Saturday, 13 August 2011

Featuring: SUB LAB/ARNOK

American dubstep, on the whole, has long been sneered at by fans of the deep, dark, bass heavy-sound who have associated the U.S with screeching, mid-range wobble and not too successful dubstep hip-hop hybrids. Yet ARNOK, AKA Aaron Bones, continues to show that any negative conceptions of Dubstep from across the pond are unjustified. His nascent imprint SUB LAB is dedicated to pushing deep, dark beats from up and coming producers and his own production, both his solo work and his work with HEX under the Infinite Minds alias, fits comfortably alongside the producers he chooses to support. We finally caught up with the elusive Aaron (this feature has been along time in the making) to ask a few questions and get his contribution to our mix series.

Hedmuk: For those who don't know, what's your name, where do you hail from and what is your label SUB LAB all about?

ARNOK: My name is Aaron Bones and I 'hail' from the suburbs of Dallas, Texas, but recently I've relocated to the base of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains (Boulder, Colorado).

SUB LAB was born in Dallas, Texas - very far from the South London borough which introduced the deepest of 'dubstep' sounds to the world, but very near to its collective ideals. With the goal of utilizing the full capabilities of creativity and building a vibrant community around it, we are in constant motion beyond explored boundaries.

As contemporary music progresses toward categorization and building stiff scenes, we remain in active pursuit of pushing the Sub Lab vibes without compromising our commitment to the underground. Surfacing the power of unknown sounds and the collective minds that produce them is our motivation each and every day.

SUB LAB isn't grounded in music or the releases it's featured on -- we are not limited to any one field and seek to test the limits of every idea that comes our way.

H: You seem to be taking an original approach to running a label by connecting and collaborating with a wide number and range of other people involved in the scene (be they promoters, producers, DJs, writers or other labels) in order to spread something positive, rather than simply using this communication as a promotional tool; is this an important part of Sub Lab?

This is probably the most vital aspect of the label. Sub Lab would not function without the continuous efforts of our network - daily interaction between artists, promoters, businesses, and friends. There are many others out there on a similar wave-length, and I want to utilize the power of creative collaboration as much as possible. Without my efforts of reaching out to others who inspire me, I would not have accomplished a fraction of what I have to date.

By the end of the day, there's around 40-70 IM boxes open between AIM and Facebook chat on this laptop. I definitely cherish having the power of being able to connect instantly with others across the globe. None of this would be possible without today's technology, and that's something I feel all of us tend to overlook from time to time. But, as convenient and useful these tools are, I personally wouldn't be tied into social networks anymore if it weren't for my creative endeavors. Sometimes I just want to enjoy other aspects of life -- such as the mountains outside my window, rather than being instantly-available for anyone's convenience.


H: How do you go about selecting artists and tunes for release on the label? And do you have an email address (or other contact detail) for demo submissions?

A: Since the beginning, I've always selected tunes that purely have an impact on me. I'm not the one who waits for others to send me demos - it's all about chasing the opportunity. Recently, I've decided to close the doors of public demo submissions. There are a handful of reasons behind this, but mainly it's because I'm comfortable with the level we're at.

I've been able to establish some very strong relationships with other like-minded artists -- to the point in which I can call them my friends. Taking the time to connect with these artists has lead to me gaining levels of respect which I embrace deeply. Whether it's them sending me their latest productions before anyone else, or building something specifically for SUB LAB. Just having that kind of relationship means more than any amount of words could describe.

This doesn't mean I'm closed-minded towards new additions to at all. We've made this decision as whole and feel it will allow us to focus on other aspects of the label that need more attention. Sifting through SoundCloud links, mixes, and zip files full of unfinished tunes doesn't seem necessary to me anymore. I feel pretty disrespected when I open an email just to find a link without any words. The ones who truly are interested in what we're doing and wish to get involved will go out of their way to make it happen.

H: With the apparent ease of setting up digital labels in this day and age, is it important to you that you will provide physical releases as well?

A: Definitely, pushing physical releases to our audience is vital to what we're doing. I want others to have a complete understanding of our motives, and to do that, we can't rely purely on the internet. It's all about giving the listener an experience that defines who you are -- showing them, not just telling them. You can compare it to going out and feeling sub-woofers pound your chest in, rather than sitting at home, listening to the selected range of frequencies that can travel through your laptop speakers.

I'm not going to force anyone to buy our releases on vinyl because it's what we prefer, but I want them to have the option if they want to. Some people like to be able to pull out their iPhone's and purchase a song through iTunes at any given time, and some people enjoy traveling to their local record store so they pull that new release off the shelf. If someone is going to put their money towards our efforts, I want them to have complete satisfaction of knowing their purchase was worth it. SUB LAB will always remain committed to quality in every aspect of our operations, period.

H: America's take on dubstep has the, perhaps unfair, reputation of being focussed on jump-up and dancefloor-projected tunes; has this at all influenced the way in which you set about establishing SUB LAB as both a label and collective?

A: I've always put forth an effort to set myself a part and do things differently I guess you could say. Setting up the label as a collective was driven by my desire to utilize the power of creative collaboration between like-minded artists. I knew right from the start that I didn't want just to be another record label; I wanted to take a different route and experiment with all the ideas in my head. One of my biggest influences is the power that all these underground producers hold. Getting to see first-hand how these hidden sounds transform drives me to raise the bar in the perspective of both a creative director and artist.

The sounds that have been associated with 'the scene' over here may not be favored on my behalf, and we may not 'fit in' with everyone else, but I'm doing what I love and enjoying every moment of it. Watching others appreciate what we're doing pushes me harder to stay true, disregard what's trending, and continue doing things our way. The support we've been receiving since last September is truly incredible - it's definitely a huge influence for all of us. Gaining respect from heads throughout 'the scene' that I greatly admire is one of the main sources of my inspiration. Youngsta, Tunnidge, Joe Nice, and Seven especially have kept me moving forward with great force.

H: You're also a producer yourself, both individually as ARNOK and in collaboration with HEX as Infinite Minds: how would you describe your sound, and what have you got lined up for the future with these projects?

A: I guess 'my sound' is "next level ambiance'" according to AJP UK (laughs). In all seriousness, I couldn't describe it even if my life was on the line. My sound is what you hear and what it tells you. It's been pretty hard for me to set time aside to work on my tunes; there are about 10 projects from myself that I need to finish up. 'Bare Beliefs' was supposed to see a release, but silly me forgot to save the project file. I decided to give away a rough copy on The Big Up Mag the other month.

As far as Infinite Minds, HEX and I were able to get a few studio sessions in before I left for Colorado. We're working on our debut 12" which you'll see on Sub Lab sometime next year.

ARNOK - Bare Beliefs by ARNOK

H: How do you balance this with the running of Sub Lab? Do you view yourself more predominantly as a label owner or producer?

Between my day job and running the label, there isn't much time left for me to produce. Most of it is spent networking and the time zone differences are always shifting my pathetic excuse for a sleep schedule. I couldn't tell you how many times I've gone to bed at sunrise. Right now, my focus is purely on the label, so I guess you could say I'm on a hiatus from producing. At the end of the day, the last thing I want is a title associated with my name. Rarely do I go around praising myself as a 'producer' or 'label owner' ('DJ' is by far my least favourite). I enjoy just simply being myself.

H: Can you tell us a bit about the mix you've prepared for us?

A: Hah, where do I begin? This mix has undergone multiple phases since the time you two first asked me to do a feature. I've stressed so much to create a pure representation of not only myself, but the label through a journey of sounds. Four months and ten versions later, I finally recorded something I'm comfortable with. Being that this will be my only (online) mix for 2011, I wanted to make sure it was exactly what I wanted. Spanning forthcoming material, a handful of my favorites, and some goodies from my friends -- this mix accuretely represents what I do and the essence of my label.

H: Finally, is there anything forthcoming or in the pipeline that you'd like to put the word out on?

A: There's always something in the pipeline...

Download: SUB LAB/ARNOK - Exclusive HEDMUK Mix


  1. HAACK - Untitled (Forthcoming SUB LAB)
  2. Sleeper - The 2nd Step (Free)
  3. >>> Kryptic Minds - Badman (SWAMP81)
  4. LAS - Precognition (Unreleased)
  5. HAACK - Rebel (Forthcoming SUB LAB)
  6. HAACK - Untitled (Forthcoming SUB LAB)
  7. Biome - Quest (Dub)
  8. Science & Antics - Spirtiuality (Dub)
  9. >>>< Shackleton - Deadman (Honest Jon's)
  10. DJ Madd - New Reality (Osiris)
  11. Unknown - Untitled (Dub)
  12. Truth - Dreams Can Never Come True (Deep Medi)
  13. HAACK - Stabilize
  14. Unknown - Untitled
  15. Skream - Dark Light (Freeizm)
  16. Gantz - Overact (Forthcoming SUB LAB)
  17. LAS - Tigersleep (Forthcoming SUB LAB)
  18. Gantz - Waves (Fent Plates)
  19. Moldy - The Void (Forthcoming SUB LAB)

1 comment:

  1. Another great interview and mix, big up Hedmuk and SubLab everytime.


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