The last two years you have toured Australia alongside James Zabiela, how did this come about? is the crowd and music policy different over there?
I’ve been friends with James for over 10 years now. We started putting on small parties together in 2003 in our hometown of Southampton. Although the music that we both play has shifted over the years, my stuff has always worked really well opening for him. In the last 2 years I’ve been lucky enough to do a fair few gigs abroad with James, including touring Australia and Asia. The times I’ve played in Australia have always been at the same venues, so I can’t comment too much on how the scene is over there. Chinese Laundry in Sydney was an amazing gig both times though.
You Also joined Zabiela and Nic Fancuilli to play at Snowbombing, what was that like? how does a festival in the snow differ from the usual affairs in the summer?
Snowbombing is crazy.. loads of fun. I’ve played there the last 2 years and love it. It’s very different than your usual summer festival. Nearly all of the acts are on in the evening (although there are things going on in the day as well), so you get to spend the day skiiing or snowboarding, that’s if you can make it out after a heavy night. Most of the parties are spread around Mayrhofen in the bars and clubs with some cool venues ranging from an Igloo to a wooden alpine sweat box to a huge outdoor forest party.
You have an ongoing residency in your hometown of Southampton, after playing gigs around the world whats it like to come back and play in familiar surroundings again?
It’s always great to play in your home town with all your friends around you. I help run the High Tide boat parties in Southampton and for me, they’re one of the best parties around. With only 5 events a year (on the bank holiday sunday afternoons + 1 night time halloween party) and a capacity of 350, the atmosphere is amazing. This year the line up’s are probably the best they’ve had in the 20 years with Catz N Dogz, John Digweed, Carl Cox already lined up for the first 3 events.
In 2008 you launched your own record Label, ALiVE recordings. did anything in particular spark this?
Initially it was a way of getting my (early) productions out there. I then started releasing music from friends and it’s just grown naturally from there. We now have a core of regular artists like Teva, Chris James and Bubba through to the occasional names like Waifs & Strays and Audiojack.
Many critics have honed the labels 10th release ‘Tree Dance’ produced by yourself as a real milestone for the imprint and its owner. How do you feel about in regards to this statement?
I couldn’t believe how well that track did. Checking twitter every Sunday for about 3 months seeing that Richie Hawtin was playing it week in, week out was incredible. It definitely helped give the label some recognition. That was in 2009 and the sound of the label is a bit different now. I think the last 5 or 6 releases we’ve had have defined where the label is headed and I hope we have a few more milestone’s this year!
Last year you also set up the spin off label, ALiVE Black which is said to showcase the harder side of house. How important do you think it is for a label to be grown on a particular sound?
Up until about 6 months ago we were releasing music that was quite across the board, from deep house through to relatively chunky tech house. I felt that the main label needed it’s own identity and needed to be a closer representation of the deeper, housey stuff that I’ve been playing. I still really like a lot of the tech house and still wanted to release music from the regulars on the label who fit in to that sound, like Ross Evana, Alex Costa, Reset Robot so it made sense to start the sister label. The third release on ALiVE Black will be out in the next few weeks from Spanish producer, Ramiro Lopez and it has already picked up support from Maya Jane Coles, Danny Tenaglia and Coyu.
Over the years you have remixed for the likes of James Zabiela and Danny Howells, though the one that really stands out is the work you did on Groove Armada’s track, which featured Vocals from non other than Will Young. How did the remix for them come about?
A friend of mine who knows the Groove Armada guys quite well had heard they were looking for a housier remix for their upcoming single. He put my name forward and luckily they really liked the remix.
You host a radio show on Proton Radio, how important do you think this is in terms of self promotion but also in keeping up to date with the music tastes of the day…
I’ve been doing the Proton show for a long time.. maybe 9 years now, before I was even dj’ing regularly and way before the label. Any kind of radio show, podcast or soundcloud mix is always important to get yourself heard. I now use the radio show mainly to promote and showcase the artists on the label and any releases that we have coming out.
There seems to be a lot of Garage influenced stuff in the last part of your mix, and many people predict that sound coming back in a big way this year. what are your thoughts on this…
I suppose yeah, there’s a lot more r’n'b vocals coming in and lots of skippy beats, I think that with a mix of the Bristol bass house sounds is going to be a big thing this year.
In keeping with probably every other interview done around the start of the year, what are your plans for 2012 both as a DJ and for your respective labels?
I’m looking to push the ALiVE label showcase events and really build on that this year. We did one in Bournemouth last week which was great. We always host the afterparties for the High Tide boat parties in Southampton which I’m really looking forward to.. we have Bubba for the first one on Easter Sunday. He’s been a regular on the label and recently scored an Essential New Tune with his Hot Creations debut. Looking to do some label parties in the North later on in the year as well.
We’ve got a busy release schedule on both the labels with names like NTFO, Audiojack, JMX (2020Vision) and an EP from myself. I’ve not had a huge amount of music out in the last year.. just been working hard in the studio and have a release lined up for the summer with Culprit, which has been the best part of a year in the making, so obviously very excited about that!
Next gig: Under @ The Attic, Manchester 11/02/12
Check out Tom’s latest mix below!