release date: 31st of March 2014
1. The Subs - Enter The Hologram
2. The Subs - Trapped feat. Colonel Abrams
3. The Subs - Live In A Dream feat. Selah Sue
4. The Subs - 27 feat. Jay Brown & Danny Greene
5. The Subs - Concorde feat. Jean-Pierre Castaldi
6. The Subs - Fly feat. Jay Brown
7. The Subs - Cling To Love feat. Jay Brown
8. The Subs - The Hand feat. Jay Brown
9. The Subs - Under My Skin feat. Jay Brown
10. The Subs - The Bottle feat. Danny Greene
11. The Subs - Hologram feat. Jay Brown
12. The Subs - Exit The Hologram
How to survive in the world of club music, with all its niches and subcultures and its trends changing so rapidly? Go underground, the avant-garde way? Go mad and stop making music all together? Jump ship constantly? Or try to make something more universal and timeless? For their third full-length release, Belgian dance act The Subs decided to make a pop album with heartfelt soul, filmic French retrofuturism and crisp beats. ‘Hologram’ is an album that displays many moods and styles and sees The Subs working together with both renowned international vocalists and underground singers and rappers: Colonel Abrams, Selah Sue, Jean-Pierre Castaldi, Jay Brown and Danny Greene.
With two albums under their belt, Jeroen De Pessemier (David Newtron) and Wiebe Loccufier (DJ Tonic) have been touring around the world for five years - London, Barcelona or Sydney, Tomorrowland, Bestival, Lowlands, Les Eurockéennes – you name it. Some major changes took place within the band over the past years. In 2012, songwriter/frontman Jeroen De Pessemier moved to London, absorbing new musical influences there like the UK garage and house revival. After the release of their second album ‘Decontrol’, Wiebe Loccufier started producing beats and evolved from dj into producer. Finally, by recruiting Hadrien Lavogez, The Subs got themselves a genuine multi-instrumentalist with an incredible knack for melody. This whole new dynamic pushed The Subs towards a more pop-based sound for ‘Hologram’.
‘Trapped’ is a sunshine-fuelled, epic rendition of the 1985 street-smart R&B hit by Colonel Abrams. A rolling bassline and melodic pads set the tone underneath the powerful and infectious vocal by Colonel Abrams. Definite feel good anthem! The Subs invited the legendary American singer to Belgium to re-record his vocals. Colonel Abrams’s visit to Belgium was an adventure. Before the legend wanted to sing any note, he needed a haircut and a stylist. Eventually it took 3 days and a shipment of Baileys to lay down the vocals. And he left The Subs with some good stories. One evening during dinner, Colonel Abrams tried to convince them of the fact that he made the first house record: ‘Release the Tension’, a track from 1984 that he recorded with Boyd Jarvis. We don’t know if that's actually true, but it’s a damn good track. And a bold statement!
Another international icon who paid a visit to the Subs-studio is French actor Jean-Pierre Castaldi: one might know this veteran of cinéma from the ‘Astérix’-movies. Castaldi is the deep warm voice that you hear on ‘Concorde’, an upbeat retrofuturistic track that is both an ode to the supersonic wonder of 20th century technology and a love song. Jeroen: ‘Jean-Pierre was an actor, more than a singer, in our studio: he wanted to know precisely what we wanted - we were his ‘directors’. And his rider demanded that we had a bottle of quality bourbon whisky in the studio too (laughs).’
Deep emotions are laid bare in the bouncy ‘Live in a Dream’ (Selah Sue) and the dreamy triphoppy ‘Fly’ (London-based Jay Brown). Jay Brown is actually VV Brown’s talented younger sister: a singer-songwriter that Jeroen discovered during an open mic night in London. Brown can also be heard in the tracks ‘27’, ‘Under My Skin’, ‘Cling To Love’, ‘The Hand’ and ‘Hologram’. Jeroen: ‘As soon as I stumbled into that pub and saw Jay play her songs on acoustic guitar, I was infatuated with her voice and songs. We used some of her demos on this record and wrote some new songs with her as well.’ Wiebe: ‘With three band members living in different cities, different countries even, this whole album was an email affair: I sent my beats to Jeroen en Hadrien, whose song craft turned them into full-bodied tracks. I never even met Jay before the album was finished! But somehow, that long-distance relationship worked for us.’
It worked indeed, as ‘Hologram’ is an album on which The Subs explore both a playfulness and a vulnerability that is new to them. This album is still brimming with energy, but the dark dance-punk of the previous record has been traded for a much more soulful vibe.
Wiebe ‘We’ve done five years of very loud music and very specific, really intense live performances: it was time for something else. After our last gigs, I saw it in Jeroen’s eyes: fear of routine. If there’s one thing Jeroen’s not very good at, it’s faking something (laughs).’
Jeroen ‘I think it’s only a logical progression: paying more attention to songwriting, melodies, feelings and lyrics. Although there was no concept at all when we started recording a year ago. We didn’t follow any trend.’
‘Wiebe ‘From hiphop to UK house, we absorbed a lot of influences, but this is still Subs-music. We took our time, trusted our gut instinct.’
Jeroen ‘That’s why we called the album ‘Hologram’: we like to think of songs as dreams, subliminal ideas, revelations almost.’
No more wild nights for The Subs? Think again. ‘The Bottle’ features a monologue by Danny Greene - an underground grime artist Jeroen bumped into in London - that is philosophical, naïve, arrogant, hilarious and funky at the same time. Danny’s soliloquy catapults you right into that afterparty at 7.00 AM, when the hazy dreamy morning light is breaking through the window and the madness of the night is still tangible.
‘Hologram’ was conceived on an equally intriguing intersection: it’s The Subs most accessible and experimental record to date.