If you’ve been in and around drum & bass for a year or three you’ll have heard a familiar name cropping up with a very unfamiliar sound…. A sound that’s been evolving from dubstep and jump-up roots to a refreshing line of melodic dancefloor bangers.
Subsonic’s emergence into the dancefloor subgenre has been a gradual but impressive one. After years of releasing other bass genres, the young UK artist has dipped into the world of catchy melodies and big vocals as he continues to develop his sound.
From his early beginnings in dubstep production in 2012, he has continued to evolve as an artist, breaking through into the drum and bass scene as a teenager while still playing around with different genres and searching for his style on labels such as Low Down Deep, D-Stortion and Young Guns. This year he has landed firmly on the his feet with several successful releases on the likes of Crucast, Pilot and Elevate as the new and improved Subsonic continues to bloom.
And this is just the start of it; throughout lockdown Subsonic has built on his catalogue of sounds and explains how he’s ready to flood the charts with even more music in the next year, combining his love of dancefloor with modern jump-up influences. With releases lined up on some cool labels, he is trying to make his mark as he transitions into the next phase of his musical journey.
UKF spoke to Subsonic (AKA Harry Peters) about his adventures through the genres and how he has found his sound in the midst of a pretty uninspiring year.
You’ve been simmering on the surface of D&B for a good few years now. Take us back to where it all started…
Around 2015. I went to college for music as I used to make dubstep. I met K Motionz and he introduced me to the jump up side of drum and bass. I was already into drum and bass but not that side of it. That’s when I started making it. It was just for fun really.
What got you in to dubstep?
My mate introduced me to it in high school. I heard it and thought it was sick. Not long after that I realised that people could make it so I thought I would give it a go.
You came through in one of the most exciting waves of newcomers in recent years, did it push you even harder knowing you had such talented colleagues/rivals?
I think what pushed me most was the friends I was around like K Motionz, Simula and Kanine. They were always in the top tier of the newcomers at the time, and making amazing tunes, so in a way that pushed me to be on par with them.
You’ve really experimented along the way within drum and bass but also bassline too with your recent hits like Love and Love VIP. Is it important for you to have a wide catalogue of genres to showcase?
It’s kind of the same thing as the dubstep move to drum and bass – I just enjoy multiple things. I found that experimenting with other genres really improves my overall production skill and helps me to learn new things and ways of making music. I also enjoy a wide range of genres, so I enjoy dipping into some of those every now and again.
With the bassline, it kind of made sense at the time since jump up and bassline are sort of similar, it’s just the tempo difference. The sounds are quite similar, so I thought it would make sense. That’s when I made a few tunes, but I don’t think it’s something I’ll do regularly. The tunes did really well, which is kind of a surprise. I didn’t expect it to do well – it was just a bit of fun.
The Messiah collab with Tsuki was probably what first shot your name into fame, is it sometimes hard to be so well known for one or two older tunes when you’re trying to expand your sound?
Definitely. I still get people asking about my old tunes like Messiah. People still ask me if they can buy it or if I can send them old dubs. People expect me to still make that stuff all the time, when I don’t really want to. I think when a tune does so well, it’s sort of hard to get away from it when your sound changes.
From dubstep to jump up to the new dancefloor sound, what has inspired you to adapt or change your sound?
I think it was just a natural change in taste I suppose. I still like jump up and some dubstep, but I get a bit bored. I think my musical taste just gradually evolved and matured, as I was very young when I started producing. I’ve always liked the more musical side to dance music and I think I would have always ended up making more musical type tunes, either way.
Who would you say your biggest influences are throughout the many genres you’ve explored?
The first dubstep artist I heard was obviously Skrillex because of how big he was at the time, but I was never that influenced by his sound. He introduced me to the genre and then I researched more. Cookie Monster got me in to it properly – he was the first artist I heard that made me think ‘yeah, this is sick’. He was the first big artist to ever like and share my music. I was a teenager and still at school! The tune wasn’t even good. I uploaded it to SoundCloud and he commented, liked and reposted it I think.
That’s a great memory to have – teenage you must have been absolutely buzzing!
I was over the moon. In terms of influence in drum and bass, Dominator was definitely an influence. When I heard his stuff, he definitely pushed my sound in a different direction. Hedex was also somebody I felt quite inspired by. I’ve always been influenced in some way by Netsky, Sub Focus, Dimension, Culture shock, but that influence has definitely grown recently – they’re all making such amazing music.
Has your creative process changed as well?
It has and it’s also gotten way better. The way I start a tune is different, and the way I think about structuring the tune as well – it’s so different to making a jump up tune. I have also found that I’m way more productive. This year I have made way more consistent tunes, quicker than I have done in any other year. I’ve released more music this year than I have in any year previously.
Do you think that’s because you’re enjoying it more and finding your sound?
I think so. I would definitely say that when I have finished making tunes for the day, I feel like I come away from it feeling a lot more satisfied now.
That’s a good indicator that you’re on the right track to finding yourself as an artist.
I’m still trying to find my trademark sound in dancefloor as I’m just experimenting at the moment. I think I’m getting there, though.
What’s your vision for your sound and who you want to be as an artist?
I would like my music to be well-received. I want people to notice that I have made this transition from dubstep to jump up to dancefloor. All the changes I have made have brought me to where I am now with the musical influences. I want people to see that I have been working hard, especially with the dancefloor change as it has taken me about a year to get it to the standard that I wanted it to be. Now I have started to push ahead with it, I hope it goes well and people enjoy it as much as my older stuff – hopefully even more!
So you’ll judge the success of the transition by how well it’s received?
Obviously, the way I feel about it is important as well, but I already feel like I’m enjoying myself a lot more than I have over the last few years. I’m at a point where I enjoy the stuff I’m making and I’m happy with the direction it’s going, so if other people like it as well, then that’s even better.
The releases are pouring out at the moment – has it been even harder to try and develop as a producer when the levels of inspiration have been so low?
I have to admit, at the start of lockdown, it didn’t bother me too much. From the start of this year, up until now, I’ve been the most creative I’ve ever been. I’ve definitely made more ideas and more tunes and been way more productive. I think part of that is because I didn’t have the shows to worry about – I wasn’t worrying about finishing a tune for a show at the weekend. All my time was dedicated to perfecting what I was making. I have been trying to make dancefloor since last year, but I could never dedicate my time to it to the extent that I have done this year. Dancefloor was like a side project while I was making jump up and bassline, but lockdown came, and it gave me that chance to fully get in to this new sound and I think it worked out. Obviously, lockdown on a whole has been pretty shit though.
It’s nice to hear some positivity coming from isolation though!
Yeah. It definitely gave me the time to get my sound to where I wanted it to be. Of course, like everyone else, I really do miss shows and all the live crowd reactions. The feeling you get when you play out really does inspire you to make tunes.
I bet you haven’t had the chance to play a full set with your new style/sound?
Nope. I played out one or two tunes that I have made, that have now been released, but they were really early versions, so they weren’t as good as they are now. The last sets I played were pretty much full jump up sets – I barely played any dancefloor. I’d love to play a full dancefloor set now – this summer would’ve been sick.
What’s next from subsonic?
I have so many releases planned. I have a release coming this month that I’m really excited about, which will be announced very soon. Throughout the next year I have loads more coming as well with labels like Elevate. I’m going to keep making more and more music and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds.