Simon Shreeve’s sonic explorations imprint has certainly spoiled us with a gem or two. For a label remaining so elusive and under the radar, its output has remained consistent and on-point. Eclectic entries from Killawatt, Ipman, Kaiju, along with a remix appearance from Gantz became crucial instabag deals for those seeking bass heavy excursions that expand beyond the traditional dubstep sound-palette. The epitome of such work can be found on the “Moonman” release, a polyrhythmic steppers anthem twisted with darker off-kilter abstracts on the flip. The brilliance of this record was shadowed by the unfortunate setback of ST Holdings going under, resulting with an 18 month gap between Moonman and the fourth release “Eazy Tek It Eazy“. Ruffcut has strongly bounced back since delivering three experimental dubwise steppahs and a promising new addition to the roster. Little is known about the individual and his enigmatic presence echoes across his socials, but one fact remains, Tremble can make tunes. While dreaded basslines underpin his intricate productions, it’s the focus of Black Ark psychedelia which remains firmly at the crux of his sound. The two 10” records on Ruffcut are a testament to his delightfully obscure yet hypnotic take on sound system music and roots culture. Intrigued by his music, I pinned down Tremble for an interview and he kindly supplied us with an exclusive dubplate mix.
TRUSIK: By way of introduction for our readers who may not be familiar with you and your work, could you give us a little biography of yourself and what you do outside of music?
TREMBLE: Sure. I produce under the name Tremble, and I produce Jamaican inspired music around the 138/140 bpm range for the Ruffcut recording label. I’ve been making beats for about 5 years now. Outside of music, I teach English in Ho Chi Minh City aka Saigon.
TRUSIK: Where did your interest in building beats develop from, and how did that root in the creation of Tremble?
TREMBLE: I started off just collecting records like a lot of people, and then I just began to mess around with production and wanted to use some of the samples I was hearing in tunes. Once I began making tunes, I just found myself gravitating towards the more Dub influenced vibes.
TRUSIK: Your production style is very indebted to reggae, dub aesthetics, and the whole of soundsystem culture, so what attracts you to this genre of music over other genres?
TREMBLE: I feel that in a world where the over all sound and feel and of music has become souless due to production techniques being preferred over soul, Dub/Reggae is one of the only types of music that still feels clean and pure and has a message. There is lots of crazy software available now that can pretty much reinvent the wheel, but nothing touches me more than a simple delay on a vocal sample, or drenching a snare in reverb.
TRUSIK: When we interviewed EGOLESS last year he told us he preferred to create dub reggae the traditional way, utilising a mixing board, reverb tanks etc. over a DAW, as he argued it makes everything sound “too perfect and clean”. For someone who once used hardware but now prefers to use a DAW, could you throw some light on your preference for digital over analogue?
TREMBLE: When it comes to Dub music I totally agree with him, I have a friend who builds tunes the traditional way and it’s evident when your in the room that the use of analoue gear with Dub is far superior to just using a DAW. That being said, I’ve managed to find a way of working within the box whereby I feel comfortable with the final sound of the product using only a few peices of software. I wont say exactly what ones they are, but one gives me Live sounding drums, the other gives me realistic space echo vibes, and the final mix is run through a certain tape machine which seems to glue the mix together.
TRUSIK: The “dubwise” sound is very much the “in sound” at the moment, how do you go about making sure your productions sound original and stand out from the rest?
TREMBLE: I’m not sure if my stuff sounds original or not to be honest (laughs). As I’m only two releases in, it’s still interesting to hear feedback and read reviews from people. But to answer the question, I’d say that I have been lucky to have been exposed to Jamaican culture in a way that probably a lot of people making a similar sound haven’t. I also don’t really keep up with the scene so I don’t get swayed by what’s going on out there.
TRUSIK: Before removing them from SoundCloud, I saw you had built up a healthy amount of dubs. What’s your secret to maintaining a productive work ethic? Who / what do you find yourself drawing inspiration from at the moment?
TREMBLE: I’d say it’s not taking the technical side of production too serious. Most of the Tremble tunes are made in a day, it’s all about quickness for me. Get the sketch down, then get the bass running, and it either sounds good or it doesn’t. The inspiration is found mainly in my sample library, as it’s one that I’ve built up over a number of years now.
TRUSIK: You literally appeared out of nowhere last year on Ruffcut, a label which seems to have bounced back under the radar recently. How did the link up with Si come about?
TREMBLE: I’ve always been a fan of Osiris and Kryptic Minds. I just sent him tracks to his email one day and didn’t really expect to hear anything back. And then I remembered to check my email one day and there was a 2 week old message sitting there saying he would like a chat about the tunes and that’s pretty much it.
TRUSIK: You’re first vinyl release We Nuh Care / Vex Fi Dat came out in October last year. How does it feel to have some material out there on physical format, and are you pleased with the response it’s had so far?
TREMBLE: It’s great to see the tunes on vinyl and to have had two releases in such a short period of time. It’s also good hearing them once they have been mastered properly. The response has been great as I had no idea how the tunes would be received. They’ve had support from J:Kenzo on his Rinse show, we have had top position on both Redeye and Juno charts, and just a great response from people via email so thanks to everyone for the support.
TRUSIK: Was your second record, Radix / Chalice, an extension of We Nuh Care, or exploring similar sound palettes, how would you say the two compare “sonically”?
TREMBLE: I have a very simple production process using only a handful of tools. I’d say “Radix” continues where “We Nuh Care” left off, sonically speaking. “Chalice” I’m not quite sure, maybe the use of vocals is in a similar vein, but it’s never intentional. I just build the tune and see how it turns out (laughs).
TRUSIK: You’re based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Is there much of a bass music community out there and/or a general interest in the sound? Similarly, how often are events organised and do you get the opportunity to play out much?
TREMBLE: Yeh I’ve been out here for a little while now, its great place to live. Nice and hot, good food and a lively energy. There is a healthy Reggae scene here with promoters such as Saigon Dub Station / Saigon Reggae Festival etc. You also have Saigon Loves Jungle and another DnB promotion but the name escapes me. Nights for the most part tend to be multi genre with bits of Dubstep / Reggae / Jungle. I go out quite often but not just to music events. In Saigon a lot of things are done outside the home so sometimes going out with some friends for street food can be a decent night out. I do miss a good rave in a cold dingy dark club in Europe though (laughs).
TRUSIK: So what else can we expect from Tremble in 2016, is there any other forthcoming material, interesting projects, or up and coming music gigs you can inform the readers on?
TREMBLE: Lots of music I hope. I’m sitting on quite alot of dubs so alongside releasing on Ruffcut, I’m considering launching my own label as a way to get the tunes out that don’t quite fit for Ruffcut. I don’t have any booking enquiries, but it’s not something I watch too much. If they come they come, if not, I’ll gladly keep putting music out.
TRUSIK: Could you take us through the mix you put together for us.
TREMBLE: It features 90% dubs, and there is a few from friends in there to break it up a bit. I hope it gives the listener a good idea of where I’m coming from, and also it would be great to see, which if any, tunes they would like to see on vinyl in the future.
TRUSIK: Thank you for your time brother, we hope the forthcoming projects are well received by your fans. Are there any final comments / shout outs you wanna share to wrap things up?
TREMBLE: Thanks to you guys for having me on your blog. I never would have thought I’d have an interview on TRUSIK, so it’s an honour. Big big thanks to Si @ Osiris / Ruffcut for putting time and effort into releasing my tracks. And thanks to all the people who have been buying / playing / supporting the releases. It’s truly appreciated.
TRUSIK: A track… by your favourite new artist: Ago – So Mi Seh you’re currently opening your sets with: I don’t have any bookings so I don’t have one I’m afraid 🙁 But as I teach kids it’s probably Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes 🙂 you give the rewind treatment every time: Yabby U – Deliver Me From My Enemies