He’s one of our favourite producers and he’s got a release coming with the Infernal Sounds gang. Prepare yourselves!
Infernal Sounds’ four (near sold out) releases show a well-balanced melange between established artists and upcoming talent, with releases from acts like Perverse and Von D, as well as giving centre stage to Sepia with the brilliant IFS002 and premiering Causa and Shu in their collaborative Dubhelmet EP.
Sub Basics’ IFS005 drops in a fortnight; the label’s first release of the new year. In anticipation of the fifth vinyl release from Infernal Sounds, we recently sat down with label boss Aneurin and Sub Basics to discuss the Horus EP.
Easy Aneurin! Can you share how this release came about?
IFS: Easy, yes, of course mate! Basically, Jens (Mantra) and I have been watching Sub Basics for some time now. His older releases resonated, and we kept sharing his music back and forth. Some of the beats he had sent us were just so good that we really had to sign them. They were a perfect fit with the sound of our imprint.
What makes the tracks of Sub Basics so special to you?
IFS: He has a refined sound that just keeps on progressing with every new beat he makes. Particularly the low end flex that he manages to integrate — that really makes him stand out. It played a major part in our interest in his music.
The Horus EP is a well-balanced masterpiece, with 3 different tracks that display Sub Basics’ style.
How did you go about selecting the tracks from the label’s perspective?
IFS: We actually signed Horus first, which is the centrepiece of this release. Cartel was added to the release after some back and forth between us and Tom, and lastly Northern Lights was added to spice things up on a different tip. We’re really happy to see them work together as a complete EP.
The young producer has a nice track record when it comes to releases, releases that are full of surprises when you listen to them. American imprints Tuba and Visceral Vibrations were keen to give him a platform to release his solid productions, ranging from downright deep soundsystem rumbles like Khora, into absolutely beautiful melodic masterpieces like Vapour. Over the years, Sub Basics has been polishing his sound and his new release is the pinnacle of his versatility.
Even though Sub Basics was in the middle of his university deadlines, he took the time to catch up with us to talk about the release, his musical career and his future plans. Next to that, he’s put together an exclusive dub mix for us, crammed with dubs from a number of producers — including himself.
Easy Tom, nice to have the time to sit down. I’ll just start at the beginning: how did you get into the 140 scene? You’re one of the younger producers that have been stepping up, so how long ago was it?
SB: Yo, easy man! My first experience with dubstep came from a few YouTube videos that were just weird video loops on artwork, with dubstep music in the background. The tunes playing in it were Haunted, Skream’s Ancient Memories remix and Earth a Run Red. I might be able to find it for you [see below — FKOF]!
I didn’t know about any of the tunes around that time, but it just stuck with me; the thought of “this is sick”. That was maybe 5 or 6 years ago.
Were you involved in music production before, or when did you pick it up along the way?
SB: No, I’d say that I started producing music after discovering dubstep. I used this software called Mixcraft 5, where I was playing around with some loops. I remember there were two older people from my area that loaded up a Sub Focus tune on their Cubase, claiming it was their production. I was young at the time and I believed it for ages. It got me thinking “well, if they can do it, I can do it”.
I used to watch production tutorials from Distance and NDread, which were really useful. These tutorials have certainly helped me to improve in music production. I’ve got some projects dating back to 2012, and I think I was learning maybe 1 or 2 years before that.
I think it was back in 2013 that I came about your music through hearing Witness being played by VIVEK on his monthly Rinse shows. Was that the first production that was getting some recognition?
SB: Uh, yeah, he played an early version of that tune. But even before that, he supported In the Quiet and Khora, which was released later. I was 16 at the time, and it was an amazing experience — one which made me a lot more confident about my ability to make music.
When browsing through your discography to date (as well as some of your unreleased material), there’s one thing that stands out: you always seem to build your songs from a melodic theme, that continues to resonate throughout the track. Is that a conscious choice?
SB: It probably came from where I was originally learning production techniques from. I used to watch a lot of videos and read a lot of interviews of artists to learn. I can’t remember who it was, but someone said not to worry about sound design, because that will come. You should instead focus on the vibe of the track. If you can get the vibe of the track sounding good, then that is most of it. There’s loads of music that do not necessarily use the best sounds but they’ve got a wicked vibe, whereas some other tunes have crazy sound design but don’t really grab you.
How did the tracks of the Horus EP come about?
SB: I made Horus back in the summer of 2015, after visiting an edition of System. From the memory of the music of that night, I wanted to make a track that would fit in on that night. I made the track but I was not completely satisfied with how it sounded, so after laying it away for a couple of months, I tightened everything up. There’s an old version that had a lot of reverb. I learned that I didn’t need to soak everything in reverb: the tune got stronger from deliberately shying away from using too much of it. Cartel was something that just came very naturally, somewhere halfway last year. Can’t really remember exactly when I made that. With Northern Lights, the approach was very different. It’s got this “jungle bird sound” that took me ages to find. I knew it was the exact same sample used in all the old jungle tunes and I was determined to use it one day!
It seems like you can really focus on finding that exact right sample. Is your production process generally sample-based?
SB: I do, but if I’m using samples, I try not to make it too obvious that it was a sample originally. For example, the pads in the intro of Northern Lights were made from stretching a sample. I got inspired to do so when I listened to a Metallica track that was stretched to the length of an hour, making it feel like you’re listening to ambient sounds, which is sick! So, mostly, when I use samples, I process them to create something completely different from the original sample.
In general, where do you draw your musical inspiration from?
SB: Anything really. I’m always looking for and listening to new music and new sounds. I take inspiration from different scenes. They all have their own sounds and production techniques that stand out. For example, you have the lo-fi kind of hip-hop sound, where the use of samples and interesting effects processing create that particular sound, or with jungle, where it is mostly mad drum processing and very spacey pads that make a tune complete. I tend to take bits of these genres and try to incorporate them into my music. Sometimes I challenge myself to make a tune that would fit that scene, as a mean to learn how they actually do it.
What does the future bring for you as an artist? What can we expect from you in the near future?
SB: There are two more 12” releases coming. One of them will be dubstep, and the other will be on a different tempo. I can’t tell you much more than that right now, but make sure to follow me to find out in the coming year!
Next to that, I am working on my own label. I want to push new artists, as well as artists that are not getting enough recognition, through this label. I already have three releases lined up, all of which consist of mostly unknown productions by artists that are being slept on (in my view).
The Horus EP summarises the spectrum of Sub Basics material on two sides of vinyl, with a beautiful digital addition in the form of Northern Lights. It sums up the development of deep soundsystem wobblers: haunting system stompers that are far more than just an evolution of Coki’s Haunted.
Razor-sharp hats and drums tie the overall production together and show the potential of Tom’s music — an artist we feel we’re going to hear much more from in the future. Get to know!
If you’d like to support Tom’s IFS005, you could’ve pre-ordered the Horus EP fifth on the label’s Bandcamp page. But it’s sold out. So keep your eyes open and trigger fingers ready for the general release, which will drop via the usual retailers on February 17th, 2017.
Click to DOWNLOAD (400MB)
IFS005 drops in two weeks
No track list supplied — too many bangers.