We are exceedingly lucky in the northwest to have a vast variety of talent. We’ve done similar spotlights previously, and now we’re venturing to discuss artists even farther north in the region. Local Bellingham musician and producer Alex Sutherland, also known as Southlvnder, is a quickly gaining recognition as a DJ in the area. He’s a frequent opener at the Wild Buffalo House of Blues, plus a variety other venues throughout Bellingham. Southlvnder has opened for multiple artists including Buka, Aaron Jackson, and Luca Lush. Last week, he independently released his first EP Bruxism, and we were able to inquire about his inspirations, roots, and musical process.
Southlvnder’s Bruxism EP is a four-track compilation that gives the listener something different with each song. Ain’t Nobody starts the EP off with dark, melodic lyrics and a heavy drum line that incorporates a bouncy blend of bass-house. Transitioning swiftly from melancholy lyrics into a futuristic sounding, trap mix is the next song, Bruxism. The title-based track includes a quick, beating bass line with notable symbols. Next, his single Bells gives a haunting and climactic energy. The ringing bells, daunting drums and sound effects fit well with the name of the song. The final track of the EP, Space-Hop brings a conclusive end to the compilation. It’s drum-line seems to have roots in psychedelic rock, and incorporates that extraterrestrial, spacey electronic feel.
When asked about the inspiration of the EP Southlvnder described wanting to take a darker approach to different styles of dance music. His goal with Bruxism was to create songs containing dance-heavy parts, along with ‘atmospheric and spacey vibes.’ Southlvnder draws on influences spanning from artists such as Troyboi, Baauer, RL Grime, KRNE, Mura Masa, Flume, Hucci, and Tchami. He goes on to say, “there are so many awesome sounds and styles out there that I try to absorb as much as I can in order to create my own sound.”
We got to further delve into the Bellingham local’s inspirations and roots in electronic music. Southlvnder has a variety of genre interests, but tends to like dark, melodic, and emotional music. He considers himself to be a metalhead, but is also a ‘sucker for classical music.’ Alex began playing the drums when he was eight, so many of those techniques inspire his bass-lines.
When creating the songs and designing the EP, Southlvnder used a midi keyboard and a drum pad. He also used programs including Ableton Live and Ableton’s stock synthesizers or Native Instruments Massive to develop the synths. When describing his creative process, Southlvnder stated:
“I like my songs to sound as organic as possible, so I recorded all of the melodies and drum parts myself on my keyboard and/or drum pad instead of just clicking the notes into the piano roll. I find this creates a more natural flow, which I tend to prefer over a super robotic sound. Other than that I just kinda go with the it and keep messing around until I do something that I like.”
Now that the EP is completed, Southlvnder is already in the middle of creating future releases and collabs. There are projects in the works with other Bellingham artists FXL, HAAKEYE, and Papa Squat. Southlvnder is also planning to release a special collaboration with “one of Seattle’s finest bass producers” in the next few months. The local artist is definitely intricate and thorough in his creative techniques, and we are looking forward to his new releases in the future.
Do you know of any other local favorites in the region? Are you a local DJ wanting to share your music? Submit your tracks to us here.