"There is an evolution to peoples' ears, and it is important to continuously find new sounds and techniques that provide a freshness to your work," French artist-turned-Miami local Dombresky (AKA Quentin Dombres) tells New Times.
With that theory of musical evolution at arm's length, Dombresky has turned the original "Underwater" by Anabel Englund and MK into dance-crazed funk. The track, which drops today on AREA10/Ultra Records, is a perfect way to keep listeners warm during this rare Christmas cold front.
It's natural to assume that when someone remixes an original track, there's constant communication between producer and artist, making sure everything sounds both wholly different yet structurally sound. While that is true to a large extent, "Underwater" is a notable exception.
"I don't think it was planned to be a remix," Englund tells New Times over Zoom from Los Angeles. "I had a Zoom session with Dombresky, and I think while we were catching up, he said, 'Yeah, I was working on your track.' I was like, 'What do you mean you worked on it?' And he said, 'Well, Ultra sent me the stems.' I asked him to play it because I had no idea."
"I had actually made a version of the remix before I had one of my first sessions with Anabel," Dombresky says. "I showed her the remix over Zoom, and she loved it, so it actually worked out perfectly with the rollout of her album."
The original version of "Underwater" feels like a roller coaster, starting out with vibrating synths, a barely distinguishable kick, and Englund's vocals: "I can't wait up for you, thought you were on your way/I've got some shit to do, you're getting in my way." The track picks up and leaves the listener mesmerized by the deep, melodic sounds and Englund's airy vocals.
Englund's vocal delivery is not the soulful, raising-and-falling vocal heard on most house records. Instead, it's calmer — more guiding than directing.
"I don't have the typical house-music voice — the big, loud voice," Englund agrees. "I have a soulful voice, but I would say I have more a country-like, jazz-type of tone to my voice that is refreshing to hear in dance music and personable."
With a decade of experience apiece, two artists bring something refreshing, and this remix is no exception. Dombresky takes "Underwater" out of the melodic abyss and tide-raising buildups and drops and navigates the listener 20,000 leagues above the sea.
The remix is warm to the touch throughout its two-minute-and-41-second runtime. The bubbly melodies are accented with flickering hi-hats that hiss back. The bassline is reminiscent of French house's rolling bass made famous by acts like Cassius and Daft Punk.
Still, Dombresky's wisest choice was keeping Englund's vocals intact, with few chops or effects. Though the remix is balmy and welcoming, the lyrics tell a different story: "You promised not to be your father, remember when we said/Wouldn’t let it get to this, now we're falling underwater."
"I just kind of let my subconscious take over," Englund explains. "I ended up making it this whole thing about you waiting for someone to pull it together for so long, and now at this point, you're just done waiting for you and done with this relationship. When I'm in sessions, that's usually how I work anyway — just let my subconscious take over and work with what something is telling me."
As 2020 finally, finally comes to a close, Dombresky will play two shows during Christmas weekend at his old stomping ground, Treehouse in Miami Beach.
"Treehouse has always been a fun venue for me to play in Miami," he says. "We had a show postponed a few months ago, so my team and I secured two dates to make it up to the fans. I am so excited to share the dance floor again over the Christmas holidays. I know it won't disappoint."
Both artists are also looking forward to releasing new music in the new year.
"You can expect a ton of new music from me starting at the beginning of the year as well as a new live show that I cant wait to get out there and perform," Dombresky promises.
Englund shares the sentiment: "I have just as much to release this year as I did last year, if not more. I'm going to keep making music, keep releasing music, and I'm not really going anywhere anytime soon."