Since their inception in 2009, the genre-defying Submotion Orchestra have moved seamlessly between deep electronica, jazz, soul and ambient downtempo, mesmerising audiences from Iceland to India. Their unique music is at once delicate and heavy, spacious and dense, highly atmospheric but firmly rooted. Earth-shaking bass and drums combine with lush keyboard and trumpet textures to create the perfect backdrop for the fragile beauty of Ruby Wood’s vocals, and the celestial effects of producer Ruckspin.
Formed in Leeds in 2009, the band quickly made a splash on the wider scene. Their live gigs left audiences open-mouthed, and their debut EP on Ranking Records drew a rave reaction from Gilles Peterson who quickly gave the band their first Radio 1 session.
The band’s first full-length album, Finest Hour became an instant cult classic on its 2010 release, receiving strong support from DJs such as BBC Radio’s MistaJam and Trevor Nelson. Follow up album Fragments in 2012 continued to build their fan base with sell out tours in the UK and Europe, and received heated enthusiasm from fans, DJs and critics alike for the variety of its sound, spending a week at number 1 in the iTunes chart, while appearances followed at some of Europe’s biggest festivals, including Glastonbury, Bestival, The Big Chill, Pohoda and Outlook.
The band’s second album Fragments followed in 2012, receiving heated enthusiasm from fans and critics alike for the variety of its sound. Radio support came from such diverse presenters as Pete Tong, Huey, Lauren Laverne and Don Letts, demonstrating Submotion’s unique cross-genre appeal. Fragments spent a week at number 1 in the iTunes charts, and the supporting tour climaxed with a sold out show at London’s legendary venue Koko.
Demand for the band had never been greater, as their reputation for staging one of the most exciting shows around grew with each appearance they made. 2013 saw them release the 1968 EP on Circus Records, which saw their champions grow to include i-D, Noisey, and Clash. Somehow – perhaps inspired by the whirlwind of energy around them – they found time to write their third album.
Alium was a dazzlingly eclectic record that showcased every aspect of the band’s myriad talents. Thanks to producer Ruckspin’s deft touch, it also remains a satisfyingly coherent artist statement. Counter Records leapt at the chance to release it, signing the band in summer 2014. Released that autumn after the New York Times premiering it a week ahead of its international release, Alium garnered fantastic support at radio and superb reviews, with Mixmag proclaiming it “drenched in sunshine” and Clash pointing to a band who seem able “stop time, their uniquely chilled grooves retaining a zen-like peace.”
The group’s reputation for stunning live performances grew with further UK and European tours, headlining the 6,000-capacity Pula amphitheater at the Outlook festival and sold-out shows at the Barbican Theatre (for the London Jazz Festival) and The Forum. Their song Perfection was sampled for Young Jeezy’s Seen it All album, which went to number 2 in the US album charts, whilst Bryson Tiller’s monster hit Right My Wrongs made memorable use of All Yours. Instrumental EP III moved their sound to more electronic realms, whilst critically-acclaimed fourth album Colour Theory found the band collaborating with artists such as Royce Wood Jr., Andrew Ashong and Catching Flies, with their momentum reaching a notable peak with a headline show at the legendary Royal Albert Hall.