Submotion Orchestra - Q&A

Posted by vibrations on 28-04-16

Local favourites Submotion Orchestra are BACK…with a brand new album, a European tour underway and two sold out gigs here in their hometown, Leeds. Suffice to say that they have gone from strength to strength since forming in 2009, enjoying success from their early weekly residencies at Hyde Park’s Hukaz, to now being regarded as one of the most exciting live bands on the European festival circuit. Here’s drummer Tommy Evans on the band’s new record Colour Theory, and his take on their journey so far…

Colour Theory is your first album release in 2 years, what's the feeling like in the Submotion camp at the moment?

Yeah, great – thank you! The response to the new album has been amazing and we’ve loved taking a whole new set out on tour. It’s been a really interesting process working with collaborators on the new album – it’s taken the band’s sound in a completely different direction, which we’ve all really enjoyed.

The new album feels like quite a departure to your previous music - what has inspired the new sound? 

We spent a while in a cottage in Wales with a blank canvas - doing some soul-searching and trying to define a new approach. We were keen to come up with a new sound, a new direction with this album that was more production-focussed. A sound that didn’t come from jamming as much as our previous material has, but that was formed through working remotely in studios and creating music in a kind of snowball effect.

You’ve recorded four albums now with Dom (Ruckspin) - what kind of impact does he have on the finished sound of Submotion Orchestra? 

Dom has produced all of our 4 albums (and he is our live sound engineer) so he always has a big impact on the final sound, but with this album we put more focus into the electronic side and giving Dom a longer leash to take the tracks in a more production-focussed direction. Having a studio producer who is also the band’s live engineer is unusual but it means that there is a really strong link between the album production and live sound.

Talk us through the collaborations on the new album - what was the experience like?

Initially, we reached out to other artists who have become friends of the band and who we wanted to work with, and gradually we wrote a number of demo tracks with them. All the collaborations are really natural, organic, musical meetings with people who we trust and respect, and it was hugely inspiring to work with new musicians and vocalists.

You're on the cusp of a European tour – are you excited to be back on the road and are there any cities in particular that you are looking forward to visiting?

It’s always great to tour with the band – we have a lot of fun, and the gigs are always special. We don’t get to see much of each city but the crowds always make up for it. Obviously, the two shows we are doing in Leeds at the Brudenell are going to be pretty special. Every time we come back and play in Leeds, the reception from people is amazing and we are always really moved by the support.  We are really looking forward to the Leeds gigs – I think we’ll have a good party!

You've come a long way since forming in Leeds in 2009, did you ever dream that you'd be four albums in with a European tour underway and sold out gigs in your hometown? What have been some of the highlights of your journey so far?

You don’t really think about these things in advance, because you can easily set yourself up for a disappointment - you just get on with it and hope for the best. I think we’ve come a long way, but music can be quite unpredictable so for now we’re just happy doing what we do. Each release is a highlight, and every gig is either a fond memory or a memory to learn from, so basically there are highlights everywhere.

In the early days of Submotion, you had a legendary weekly residency at Hukaz. Do you feel that this cemented your reputation in Leeds and help build a following? 

We’ll be forever grateful to Mani and his family for having us there on those Monday nights! I think we also have to be hugely grateful to the people who used to come and see us at Hukaz, week in week out, because a lot of the music we played there was pretty shambolic! It was the perfect place to test out ideas in a live setting though, and the sound that we developed at Hukaz built the foundations of what became the ‘Submotion’ sound.

What's coming up next for Submotion Orchestra? 

For now we are really just focusing on this current tour and promoting the new album. Then we go straight into a really busy summer of festivals across Europe which will be fun, and after that we will have to see…

If you could collaborate with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be?

Miles Davis

Any dream shows you'd like to play, or is there anything on the bucket-list that you'd like to achieve as a band?

I think we are all hugely grateful for the opportunities we’ve had as a band. None of us can really believe that we are signed to Ninja Tune, or that we do mainstage gigs at festivals across Europe etc, so I think overall we are just very happy to play music that we love.

Good luck with the next phase of your journey, we can’t wait to see what happens next!