WORDS

In Conversation With: Sub:liminal

Welcome to the beautiful city of Oradea, Romania; home to soulful drum & bass producer Sub:liminal.

Stamping his footprint in the scene as a DJ for a number of years before jumping into the realms of production, Sub:liminal exhibits a true passion for the craft with subtle pianistic and compositional talent, luring us listeners into the best meditative states deep D&B can conjure.

His first release dropped on esteemed label Fokuz Recordings back in April 2020 and gained support from the likes of High Contrast, Doc Scott, Philth and Dexcell to name a few. Releases on the likes of Pilot, Galacy and Four Corners have since followed, all securing Sub:liminal’s reputation as an exciting new name to keep tabs on. We called him up for find out about his roots, the Romanian D&B scene and what’s coming from him next…

Your journey behind the decks did not come around until 2014 – what are some of the earlier sounds you listened to growing up? 

During the first few years of high school, I took a lot of influence from progressive rock, funk and some kind of fusion jazz stuff while listening to bands like Porcupine Tree and Dream Theater. I didn’t know how to use decks back then so I started playing on my laptop. I got into Drum & Bass around 2008, I think my first track was Pendulum – 9000 Miles while playing the game Need For Speed Undercover.

Need For Speed Undercover – what an era for gaming soundtracks! Would you say having a strong musical background helped when it came to producing? 

Yeah, I think it helped me a lot. When I started music production in 2018, I have to admit knowing a bit of music theory, guitar and piano really helped me get into producing a bit easier even if I didn’t know much technical stuff back then you know? The creative aspect was kind of there for me, for example I already knew chord progression so I think that helped me develop the creative aspect more than the technical aspect. I have to admit I learned the technical stuff much later in 2019, a year after I started music production. I really think the creative aspect is important but the composition and the vibe are the most important parts of a tune besides mixdown and master. 

With headlights on the creative approach – we can hear some of your own piano and guitar on the latest Night Drive compilation out on Galacy Records, right? 

Yes I have two tracks on there with SOLR, both collaborations with my good friend, Hari. One is called Destinations and the other Night Trails. I recorded the guitar in one part of Destinations and also the piano is written by us. I really like to use piano sounds in my tracks. There are a few cool plugins which sound great, I love working with them.

So you enjoy collaborating with other artists? 

Yes I really think collaborations are one of the greatest things that can bring inspiration to you and others. I think you can learn a lot of new things that can help you. Also I feel collaborations really help you evolve and develop a new sound. When a producer and a vocalist are working together or two producers and a vocalist are working together….you know, there are different creative approaches combined into one track which is absolutely amazing. It’s interesting to see the final result. It’s insane man, I’m telling you it’s great. 

Your tracks Stolen Paths and Space & Time both echo faint waves of early Technimatic, too. Have you been influenced by them? 

Yes definitely, when I discovered Technimatic, they were still releasing separately but when they began releasing together, I really liked how their sound influenced me more and more. In 2014 they released Desire Paths, I said ‘hey man, I also want to do this!’ Of course there are a whole lot of producers who inspired me but back in the day when I heard Netsky’s first album, his releases on Spearhead Records and some older tunes – I really imagined myself being a Drum & Bass Producer maybe in the future or something. I really wanted to do it but I didn’t know how as there was not as much available information back then as there is now.

Here you are harvesting the seeds you planted all those years ago. What inspiration do you take from Romania?

I mean there are a lot of influences living here. The more drum & bass I discovered eventually led me to attend local events in the city. Over the years I have heard a lot of producers from Romania developing their own sound. Freqax, Sequential, Brusten, Resurgence, Dan HabarNam, Sundancer and many others – they all inspired me a lot. Resurgence are from my hometown, working in the same studio together helped me develop my skills and I learned a lot of technical stuff from them too which is great.

A huge boost having a solid network and creative space paving the way for you to host events. 

I was playing in my city for the first time in 2013 but I didn’t play at many events as I was just starting out and no one really knew who I was. Then in 2016 a man from Budapest took over this multicultural centre in Oradea called Moszkva Cafe.

Hats off to the guy from Budapest for laying those foundations. Can you shed some light on collaborating with Sydney? 

I was searching for a vocalist and back then it was my first time approaching vocalists. I saw that Sydney was collaborating on Pyxis’s The XX EP which was released on Eloisa Records. As I remember I reached out to Pyxis and she put me in touch with Sydney. From there we started working on All These Things, Wishes For Your Soul and Hidden Thoughts for Alpha Rhythm’s Within Eternity EP which came out on vinyl in January. So yeah it’s great I really love working with her, it’s amazing.

Continuing with the collaborative focus, you linked up with an MC for City Lights – what influenced this decision?

I met a couple of friends and grabbed a beer then we went to a concert in the park – I think I got the inspiration from that point. After eighteen months of the Covid pandemic, I forgot what it was like to be out in the city from the afternoon until nightfall. When I got back home, I was thinking about the street lights and how cool the feeling was. Detour, the label owner, came up with an idea for making a VA compilation called Endless Summer – I thought about the track Street Lights and the vibe really got me into contacting Bazil MC to work together on this tune. 

Following your first solo release on Fokuz in February, what other projects do you have in motion? 

Yes, I have a few things in the pipeline that I’m working on right now. I want to finish the EP I’m working on and see the final result.  It would be an achievement for me to have this EP signed because I really tried to experiment with new sounds, I feel like it would suit Dispatch, Vandal or other labels who are into deeper sounds. We spoke about some remix duties I need to get started on and also an EP I have coming out on Four Corners Music next year.

Do you have any forthcoming events and bookings? 

I am organising the next event in my hometown – Apple Room Vol. 18 on May 27th. Transylvania Festival will be great. Etherwood, Nu:tone, Electro Soulsystem and a lot of great Artists from my country are playing. I’m really looking forward to it.

If you could share some wisdom for those yet to embark on their journey with drum & bass – what would you say? 

Never give up, improve every day and find your own sound. Remember that hard work always pays off.

Thank you for rolling through!

It was great and amazing to chat, thank you.

Follow Sub:liminal: Facebook / Soundcloud / Instagram