Submotion Orchestra on the gear they use to take their sound from studio to stage

Submotion Orchestra
(Image credit: Press)

Submotion Orchestra have been crafting their unique blend of jazz, soul, house and electronica for 10 years now, and to celebrate, they’re heading out on the road for a series of shows that will see them showcasing new material - such as their recent cover of Robin S’s 1993 hit Show Me Love, we assume - and reworking familiar fan favourites.

“For us, playing live is what being in a band is all about, and the process of transferring new material from a studio to a live setting is really exciting,” say the seven-piece collective. 

“We feel very privileged to have been able to tour and release music for over 10 years, and we want to say a big thank you to anyone who has been a part of that journey. We have arrived at a point as a band (and as a group of people) where the most important thing is making music for the love of it, enjoying the creative process and making sure that our music is honest and has integrity. Here’s to the next 10 years...”

As they prepare to embark on their tour in March (dates and venues at the bottom of the page) we asked Submotion Orchestra to detail the gear they use to take their sound from the studio to the stage.

1. Boss RE-20 Space Echo

Submotion Orchestra

(Image credit: Submotion Orchestra)

“Used front of house, the Boss Space Echo pedal gives Submotion Orchestra our characteristic sound. It’s used on Ruby’s vocals amongst other instruments. With this piece of equipment, the sound engineer manages to catch the end of lyrics and sounds which he can then add different length delays and effects to. It’s our go-to pedal.”

2. Dave Smith Prophet 08 and dbx 266xs compressor

Submotion Orchestra

(Image credit: Submotion Orchestra)

“We’ve used this Prophet on every album and EP since Fragments, as well as every live show since we got it. It’s just a beautiful synth - great for lush pads, leads, sequenced stuff, unexpected sounds and craziness. It’s got a real warmth but also a bite that allows it to cut through live.

“It’s also super reliable - or at least it was until a gig last summer at Boomtown, where it decided to break five minutes before going on stage. But after a quick service it was back to normal. You can hear it best on tracks like Time Will Wait and ‘Doppelganger.

“When we play live, we run a feed from the kick drum to the dbx compressor, and put the Prophet through that, which allows us to sidechain the synth sound to the kick. Since that’s a pretty standard effect on most of our recordings, this gives the live sound a really good continuity, as we can get that throbbing, pulsing pad effect which sounds great on a big system.”

3. Istanbul Agop ride cymbal

Submotion Orchestra

(Image credit: Submotion Orchestra)

“Our drummer purchased this cymbal when he was 18 years old and it’s been featured on every single Submotion Orchestra track since our inception. It’s the one piece of gear that has been used consistently both in the studio and live on stage over the past ten years. 

“It’s a beautiful 21-inch rivet cymbal; the rivets in it provide that shimmer sound which is key to Submotion’s drums. This cymbal provides that glittery/sparkly top end to everything which gives our music that beautiful, dreamy sound.”

4. Line 6 Helix

Submotion Orchestra

(Image credit: Submotion Orchestra)

“We use the Line 6 Helix for all bass parts. You can split the signal up to four ways within the unit, so our bass player can run subs and mid signals separately and then use external expression pedals to automate parts of each effect like adding in LFO’s and opening cutoffs of synths.”

5. Moog Rogue

Submotion Orchestra

(Image credit: Submotion Orchestra)

“This has been in the keys live rig since the beginning of the band. It’s one of the simplest monosynths that Moog ever made, but anyone who’s got one will tell you there’s something monstrous about the sound. The bass is just amazing and rich and powerful, and for how limited it is compared to a lot of other synths, there’s a surprising range of sounds you can get from it. 

“It works perfectly in the band, since it can be played and adjusted with one hand whilst the other plays the keyboard. It goes through a Lexicon reverb and delay unit, and it’s mostly used for atmospheric purposes and bass rumblings rather than widdly lead lines - it’s got such an amazing textural capacity, and is super fun to play.”

Submotion Orchestra UK tour dates

Thurs 26th March - London, Oval Space
Fri 27th March - Brighton, Concorde 2
Sat 28th March - Leeds, Belgrave Music Hall
Thurs 2nd Apr - Bristol, The Trinity
Fri 3rd Apr - Birmingham, O2 Institute 2
Sat 4th Apr - Manchester, Gorilla

Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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