Interview / News

[INTERVIEW] Philadelphia’s About to Get ‘Toasted: An Articulation with Audio Contortionist Somatoast


Photo by Mario Villeda Photography

by Kyle Taylor |

If you ever really needed some music to ‘Alter’ your ‘State’ of mind, Somatoast would have to be one of the first recommendations to come into discussion. With a distinguished yet audibly methodical approach to psychedelic sound design and experimental broken beats, this valiant producer consistently manages to stand out in what is dangerously approaching an overcrowded approach to electronic production.

“Alien sound design” and “squishy, swamp noises” might sound like all-too-familiar phrases used when describing this particularly peculiar introspection of sound assembly; however, if you can forego that cynicism long enough to actually indulge in Mark Rubin’s (Somatoast) original works, you are more than likely to discover such reservations slipping away into the curious intricacies of sound… along with with the rest of your thoughts.

Rubin grew up in Austin, Texas, where an “alternative” outlook on music- and art in general- has always seemed more the norm than anything else. It was in this city, also home to Gravitas Recordings, among a vast diversity of other labels and collectives, that Rubin’s exploration and correlating romanticism with intelligent electronic production was not just positively received, but actually nurtured.

“It’s hard to imagine feeling ‘settled on a style or sound, or like I’ve completed the task of full expressing what I want to express. I’m always trying to find the next thing that entertains me or gives me the feeling I made something new and worthwhile.”
— Somatoast (Mark Rubin)

While a steady contributor to Gravitas Recordings, Rubin was first a member of the more tight-knit, and equally renowned internationally-spanning production collective Shanti Planti. With an extensive background in music experimentation, a brilliant community of peers to converse and explore with, and a relentless curiosity for the unknown, it is no surprise that Rubin and his work under the Somatoast alias has continued to captivate listeners to an extent few others will ever achieve.

Now undergoing a string of spring dates, Somatoast will touch down in Philadelphia for his debut performance in The City of Brotherly Love on Wednesday, March 15th at Silk City.
He’ll be joined by co-headliner Secret Recipe, as well as New York producer Jizzy Fra, and Philadelphia’s own Pluto Era.

No automatic alt text available.|| EVENT PAGE || TICKETS ||

We were lucky enough to catch up with Somatoast and get an even more personal glimpse into his dastardly, audio-exploratory mind- check out the complete interview below!

Somatoast Website || Soundcloud || Bandcamp || Facebook || Twitter || Instagram

Funkadelphia“What’s your musical experience before producing electronic; or more specifically, before settling upon the ‘Somatoast’ sound?”

Somatoast: “My dad played guitar in a band, and my fascination with the bass guitar and drums is one of my earliest memories. I started drum lessons when I about 5, played percussion in middle school.
I began recording my music in high school. I produced the demo for my band and a few other local bands, and then my own reggae music. Then, when I was 18 I got into electronic sounds and started working with Ableton.
My sound as Somatoast is really just a combination of where I’m currently at in my production skill level and the genres I’ve been inspired by over the years. I’ve been posting music almost the entire time I’ve been making it, so each release builds on itself.
It’s hard to imagine feeling ‘settled on a style or sound, or like I’ve completed the task of full expressing what I want to express. I’m always trying to find the next thing that entertains me or gives me the feeling I made something new and worthwhile. I guess, the vision for Somatoast that has stayed consistent over my development as an electronic artist is the desire to combine a) high fidelity electronic dance music with; b) less traditional dance floor and electronic arrangements, rhythms and melodies with, c) reggae/dub.

Funkadelphia: “What’s your history with sound design, and in conjunction, how do you go about creating a new sound from scratch (as best as you can describe)?”

Somatoast: “For me, designing sounds started with digital music production. When I wanted to learn how to record, I was introduced to the basics of compression, EQ, reverb, et cetera; but, it was  Ableton that really made all the light bulbs come on. From there I expanded into synthesis.
It’s hard to say how I go about creating a new sound. I may think about what I might want to hear and try to make it, but the coolest sounds come from simply playing around with no real direction. I think that’s the best way I’ve learned to make the sounds I like— playing like a kid, with no end result in mind. If I get too attached to an end result I will just frustrate myself, because the sounds never end up exactly as I imagined in my head. You just have to go with what you have in front of you and hear it for what it is. Improvisation is a huge aspect of how I create both sounds and music.

Funkadelphia: “Was music or art emphasized in your household growing up; encouraged; discouraged?”
Somatoast: “One-hundred-percent encouraged. My parents supported me with all kinds of instruments and music lessons growing up. When I was 5 my parents got me my first drum kit. I played loudly until I moved out at 18- sometimes when guests were over, and I can’t remember ever being asked to stop, as long as it wasn’t too late. My dad’s guitar was always around for me to pick up. My sister once got a bass guitar but only played it a couple of years; so, I inherited it. A piano sat in my house from day one; and, when I wanted to buy my first interface, microphones and monitors, my dad matched me fifty-fifty.

Funkadelphia:Were you aware of labels and artist collectives such as Shanti Planti before you undertook the ‘Somatoast’ project; or did you more so arrive at the sound design and composition style independent of such influences?”
Somatoast: I’ve been with Shanti Planti since the beginning- though, I can’t say I arrived at my sound independently either. We have all been inspired by each other’s music. I think that’s the story for all music in the age of internet: it’s so accessible and easy to share. We are all building off of each other and having a big musical conversation.

Funkadelphia: “What genre- if any- outside of electronic and dance music, do you feel has had the most significant impact on your production?”
Somatoast: “Reggae music. no doubt.

Funkadelphia: “What software did you initially start producing with, and what do you use now?”
Somatoast: “I first started experimenting with Sony Acid, then Cubase, and now Ableton Live.

Funkadelphia: “If you could collaborate with any two artists in the coming year, who would they be? They most certainly may be deceased.”
Somatoast: “Bob Ross & Tipper.

Funkadelphia: “Do you prefer collaborating in-person with another artist, sending files back-and-forth, or have no preference?”
Somatoast: “Depends on the person, but generally sending files back and forth. This way I can immerse myself in my own process uninterrupted. Then, the collaborator can critique and edit accordingly.
I actually find it distracting and quite difficult to collaborate in person with most people; but, I think it’s all about finding the right people where you can be openly communicative and critical, [yet] also patient enough to suspend judgement until they have fully hashed out their idea.

Funkadelphia: “Have you always listened to electronic music? If not, when did you start to delve into it; and, can you remember the first track or artist that really sucked you in?”
Somatoast: “No- electronic music wasn’t even on my radar until about 2009. STS9 eased me in but it was Bluetech and Tipper who really showed me that electronic music can be just as intelligent and intricate as any other music.  It was also the art of sound design that really brought me on board. It wasn’t until i was exposed to the underground and experimental side of things when I really became a lover of synthesized sound.

Funkadelphia: “What’s on your iPod right now?”
Somatoast: “Mostly seemingly unrelated music to my own. I’m kind of a closet folk and bluegrass fan. David Grisman, Incredible String band, Grateful Dead, and The Deer to name a few.
As far as the electronic albums and artists that have inspired me: Bluetech’s ‘Divine Invasion’, ‘Rainforest Reverberation’, ‘Invisible Allies’, and ‘Hyperdimensional Animals’;  Tipper’s ‘Broken Soul Jamboree’, and ‘Surrounded’; Culprate’s ‘Deliverance’; [and] Futexture; and Circuit Bent… just to name a few.

Funkadelphia: “If you were trapped on a desert island and could only choose five albums to take with you, what would they be?”
Somatoast: “David Grisman – ‘Hot Dawg’;
Incredible String Band – ‘The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion’;
Tipper – ‘Surrounded’;
The Deer – ‘An Argument for Observation’;
Grateful Dead – ‘American Beauty’;I’m sure this is totally not what you expected, but if i was stranded in a remote place, being tripped out on weird noises would not help me remain calm.

Funkadelphia: “Pancakes, waffles, or french toast?”
Somatoast: “Waffles, because chicken and waffles.

|| Check out all of Somatoast’s current tour dates and upcoming events HERE! ||

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