Submorphics returns to The North Quarter this month with his first release since spring 2021.
Verona Highway weighs in at six tracks, features a collaboration with Satl and shows a deeper, darker side to the Detroit-born/Chicago-raised/Netherlands-based artist who is best known for timeless soulful cuts and savvy sample craft.
“I’m trying to do some different things, some creative things,” reflects Submorphics AKA Greg Axelrad. “I’ve done the soul thing for a long time, I’ve worked with some amazing singers over the years but now it’s time to do something experimental, maybe a bit more underground and just try flex some different styles.”
Taking influence from some of the most influential and vital keystones of underground electronic music such as Detroit techno, Chicago footwork and UK institutions like Warp Records, Greg reflects over the lineage and parallels between drum & bass and other similarly futurist movements that happened at the same points in the late 80s and early 90s.
“It was all slightly before my time but I know there is some strong history there,” he explains. “I believe there was a link-up between Goldie and the Underground Resistance crew in the early-to-mid 90s. They were exchanging ideas. 4 Hero were heavily influenced by the Detroit movement and involved in that mix, too. So yeah, I wanted to explore that relationship between Detroit and London underground sounds myself with my own voice.”
Listen closely when the fully EP lands on July 15 and you’ll literally hear Greg’s voice as he takes to the mic for the first time on two tracks – Orchestra 313 and Dawn Of The Rebirth, which was made with Satl in Poland.
“I never thought I’d be able to pull it off,” he laughs. “I loved the old electro records from the back in the day with those weird robotic vocals. Instead of sampling a vocal or hiring a singer I thought let’s try something myself. I’m not a singer, I’m not a rapper but let’s try and do something. It worked out!”
With a strong experimental theme running throughout, especially with the more footwork, steppy style drums, the EP is an exciting new twist for the long-standing US soul man who has just returned from an American tour. “I can confirm things are good at the moment over there,” he grins before noting the change in taste and growing appreciation for deeper sounds across the pond. “I didn’t feel I had to play big bangers at any point. I could play deeper and more meaningful music which people would usually step outside and have a cigarette to.”
The only thing smoking here is the music. Submorphics’ new EP lands fully on July 15 and is led by the single Lucinda, which is out today, July 1. “Lucinda is influenced by the Chicago footwork sound with a little Madlib and J Dilla and Detroit techno in the mix,” explains Greg who named the tune after a friend. “It’s an elegant name. I wanted to give some love to girls in our life. She’s a friend of mine from Bristol who I smoked a spliff with on a beach in Croatia – she doesn’t even know she inspired the title yet!”