Friday, October 30, 2009

Subsource and Akil Jurassic 5

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Reason (Parasite) - The Making Of

For me, The Reason (Parasite) is a key track in the upcoming album, 'Tales From The Doombox' - it's certainly one of the strongest and it's the only representation of drum'n'bass that will be featured on the album. But it also has a lot of memories for us, as the seeds for this tune were originally sown way back, way before Subsource became the entity that it is today.

History - From Parasite to The Reason

It was sometime in 2004 during our first sessions before Kimba came onto the scene - Paul, Nelly, Stu and myself had the beginnings of the track laid down and had provisionally called it 'Parasite'. At the time, we were working with Stix, (Jerome Kalinani), who was also part of the Real Elements (Malawian hip-hop that Kimba was also with). I remember him turning up to lay some vocals down on the instrumental we already had. We had attempted to get the track to him a few times previously but with he was adamant that 'something will come' in the actual session. Usually, a disregard for pre-planning something like this equates to a wasted precious studio session but the way he was saying it that day just seemed to dispel our fears. He turned up with a blank notepad and a pencil and within 90 minutes he was leaving, having written and recorded two verses, the chorus, breakdown and multiple vocal takes on all the sections. Fast work indeed.

The original 'Parasite' ended up being a feature of our experimental live set-ups for a while, it stayed and outlasted all the other songs that were incorporated into our first sets, well beyond the time that Stix left to return to Malawi after having a religious call to be back there spreading the word of Christianity through hip-hop. The track scored our first synchronisation deal - with Big Up Productions, a rock climbing video production company. We featured on Dosage Volume 3 alongside Roots Manuva, but they chose to use Parasite as the lead track which then featured in the trailers. To this date, more than five years on, we still get e-fanmails from rock-climbers all over the world. I've been told by rock-climbing friends that half of their passion is about physical strength and the other half lies in mental grit and sheer belief. 'This is the reason why I live' resonates deeply with the feats that these athletes pull off.

Another 4 years later in 2008, American TV network CBS got in touch offering us our biggest synchronisation deal to date. The premiere of season 5 of crime-solving-with-maths-series, "Numbers", has a rock-climbing murder sequence and it's Parasite they want to use. Whilst it's an entertaining show, that particular section didn't work nearly as well as in the Dosage video. I conclude that it's music that's good for doing extreme sports to and not so good for murdering people to.

The funds we received from CBS through this deal paved the way for us to make a good push for producing a quality album. But by the time we were finishing the album earlier this year, the sound of 'Parasite' was something we'd moved away from in favour of chunkier, dirtier bass and crisper drum sounds. Around eight of the tracks were confirmed and we realised that there was no drum'n'bass set to be on the album. Since the DnB section of our live sets are the parts we like the most, we needed some representation of it on the album, so under a tight album deadline, we locked ourselves in the studio for a couple of days and the new 'Parasite' was born. The original version was more laid-back and drew comparisons to 'Red Snapper' and the resurrected track gives a nod to its origins with it's vocal chorus hook and a hint of rhodes. All other instrumentation was written from scratch to bring it into 2009 and Kimba 'unleashed a masterpiece' with new lyrics for the verses. It was complete.

Some might be wondering about the story of how we ended up with parentheses in the name - in true Subsource style it wasn't quite intentional. To avoid confusion with the original, we'd decided to rename this new version, 'The Reason'. We'd been bouncing the artwork cover for the album between the designer and ourselves more times than was necessary in order to iron out the kinks in layout, format and spelling. In the end, it all looked great, except somehow we all managed to overlook the fact that we'd still called it Parasite on the back cover. Oops. So to attempt to avoid confusion, we've now got both titles in the title. So if you get an album when it's released in March next year and it says 'Parasite' on the back cover as track 8, you know you've got a copy from the first printed batch :)

The Video

A budget of 200 pounds doesn't get you anything remotely close to being a good video. But we had a cracking director/producer on-board (Colin Arnold at Surgery Productions) and Ollie Simmonds did some brilliant post-effects too to help produce something that is. We managed to attract the attention of NME TV who wanted to playlist it on their Sky 3 channel - for a video on this kind of budget that would usually be unheard of. A spanner in the works got thrown when we discovered there is something called a 'Harding Test' for possibly epileptic seizure inducing material. Our video had just failed it.. no national broadcasting for us this time. Doh.

So the single is out there on iTunes, 7digital and most other online retailers - get it (and the brilliant Jocks' Chapter 2 Remix by JP from the now-disbanded Goodbooks) and play it loud and proud. It's possible we've got an iTunes app coming this way to go with it but unfortunately Apple seem to be delaying this process way more than they ought to. Until then... This is the reason why I... I... I...

Akil (Jurassic 5) In The Studio - Paul's Account

In the summer 1998 I would have been 16 breezing around Scotland full of teenage lust, trying to by booze for parties, jamming til the early hours and listening to cherished slabs vinyl religiously. One record that defined that heady summer was the debut J5 album, with its old school vibe it took us as far away as possible from Finzean in the Highlands of Scotland, which by the way is no Mecca for Hip Hop, just sheep an coos. I later saw the band perform at Brixton Academy to a sold out crowd, so when Akil from Jurassic 5 pulls up outside Subsource headquarters a converted garage studio called the trench in Stuart's back garden it feels totally surreal but absolutely amazing!!!

Akil dropped by The Trench to laydown some vocals on an alternative version of "Street Soul Music." Its gonna be part of the release when the album drops to get people ready for the sunshine. Just got to lay one more verse with Kimba who is out in Africa visiting his family for the next week and then it'll be good to go.

Before Akil and Tom his tour manager had to hit the road, pre-imminent departure from Australia and New Zealand, we had a little time to kick back and jam. While Stu had his acoustic double bass to hand, I was left with what I could find lying around, which turned out being an old watering can from the back garden. Quote of the day "In the garden with my man on the can!"

He said some touching things about his thoughts on the band, and the whole experience was obviously a massive honour (for us!). Slowly we're getting to connect with some of the musicians that have influenced not just me but the whole band.

Thanks to Akil and Tom for taking the time out of their schedule to come and hang with us and a big thanks to Colin arnold for supplying us with footage of the event. Colin will be filming a documentary about the band leading up to the release of our debut Album. Nang!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Reason (Parasite) Tour / Dreadzone Tour

Seven gigs in two weeks. Like any journey, being on the road puts a different perspective into life and reminds you of the important things in life. Good food, good drink and good sleep are things I've been reminded to appreciate this week. Living off service station food and sleeping in vans is probably not something you'd want to ride out in the long-term for the sake of health and sanity. Considering the six of us have been living in such close proximity over the past 90 or so hours often with little amounts of proper sleep, I think we've done pretty well this time round to not have a single argument. Or maybe we did, I was just too tired to remember it.

Being Dreadzone's tour support has been awesome - spending time with these veteran dub legends has been a great experience and given us an insight into sustaining a career in this ever-evolving industry. The band and crew are a brilliant bunch.. rarely a dull moment and very generous with their rider.. (that vegetable chilli at Colchester was a touch) we feel so looked after.. thankyou Greg, Spee, Leo, Earl, Chris, the other Chris, Johnny, Loki and Danny! And whilst we're at it, we also need to thank Paul's sister Zoe for putting us up for a couple of nights (we snuck into De Montfort University and crashed in halls there.. hello to William and KK who had to deal with finding random, slightly stinky musicians passed out in their kitchen in the morning). Also thanks to Adam and Sophie for putting us up in Bristol despite the fact that they had parents visiting their new house within the hour that we left.


Tonight's gig in Narberth had to be the highlight of our Dreadzone support gigs.. good to see a huge bunch of familiar faces from Carmarthen (you know who you are) - we had a chance to let loose and fully enjoy the Dreadzone set.. keep an eye out for their album which will be due out in March next year (around the same time as ours.. save up your pennies so you can buy both)



Electric Circus last week was also huuuge, thanks to so many of you for coming along and supporting us and the Circus2Iraq charity. For those of you who followed the blog previously, you'll know it's something that I was involved with a while ago and something that I strongly believe in. It's quite rare that you meet someone who has as much integrity and will as the mastermind behind all this but I'd urge you all to keep an eye out for future events they hold. Ruth always manages to pull together a tremendous crew and variety of artists for the most eclectic party where fun just drips off the walls. Hooray for dancing bananas and naked chainsaw-juggling men. Very pleasant surprise to see Shingai from The Noisettes who took time out from her busy schedule to come and see us again here too.

I write this on a laptop as we're in the final stage of our journey home - it's been a relatively painless journey - the van has performed remarkably well (we're having to top her up every 90 minutes because she's losing water that quickly) the only major hitch was Stu managing to lose his bass effects pedal somewhere at Scala, meaning that one gig was done with the bass not sounding quite as intended and sp we had to make an emergency visit to a music equipment store the following day to get a new one. Nelly then got militant on the van packing, arming himself with a clipboard and making a thorough list of every item that needed to be packed so that we wouldn't lose anything else ever again. We promptly lost our merchandise board at that gig.

If anyone has managed to acquire the silver box with the bass multi-effects pedal in, please get in touch. It has Subsource written on the side and a phone number.

I'm not far from my own bed now. I haven't missed it, but I'm looking forward to it. My body clock is exactly 12 hours out of sync of where it really ought to be and when I wake up I suspect it won't be the time of day I'd like it to be.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Final Touches

The final touches are going on the album over this week before everything starts going to the final mix and master which will take another month or so. We're not exactly sure which songs are going to make it just yet.. we'll see what we think when everything comes back.

Street Soul Music continues to be elusive in getting that sound that we're happy with. Since it was first written four years ago and we've spent hours and hours listening to different mixes and trying different parts, it's become pretty difficult to re-approach it without wanting to run away from it screaming. Mr. Frisk (who was responsible for the stomping breaks remixes of the last single) has helped us loads with a couple of ideas to bring it into 2009 compared to the original mixes out there back from 2005! Fans who have been with us for a while will also remember Parasite which we stopped playing live a couple of years ago. It's going to be back in a new guise completely..

Summer approaches and we've got a little bit of time to prepare new songs and get gig ready for the festival season. That's er 11 days before Beach Break Festival (uh guys if you're reading this, we really don't have long..) which should be a fine start. Other highlights for the summer that I'm really looking forward to include Workhouse, Guilfest and Solfest which should all be huge, and of course Glasto.

I've not been blogging so much recently, Twitter seems to be more the way forward. (Blogging for those afflicted with ADHD.. you don't need to set aside 15 minutes near a computer and you can even do it whilst you're on the toilet. Perfect.) So check us out there if you've got your own Twitter, or thanks to the wonders of RSS, it's syndicated on the front page of our main site. (Or stick it in your own RSS reader)

It wouldn't be an update without of course letting you know how the van is doing. We were hugely worried about having to sell it due to the M25 emissions restriction but thanks to Boris, we can keep it for a while longer. We've been talking about getting the damn thing serviced because the horsepower seems to have dropped to a point where we're stalling in third gear when going uphill on the motorway which isn't good at all.

Current albums in the van that we're listening to include The Anomalies - Free Soup Social, which is brill if you like big hip-hop/funk/mash-up stuff. I was dead chuffed when Murf from The Anomalies gave us a couple of albums for free when we played at his venue up in Hereford. It's got the best album cover I have seen for ages and track 11 Oldskool is absolutely killer. I'm tempted to do a cover or a remix or something.

Also we're still listening to The Hoff's album. Can't remember which one it is, but Swampy bought it for £1.99 at Asda. As he says, "It's surprisingly good. Well, actually good is the wrong word. It's surprisingly enjoyable."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Breakspoll 2009: Best Live Act Nomination. Please Vote!

The kind folks down at Breakspoll have nominated us for Best Live Act in the 8th international breakbeat awards. Please spare a minute to cast a vote for us at the Breakspoll website. The awards ceremony will take place at Fabric on Thursday 26th Feb and will no doubt be a massive party oozing tasty breaksy goodness.

Monday, February 02, 2009

The Prodigy

Well over the past few years of blogging I am sorry to say that it appears I have fallen into that journalist trap of writing stuff purely in an attempt to be entertaining to the few readers who do stumble across this blog. As a result, I don't necessarily hold the opinions that I'm writing about I do have a tendency to exaggerate ideas and be very blunt for the sake of fickle entertainment. For that I apologise and I'll attempt to write in a more mature manner in future. This is the Internet after all, and you never know, even one of your true heroes could end up reading it and you'd be pretty devastated if you ever upset them.

I should also note that everything here is totally my own responsibility, not Stu's nor anybody else's in the band.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Tale Of A True Slackers Convention

8:00pm - oh look, we've managed to arrive at the venue on time. that hasn't happened for a while

8:30pm - we've even set up really early

9:00pm - i hope the mixing desk comes in soon

9:30pm - we're popping out for fish n chips whilst we're waiting for the mixing desk and cabling to arrive

9:47pm - gosh it's very cold outside, is there any more vinegar, could you pass it over? ta

10:15pm - that was tasty but i feel a bit bad about not eating very healthily tonight. the mixing desk still isn't here? does anybody think we can pull it off without it?

10:40pm - oh dear, it's not happening.

10:55pm - well that's the third time in subsource history we've set up and not played. first e-mail to telling us the location of the other two gigs wins a rare CD promo copy (given only to press so far) of our latest single, "Dark Is The New Light". Hint: G and P

11:10pm - well i'm going to synergy then. seeya later. oh yeah it's called luminopolis now.

8:30am - look at the snow! IT'S SO PRETTY!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

That was the single release week

Buy the new Spamsource single.. and many, many thanks to all those that did. At this moment, we don't know how well we did - we were hoping to make it into the indie charts within the top 100 or so but information is currently still eluding us at present time.

It's a bit of a relief having that week out the way, where every conversation was spent trying to mention it as subtley as possible, especially when you can't remember whether the person you're speaking to has already bought multiple copies for their extended family as Christmas presents for the next 3 years.

So now we're thinking ahead about the next single, looking to build on the success (or failure - we still don't know which) of this release. If you forgot to buy it last week.. go ahead and do it.. total sales still help us out too..

More imminently we're preparing ourselves mentally for the coming month where we'll be driving El Diablo Bastardo over 3000 miles (approximately the distance from London to New York) to play in far-flung places such as Berlin, Paris and Stoke-On-Trent. Stu and Nelly have told me that they've upgraded the East Wing of the van to include luxury sleeping quarters and seeing as we're going to be spending a good few nights cooped up in sub-zero freezing conditions (is Inverness inside the Arctic circle?) we're going to need them. Something tells me this is going to turn into more of a survival boot camp than a band tour..

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Iglu & Hartly. Drop Beats Not Bombs

Hereford - Supporting Iglu & Hartly

Na na na na nahh, IN THIS CITY, na na na na na nahh, IN THIS CITY.

Backstage, the frontguy with long hair, presumably Iglu, is serenading me in Californian falsetto.. do you know this song? It's like totally awesome man. And the thing is as much as I was trying to dislike these catchy shplangy guitar pop songsters, they made every effort to actually make the effort to be amicable to everyone. They're alright, for Americans. Admittedly, the guy who's girlfriend that had her tongue down Hartly's throat might not share the same opinion. As we observe the drummer leave the venue with a young teeny bopper on one arm (and two on the other), citing, 'the soundman has taken the last bed at the hotel and I don't have anywhere to stay', my best reason for hating them is that I'd quite like to be them for a day.

If I didn't have to put up with playing shit music.


Birmingham - Drop Beats Not Bombs

Straight from the Holiday Inn in Hereford to Birmingham for a proper party. Four stages of music into the early hours, we had the honour of performing on the outdoor arena - out of the side of a custom-built double decker bus that has stage and PA built in. It's all well and good closing down a street for it but it actually gets too bollockingly cold to party outside in November.

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