Carving his own unique lane in the electronic scene is Los Angeles native producer and musician Sumale with his fifth studio EP entitled 'Facing Life.'
Actively releasing music since 2019, Sumale's discography mainly covers the vast spectrum of electronic music with heavy hip-hop influences. Sumale showcases his authentic approach to composing and layering electronic music with each release, and his latest 4-track EP, 'Facing Life,' is no exception.
The project begins with the sweet-sounding introductory and title track, "Facing Life," which brightly opens with glimmering keys reminiscent of 90s r&b alongside crisp percussion and added chime-like synths to balance things out. Once the warm drums begin tapping through our speakers, an airy and distant vocal meets the ears with this overall dreamy and lush feel. We appreciate how Sumale uses this project to explore the softer, more melodic sides of electronics that perfectly contrast his high-energy club-like tunes in 2020 and 2021.
Jumping into track number two, "Use To," this tune opens with a more lo-fi electronic approach through simple, melodic keys and one hell of a groovy drum arrangement. Sumale makes perfect use of soulful vocal samples in this track, which send the song into this feel-good space, almost like a sonic pick-me-up. As the track slowly expands with added electronic synths for that sought-after ethereal flair, Sumale continues to impress us while leaving us captivated by each unique arrangement and the song's overall bright and luminous feel.
Moving past the EP's halfway point with the third track, "Tranquility," the song's title perfectly represents the sensation listeners are bound to experience when hitting play. The tune breaks open with chime-like and melodic keys and the softest background keys for added depth. We can't get enough of Sumale's thoughtful sonic arrangements; it's clear he kept the listener's experience in mind when creating such earworm melodies and cohesive arrangements that truly send any listeners onto cloud 9. Tender vocal samples greet the ears once again to round out this lush and chilling piece.
Reaching the EP's fourth and outro track, "Here For," Sumale opens this track with this thick and groovy drum arrangement alongside the utmost modern synth arrangements. As the song continues to expand, Sumale adds hints of string-like samples to provide a more cinematic and orchestral experience. All that aside, Sumale perfectly delivers the same head-bopping rhythms and chilling synths to take us to the outro and close the EP with ample passion, bliss, and an overall optimistic feel that's more than refreshing.
Snag your serving of serenity from Sumale's explorative 4-track EP, 'Facing Life,' now available on all digital streaming platforms.
We adored the easy-listening and groovy electronic arrangements you've delivered on your recent E.P., 'Facing Life.' So why did you choose to create a project that's a bit more relaxed and chill than your previous tunes?
I appreciate the listening and feedback. So far, I have accepted the duality in my approach to sound. As much as I love putting together layers of gritty-sounding synths and bass grooves, I also enjoy the simplicity in some of my sessions which almost always results in delivering more "relaxed and chill" compositions. During the process of 'Facing Life,' I was going through a very rough period in my life. When I turn to music for solace, I usually work on compositions that ease my anxiety and help put me in a meditative state of mind. There are moments, though, when I am self-conscious about my releases sounding vastly different from one another. I've come to learn that as long as you put in hard work and believe in what you are creating, someone out there will resonate with your creation. We live in a time where originality can be heard, shared, and encouraged instantaneously on numerous platforms.
What inspired the four lush and electronic/lo-fi tracks on 'Facing Life?' Do these songs all carry a common theme?
I am part of a Discord/Twitch community called Raresounds World, a Detroit, Michigan-Windsor, Canada label. From that label, I listen to an artist that goes by, Datsunn. When I joined Datsunn's Twitch stream, it was when his patented "Sunnflips Challenge" started getting a buzz on Instagram. It's a weekly challenge where Datsunn creates an original 1–2-minute composition(sample) that usually includes his vocals. He then gives participating producers 24 hours to use the sample in any way they see fit in an entirely new track of their own. Datsunn then hosts a live Twitch stream playing all the submissions and giving feedback on them. After weeks of participating in the Sunnflips Challenge, I noticed that I kept revisiting the four tracks that make up this E.P. Each track helped me cope with my relapses with alcohol addiction and the low self-esteem that came with it. Seeing each track through to its entirety was some of the best therapy I could give myself. It helped tell my journey into sobriety, with each track representing the phases I was going through before reaching mental clarity. When the tracks finally felt complete, I decided to post the raw sessions on my Instagram page. I quickly noticed the positive reception they were getting, so I immediately contacted my mixing/mastering engineer, Louie Ramos, to help me deliver a professional-sounding release.
Could you touch on what your creative process looked like behind the scenes of 'Facing Life?' How did you begin laying the foundation and working your way up?
With each sample, I play it on repeat and take my eyes off the computer screen so I can listen and feel the vibe. Next, I took mental notes of particular snippets of the sample that stood out to me and started editing the waveform on my Maschine Mk3. I experiment with the speed of the sample and make the necessary sample chops to formulate the groove I hear in my head. In this meticulous part of the process, I get very surgical with the waveform edits and check for any clicks/pops when playing it on my drum pads. When I piece together the groove, it sounds completely natural. For the first three tracks, I was fortunate enough to have the original audio stems of the sample. It gave me more creative freedom, but my process stayed the same. I experiment with different drum progressions, add my bass lines if I feel it needs it, and other ear candy that helps each track stand out. The last part of the process, which I have the most fun with, is finding the right vocal samples. Using Datsunn's vocals helped seal the chill and relaxed vibe that this project has. I was able to include lyrics that fit the groove of the tracks and resonated with me as well. My favorite lyrics are from the first track: "We've been facing life; in ways, we might not like" That line struck a deep chord in me as it perfectly captured my journey during the making of this E.P.
Could you explain the significance of the cover art for 'Facing Life?' How does this mirrored beast-to-human reflection add to your concept?
For many years I made drinking a part of my creative process and social life. When I bought my Maschine Mk3, I remember staying up late putting together some of my first compositions for my first album. For every track I was doing, I had a few drinks in me to help take the edge off my overthinking and feel the music. This process inspired the name of my first album, "Confessions of a Drunk." Before releasing anything, I needed some artist persona to represent my love for music and drinking on the cover art. That's where one of my best friends and cover/logo artist, Gary Cooper, stepped in and suggested a brown rabbit in a lab coat. I was putting out releases at a steady pace, but then life happened, and my drinking got out of hand as I was hit with some pivotal changes in my life. The most recent being the loss of a best friend to suicide. He was like a brother to me, and without any closure to his passing, I turned to drinking to alleviate the pain. As I was numbing the reality of his death, I turned away from my music, and before I knew it, I hit a tipping point. When I finally decided to quit, I endured the physical/mental withdrawals, and what kept my sanity going was working on this E.P. As Ramos and I got close to finishing the mastered version of this E.P., I remember hitting a point of mental clarity during my reflection of my past addiction: I was convinced that I needed alcohol to be creative, social and strong in my life. I know now that the source of those qualities comes not from the bottom of an empty bottle but from within me. I have always been the answer to my problems, happiness, and artistry. The rabbit is finally experiencing that same epiphany with my human reflection in the cover art. And, like me, he is finally facing life at its clearest.
How do you hope to make your audience feel when listening to the dreamy and groovy songs in 'Facing Life?'
The world can be a dark and chaotic place. The weight of this truth can be unbearable at times, and many suffer through their struggles in silence. But like many of us musicians/music fans, we turn to music for its therapeutic quality. It can be a particular artist, album, or even genre we grew up with that keeps our sanity intact. That's what I hope that this project offers, that same therapeutic quality. For the listener to feel calm and at peace. Essentially, a sonic experience that can help the listener navigate through the chaos and see the light within.