Immersed Recordings has begun its drum and bass era with Suspended Sounds, and Alexander Punj gives us insight on what’s to come.
What makes the music scene so diverse are the up-and-coming labels bringing underground artists to the forefront and reaching global audiences that may have been overlooked otherwise. Since its launch, Immersed Recordings has delivered a mission to the music scene of opening people’s minds to innovative, emerging sounds of progressive. Their growth has been exponential with successful releases, including those from Curt Reynolds and Parallel Voices. Now, turning a new leaf, Immersed has expanded its horizons and have announced a brand new drum and bass label, Suspended Sounds.
Focusing on keeping the emotive theme alive, Suspended Sounds is a whole new world for drum and bass listeners as it intends to feature the much-loved subgenre of liquid drum and bass. Merging the gap between UK melodic drum and bass and forging it over to the US, this imprint will open up a whole new portal to opportunities for artists to share, explore, and connect their music to listeners in the US.
Their first release on the label, Askel & Elere’s remix of “Never Look Back” by Gil Zambrano and Into The Ether, arrived on June 24 and brought four minutes of gorgeous cascading synth melodies. The remix takes on new heights as the tune progresses into a deep, rhythmic drum essence with echoing vocals panning around the track, tugging on the heartstrings of anybody who listens. And for those craving more, the label will release two EPs in the coming future.
Looking to gain more insight into this new imprint, we sat down with the founder of Immersed Recordings and Suspended Sounds, Alexander Punj, to take a deep dive into his and his team’s work on the new label and their mission for the music scene. Make sure to follow both labels on socials, take a listen to their latest releases below, and read ahead for the conversation!
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Hi Alex, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today, and congrats on the launch of Suspended Sounds. You’ve seen some serious success over the years with Immersed Recordings and numerous releases from many artists. Can you share how this success helped foster the newly minted imprint?
Hey guys! Thanks for having me. My first brush with music industry people was in college. My university minor was Audio & Music Engineering at the University of Rochester. There, I learned mixing from a Grammy-winning professor and sound design from a two-time Emmy winner. I was a DJ on the university’s student radio station and assisted the university with live equipment setups. However, I am completely self-taught regarding the business side of music; I learned this business on the go.
I started my foray into the music business with a trance label called Newcastle Friends. I started it in March of 2018 in my dorm room. That label got some support from Paul van Dyk and Above & Beyond’s Group Therapy Radio. I continuously studied the trance scene and how labels operated. As I signed more artists to the label, I improved promotion and preparation. I communicated with many people on the scene and gained relevant insight into an ever-changing industry. However, I felt the trance genre had a low ceiling for artistic growth. After several bad encounters, I closed the label in mid-2019.
My tastes shifted toward a deeper, slower, and more melodic sound. I was determined to develop a successful label. I opened Immersed in May 2019. I continued on the same path as with Newcastle – learning, improving, and networking. This label showed that it had more potential. The avenues for promotion were more wide-reaching, and the market for melodic house in the United States was in incubation.
In addition, I fostered years-long relationships with promotional companies, playlist swapping partners, radio station curators, and music technology innovators. One aspect of business that I learned on the go was employee management. Many A&Rs, mastering engineers, and other relevant assistants have come and gone; I learned how to manage them and strengthened my interpersonal skills. I curated a deep relationship with the current iteration of the Immersed Group staff team, formed in April 2021.
Immersed has garnered a lot of success outside of statistical analysis. The label is respected for its curatorial strength, often noted as a beacon in the melodic house scene. In addition, our mastering engineer Chris Giuliano brings a wealth of experience to master our releases. The label also has respect from its artists; our team treats them with respect and works with them on a personal level. Many artists on the label transitioned from beginner status to international recognition. One example is Dutch producer Thysma – in one year, Thysma transitioned from producing in a college dorm to opening for Above & Beyond in Brazil’s Laroc Club.
I will take all of the experiences, tools, and industry respect from Immersed with me on my Suspended Sounds journey.
Do you find any synchronicity between the world of progressive house and trance into the world of drum and bass that makes establishing this new label a breeze?
There is synchronicity between the melodic house and drum & bass genres. Both genres center around strong melodic content and exude lots of emotion. Many tracks in both genres employ vocals, allowing for bubblegum pop sensibility while maintaining underground credibility. One can see drum & bass remixes of melodic house tunes. Some drum & bass tunes of recent notes in the melodic house scene are the LTJ Bukem remix of Above & Beyond’s “Homecoming,” Olan’s track “Ultraviolet” (released on deep house label Anjunadeep), and PROFF’s “Solar Wind” (released on melodic house label Monstercat Silk).
However, these genres do not mingle often. Dance music fans view melodic house and drum and bass as separate scenes. Melodic house has seen a significant rise within the American festival circuit, leaving drum & bass yearning for more. I plan on filling this void by introducing our artists to an American audience.
You showcase many forms of connecting with listeners, such as Patreon exclusives, Bandcamp, merch, and even a podcast. What are you hoping to execute with all these interactive fan exclusives with Suspended Sounds?
Our Patreon page has proven to be a great resource for us this past year. Our lowest tier enables benefits such as free downloads of all releases and mixed episodes. In addition, subscribers receive significant discounts on all merchandise purchases. Our second and third tiers allow for direct feedback twice a month on unfinished musical projects. These tiers have proven fruitful, as Lazerus graduated from our Patreon into a signed Immersed artist. We plan on utilizing Patreon with Suspended Sounds as well.
Our Bandcamp page works similarly to our Patreon page. Visitors can purchase our music or subscribe to the one-tier. It is used for receiving free downloads of Bandcamp releases. Bandcamp’s advantage is customizable pricing. We have a Bandcamp page for Suspended Sounds, and we hope that fans feel comfortable purchasing our catalog at a cheaper rate than that of Beatport and iTunes.
Our clothing line is a partnership with StreamElements. We do not sell much merch. However, our small sales have graced dance floors across the United States. We plan on releasing a Suspended Sounds logo shirt in the near future.
We also host a Discord server for chatting. A few of our artists and fans are members of Discord. We use Discord also for our Patreon 1-on-1 benefits. We plan on using the Discord server with Suspended Sounds to foster a tight-knit community of drum & bass lovers.
The Immersed Podcast is a monthly mix series broadcasted on the DiFM Progressive channel. It is used to showcase our artists’ DJ and curatorial abilities. Some episodes have reached 30,000 plays on SoundCloud. We plan on releasing promo mixes from our Suspended Sounds roster, but not in radio show format. We hope these mixes assist our artists in showcasing their talents to potential club promoters.
The first release to arrive on this new imprint is the Askel & Elere remix of Gil Zambrano and Into The Ether’s “Never Look Back.” What drew you to this remix for it to be crowned as the debut release?
“Never Look Back” was one of the strongest releases on Immersed in 2020. The emotional melody line and the somber vocals helped put the artists on the map and center, Immersed as a curatorial powerhouse amongst smaller labels.
Askel & Elere are a Finnish duo signed exclusively to Soulvent Records. Their sound is on display via Simulations, their 2021 14-track debut LP. Their music showcases what Suspended Sounds intends – ’emotional yet danceable drum & bass.’ “Never Look Back” exemplifies that but in a house format. The Finnish duo displays their ability on the remix by switching from calm, liquid drums into powerful classic jungle vibes.
This remix sets the sonic quality standard for future releases. In addition, it informs demo senders that we are well connected and have the resources to promote releases properly.
Can you share other releases that are on the horizon? What can drum and bass lovers expect to hear in the coming months?
In July, Vancouver-based Beatmool and Polish producer Anwius will release solo EPs. We do not have any other releases signed at the moment, but we are following up with a few potential demos. We plan on curating a release schedule of twice monthly.
What do you look for in artists when curating releases for Suspended Sounds? How can drum and bass producers submit their tracks for consideration?
When evaluating demos and potential outbound demo requests, we only evaluate the musical content; it does not matter what labels they are associated with. The artist needs to display their musical prowess. In addition, demos that make it to the consideration pile need to focus on the label’s theme – ’emotional yet danceable drum & bass.’ Any demo submissions that read spammy will be deleted.
Demo submissions can be fielded at [email protected].
Finally, what do you hope to achieve with Suspended Sounds in the near future? Is there a similar mission between the two imprints to foster new artists?
As I mentioned in a previous question, my goal is to bring liquid and dancefloor-styled drum & bass to an American audience. In addition, I hope to continue to assist new artists on the label. These are daunting tasks, but my experience with Immersed proves that my team and I are dedicated.