Not everyone is akin to the nuances of EDM (Electronic Dance Music) or aware that there are sub-categories in this genre, which is a mainstay and phenomenon across all dance-floors on the European continent especially.
Drum & Bass is a sub-genre in EDM, which some may know as jungle music that is characterised by up-tempo beats and heavy bass. This is the domain where Submatik, a Drum and Bass duo from Germany ply their trade in.
Oscar Oomens and Philip Dakowitz, the duo known as Submatik, were kind enough to school us about the Drum & Bass genre. They also gave us their take on the dynamics within the industry and how they found their sound within EDM and much more.
Lavatory Records: For those who are not familiar with you guys, please introduce “Submatik” and tell us how you came up with that name?
Submatik: We are Oscar and Philip, two guys living in Hamburg (Germany) who met in school years ago and started making music together. Initially we started making Rock/Metal with Oscar playing the drums and Phil on the guitar, but after Pendulum introduced us to Drum & Bass we quickly switched over to making Drum & Bass. The name Submatik was a creation of the former producers’ names of the initial founders Oscar and Reinout; Subsignal and Telematik.
LR: When and how did you establish the group?
Submatik: Submatik was founded in 2012 by Oscar and Reinout while they worked together on “Stories Can Wait”. They met on SoundCloud when Oscar searched for a vocalist for that track. Reinout, who lives in Belgium, got back to Oscar with a message that proposed to use the vocals of a friend. Sometime later Philip officially joined the group as he was also making music with Oscar. The international trio was then founded. Later it became difficult for us to collaborate across the border, that’s why we all decided to split up last year. The current members of Submatik are Oscar and Philip, while Reinout is also having success with his solo project Diego Torres.
LR: Tell us about your personalities and how you both complement each other?
Submatik: We both have different temperaments. Oscar is really tenacious, but in a good way. This is probably the reason for some goals we have achieved. Philip is more diffident (shy and reserved) than Oscar in some points, which is a good thing too. That way we’re always able to re-think and discuss about decisions more easily, as we often think about them in different ways, yet still having the same idea of our goals though.
Apart from that we have been friends for many years and share the same passion for the music. Back in the days when we started making music we found out Phil creates better melodies, while Oscar had a better ear for making bass lines and drums but these theories actually don’t exist anymore. When we make music together we work out everything equally while we’re always haunted by our common problem: Perfectionism. We can work on the tiniest details for hours until it sounds perfect to us. That really can drive us crazy but it’s always worth it!
LR: For someone who isn’t familiar with Drum & Bass, how would you describe this sub-genre? And please explain to us how it fits into the dance music/electronica scene?
Submatik: This is a tough question. For us Drum & Bass is the most beautiful of all electronic genres due to its huge variety. All Drum & Bass songs tell stories with their melodies and bass lines and their fast rhythm makes everybody stand up and dance. It’s amazing how different you can make the songs while still knowing this is Drum & Bass. Additionally most of the Drum & Bass community we’ve experienced is all about the music. Of course it fits perfectly in the dance music/electronica scene. Everybody who’s seen a real Drum & Bass head moving on the dancefloor can approve this. The rhythm is fast but perfect to dance to. Even younger generations tend to listen to Drum & Bass. This change is probably most visible in countries like Belgium or the Netherlands where the average age of the visitors at Drum & Bass events is going down.
In the past year many Drum & Bass acts have reached the top music charts, Sigma being one of the most popular of them. There’s a change and we seriously hope that Drum & Bass will continue to grow.
LR: Who have been your musical influences?
Submatik: Our current influences from the Drum & Bass scene are definitely Wilkinson, who makes top notch productions. Camo & Krooked who always produce innovative songs that are often ahead of their time, and of course producers like The Prototypes, Hamilton and Noisia (and many, many more). Then there’s Pendulum who introduced us to Drum & Bass and who will always be an important influence to us. Apart from the Drum & Bass scene we listen to nearly all kinds of music like Hip Hop, Rock/Metal, Funk, Soul and even Classic music.
LR: Are you guys familiar with any African artists from the continent? If so, who are your favourites?
Submatik: In the Drum & Bass scene we actually know Niskerone who is a Drum & Bass producer and DJ from Cape Town, who we met in 2013 on the Liquicity event in Antwerp in Belgium. A really nice guy!
LR: How has the “internet age” helped to grow your brand or even your revenue stream, if at all?
Submatik: Without the internet there would have been no chance for us to easily reach people outside of our country. Our fans are spread across the whole globe which is impossible to achieve so quickly without big labels and promoters. Especially because Drum & Bass is a small community compared to the mainstream genres it would have been hard to build a strong fan base without the help of the internet or people we got to know via the internet. It has really helped us find fans, friends and important contacts that are the fundamental elements that we stand on.
LR: Do you think artists still need to reach out to the major labels in order to get that “big push”?
Submatik: This depends on what is considered that “big push”. Probably the answer is something in between “yes” and “sometimes”. The Drum & Bass community has very strong and big labels and many songs are having an amazing success on the charts; but in the end, the artists still don’t reach as many of the mainstream listeners as other artists that have a better (and probably way more expensive) global promotion by big major labels. Also the major labels have more influence to change the mainstream music style and sell Drum & Bass to the people as Pop music. But that does not mean you need a major label to be popular and successful. It just depends on what or who you compare yourself with.
LR: Which artists or producers have you worked or performed with?
Submatik: Our most recent release, Good Luv, was very special to us as we had the chance to work together with Jenna G and Murdock. In the past we had some collaboration with our friends at Dualistic and NCT; also we have songs with beautiful vocals by Charli Brix.
LR: What has been your experience of the European music industry?
Submatik: The music industry is tough and it’s never easy to have success. Even a release on a major label is not automatically something that will boost you up. As we’re still working on it we can’t give good advice ourselves.
LR: If timing and resources were perfectly aligned, which artist would you want to work with today?
Submatik: Definitely Rob Swire, head of Knife Party and Pendulum. Many people including us would name him as one of the best EDM producers ever.
LR: Away from the music, what do you guys do to relax?
Submatik: We watch movies, read books, play games and spend time with friends and family. Probably the things that everyone does to relax…
LR: Are you currently working on any projects or events that Drum & Bass fans should be on the lookout for in the near future?
Submatik: Yes! Each of us has a solo project that we’re working on, when we don’t have time to meet and make music together as Submatik. Oscar’s project is called Champion and Phil’s project is called Wavelen. Both are also Drum & Bass projects and we encourage everyone who likes Submatik to check them out on SoundCloud or on Facebook.
LR: Any special mentions you want to shout out?
Submatik: Shouts out to our beautiful girlfriends, the whole Liquicity family and all our producer and vocalist friends! And of course to all our other friends!
We thank Philip and Oscar from Submatik for having availed themselves to talk to us. If you want to keep up with them follow them on the Submatik Facebook Page, on Twitter @Submatik, Soundcloud and their website. For Philip’s solo project entitled Wavelen, follow him on Wavelen Facebook Page and on Twitter: @WavelenDNB; and for Oscar’s solo project entitled Champion, follow him on the Champion Facebook Page and on Twitter: @ChampionDNB.