Get to Know: Sustance
It takes talent to properly execute the minimal, murkier side of drum & bass. To build a vibe and create atmospherics that are captivating enough to keep you coming back for more takes serious skill.
Take your Skeptical’s, your Alix Perez’s, your dBridge’s, Marcus Intalex’s and Calibre’s… We’re talking about an elite collective who have perfected the craft and taken huge creative risks in carving a style that has paved the way for emerging talent to inspire us with new approaches and artistic styles.
Enter Sustance: The London-based producer quickly becoming synonymous with deeper, darker sonic textures, making a name for himself with impressive releases across the likes of Dispatch, Invisible and Vandal Records.
His latest release, the Kaiten EP, sees him gracing Dispatch’s main label, following previous outings on the Limited imprint.
5-tracks deep, it sees him carving a real sonic identity and announcing himself as one of the most exciting new talents in recent times, as well as showcasing his versatility as a producer with goosebump-inducing tracks like No Love Lost and Soul In The System.
We took the opportunity to catch up with the man himself to learn more. Get to know…
Thanks for taking the time to chat Oscar! Where have we caught you today?
Hi, no problems. I’m at home today, taking some time out of the studio to prep for my debut set at fabric.
Milestone business! We need to talk about the Kaiten EP on Dispatch… Such a well-rounded release! It feels like you’re more comfortable than ever in terms of developing your sound and carving a real sonic identity. As a relative newcomer do you feel you’re more productive than ever in the studio and growing creatively with each release?
Thanks. Yeah I’ve been really trying to get my head down in the studio. Funnily enough this record was predominantly made before my last release so I already feel the tunes I’ve been working on this year are a big step forward in terms of production.
Did the EP take long to piece together?
My process in the studio is always quite long and experimental whilst I’m working out new ideas and techniques. When something starts rolling that I’m happy with then I normally try and write a few tunes at the same time that could work together as an EP.
Kaiten were torpedoes used in suicide missions by the Japanese Navy… What inspired you to name the release after them?
It was a bit of a weird one actually.. I was watching documentaries on YouTube late at night after a long session in the studio looking for samples. I started spiralling down the rabbit hole of weirder and darker stuff when I found an old video about Japanese suicide bombers in the war. The initial pluck sound in the intro ended up coming from the doc and as the tune was typically dark I thought I’d roll with Kaiten as the title…
A bit macabre I suppose, but I’m always drawn more towards that kind of thing.
Take us through your creative process – do you get inspired by life experiences and then map out concepts for EPs/tracks, or is it more of a technical process for you where you let the creativity flow organically in the studio and see where it takes you?
Yeah I suppose it’s impossible not to be inspired by everything going on in life. I really love super minimal and stripped back tunes so I’m always trying to get the most out of using as few elements as possible when writing. That’s about the only rule I ever follow. Everything else is just putting in the hours.
I spend a lot of time in the studio and write a lot of stuff that will never see the light of day. I just treat all of these tunes as a learning process.
No Love Lost is a personal favourite off this EP. Beautifully melancholic. I love your ability to switch between deep, murky atmospherics and pure vibes like this one. Have noticed you exploring these lush sounds more and more of late, whereas your initial output was quite dark, can we expect more of this kind of stuff from you in future?
Thanks, yeah I’m happy with this one. There’s not many of my own tunes that I can listen to after I’ve finished them. Although the mix could be tighter and I can hear elements I’d like to refine, there’s still a certain vibe about this track… It came together in less than a day, too.
I’ve always loved soulful and deep tunes in every genre. I suppose it just depends on the mood I’m in that day on what the tune I write will sound like. I specifically remember being very hungover when making this one. Must’ve been feeling especially emo…
Do you have a personal fave off the EP?
No Love Lost and Gundem. No love lost is probably my most solid d&b tune in terms of vibe.
In terms of originality I really enjoyed making Gundem. I’d been listening to a lot of Fracture’s tunes and loved how he flips breaks and generally makes such sick bashy vibes. I’d been listening to a lot of ragga as well, and really wanted to sample and chop up some different style breaks, so that’s where this whole vibe stemmed from.
Absolute monster of a track! You’ve had 2 outings on Dispatch LTD, but this is your debut on the main label – how did the link with the label come about in the first place?
The link happened at Outlook Festival in 2016. My buddy If Kahnage introduced me to Ant on the beach when we were all getting waved… To be honest I’m surprised he remembered me when I sent him tunes when I was back home!
You clearly made an impact! 🙂 Were they always a label you aspired to release on?
Of course. Dispatch have released records by loads of my favourite drum & bass producers. I feel very lucky to have released on the same label as those names.
How did you break into the scene initially and what inspired you to get into the business?
I’d been working as an engineer in a studio in south London when one day I had the opportunity to record Foreign Beggars on a dubstep record. I’d been experimenting with D&B for a while and then an opportunity came up to share a studio space with Pav in Hackney. We were only there for a month or so but in that time I met my now good mate Alix Perez.
In terms of imparting advice and passing my tunes to people in the scene he’s done more than anyone for me. His work ethic and musical ethos are a huge inspiration to me. I can’t speak highly enough about this one.
What’s your studio set up like at the moment?
Access Virus Ti2, Moog Minitaur, Elektron Analog Heat & Ableton. The Moog is my newest purchase. So sick.
Last track/ release that gave you goosebumps?
Skeptical’s remix of Zed Bias – Pick Up The Pieces. Stunning tune.
Indeed! Do you dabble with other genres as well or purely D&B in the studio?
Yeah I love chopping up old records and making 90s boom bap hip-hop beats. I’m slowly compiling tunes in the mind to release a free beat tape at some point. Think Alchemist Rapper’s Best Friend style. Hip-hop has always been the closest genre to my heart. I was born in the wrong decade in the wrong country man…
Haha, a sentiment most of our generation can relate to no doubt! Anyone in the scene you’d love to work with?
In terms of producers there are loads of people who I admire and would love to collab with. I still feel like I haven’t really defined my sound yet though, so until then I’m not sure what I could bring to the table, I don’t know… Vocalist-wise I’d love to work with DRS. The guy hasn’t made a bad tune that I’ve heard.
What else is coming up for you this year?
Just keeping my head down and working on defining my sound. I’m really happy that people are feeling the records I’ve released but I still feel I haven’t really made “that tune”, you know?
I’m learning so much every day that with every new track I write I look back and think about what I could’ve done better with the last one. I really feel I’m getting close to something though. Since moving to Ableton recently my workflow seems to be speeding up drastically.
Looking forward to seeing what else you’ve got in store! Any final shouts?
Shout out to Monty, Arkaik, SubMarine, Kiril, Was A Be, Skeptical and Alix Perez for consistently making the coldest tunes. If I ever share a bill with you all I’ll have no tunes to play…
The Kaiten EP is out now on Dispatch – get it here.