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Lead Guitarist on Subsonic Eye’s new album

Courtesy of Subsonic Eye (Fair Use)
All Around You was released on September 8.

When guitarist Daniel Borces was 15, he wanted to learn how to play songs by early 2000s bands like Blink-182 and All Time Low—stuff he found on the pop-punk side of Tumblr. He later picked up drums and bass. 

Now 25, the lead guitarist of Singaporean quintet Subsonic Eye, Borces and I recently chatted over Zoom about their new album, All Around You. Their signature jangle rock complements singer Nur Wahidah’s foray into a recitative style

We talk for thirty minutes. With a recently made bed on his right and a drum set on his left, Borces speaks into a handheld studio mic separate from his over-the-ear headphones.

Borces says Subsonic Eye’s process is pretty simple: “essentially a song is just a bunch of riffs put together.” After overlaying some drums and bass, he sends it over to Wahidah for lyrics and then the rest of the band for final touches. 

“You do that enough times,” Borces says, “you have a record.”

The group’s refreshing simplicity makes their experimentality feel earnest rather than pretentious. The shoegaze style, which Subsonic Eye originally pursued, necessitates an endless variety of pedals and effects. Bources thinks it’s all too much.

“To even write songs, it took a really long time just to set things up. And by the time you’re ready to start writing, you’re just drained,” Bources says. “So now when we write, we just have one guitar plugged in straight and see what happens.”

The group formed when Borces and Wahidah met in secondary school studying music. Subsonic Eye is take two for the pair—the band they initially formed “just didn’t get” them. Borces met the band’s second guitarist Jared Lim, a member of Sobs, on SoundCloud. All that was left was to find a name, and after putzing around on Wikipedia’s Outer space page, they found “subsonic.” Unfortunately, there was already a band called Subsonic, so Borces added “Eye”—“it’s got a nice ring.”

“Performative” is a great intro track for a great album. Released on Sept. 13 by independent label Topshelf Records, All Around You opens with influences from the indie midwives Sonic Youth and aughts rockers Velocity Girl. Wahidah sings, “Hands outstretched and I don’t even know / if I’m living, dying, for who and what” and presses a “working for the knife” attitude. In a magnificently fluid pick-up transition, we hop to “Circle,” which, Borces says, is the band’s favorite song on the album to play live. The new wave paranoia communicates how it feels living in a place with 22,254 people per square mile. 

“Flashy playing” doesn’t impress Bources. 

“We just graduated college and are all starting out in the working environment, and it’s not a great feeling,” he says. “We’re just trying to make people feel the good and bad of city living.”

Borces works a day job at an audio production house making music for commercials. 

The rest of the All Around You explores the tumult of consumerism (“Machine”) with notes of nihilistic romance (“Bug in Spring”) and fatigue (“What I Meant”). As the album ends, the listener gets a sense that this is just the beginning for Subsonic Eye. Closers “Yearning” and “Everything” end the record on a note of cautious optimism. Though Bources feels old in a music scene where most underground acts aren’t old enough to vote, he finds inspiration in the phenomena of the sub-30 American megastar.

“There are rappers that are 22 years old, and they’re blowing up. Post Malone’s like two years older than me,” he says. “It’s pretty inspiring to be a young person now.”

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About the Contributor
Lucy Walker
Lucy Walker, Assistant Online Editor-in-Chief
Lucy Walker ('25) joined The Review in 2021 as a freshman. She likes Big Salads and her second favorite animal is a shark.

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    AnonymousOct 16, 2023 at 10:32 PM

    She does it again; Lucy Walker with yet another top-tier column.