This year, Canada’s summer festival circuit was filled with big time production, big beats and big names. A mixture of the usual suspects, slightly familiar faces and seldom heard names from the vaults scattered lineups across North America, crushing out the newest in sick beats in what will historically be referred to as “Festival Season 2016.” One such artist became a familiar face in PK Sound festival-land this year, touring rigorously for his second full-length album.
Tom Casswell, better known to fans by his production moniker TC, has maintained a steady presence in the music community since the release of his first full-length album almost a decade ago. He spent the last nine years or so hand picking his best tunes prior to releasing his sophomore effort Unleash the Wolves, and spent the summer on a relentless touring schedule banging out his signature high energy sets weekend after weekend.
PK Sound was lucky enough to play host to the original badman TC on two occasions, both at Motion Notion and Shambhala at the Village Stage. After watching him absolutely murder it, we couldn’t resist catching up with him for a little exclusive chat after the summer madness.
PK Sound: I think it’s pretty safe to say you’ve had a crazy summer, touring for Unleash the Wolves. We actually had a couple opportunities to see you in western Canada this summer. You played Motion Notion festival in B.C., as well as the mighty Shambhala! Both stages (Cabana and Village) were PK creations. I have to ask, was there anything about either of these experiences that stood out for you?
TC: Both were incredible. There is a tune of mine that I played last on both sets that I know has bass that you just don't hear on most sound systems because its in a low C but on PK its just thunderous!! Both shows were equally as good as one another but the legendary Shambhala is just iconic and I felt so blessed to be a part of it! Thanks so much for the incredible stage!
PK Sound: The cat is more or less out of the bag by now, however some may still find it surprising that you sing on some tracks (both for yourself and other artists like Pendulum). I know you’ve touched on your enjoyment for singing in other interviews, but I’m just wondering how you figured out you were good enough to sing on recordings. What did that process look like?
TC: I have always been singing even before I became a producer. I love playing the guitar and piano, it’s just something I love to do. I’m not the best, and I am so jealous of others with voices that are so much better than mine.
PK Sound: What’s your favourite track to jam out and sing along to? I have visions in my head of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
TC: I do know the words to “Bohemian Rhapsody” so you pretty much nailed it!
PK Sound: It’s no secret you spent a loooooong time between your albums (9 years, right?) I’m sure you used a lot of that time to stay true to your own creativity and production process. Is being an artist admired for his “older stuff” your greatest fear?
TC: I don’t mind people loving my older stuff, I have recently started playing more of the older stuff in my sets to satisfy the fans that come for that, cause there’s nothing worse than going to see your fave artist and they just play they new stuff. But I think I have stayed pretty current just releasing singles like “Get Down Low” and “Tap Ho.” I will have another album very soon :)
PK Sound: I have my own theories as to why that happens to artists, but I’m curious why you think often earlier work resonates more with fans?
TC: It’s very interesting, I know so many artists whose old work I prefer much more than their current work. I think it’s an innocence, and a kind of anything goes kind of thing, and maybe a little less musical knowledge that actually makes them more creative cause they are not like ‘Nah I heard that before.’ I would love to break that mould and say that my next album will be the best I’ve ever done :)
PK Sound: You already have plans for another album, sooner rather than later. Will you be able to maintain happiness with your work in tighter time constraints?
TC: I love my work, it’s my drive and my passion, I am a true artist and devote my life to it. Time constraints are good cause you get things done, I could sit in a studio for years and just noodle, but when you announce that you’re doing one soon then you kinda have to do as you say.
PK Sound: You’ve said in the past that drum and bass is your life. Despite that, you’re an avid music lover of all genres. I’m willing to bet you have a massive music collection. Can you take us through some of your favourite records?
TC: This is such a wide question, I have a very large collection of music and I discover things I like all the time. Most of my favourite records are old D’n’B records like Bacteria from Ed Rush and Optical and Cybotron from Dillinja, I was just out in Japan and China and in China I had two-hour sets. I love to draw from the old school for the last half hour of a two-hour set, and I have to say the people were so awesome there and knew all the records, even the more obscure ones.
PK Sound: Would you say “Tap Ho” is your most popular song? Do you ever feel disdainful towards your more popular tunes, like you’re pressured to play them in every big set?
TC: I’m not sure if it is, “Get Down Low” is the one I get most requests for nowadays -and the new album is doing great too, but I never feel pressured to play them, I like to play them cause they always get a good reaction and I can come up with new and interesting mixes to go with them that could be unexpected. I go through phases with my records and DJing, right now I am super into playing my old records in a small kinda mashup section to give the people who came to see me to hear them the chance.
PK Sound: You keep your blog on your website pretty up to date, and use it to communicate with your fans on the regular. I must say you have some pretty funny articles, like your piece on beard types that will make you better in the studio … More importantly though, you’ve put together all your best advice for fledgling producers like backing up your work in three places and keeping a super organized sample library. Did you have a mentor, or did you have to learn these lessons the hard way?
TC: I’ve had a few producers and many people who are friends that I look up to when it comes to this music thing. I am 100% self-taught, never went to school for music and have no qualifications except a tonne of banging tunes. I’m always learning and love to share what I have learned with new producers so they don't fall into the same pitfalls I might have done.
PK: Would you ever consider mentoring someone?
TC: Possibly, I am going to start taking on new producers on my label and I will give them all the advice I can.
PK: Wrapping up, what’s next for TC? How will you finish out the year?
TC: I will be looking forward to many shows lots of lovely DNB crowds and will be working on my 3rd album, which I want to have written by March, out later in 2017.
Thanks so much to PK sound for the incredible sound systems and production and thanks to all the wonderful stage crew and awesome people at the PK stages that I have the great honour to be able to play on, it really is the best sound I have ever played on and when I see PK on my info before I fly out gives me happy thoughts!! Love to you all!! Also big up to all the TC fans, without you I would not be here!! BIG LOVE!!
By: Kayla L. Graham