One of the best upcoming bands in the music scene is Submotion Orchestra, a live project from Leeds. Submotion Orchestra is a 7-member band: Tommy (drummer), Taz (keys), Ruby (vocalist), Dom Ruckspin (producer/engineer), Fatty (bass), Bobby (trumpet) and Danny (percussion). The members have all cut their teeth on live dub, funk, reggae, jazz and even grime bands previously, so they are no strangers to complex rhythm or bass music. They played twice on the Harbour stage at Outlook Festival: in 2012 and in 2013. This year it was time for a different stage: the opening concert stage. Submotion Orchestra played in the 2000 year old Amphitheatre for the opening of Outlook Festival.
Ruby “This year has been crazy, we’ve been gigging and doing festivals all over England and Europe.”
How did you start Submotion Orchestra? How do you know each other?
The band started in 2009 when Tommy, the drummer, and Dom Ruckspin the producer, did a project commissioned for Yorkminster Cathedral that combined classical composition and performance with the dubstep of Ranking Records. That sort of laid the foundation for what would then be Submotion Orchestra. Tommy called me to see if I wanted to be involved. We did not know each other but we knew each other from the Leeds music scene. We started in a tiny living room and had our first improvised performances at a venue for free food. We only had three songs but the rest of the time we jammed and that’s how we began.
Submotion also played in bars, right?
Yes we played in little pubs. We had a friend with a bar called Hukaz. Pretty funny name for a bar but it was amazing to play there. Submotion started there. Some of our early gigs were in live music bars such as Bar 1:22 in my home town of Huddersfield.
This year Submotion Orchestra played at the opening concert. Is this your first time playing Outlook Festival?
No, it’s our sixth time now. We’re true veterans of Outlook Festival!
Who do you want to see at Outlook Festival?
Busta Rhymes but unfortunately we can’t. It’s a shame he cancelled. I’m just going to walk around and try to find something that I’ve never heard before. Just wander around and then you come to a stage and then you think “this is really sick!” That’s the best thing at a festival; you discover new music.
Did you play some new songs from the third album at the opening? And how did the audience react?
Yes we played our new release Time Will Wait and the audience’s reaction was great! We had a lot of people singing along and they danced, so it was lovely. We didn’t have a chance to play many of our new songs because we are still polishing them up for the European tour.
How many festivals are Submotion Orchestra playing in The Europa tour?
Every weekend we’ve been playing. We started in July with Lovebox Festival in London and ended with Outlook Festival in Croatia. Now we are about to embark on our headline tour of the UK and Europe. No rest for the wicked!
Was this year your first time playing at Pukkelpop? How was it to play in Belgium?
Yes this was the first time we played at Pukkelpop. We were meant to go there with Bonobo a few years ago in 2011. We were on our way there and there was a big thunderstorm and an emergency at the festival, so we got a call: “pukkelpop’s been cancelled”. But this year we finally played before FKA Swigs on an amazing stage and the audience was great. We always love to play in Belgium.
For how many people did you play at Pukkelpop?
I think there were around four thousand people in our tent. It was quite a big tent, but Dom made sure they could hear us all at the back!
What can you tell us about the third album Alium?
It’s a mixture of classic Submotion sound and some newer more experimental directions. There’s a couple of epic instrumentals in it too.
The third album is a mix of the first and second album, with an 80s twist?
Yes it’s a big mix of everything. Our first album (Finest Hour) has more of a dark, acoustic dubstep influence, the second album (Fragments) is more electronic and we’re taking the third album (Alium) back to a mix between acoustic and electronic style.
How do you start a song?
Different people just start jamming together and ideas form from that, or sometimes someone writes an idea and brings it to a session and we expand on it as a group.
Where do you get the inspiration to make the songs?
It comes from everywhere because there are seven members. When we’re travelling everyone is listening to their own music. Everyone’s got a varied music taste.
How long does it take to make one song?
Different people bring different ideas to the table. Someone can write a song with piano and vocals and brings that to the table and we work at it as a band. It can take an hour to make one song but it can also take a month. Then when the song is finished and we all listen to it we say, “We need to change something”, or we just leave it how it is.
How hard is it to make every performance varied? Unique?
There is a lot of freedom in the set. We try to enjoy ourselves especially when we play every week. We are not pop-art so we don’t keep everything straight. We swap the set list and we swap the songs, keeping it fresh for ourselves, too. We like to switch it up.
Who is your biggest idol?
Personally, I love Jill Scott. I love her voice and I love what she talks about.
What your favourite country to play in?
Playing in the UK is always fun – we have a good ‘home’ crowd. But beside Belgium, we also love travelling to Eastern Europe – places like Ukraine and the Czech Republic; we get a really nice response there. Outlook in Croatia, too, of course!
What kind of job would you have if you were not making music?
I don’t know, something that is really flexible, so I could still make music in my spare time!
Where and when can your fans buy the new album Alium?
On 3rd of November on iTunes, of course, and on our website.
Thank you very much for your time and good luck with the tour!
Order your ticket here
Pre order the new album “Alium” here