. I guess I would say like watching drunk people walk home in slow motion.
Haha cool. Since “Works” is coming out on vinyl, how do you feel about today’s musical climate in terms of streaming vs. download vs. physical purchases?
@Submerse: For me I like to have something I can hold in my hands, but at the same time being able to listen to anything I want anytime I want is pretty special too. I think it’s all good, I feel like thanks to downloads and things like Bandcamp I’ve been able to discover so much more than I ever would at my local record store. It’s cool that in Japan Tower Record is still a huge thing. People are still regally buying CDs. Sometimes you want to get away from a screen and go into a store and be like ‘oh damn this cover is dope I’ll have a listen’. Also I feel like music on my laptop just gets lost in folders of other mp3/wavs. It doesn’t ever feel like I permanently own it, if you know what I mean.
Yeah I get that, they all have their own pluses and minuses that can’t really be matched or compared. So how did you link up with Project Mooncircle? What’s the scene like over at that camp?
@Submerse: I think it was back in 2010 I played a show in Berlin and Malte from PMC came to the show, he hooked me up with some tapes and we got to chill before the show. I was pretty big into PMC as it was a european label that mainly put out electronic beat stuff. He asked me to send across a couple beats then a week later Gordon hit me up asking if I was down to release and EP, it pretty much went from there.
As the artists and PMC have matured everyone has definitely found their own niche. It’s cool seeing the other artists progress and move into different sounds. The label has been like that too, they’re a lot more diverse now than they used to be.
Nice! Yeah they seem to have a good sense of what they like and the kind of stuff they want to put out. So a question for all the nerds out there, whats the most crazy bent/far out song / artist / label you’ve been really into lately?
@Submerse: Hmmm… I guess that’s gotta be the Japanoise Scene in general [laughs]. There are so many just crazy geeked out modular noise artists out here.
Like Merzbow kinda stuff? What’s that like live?
@Submerse: Yeah I actually went to a Merzbow show the other week for the first time. I always figured myself as pretty clued in when it comes to like ambient/drone music and I really like heavily distorted ambient, but the underground Japanoise scene really pushes the boarder of what music is [haha]. But yeah, Japanese noise has had a super long and interesting history. I’ve been to shows out here where guys just bring racks of modular stuff to a small bar, play about 15 minutes of noise then everyone sits around for a while and talks about it. It’s rad.
Haha that stuff is crazy, I imagine it being pretty visceral especially when live. Alright well thanks man, best of luck with “Works”. I know for sure I will be delving into it. I’ll catch ya on the flip side!
@Submerse: Thanks dude! Much appreciated.
“Works” is available now via Project: Mooncircle.Purchase Album