Subtronics breaks down his hardest-hitting project yet, ‘Scream Saver’ EP [Interview]
Possessed by a sharp attentiveness to sound design and a monstrous appetite for head-splitting dubstep, Subtronics and his rise in the bass scene has unfolded both graciously and foreseeably. Finding initial traction in the deep end of SoundCloud and deriving inspiration from the underground, the Philadelphia native has built his brand up with his robotic sonics, zany samples, and NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL RIDDIM mix series. Then,”Griztronics” landed. While the mega-collaboration obliterated audiences and reaped status as one of the hottest tracks of 2019, it also reiterated a fact: Subtronics is only getting started.
Following through on his breakout year, Subtronics has unforgivingly delivered his first EP of the year, Scream Saver out now on Cyclops Recordings. Riding off a wave of impressive releases including joint heaters like “Bumpy Teeth” with Zeds Dead, “Headband” with Ganja White Night, and “SNAILCLOPS” with Snails, as well as two solo projects, “Wooked on Tronics” and “Cyclops Army,” the Cyclops commander shows no signs of slowing down. Despite a tight grip on his signature heavy-hitting bass sound, Subtronics shows his exploration of the dubstep landscape always remains within minds eye as he recalibrates a cleaner, yet doubly potent execution in the 4-track Scream Saver.
Subtronics spoke to Dancing Astronaut about the track-by-track breakdown of his Scream Saver EP, his production approach, and future aspirations. Stream the EP and read the full interview below.
Congrats on releasing your Scream Saver EP. How are you feeling?
YO I was so fucking nervous. I always trust my gut when I feel passionately about a song, but I’ve seen first hand how critical the internet can be. I put my heart and soul into this music. As an artist, releasing songs makes us feel very vulnerable and sensitive. I’m blown away and so incredibly grateful for how positive the feedback has been so far.
Sound design has always been an essential focus for you. How has your production approach differed for this EP?
The theme for all of these songs (at least process wise) has been adding an essential top line. They were all WIPs for a long time, then I later added top lines that finally broke the straw and made me super excited about them. The arp in “Scream Saver” and the bleepy whistle thing in “Blow Stuff Up” were both major eureka moments. I’m always practicing through trial and error for hours on end and these tunes had specific defining and exciting moments that had me going to sleep with a giant shit-eating grin on my face after making them.
Can you break down the EP track by track?
“Scream Saver” was a pretty solid quarter note tune I was working on. I got to the second drop and wanted to add something more to vary up the song, and ended up putting that arp in. I freaked out and was super stoked on how it sounded, so I reworked the track to be centered around it as the first drop. Then, that melodic bit after just came to me. I don’t know how to explain it, I heard it in my head and put it in the DAW.
“Lullaby” was fun because the main bass layer is clipping by 30db and I like breaking the rules and upsetting elitists. Stay mad about it. It’s art. No, but in all sincerity, I had a really good time making that tune. I feel like I was able to add more attention to detail than normal. I like how dynamic and different the switch up is and it’s one of my favorite intros. I have an obnoxious affinity for weird far Eastern sounding trap intros. It was also sick to be sent a verse from Virus Syndicate only for it to fit PERFECTLY.
“Discotek” was really rewarding to work on because I’ve been a fan of Akeos for a while and I really view them as one of the pioneers of true riddim sound right now. I am heavily inspired by them and it was an honor to have this opportunity. I learned some cool new techniques and I think we made a really solid slapper.
“Blow Stuff Up” is very similar to “Scream Saver” in my eyes. Solid quarter note tune I was decently hype on. Then, after being stuck and vaguely uncertain for a few weeks, I added that top squeaky layer, and freaked out, and was super excited about it. Also, borderlands.
“Scream Saver” is relentless on all ends, from the arpeggiator to the destructive frequencies. What was your creative process behind this track?
Trial and error, so many layers, more trial and error, deleting stuff I had left in earlier WIP versions and last minute additions. Swapping the order of the drops like 8 times and asking everyone within a 50 foot radius of their opinion lolol.
What did working with Virus Syndicate on “Lullaby” look like?
It was super easy and fun. I had the tune pretty much finished, they sent a verse just to see if I had anything it would fit on, and it matched with “Lullaby” perfectly!
You threw in some fun samples on this EP, specifically “Diskotek” and “Blow Stuff Up.” Does your sample selection play an integral part in building tracks?
Hmm, honestly not as much as you’d think. I have a massive, massive folder of samples from video games, TV shows and random animes. I often just scroll through super fast and find the first thing that fits appropriately with the drop.
However, when I made “Diskotek”, I was watching the show Barry and was obsessed with NoHo Hank. I told myself I needed to find a way to sample him so that was more goal oriented, whereas “Blow Stuff Up” was just finding a cool sample and splicing it in.
This project has a ton of range. Which direction do you see yourself heading in musically?
Thank you! That’s the goal honestly, develop and diversify my sound while remaining true to my artistic integrity and sounding like myself at all times. I see my tunes getting weirder, heavier, cleaner, and constantly working towards a goal to improve my mixdowns and retain interesting new sound design.
Any last words?
Wash your hands, drink water, call your friends and family, tell them you love them, smoke as much weed as humanly possible. I’m currently working on loads more new music as well, I think my unreleased count is still upwards of 10 more songs. We have some insane stream ideas planned, this is just the beginning :)