Blossoming California bass artist sumthin sumthin originates from a small surf town, San Clemente, California. His infatuation with music started as a toddler, when he would bang drums, which led him to self-teach himself both guitar and piano in his teens. In 2016, he began releasing his own music as sumthin sumthin and the following year, he released "Bloom," a breakout song that became a staple in DJs sets and a mainstay at festivals. He’s toured with heavyweights like Bleep Bloop and UZ while playing a wide array of major fests, like Lightning in a Bottle, Shambhala, and Nocturnal Wonderland.
"Trauma" is the young gun's first original tune of 2020, a 3-plus minute track that exudes the enchanting melodics of his past catalogue. "Trauma” reminds fans of the producer’s potential and gives them a taste of what he has in store for this year and beyond. The single, which follows a collaboration with Great Dane ("Free Money, Free Times") and remixes for Louis The Child and Zeds Dead, is the first of several releases as he builds toward his sophomore release on the latter's Deadbeats imprint in early 2021.
"Trauma" meets the awe and aura that is to be expected from sumthin sumthin. The song opens with astral and rangy synths, which create a heavy atmosphere. Using distorted and echoed vocals, the producer lures listeners in with an increasingly wondrous soundscape. At 1:30, we’re plunged into the first definitive sonic narrative, with deep percussion booming around the listener that causes a ripple effect behind a snappy array of sonic aesthetics. Through these percussive elements, sumthin sumthin conveys a feeling of deeply distressing or disturbing experience—trauma.
"This song was my attempt at sharing a recent traumatic experience, without necessarily having to put it into words," said sumthin sumthin, who who spoke to EDM.com to discuss the track and current state of the EDM scene. "I really hope 'Trauma' can help people meditate on the internal conflicts we all go through when something deeply painful happens. At the end of the day, this trauma can help us grow as humans and maybe someday help others in need.”
The single proves sumthin sumthin isn’t interested in making beats of the moment, but art that lives long in the imagination of fans and creatives. The producer is in his own dynamic lane in terms of artistry and this new series of creations live to prove just that.
EDM.com: Your new track “Trauma” exudes substance that’s personal and emotional. What’s the backstory of this track?
sumthin sumthin: The intro of this song is meant to represent the pain and suffering one goes through when experiencing something very difficult. As the atmosphere grows and evolves, I wanted to convey how sometimes a traumatic event can start to fester in the mind and become more intense. Then, there is a moment of contemplation as the chords drop out and the tension releases. This moment represents introspection; how one is able to sit and ponder how to escape mental prison. The tension builds again [while] leading to the "drop," which is not extremely loud, angry, and impactful, but subtle and delicate. This decision was made because I felt like if I held onto any anger or frustration with said trauma, my pain would only grow over time. So, this was a moment to release all anger and frustration. Starting a new blank canvas in my mind.
We then reach the B section of the drop, keeping the original melodic motif but adding unexpected chord changes and a new melody in the background. This represents my continued confusion on how to properly handle my emotional state moving forward. As the drop comes to an end, we reach another contemplation point, a final section with a question mark at the end. This section allows for decompression or contemplation, which then ends on a cliffhanger to pose the question, “What next?”
EDM.com: “Trauma” is the first sumthin sumthin track of 2020. What made you decide this track was the one to lead with?
sumthin sumthin: I feel like this was a perfect track to lead with given the challenging circumstances we as humans are going through collectively in 2020. Although I have other heavier hitting tracks waiting to be released, this one seemed like the right call. Especially with how personal the song is to my own experience and how I’ve been able to overcome. It’s as if I’m finally closing the door on the pain I’ve been holding onto for so long.
EDM.com: This release is the first in a series of singles, which build towards an EP release in early 2021. What can you tell us about this project and what, if anything, has made it stand out to you amongst your previous work?
sumthin sumthin: This track is allowing me to expand my horizons within the sumthin sumthin project. There have been many other songs similar to this one that just didn’t seem to fit my style, but I’m hoping my audience will appreciate this one and allow me to feel more freedom when it comes to releasing.
EDM.com: You recently remixed a Zeds Dead track and have plans to release your next EP with their label, Deadbeats. What can you say about Zeds Dead and the Deadbeats brand? What have they done or are doing to help with your art and career?
sumthin sumthin: Deadbeats is such an amazing assortment of forward thinking producers that range from all sorts of styles. I think it’s really cool that none of us are alike. The scene definitely needs more diversity in music, especially at shows, and Deadbeats has consistently delivered exactly that. They’ve helped me immensely not only with my confidence, but have given me a platform to expand my music to a respectful, music-loving audience. I can’t wait to do more with them in the future.
EDM.com: In lieu of releases in 2020, what have you been up to this year? How are you handling the pandemic?
sumthin sumthin: When shows came to a stop this year, it was the perfect time to work on my health both physically and mentally. Although this hasn’t been the most productive year of mine when it comes to pumping out music, it has definitely been a very productive year when it comes to working on myself as a human. This ultimately helps creativity in the long run, and I’m confident you will be able to hear that mental clarity in my upcoming releases.
EDM.com: What are your thoughts on the current state of the music industry? Are you digging the innovation to digital and drive in events? If not, what different would you like to see?
sumthin sumthin: I mean, for lack of better words, the industry is sort of fucked right now. The best part about attending or even playing shows is feeling like you’re part of a community; understanding that all of us are connected in this vast universe. So, as much as I appreciate the hustle to still make shows possible, it’s just not the same.
We as artists feed off of crowd energy and the crowd feeds off of ours. In a digital environment, it’s very difficult to feel anything, but the show must go on. My love and respect goes out to those who make it possible for us to still have some sort of platform to do what we love. Hopefully, the people in this country can figure it out, put on a goddamn mask, and we can thrive just like we did before [the pandemic.]
EDM.com: One of the things that helped propel your own success was benefitting from tracks going viral, then being played out by other acts across the festival scene. Without the benefit of being able to play these tracks out live, gauge physical audiences reactions and receive co-signs from peers on stage, do you think it’s made it harder for electronic music producers to make an impression with individual tracks?
sumthin sumthin: I definitely think it’s harder to make an impression right now, but if there’s any advice I can give, I’d say just be patient. We are all feeling this struggle right now, and there’s no need to pop off. Just stay calm, write whatever you feel like writing, and experiment with new sounds and instruments. When this all comes back, you’ll have a better understanding of your identity in this industry.
EDM.com: If you had advice for other artists trying to create and find their way during a time like this, what would it be?
sumthin sumthin: I’d say above all, don’t set hurdles for yourself. If you come to a writer's block, do everything in your power to get past it and don’t let your mind get the best of you. If you are truly passionate about music, that passion will ultimately guide you to where you need to go. Don’t worry about numbers and clout. Instead, recognize that you have the ability to make an impact with your music and your own unique brain will come up with something magical. As cliché as it sounds, trust the process and enjoy the living crap out of it.