Beats, soundsystem, slow, dark dubstep; whatever you want to call it, the experimental bass music scene is a fun little niche that doesn’t get nearly enough love from the wider EDM world. It’s a shame too, because these dark, deep 140 BPM beats and bass are like a loving, warm lobotomy or a brain massage and a great respite from the amped up party vibes we’re used to in the bass music communites.
There are lots of labels and little cloisters all over the world where one can find a good brain massaging beats or soundsystem sesh but the benevolent bass kings that are Noisia are also making sure this subgenre of all deep cuts is getting some more popular love from their DIVISION label.
The Partial series on DIVISION is dedicated to weird and different beats and soundsystem-style bass music. Now on its fifth installment, Your EDM has covered the Partial project before but on this chapter we wanted to know about what attracts the artists to beats and soundsystem dubstep.
We got a lot of different answers, but the biggest commonality among all the artists on the Partial #5 compilation is a sense of experimentation and thinking about music composition very differently from your average rave beats. It’s a great subgenre to explore via the artists on this installment of the series, so take a listen, get your lobotomy on and find out what Arigto, Marauder, Animals In the Room, Hebbe, Revazz and OCEE have to say about their chosen method of bass delivery.
Talk a little about your background and how you came to produce the style you do.
Arigto: The style took over itself. We tend to change our style after every project to not get too comfortable in our production.
Marauder: I have a predilection for dark and gritty textures. This music is inspired by those parts of my mind.
Animals In the Room: I used to play music in a more traditional rock and blues setting as a guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, and producer. Eventually I just got fed up with having to rely on others to produce music and realized I didn’t really have to. I had been making electronic music for years on the side…. Once I started getting immersed into a new wave of experimental beat scene artists, my understanding of what music was had been broken and my new goal is to be able to do that for others one day.
Hebbe: Around 2014 I started making dubstep, influenced by the deeper sounds on the ‘This Is Dubstep’ 2013/2014 compilations. It inspired me to make all kinds of different styles within 140 bpm and still think there is so much to explore within this tempo. I feel flow is important to my music. I just make sounds that appeal to me and make me want to dance in my own studio.
Revazz: How I got into making music? I used GarageBand first in the summer of 2011, then downloaded Ableton in the winter of 2012.
OCEE: Both Or and I come from a background in the trailer music industry where we compose and produce in a number of genres, primarily focusing on live orchestral and hybrid sound design. We were looking to break the routine and to challenge ourselves…we have always been big fans of NOISIA which influenced us a lot in breaking the mold of standard electronic music, and naturally that influenced our musical styles in trailer music and sound design. As we discovered half-time and beats, we decided to experiment and mix that in to our work. To see that take shape in the form of releasing tracks on DIVISION is unexpected and definitely rewarding.
How did you come to work with Division?
Arigto: We listened to Thys’ playlist and thought he might like our music.
Marauder: I am probably the biggest Noisia fan of all time, and love all the artists they have shared with us through their labels and the Noisia Radio podcast. I had this small collection of tracks I thought would be at home on Division, and asked a great friend, Ooah, what he thought about me submitting this music to the label. He was very encouraging, supportive, and helped me get in touch with the guys.
Animals In the Room: I submitted my collab w/ Zimbu via the online form & months down the line heard the good news after everyone passed on our track! It was quite a pleasant surprise that came at the perfect moment.
Hebbe: After I saw some producers I know release on Division and get recognized via Noisia Radio I had the feeling that they might be interested in one of my tunes so I had send them a submission of the tune “Yare” and they asked me if I would be willing to release it on of their labels.
Revazz: Over the past year and a half I have sent Noisia and their team two tracks which have been signed to Division Partial series #2 and #5.
OCEE: WE’ve been following the Noisa Radio podcast since its inception. At the time, when we had just released our five-track EP with Flexout Audio who gave us our first exposure and break, and Noisia started featuring more and more beats and unique tunes on the show. Then they played one of our tunes from the Flexout EP on their show! We decided that our next goal would be to release a single with DIVISION, and after sending in a well-received submission, our track “Slope” selected to be featured on DIVISION Partial #1.
What are some influences that inspired your style?
Arigto: We were really sad when Jóhann Jóhannsson died, so that was an inspiration for this track.
Marauder: I’m influenced a lot by unusual audio engineering. On the analog side, I really enjoy Joe Barresi’s style. He pulls the most unusual parts of sounds out and creates incredible, evil sounding records. His work with QOTSA is hard to beat for me. Another huge influence for me is Moody Good. That album and the subsequent EP both gave me a ton of confidence to just say fuck everything and do what I feel I must.
Animals In the Room: I used to listen to a lot of Portishead, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, hip-hop, bossa nova and jazz. Animals in the Room is my conclusion of where to go next because I didn’t want to be doing things that had already been done.
Hebbe: Usually get inspiration from a single sound I hear in a tune. I might be listening to some music like old dub records and hear the first drum or echo effect and immidiatly stop the music and go into my DAW. At other times a label asks for a second tune for a label and I kind of set a challenge to build a tune that would fit the label perfectly by listening to their release catalogue.
Revazz: I don’t believe I have a style; or at least I don’t think about it in that specific way. What I create is who I am. I sound what I look like. What influences me? Myself: how I operate, thought process explanations, split-second memories, dream and sleep paralysis introspection, family and friend relationships, and attributing breaking barriers through different forms of perspectives.
OCEE: We feed off inspiration from all kinds of music, from rap and hip hop to world music, and from classical to heavy sound design. In general, we’re really interested in production, mixing, and sound design so the new school of beats and half time with acts such as Ivy Lab, Noisia and I AM LEGION/Foreign Beggars influenced our style. We took it from there with our own spin, but the mixture of the new school with our musical experience informed the style of OCEE.
What kind of stuff inspired your track for this EP?
Arigto: We try to avoid any an auditory influence, but a combination of some things is obviously there. Villeneuve and George Miller were some visual inspirations for that track tho.
Marauder: Dissonance, uneasiness, uncertainty, the abstract.
Animals In the Room: Music from Tsuruda, Woolymammoth, Noisia, Ivy Lab, Eeprom, G Jones, Noer the Boy and more artists along that vein have really left an impact on me and shown me there is love for the underground weirdness that I personally enjoy. For a while I had been making tunes & feeling like they wouldn’t fit anywhere till I discovered there’s a worldwide community built around this weirdness.
Hebbe: This track definitely has some elements that were inspired by a few different producers I know pretty well and some I listen to on a regular and play out in my sets. I am very critical of my own music and I am not easily impressed but these guys always inspire me. Some of the percussion elements were very much inspired by both Melle and Sleeper and the bassline by some of Samba͛s tunes and Kloudmen tunes I play out. Other producers that inspire me and I look up to are Mr.K, Ago, Headland and the Ternion Sound guys!
Revazz: For this track “RADAR,” nothing specific. While I’m rewinding myself back to August 2017 when I started the project, the only thing that comes to mind is sound design exploration.
OCEE: Mostly the idea of using unconventional sounds carried by dirty beats and juxtaposed against an off-kilter melody, all wrapped with a very bright and crisp sonic timbre.
When putting this track together, did you have a clear start point or was it more experimentation?
Arigto: We don’t plan out songs. Everything just comes together. We started messing around with our new Nintendo Switch’s Labo Piano. That song took a while, but we don’t remember how we made anything of it.
Marauder: In the beginning, there was “ORGAN!” I knew it would be dark and kind of fucked up. The only other piece I had a vision of was the lead sound. Dissonant, and unpleasant.
Animals In the Room: From start to finish I think “Heretics” was more of a free flowing experiment. All we did was stay true and honest to our artistic expression without trying to fit into any boxes. The state of amazing flow is a beautiful feeling. You can really feel where to go next without having to think too much.
A lot of the sound design comes down to mangling already solid sounds and taking it a step beyond to new areas. It was also fun to get to throw down a guitar solo in a track that didn’t have guitar driving the music so that it could make its own statement.
Hebbe: At that time I was really into simple and repetitive tunes and I started out in Masssive trying to make a bassline that would be interesting enough to keep repeating throughout the whole tune, which is usually something I would aim for, starting out simple so I can expand on the sound later on. I guess what eventually set the tune apart from a simple bassline focussed tune were the added percussion elements coming in sporadically at first and later on taking the lead role in the tune. I kind of made the percussion a melody in my head and started pitchibng and cutting up loops and changing up every individual hit until it sounded interesting and moving them randomly off grid until it sounded good and this added some swing to it. I kept the hats simple so the focus would be on the bassline and percussion melody.
Revazz: I started with drum processing & arrangement and then synth sound design.
OCEE: Our good friend Harland aka Harel Tsemah, who is an extremely versatile music producer, recorded a cool idea for us and subsequently we started layering a dirty beat on it, and then just kept flowing with the vibe. That initial recorded idea he gave us really informed what the beat should feel like, the atmosphere of the track, and how we were going to develop it. The melody itself sounds like a bluff – as if it’s “not” a real melody, or in other words, it’s very unusual – hence the name of the track, “Bluff.”. At the time we wrote the track, we started playing with different hardware emulation tools to try and get a certain sonic color. We then discovered Acustica-Audio’s plug-ins, which played a big role in the track.
Did you find it a challenge working in this type of tempo and beat structure?
Arigto: We start making music without any grid. If we decide to use drums at some point we just try to find some BPM that fits.
Marauder: Most of the time I begin by starting, and find the tempo/structure after the fact. I’m of the mind that ideas, especially musical ones, exist already. I just try to “hear” the tune as it exists and then write it down as accurately as possible. It’s always challenging to try to do the idea justice, but that’s something I enjoy about the process.
Animals In the Room: Nah, I’m always futzin about these tempos and so is Zimbu. I’d say it feels right at home, but it’s always a challenge to push it further though.
Hebbe: No, I have been limiting myself to 140 bpm for a few years now and I still think there is a lot of different things I can do within the genre of deep dubstep and 140 bpm.
Revazz: No. For me, the tempo and beat structure come with creating the song. There are other elements that cause my track production process to be challenging, which I speak about in answer three.
OCEE: We believe that the biggest challenge is to maintain interest throughout the track in lieu of a vocal line or lyrics. Especially with beats, the danger is becoming trite or monotonous. But that also gave us the framework for small nuances, ear candy, and mind-delights that all comes from the sound processing, sonic manipulations, and mixing. So eventually you get a more sophisticated story-telling within a beat, that is driven by a propelling off-kilter melody.
What’s one thing you’ll take away from working on a track for Division?
Arigto: We appreciated it but we try not to let the actual release influence our music in any way.
Marauder: I’ll always be grateful for this opportunity to share my confusion.
Animals In the Room: Don’t underestimate yourself and send that submission in even when you think there’s no chances. Also, be patient. It can take years before you start to get noticed by the right people. If this is really what you want to do, the time it takes to get there shouldn’t matter that much.
Hebbe: At least what I have learned while making this track is some new techniques and feel I am getting a lot closer to finding my particular sound.
Revazz: There are no boundaries
OCEE: In this case, we gathered that we don’t have to start writing tunes by starting from the groove or beat as the foundation and then layer a melody on top of it, but rather, quite the opposite. Starting a tune from a melody that is the main driving force is equally powerful and viable. It’s very similar to the world of writing songs where there’s an everlasting debate which should come first, the harmony or the melody. Now our answer is that it doesn’t matter, so why not use both methods? Ultimately, working on this track for Division broke a pattern for us and gave us the confidence to recognize the main motif and basis for the track.
Any new releases coming out soon?
Arigto: Finished an EP a few weeks ago.
Marauder: Yes, but nothing to discuss at the moment.
Animals In the Room: Currently in the works on an upcoming EP with Zimbu. Since this DIVISION track was so well received, we’ve got some more heat cookin up together. I’ve also been working on a slew of new tracks, but I want to drop a sizeable collection like an EP or album coming up since I’ve been doing singles for a while.
Hebbe: Yes, there are three to four new solo vinyl releases coming out this year and a tune on a compilation but I can only announce that one of my tunes called “Sixes and Sevens” will be released on a Circle Vision compilation this month.
Revazz: I will be self-releasing a six track project called “Inhaling Gravity” on August 15th, 2018 (since released).
OCEE: Currently, we’re focusing on trailer music and live orchestral music. We await the next opportunity towork on more beats.
Any tours or shows this season?
Arigto: No, but we found an artist for a mask for touring, so we’re excited about that.
Marauder: Not at present.
Animals In the Room: The shows never stop! You can always catch me throwing down somewhere around Los Angeles or Orange County. Roll through to hear some new vibes I’ve been working on! I also organize and curate events under my label and events company, Sweet Tunes. There’s always zany events popping off with stellar lineups. You should definitely come check it out and vibe with us! Rumors stir that I may be playing at Bamboo Bass in Costa Rica next year and I’m putting together a West Coast tour for Spring of 2019 with my friend Kozmo.
Hebbe: Yes, currently playing shows in the USA until the end of August and when I return to The Netherlands I will have some domestic shows but mostly in the UK and in some other countries in Europe. Hope to see you guys there!
Revazz: I recently performed at Infrasound Festival in Wisconsin on July 20th. I do not have a tour lined up yet.
OCEE: We would love to do a tour or a show, is that an invitation?