For over a decade Emch has been the producer, selector, and musician spearheading Subatomic Sound System and the Subatomic Sound label. Founded at the turn of the millennium, NYC’s Subatomic Sound System has built a reputation worldwide for explosive shows, genre bending production, and breaking down barriers with their unique adaptation of 1970’s Jamaican sound system culture and dub reggae studio techniques to current music genres, technology, and live performances. A record label, DJ/production crew, live band, and event promoters, the Subatomic Sound crew is at work in NYC on every level. Emch hosts Subatomic Sound Radio blasting out to a footprint of 11 million terrestrial listeners in the greater NYC area on KEXP’s Mo-Glo broadcast on Radio New York, 91.5fm and also on the internet via Brooklyn Radio.net.
Subatomic Sound System has toured throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. In 2008, Emch was recruited by Vienna’s top ranking live dub band, Dubblestandart, to play guitar and nmelodica on tour worldwide with Grammy winning reggae legend Lee Scratch Perry, playing for capacity crowd shows from New York’s Central Park to Europe largest reggae festival, One Love in Poland. As the Subatomic Sound record label head, Emch has produced and released dub reggae innovator Lee Scratch Perry’s first dubstep tracks plus eclectic collaborations with icons like filmmaker David Lynch, Prince Far-i, & UK punk pioneer Ari Up of the Slits as well as new school torchbearers like Anthony B, Elephant Man, Jahdan Blakkamoore, Dubblestandart, & his own group Subatomic Sound System.
Born at the height of Y2K frenzy, amidst a collision of circuit boards, New York City asphalt, and human bodies, SUBATOMIC SOUND SYSTEM hit the ground running. Originated as a live group of seasoned musicians experimenting with hip-hop, dub reggae, dancehall and drum and bass influences, excessive exposure to gamma radiation soon turned them into a bionic half-man/half-machine studio monster. Under the control of EMCH aka Scientifik and NOAH, Tha Riddim Doktor, SUBATOMIC SOUND SYSTEM created a unique style of beat driven music that staggers between the half time smoked out vibe of hip hop and dub reggae and the double time manic energy of jungle, drum & bass, punk rock, and up tempo jazz. Similar blends of these styles in the U.K. have led to the formation of styles like grime, dub-step, and broken beat, but here in the U.S. in New York City, SUBATOMIC SOUND SYSTEM developed in its own unique way. Combining edgy production techniques with heady dub ambience and musical hooks, they assembled a body of recorded music and SUBATOMIC SOUND SYSTEM was first unleashed on the world.
It’s dangerous to play with the elements. That’s the first thing Emch, aka Scientifik, discovered when he began experimenting with Noah Tha Riddim Doktor in the Subatomic Lab. It was innocent enough to start – a few gearheads, a properly trained guitarist and a seasoned reggae bass player, and a whole lot of old school 45s cluttering the place up. But then the test tubes came out, because no true doctor or scientist can leave well enough alone. Soon the lab was so full of equipment, instruments, crisscrossing wires, and people that the door to enter only opened wide enough for them to carefully slip in and out sideways. One wrong move could spark an electrical fire… or worse.
Sure enough, not long after the turn of the millennium, there was a massive explosion. As the smoke cleared, Emch looked down at the scattered pieces and was struck by how the same fundamental elements were at the core of many disparate things. In this defining moment, SUBATOMIC SOUND SYSTEM was truly born. Though their initial experiments had led to half a million downloads and kudos like winning the NYC Red Bull Vinylab DJ Next competition, Emch visualized a cohesive group and a sound that was both inclusive and expandable, where dissimilar sounds and people could work in combination to build on the strength of common elements. The results can be heard on the hypnotic, body rocking new album ON ALL FREQUENCIES where SUBATOMIC SOUND SYSTEM melts down the vintage sound of bass-heavy dub reggae, the head bobbing funk of underground hip hop, the throb of dancehall, and the futuristic fever of jungle and broken beat to unleash a sound built on the common elements that tie these styles together and give them a universal, cross-cultural resonance. In other words, bass lines thick as gravy keep waists winding to infectious grooves and ‘nuff soulful vocalists and MCs.
Part of the SUBATOMIC sound is a network of uniquely talented individuals that are at once a live sound system, band, and studio production crew – assembling in various formations like Voltron in the lab and throughout live sets to unite the best of each tradition: the flow and breadth of DJ sets, the improvisational energy of live musicians, the sound manipulation techniques like dubbing and remixing previously confined to the recording studio, and the conscious lyrics and honest story telling that define all good vocal music. To bring this juggernaut to life, SUBATOMIC SOUND SYSTEM uses an innovative combination of analog and digital machines. In any given live set, dub, roots, and dancehall reggae get mashed up with futuristic hip hop, dubstep, broken beat, and space age drum and bass rhythms that are manipulated and rearranged in real time collaborative interaction with feeds from the musicians and a highly original crew of MCs and vocalists who represent these musical traditions.
The Inspiration >
The result of this diaspora of talent and influences is both a premonition and a nod to the past. Consider the history: Back in the 70s, Motown toured with a single backup band and a cast of vocalists that shared a common family vibe. At the same time in Jamaica, mobile sound systems were playing those R&B records while DJs chatted and sang their own versions, fresh from local studios. As imported American soul collided with Caribbean rhythms, it was further twisted up with studio effects and then unleashed on ears hungry for new sounds. This evolving sound system tradition later spanned the globe, giving birth to rap music here in New York City and influencing the spread of DJ culture and electronic dance music worldwide. SUBATOMIC SOUND SYSTEM is built solidly on this foundation, paying tribute to the past while flipping the script with the sounds of the present and the future.
Together, SUBATOMIC SOUND SYSTEM has been taking the East and West coast underground by storm. Their unorthodox mashup of styles, combined with innovative use of new technology, creates a powerful live experience that defies expectations and challenges musical prejudices. With the release of ON ALL FREQUENCIES, SUBATOMIC SOUND SYSTEM has begun spreading their gospel of hypnotic dub bass, pulsing syncopated rhythms, and sincere melodic messages around the globe – providing living proof that while it is dangerous to play with the elements, it’s worth walking through the fire.
The Genesis >
Digitally injected into cyberspace during year 2000, SUBATOMIC SOUND SYSTEM rose up the charts on sites like mp3.com, landing tracks in the top 10 of Drum and Bass, Alternative Hip Hop, Dub, Big Beat and Breakbeat, racking up over half a million plays and over 1000 downloads per day. In the past few years SUBATOMIC SOUND SYSTEM has recorded several dozen songs, produced beats for MC Pete Miser, won the Red Bull Vinylab DJ Next competition (you can scoop the winning 12″ here), scored short films in Texas, San Francisco and New York, composed music for video games in Toronto, provided music for various online media sites, created soundtracks for fashion designer Leigh Bantivoglio’s website, did remixes for Indian/African musician James Whetzel, Epitaph/Hellcat records artists King Django and The Slackers, and had tracks find their way into clubs from Tokyo to Moscow.
A post 2001 stress release project, the CODE ORANGE RELAXATION TECHNIQUES was a DJ mix done for WMC by Emch (aka Scientifik) that included five new right-out-of-the-lab Subatomic tracks. The mixtape was one of the first Subatomic Sound label releases and got the ball rolling.
The Breakdown >
Like Voltron, SUBATOMIC SOUND SYSTEM assembles with several forms and components. SUBATOMIC beat scientists, EMCH aka Scientifik and NOAH tha Riddim Doktor, come from divergent and diverse musical backgrounds and are in a constant process of drawing together elements and people from those traditions to enrich the SUBATOMIC sound, forcing collisions of the musical styles they have come to know and love in New York City: drum and bass, jungle, hip hop, dub reggae, dancehall, downtempo, illbient, industrial, punk rock, downtempo, middle eastern and Indian flavours. All the roots get represented and are channeled into the vibe of SUBATOMIC SOUND SYSTEM. While the genre bending music cuts across many styles, it draws on those influences only insofar as they contribute to the SUBATOMIC ideal of thumping syncopated beats & percussion, phat smooth bass lines, and musical hooks created with cut up melodies and sound effects. Uniting these principles is a dedication to keeping the music rooted in both past and future by using a balance of digital and analog sounds and a belief in creating well structured songs that stand on their own, aspiring to move people both on and off the dance floor. Whether hitting it at 88 beats per minute with chilled out atmospheric grooves or exploding at 188 beats per minute, SUBATOMIC SOUND SYSTEM aims to shake the foundation…
Who Are They ? Where Did They Come From ? And Why ?
The Originators: NOAH, Tha Riddim Doktor, producer, and top rankin’ NYC bass man, has written, recorded and performed with countless reggae, ska, jazz, funk, hip hop and drum & bass crews. A NYC native, he grew up on a steady diet of early hip hop and dub and is a veteran bass player from the local ska and reggae scene. He has written, recorded and toured the US and Europe repeatedly with the likes of Sugar Minot (Easy Star), Beenie Man, Rob Symeon, Stubborn All Stars, Skinnerbox, King Django (Epitaph/Hellcat), and live drum and bass act, Sol-I (Shadow Records). He is also the founder of now defunct NYC dub band No Shadow Kick that included Matt Urbania and the three NYC Victors: Victor Axlrod (Easy Star All Stars/ Antibalas), Vic Ruggeiro (The Slackers), and Victor Rice (Stubborn All Stars).
EMCH aka scientifik, dub chemist and SUBATOMIC mastermind, draws influence from the sounds and techniques of the past, present, and future. Hailing from the dubious grunge capital of Seattle, he was fascinated from an early age with the innovations of fellow Seattlite Jimi Hendrix, he discovered dub reggae through a brush with Bad Brains and Fugazi that ended in a head on collision with Lee Scratch Perry and King Tubby. Besides being a DIY production junky, Emch is a jazz and classically trained guitarist who earned a post-rock medal of honor distorting guitars alongside artists like 311, The Roots, 24-7Spyz, Col. Bruce Hampton and Eek-a-Mouse while fronting Philly band Scorched Earth Affair and NYC’s Fiver. Experimenting with sampling and electronic music in their early forms and multitrack recording with old 70s cassette players before cassette multitracks were even developed, these DIY production techniques finally paid off when combined with more than a decade of experience recording and playing in bands.
The ‘On All Frequencies’ album crew: Since Emch and the Riddim Doktor formed SUBATOMIC SOUND SYSTEM, it has grown into an expanding and flexible collective that is known as much for the breadth of musical styles and quality of production and musicianship as it is for a talented and highly original crew of MCs and vocalists. As demonstrated by the breadth of music represented on the ON ALL FREQUENCIES album, the sound was enriched by this growth, convincingly covering a vast soundscape from classic dub reggae to hip hop to dancehall to chilled out jungle to downtempo to broken beat and even to genre defying mashups of those sounds that fall somewhere in between. Besides Emch and Tha Riddim Doktor, here the MCs, vocalists, and musicians who make up the SUBATOMIC SOUND SYSTEM ‘On All Frequencies’ album:
DADDY LION CHANDELL, the roots warrior, represents the Jamaican reggae tradition with a legendary vocal sound reminiscent of Dennis Brown’s gritty Motown influenced style and the Abyssinians rich gospel harmonies and conscious, uplifting lyrics.
NAADA translates from Sanskrit as the sound of bliss permeating the universe, the hum created by the resonance of traveling along the Path of Union with the Divine. A representative of the Intergalactic Council, she transmits her message to the unknowing earth people through an enlightened mixture of singing and rapping that has won comparisons to Lauryn Hill, Digable Planets, and Lady Sovereign.
NEMISS, the Chicago born, Brooklyn based MC is steadily redefining what it means to be a woman in rap music by making sure that image and appearance take a back seat to her intelligence and a lyrical flow that has garnered critical praise and allowed her to share the stage with the likes of Common, the Roots, Gangstarr, Black Sheep, and Lloyd Banks.
RHIANNON is a sought after vocalist known for her conscious lyrics and a passionate voice that blends speakeasy-era jazz with timeless revolutionary fire. She’s worked with Antibalas, Ming & FS, and countless underground DJs, and shared bills with the likes of Matthew Dear, DJ Spooky, & Doc Martin. A dedicated organizer of underground culture, she served as Music Director for the legendary Lunatarium, and now for the TheDanger.com (Complacent) and massive sound clash festivals on the streets of NYC.
TREASURE DON, ghetto champion, undisputed crowd pleaser, and former star singer with the St. John Divine’s Boy’s Choir, brings fire to the microphone in the Jamaican dancehall tradition of Cutty Ranks, Yellowman, & Barrington Levy, flexing the same divine baritone that his preacher father once used to shake the foundation of congregations throughout the Bronx. Pure fiyah, original Jamaican, every time!
PAIGE SCOTT hails from LA, London and NYC, where she primarily lends her sultry vocals to the deep house scene. She has worked with BT, P.Q.M., Johnny Vicious, Dave Aude, and recently wrote and recorded the hit “Is This For Real” with Audiofly (UK) remixed by Mas Collective for MO-Do Records (Italy).
KING DJANGO, a seminal force in the American ska & reggae scene, has been touring the world for years, making his name internationally as a singer, ragamuffin MC, songwriter, instrumentalist, producer, and founder of Stubborn Records and Version City studios.
BENNY BEATS is one of NYC’s hardest working reggae drummers and founder of the label Nomadic Wax, dedicated to African & Middle Eastern hip hop. In addition to his work with Subatomic, he has toured the US and Europe and recorded as a drummer and percussionist with Dub Is A Weapon, Rock Steady 7, Glenn Brown, Yabby U, Sugar Minott, Skavoovie, the Epitones, and King Django.
Co-Conspirators and Collaborators: From the jump, SUBATOMIC SOUND SYSTEM has been working to create a community around the sound through collaboration and involvment in combined efforts. Unity is strength. One of the first who came strong was NY bass player and composer Victor Rice with the tracks ‘Earl’ and ‘Coolidge’. The track Bring It On came about while working on soundtracking and scoring the film 37th Chamber. Philly MC Herb D got up in the Subatomic lab to lay down lyrics. Other vocal versions of the beats for Power and Bring It On led to collaborations with Rocker-T and Pete Miser. The track with Pete titled Fiscal Fitness has been released on his new album, Radio Free Brooklyn. Still unreleased are two ill remixes of King Django’s album title track Reason which led to several other sessions in the lab. King Django is now recording live versions of the Subatomic tracks, Power (entitled Thunder) and Reconnected.
The collaberations with Herb D, Pete Miser, and King Django led to the release of the EP entitled LOST HITS VOL.1 DANCEHALL VS. HIP HOP, the first digital release by SUBATOMIC SOUND SYSTEM, initially on iTunes and Beatport, but now available on most every download services. After remixing the track ‘Why I Smoke Bidi’ for Carras & Whetzel, several joint efforts broke out including live shows in Seattle and a downtempo live project called DUB CHAMPIONS in NYC focusing on the downtempo and dub side of SUBATOMIC. Another remix done for The Slackers, led to singer/vocalist Vic Ruggeiro laying down keys on some Subatomic tracks. Our man in the crates, Dale Turner, also gets props. After winning the Red Bull Vinylab/ DJ Next remix contest, SUBATOMIC SOUND SYSTEM performed a set with a tricked out laptop manned by EMCH and turntables manned by vinyl specialist DJ Dale Turner (aka O.J. Lima, OJZA). Fueled by free flowing red bull and vodka, the party inlcuded Ming+FS doing their first live show for their new album Subway Series. Also in the mix was Vic Ruggeiro from The Slackers who had laid down the keys on the Subatomic remix.
What’s Next For SUBATOMIC SOUND SYSTEM ?
With tons of new releases loaded up, some amazing collaborations and remixes, and plans to reach the furthest corners of the globe, you’ll want to stay tuned.
Amidst trying to survive and thrive in New York city, SUBATOMIC SOUND SYSTEM continues to be known more and more as an authority on the link between traditional dub and its electronic future. Look out as churns out more beats and remixes from within the SUBATOMIC SOUND network of MCs, singers, and instrumentalists and bring the SUBATOMIC sound to the world on wax, silicon, zeros and ones, and of course live with SUBATOMIC SOUND SYSTEM in NYC, Brooklyn, and the world. All the while they will continue the fight for justice and against evil.
If you don’t have the latest SUBATOMIC SOUND SYSTEM music, scoop it today on all major digital services like iTunes, Beatport, and Juno, or on vinyl in the US, Europe, and Japan, or direct from us on CD here! If you already have it, make sure you’re on the SUBATOMIC mailing list and stay tuned for more new SUBATOMIC SOUND SYSTEM music. BIG NEW SOUNDS FROM THE NEW YORK UNDERGROUND!!!
March 1st, 2011
New York City, NY – USA