From the San Francisco Bay Area to the TSDcast - Subtle Mind
Take a step to Dub - Hi guys how are you today?
Subtle Mind: Austin - No complaints here!
Paul - All good.
TSD - Alright, let’s get the "boring" stuff out of the way first. Can you give the readers a little background about yourself?
SM: A - I was born and raised about forty five minutes inland from San Francisco, California. My parents had a nice music collection built up over the years, so I was exposed to multiple genres at a young age. Their collection included Pink Floyd, Depeche Mode, The Beatles, Aretha Franklin, Bob Marley, and Charles Benson to name a few. When I was about ten years old I remember getting my hands on Dr. Dre’s infamous ‘2001’, which sparked my interest in hip hop and rap (it also earned me a lengthy detention sentence when I was caught showing it playing it to people at school). The first instrument that I personally owned was a sunburst Fender Jazz Bass, which landed me a spot in a couple of dead end jam bands throughout my teenage years. I was able to pick up a basic understanding of notes and pitches through playing bass, which transitioned nicely into piano. I studied music theory and took piano lessons at the two universities I attended, while simultaneously learning how to work in a DAW. I’m also left handed, I love craft beer (IPA’s mostly), and I’m a basketball fanatic.
SM: P - I grew up inland from San Francisco as well, Austin and I went to the same high school. I was the nerdy type growing up; lots of Counter Strike on the weekends and all that. It’s always surprising to me to look back and remember that in my younger life I actually didn’t enjoy music all that much. It wasn’t until I found a few bands I liked in elementary school (Metallica, Incubus, etc.) that I finally opened up to it. Ever since then, music has continuously grown as an integral part of my life.
TSD - You’ve been working together since 2011. When was the first time that you felt it was about time to get serious about making music?
SM: P - DJ Crises (Mindstep Music label boss) played out a collaboration that we did with Civiliansound on a live Get Darker set around the middle of 2011. We realized then that if an established DJ across the pond was playing our music at a live, well respected Dubstep night, then we might actually be doing something right.
SM: A - I remember receiving an ecstatic phone call, either from Paul or Mike (Civiliansound), telling me about how our track had just been played at a live Get Darker event. I just about lost it haha.
TSD - Can you tell us what ignited the spark in you to start producing and djing?
SM: A - I picked up a bass guitar and started jamming with some friends when I was about 12 or 13 years old. Shortly after I purchased a four track cassette recorder, but it didn’t take long to realize how limited I was on that thing. A couple years later I stumbled upon Garage Band, which introduced me to the sequencing process. Next up on the list of DAW’s was Fruity Loops, where I created a number hip hop beats (most of which are lost forever unfortunately). While familiarizing myself with reason a few years back, Paul and our buddy Brandon (aka Supreme) were DJing Dubstep and Drum & Bass, so I was inspired by them to start creating some 140 stuff.
SM: P - I was a DJ before Subtle Mind came about. My friend Brandon (Supreme) gave me my first dose of dubstep and drum and bass when he got a pair of technics in….2009 or 2010 I think it was? It took me about a week before I finally asked if I could step up onto the turntables. I haven’t looked back since. And I have Austin to thank for inspiring and helping me get onto the producers side of things.
TSD - Where do you find yourself drawing most of your inspiration from?
SM: A - Well, lately I’ve been listening to a lot of jazz fusion, dub/reggae, hip hop instrumentals, some obscure world music, and soul/R&B stuff. I’m constantly being inspired by whatever I’m listening to. Travel, change in weather, and exploring the outdoors also have a big influence on our sound. For example, we’ve used a few random field recordings that we’ve taken from different environments in some of our music (rain, riding on a train, walking around outside, etc).
SM: P - I really draw inspiration from what I’m listening to at the moment. I go through phases….right now its lots and lots of Dub Techno and Drum & Bass.
TSD - Last year you guys mainly release single tracks / remixes and work in collaborations. Have the reactions to it been what you expected?
SM: P - To be honest we never really have high expectations when releasing music. We try to make tunes that will sonically translate to a big sound system, while still being able to resonate with someone’s emotions. We understand that music sales, especially digital music sales, are hurting right now, so we never really expect much a financial return from our releases. That’s not what it’s about at this point.
SM: A - Yeah, it’s kinda cool to hear that our music has hit some charts or whatever, but ultimately, if our music is somewhat relatable and speaks to someone out there, then we’re happy with the results.
TSD - So in your opinion, who is the audience that identifies with your music?
SM: P - People who wear yellow hats seem to identify the best with our music…no, but really I think we draw inspiration from a wide variety of things, both musical and non-musical, so we’d like to hope that we have somewhat of a broad audience.
SM: A - Damn, I thought it was only people who wear red hats haha. It’s hard to say who exactly identifies with our music and who doesn’t. Like Paul said previously, we try to make music that connects with one’s emotions while still translating on a massive system. So, those people haha.
TSD - I know that you have a new project ready to see the light of the day. Can you talk a bit more about that?
SM - Unfortunately we need to keep quiet on that for just a bit longer.
TSD - How would you describe the 140 scene in the USA today? What producers are making your ears prick up, so to speak?
SM: A - Alive and well, hustling and bustling, all that. There’s a plethora of fresh and forward thinking material circulating in the USA at the moment, it’s awesome. Malleus, Djoser, Wulf, DMVU and Drew’s Theory are just a few of the many USA based producers that are catching my attention at the moment.
SM: P - It seems everyone has something to say about dubstep at the moment…but to me, the only important thing is that there is a solid, new crew of American producers (and old of course) that are dedicated to the continuation of the sound and to pushing it forward. I’d keep an eye on: Oxossi, Saule, Jonah Freed, Dubbacle
TSD - If you were stranded on an island and could only keep with you the following things, what would they be? 1 vinyl, 1 DAW, 1 piece of hardware, and 1 sandwich.
SM: A - Miles Davis - ‘Bitches Brew’, Reason 8, an MPC5000 chalked full of samples, and the Kryptonite sandwich from Ike’s Place.
SM: P - Rhythm & Sound with the Artists, Reason 8, my TasCam, the Menage Trois from Ike’s Place.
TSD - What can we expect from you next?
SM: A - Definitely expect a good amount of new music from us this year. Collaborations and solo stuff. You can also catch us playing in downtown LA in couple weeks supporting the don K Man.
SM: P - Music.
TSD - Thank you for your time, any shout outs and special mentions?
SM - No problem! Out to our parents, Joe Nice, Ric Bakir, Theo and Leon of the Dub Mechz, Dubsworth & Tapa, the SpaceO boys, DJ Crises, Matt Deco, Rozi, Confidential (aka Ashley n Shelby), Mesck, Wulf, Ill Chill, Talabun, Rachel Mazer, Nate aka Nonfuture, Richie Dubfella, the labels who have trusted in and released our music, the promoters who’ve allowed us to play at their parties, and anyone else who has supported us along this brief musical journey. Apologies if we’ve missed anyone!