From his earliest productions in the then up and coming Welsh techno scene, to his more recent crossover-house and electronica leaning works, Tom Demac has never been a stranger to experimentation and trying new things in the studio. His original music has been picked up by such labels as AUS Music, Hypercolour and Pets Recordings in recent years, alongside high profile remix projects for Pet Shop Boys and Roisin Murphy to name but two.
Ahead of his forthcoming ‘White Flowers’ EP with Real Lies on Kompakt, we caught up with Tom to find out what and where he draws inspiration from when settling in for a long studio session.
Having grown up in North Wales I wasn’t surrounded by a great deal of musical influences or scenes as such. Anything north of Stoke on Trent or within earshot of Wigan Pier meant you had no choice but to sample your first taste of dance music via the Hardcore scene. So tape packs from Helter Skelter, Vibealite and Dreamscape etc were my entrance point, thankfully taking me away from my love of Thrash Metal in my early teens. My friend started up a record shop in my hometown, Llandudno, he tried his best selling proper techno and house records but sadly people only wanted to buy tape packs in the shop! I recall taking (and stealing) CD’s I thought my mum never listened to, and selling them in the local second-hand shop to generate a few extra pennies to buy the latest Helter Skelter tape pack… oh, the simplicity of finding music back then.
My Mate Grimes
Now a fellow resident at Freerotation Festival and releasing wicked music under Grimes Adhesif, I can credit this man for turning my ears from Gabber and the likes to proper techno. From the wonky oddities of Cristian Vogel to Subhead and early Sterac. Sitting in his old BMW 3 Series with an ashtray overflowing with rolled cigarette dimps, he’d play a combination of 3 tapes whenever driving us to a rave or any destination for that matter. I was fascinated by the futuristic sounds and repetitive funk hammering out through the tinny car speakers. Despite my own music having moved on from this sound, this era in my musical history still provides my fondest memories, without a doubt.
The Orbit, Morley, Leeds
This club was a true mecca for techno back in the day! Running from 9pm til 2am, nestled in an old Cinema in Morley just outside Leeds, it was pretty much nosebleed techno from the point the doors opened. This was where I first experienced DJ’s like Billy Nasty, Surgeon, Fumiya Tanaka, CJ Bolland and the likes, swiftly moving my influences on from hardcore into more of the proper Detroit influenced techno. I think Sven Vath would still go on record to this day to say this was the favourite clubs he’s played at. You had to leave at 2am on the dot, with the head of security barking orders at everyone outside with a megaphone as pilled up punters would piss in the garden’s of the surrounding terraced housing etc. My favourite sets there would always come from residents John Berry and Mark Turner, they also ran Eastern Bloc in Manchester back in the day, and I can credit those 2 with selling me most of the early records in my collection. Heroes all around. Heritage.
It’s no beach or mountain walk with a dog to refresh your inspiration for a day in the studio, but when you’re in the middle of London it certainly helps. Spending so much time in the studio writing either my own music or producing for other artists and bands, I really have to make an effort with limited time to actually listen and enjoy music, old or new. Recently I’ve been making the effort to cycle to the park on my lunch break and create inspiration playlists and take a bit of time out from writing to listen to music in peace.
There’s something that can be said for running a pad sound or vocal sample onto a f****d up old reel to reel tape machine… mine generally makes everything sound terrible in the best sense. Lo-fi for days.