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The best kept secret in music


"Play Records Album review"

Having provided the soundtrack for many memorable moments at Splore parties and the like for a number of years, Substax finally touch down with their debut full-length; a veritable cornucopia of warming beats and bass for the chilly winter months. Primarily regarded as a breaks outfit (Timmy Schumacher cut his production teeth with Substax), Electro Soul Plane opens up the field to include a wide array of styles, all undertaken with considerable aplomb. Claudia Gunn is a newer addition to the outfit, and her vocal contributions help make this album what it is. Take the achingly beautiful 'Drifter', a coastal groover that is the soundtrack of lost days gone by and the best tune Groove Armada never made. Then there's the Laurie Anderson nod of 'Headlights', pairing Gunn's soaring vocals over some seriously soulful electronic wizardry (if there is such a thing as epic downbeat this track is it). A well rounded album that tackles a diverse range of styles and does it well proper.

August 2005 -

"Substax - Electro Soul Plane"

When you've got urban soul founded in the heart of Aotearoa pumping right into your veins, stream of consciousness can be an amazing thing.

And the hypnotising opening tracks of Electro Soul Plane by Substax provoked all manner of imagery.

This virtual journey began where I found myself in an airport lounge watching the world fly by, then change of track and tact, and I'm an undercover agent in a console shoot 'em up. I'm then shot back to reality, where the song and scene transports me to a desolate street where I'm caught in a rainstorm, until I find solace in a nearby cafe....

Sounds bizarre, but Electro Soul Plane is one of those albums with the ability to awaken the mind's eye - whether it be on headphones at your desk, speakers of your car or cranked through a large PA- you're certainly not going to be switched off.

With its eclectic fusion of spacey synths, smooth vocals, funked-up 70's disco, and stylish sampling and overlays, you'll find something unique in each of the twelve tracks ranging from upbeat breaks to downtempo soul.

The Substax squadron comprises the audio due of Nick Farrands and Jason Johnston, vocalist and songwriter Claudia Gunn and video artist Janine Randerson. Farrands is the producer behind the Substax sound with Johnston heading art direction. The group formed in London eight years ago and their work includes multi-media installations, film, television and radio work, collaborations with kiwi breaks DJ Timmy Schumacher, and now a debut album.

Electro Soul Plane has been released under Sugarlicks records - a label born from a long running club night at Khuja Lounge bar in Auckland, where performers from all artistic backgrounds are given five minutes of expressive freedom. After an overwhelming response Sugarlicks records was established to promote and release urban soul music from New Zealand to the rest of the world.
The album will be toured with a full video rig later in the year. Support New Zealand music and arouse your mind to the addictive flavours of Substax.

By Jaimee Astle
13/05/2005 -

"Beam Me Up Scotty"

'Substax are the new kids on the block in the emerging New Zealand breaks scene. In a musical genre affectionately known as the bastard child of all things electric, Substax are dedicated to a sound that adds and cuts the phat in all the right places. Their rhythms are an exercise of musical hopscotch based on the breakbeat, injecting a refreshing twist to the elastic diet of dance muzak.'

by Mitchell Hall
June 2003 - Pulp Magazine

"Moshpit meets the martini set"

Electro Soul Plane from it's ambient soundscapes on 'Music for Airplanes' to their Massive Attack meets DJ Shadow eeriness of 'Lost in Transit' to the streetwise and fun jaunt of 'What Up?', is more than just a breaks record...

'A lot of acts tend to write an album that is fairly monochrome in tone' says Farrands. 'But we've created a lot of moods which are complex and the idea of the album is for something that you can grow to love over time. It has all these moods that human beings have so it's got anger, it's got exhilaration'...

Electro Soul Plane is a diverse piece of work and the band say that has a lot to with it being created over several years. Some tracks are more than three years old. 'That's what we're trying to do, get longevity into the material', says Farrands.

Adds Gunn: 'You could look at it like a really awesome, vintage coat from the '50s that is still amazing, and you appreciate what it is, and the craftsmanship. The way we write music is almost like writing a soundtrack'...

Substax will take you on a visual and musical trip - especially live, thanks to the accompanying visuals created by Janine Randerson. And they're tired of the stuffy DJ and dance culture where the music is apathetic and cold. Substax want every night they play to be a party...

by Scott Kara
25 June 2005
- NZ Herald


Electro Soul Plane (Album)
Released June 7th 2005
Sugarlicks Recordings Aotearoa

Kingsland Electro (Compilation)
September 2004
Substax – 'Terradome'
Kingsland Electro Recordings/In Music

'She Dubs Me' Dub Asylum remix ep (Vinyl) –
June 2004
Substax versus Timmy Schumacher – Scratch n’ Sniff remix
Grant Smithies, Sunday Star Times, 1 August 2004 describes the Schumacher/Substax mix of Scratch N Sniff as “speaker conecracking bass'n'breakbeat."

Jeff Neems, Waikato Times July 15 2004 gives the ‘She Dubs Me’ vinyl remix EP 5 stars – “Scratch N Sniff is brilliantly redone by Timmy Schumacher and Substax, the result a heavy-duty breakbeat workout which would make Freq Nasty or Adam Freeland quake in their boots. Cranked on a large PA, this particular remix would blow the freakin roof off.” This remix was nominated for best NZ remix at the 2004 B-net awards.

Pacific Ultra Sound 2017 (Compilation)
June 2004
Substax – 'Dennis Hoppa'
Sugarlicks Recordings Aotearoa
Ania Glowacz, NZ Musician describes this album as ‘A superb introduction to some top Aotearoa talent blowing up – or about to’

Grey Lynn Festival (Compilation)
Nov 2003
Compiled and mixed by Rob Salmon
Substax – 'Sky Rhodes'
Sane Records
George FM’s program director; Thane Kirby rated Sky Rhodes as one of the top tracks of 2003. (

Return of the Booomshwack (Compilation)
July 2003
Substax – 'Beats Slow'
Kog Transmissions
“ Substax picks up the funk with a bassline reminiscent of Bug Powder Dust at double speed”
Released in Australia 3 Nov 2003.

MP3's can be accessed online at
keyword: substax
'teleporter trouble'
'interstate pimp'
'scratch n sniff' (remix)

all tracks off the substax album 'electro soul plane' can also be sampled at amplifier


Feeling a bit camera shy


Substax produce electro soul - a sound that reflects the expansive landscape of Aotearoa (the land of the long white cloud) and the inspiration of film and soundtrack music. It harks back to the genius of old school soul, Motown, Sly Stone and Stevie Wonder and moves it forward through modern production and other fusions.

Substax released their debut album ‘Electro Soul Plane’ in New Zealand in June 2005 through Sugarlicks Recordings Aotearoa. With its exceptional mixture of lush down tempo and straight up dance floor bizness, ESP has been critically acclaimed.


Farrands and Johnston formed Substax while based in London in 1997, starting out jamming in a studio complex they shared with acts such as Future Sound of London and 4 Hero. The name of the band was born here from the subsonics of early tracks and use of PA speaker stacks to rehearse. Claudia Gunn joined the act in late 2002.

Substax are also known for their multimedia collaborations with Janine Randerson involving live video performance, as at Interdigitate (Ak03) and soundtrack design for shows such as 15 Minute Wait (MIC – Auckland, Wellington), Sky Views (CCP, Melbourne) and the Gleem light festival.

Based in Auckland since 2000 Substax are pioneers of the local breakbeat movement. This has involved seminal collaborations and music award nominations with DJ Timmy Schumacher and production of the first local compilation in the genre through Pulp Magazine in December 2001. While the Substax sound has evolved further than the boundaries of breakbeat alone further collaborations with Schumacher are underway and breakbeat still forms part of the crucial DNA of the act.


On ‘Electro Soul Plane’ Substax collaborate with a number of underground artists. London’s MC Ster has worked with the Big Dada label and British ex-pat producer Nick Conner. Ster (aka Stephen Rhodes) features on the Rio vibes of Latin Tonic and tech-breaks of Make Noize. Conner provides trumpet and flugelhorn on the film noire downbeat track Headlights.

MC Solar Sistar (Lara Van Osenbruggen) turned heads as an Auckland finalist in this year’s Heineken Thirst Competition by mixing records and mc-ing at the same time. She adds her breakneck rhymes to the albums first single and video Starfish. Vocalists Mahinirangi Maika (Wellington) and Katrina Holmberg (Hawkes Bay) also add dimension and soul featuring on Starfish and Sky Rhodes respectively.


The Substax live show is never predictable and varies in scale. Performances integrate live studio chaos and organics with original visuals c/o Randerson and Dreyer. The video is never a background attraction in a Substax show and members of the act are used to watching fans becoming transfixed by the mesmerizing video. Dreyer mixes video that has been designed to echo the mood, rythymn and ideas of each individual track. Themes move from high heels to riot footage to revolution and so on. ..

The Electro Soul Plane album includes three short videos of quite different live performances, which reflect the spectrum of the live show.

Substax have performed live at locations such as Galatos, the Studio, Fu, St James, Studio 9, home Bar, Beach Rd Hotel (Sydney), Home Bar, AUT Vesbar, the Splore Festivals and Resolution. Shows have varied from headlining club dates with the NZ breakbeat elite such as Baitercell & Schumacher and Minuit, to playing next to the deeper styles of DJ Phillipa, Rob Salmon, Rhian Sheehan and Pitch Black. Substax are renowned as a festival act where they have filled formerly empty tents, abused bass bins and continually surprised crowds with their full spectrum. The Substax performance at the BFM 2004 Summer Series, following on from Fat Freddies Drop, is evidence of how this spacious sound can wind a crowd to a frenzy.

Farrands and Johnston have also DJ-ed through out NZ at: Wyndham Bowling Club, Ink Bar, Pitch Bar, Carbon (Christchurch), Bath St (Dunedin), Sandwiches (Wellington), Buddha Lounge (Tauranga), Coast Bar, Galatos, and Studio 9 (Wellington).


Substax have had consistent support from NZ music tv and alternative radio over the past five years, and been featured in all of the major music magazines.

The videos for Endless Column, Scratch n Sniff and Starfish have lead the way. Other tracks have formed the soundtrack for television programmes. Starfish has found a particular appeal with producers of motorsport. Dennis Hoppa has recently been licensed for a forthcoming tv drama.

The act topped the Radioscope alternative music charts throughout Aotearoa/NZ with the tracks Scratch’n’Sniff (Substax vs Timmy Schumacher) – No 1 in July 2004, and Bubble D (unreleased) – No 2 in August 2003. They have also had a swag of tracks in the bFM top ten (bFM is Auckland’s original alternative music station with certain tracks receiving almost cultish support. Interstate Pimp received 7 months