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From the Queen City to L.A. – Submersive talks dance culture, music process



Where does the name Submersive come from?

The name, “Submersive,” comes from the experience of being immersed in bass from a subwoofer in a club or at a dance music festival. For those unfamiliar with the experience, I would describe it as a feeling of being engulfed in sound to the extent that the listener can feel the sound waves vibrating their body. You literally become one with the music, as your body vibrates in tune with the sound.  If you’ve ever sat in a car with a large subwoofer and could feel the bass shaking your insides, it is similar to that experience on a massive scale. I can attempt to explain it, but the sensation is really something that must be experienced to be understood (and should be experienced on a regular basis, in my opinion).

How has your experience going from Charlotte to L.A. been over the years? The differences in music culture?

I moved to Los Angeles at the beginning of 2015, to attend a program at Icon Collective Music Production School. Los Angeles is the undisputed dance music capital of the United States, so it was the natural move. Living in Los Angeles has definitely made it easier for me to connect with other people in the dance music industry. From being surrounded by other creative individuals pushing me to continue to improve, to the relationships I’ve been able to foster with others working in the industry, moving to L.A. has definitely been helpful for my career.    

Though the Charlotte dance music culture is much smaller than in Los Angeles, with far fewer events, I’d say that most in attendance at a dance music event in Charlotte are there primarily to see the artist perform. In Los Angeles, many of the attendees are present because it is the social norm to attend dance events at big clubs every weekend, and are often more interested in having a good time with their friends than who is performing. So while the Charlotte dance music scene is smaller, the fans in attendance at events in Charlotte tend to have more passion for performances, from my experience.

What got you started in music? Musical family? Instruments you play?

Music has been an outlet for me, as a listener, for as long as I can remember. I started playing drums at age 10. I discovered at a relatively young age that I enjoyed curating the music for any occasion; creating a shared feeling between people brings me joy. I DJ’d my first event (a middle school dance) at 13. The passion persisted through high school and college, and after graduating from UNC, I decided that I wanted to make a career out of music production and DJing. 

What else do you enjoy doing other than making music?

When I’m not creating music, playing music, casually listening to music, or attending a music event; I enjoy going on hikes and spending as much time in nature (away from my laptop and cell phone) as possible, which is pretty evident to anyone that follows me on Instagram (@submersivemusic). Fortunately, Los Angeles has lots of parks and hiking trails in the surrounding areas that make for a healthy escape. Occasionally, I also enjoy sleeping.  

Describe the process a little about how you create a track or an album.

I usually produce my music in a program called Ableton Live. To create the sounds I use in my productions, I generally rely on a combination audio samples, software synthesizers, and hardware synthesizers. Once I’ve decided on a sound to use in a production, I use a USB (piano-style) keyboard to record the musical performance into my computer for further manipulation. 

Creatively I wouldn’t say I have a single process that I follow to create my music. I generally begin with whatever inspired me to write the song, whether thats a melody or chord progression I’ve had stuck in my head, a vocal sample, a new sound or synthesizer, a rocking bass line, or even a percussion loop with a strong groove. 

Who are your influences growing up and even now?

As a kid growing up in Charlotte, I listened to copious amounts of classic rock. As a result, I was highly influenced by the politically fueled rhetoric in the music of the 1960’s. Artists like, Bob Dylan; Jimi Hendrix; The Who; Led Zeppelin; and The Beatles, not only influenced what I perceived to be quality musicianship, but also shaped my expectation of the musician’s role in society. As a result of this influence, I am a strong proponent of musicians taking an active role in shaping our culture beyond what we listen to. 

Currently, I find inspiration in the work of Elon Musk. His work, through Tesla/SolarCity and SpaceX, makes great strides in advancing the human race as a whole (a goal that we should all be actively pursuing). Musk is simultaneously attempting to end our dependence on fossil fuels, and make the human race multi-planetary. I would be happy accomplishing either one.  

Craziest story from a show or tour?

Not the craziest but… Shortly after relocating to Los Angeles, I was performing in a club in Costa Mesa. At the time, I was performing with a laptop in the DJ booth (I haven’t since the following incident). About half way through my set, I was really getting into it; jumping around, thrashing my head… The next thing I know, my hat comes off of my head, flips forward and hits the space bar on my laptop, bringing the set to an abrupt halt. I quickly resumed the music, everyone cheered, probably no one remembers it even happened. But to me, it was funny. 

Describe your music to those who might have never heard it before.

Ohhhh God. Can someone else take this one? it sounds like a horse with 20 ton hooves galloping at you at full speed, backwards, at midnight. A loud kick drum on every beat, fast bass lines, entrancing melodies, percussion that makes you want to move your hips, atmospheric other-worldly sounds. To me, I imagine in it as flying across time and space. I try to share that feeling with fans in the videos I put out every two weeks on Facebook alongside my podcast, “Beneath The Surface.” My brand of music is about taking the listener beneath the surface of reality and into a new dimension. In the videos for “Beneath The Surface” I try to capture that feeling with visuals that take you under water (representing consciousness) and then across time and space. 

Any advice to those who are looking to grow there music and go to the next level but might be scared to head to a place like L.A. or NYC?

I have never lived in NYC so I won’t pretend to have any advice to offer on that. In Los Angeles, I can only speak on my own experience within the dance music scene; what I have to say may not be true for a band, vocalist, or classical musician. I can definitely say that moving to Los Angeles will not make you more successful in itself, but it will put you around the right people if your music is quality. I think moving to Los Angeles is a decision that depends largely on the individual. I would say proceed with caution; Living in LA requires a large degree of self-discipline.There is always something going on, so it is quite easy to be distracted by the social calendar. I think relocating isn’t ever completely necessary; and would be most beneficial after honing performance and writing skills to a near professional level, which can be done anywhere. If you are sure that you want to pursue a career as a professional musician, I think it is important to have some sort of presence in the city where your style of music is popular, whether that is LA, NYC, Nashville, London, etc. 

Your favorite cartoon?

South Park. 

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