Student Success Story - TR
Student Success Story - TR
LSA alumnus Tom, aka TR, is a producer, DJ and improvised live performer based in Hackney. A classically trained musician and audio engineering graduate, TR blends his musicality with detailed sound design to create nostalgic, yet dance floor appropriate electronic music. His debut release on "Room II Records" saw TR find his feet in the underground music game. He has released his most recent EP "Hygge" via Blah Blah Blah Records, and more material is due to be dropped on that label, and through his self release series.
Tom also makes up one-half of the duo 'House & Keys', and also produces under his alter ego Size 8, which is strictly focused on minimal house; Forthcoming releases on The Check In.
We caught up with Tom hear more about his forthcoming projects...
Tom, since joining LSA how has your DJ and Producer career progressed?
I Joined LSA around 8 years ago, with a love for music and a curiosity to learn how to DJ, produce and everything in between. Buster taught me the ropes of DJing and I loved learning with him, he created a super relaxed environment to learn in and there was never any judgement. I also had a few sessions with Erin, and remember being really inspired by his production knowledge and technical ability. I caught the music bug for good in those first few courses and it’s hard one to shake off aha!
Since joining LSA, my EP “The Black EP” sold out on Room II Records, I have just signed in for three EP’s with Blah Blah Blah records, and have also been working on a self release music series. In terms of performance, I studied live electronic performance at SAE and it's now about three years in the making. I cannot wait to get off the live stream and back into a venue post lockdown, need to shake off the ants in my pants.
You've just released an EP can you tell us more about it?
For sure, I have just released my EP “Hygge” on Blah Blah Blah records, the first of three releases. The EP has an ethereal, nostalgic vibe, great for listening, but also played on a club system, the drums are definitely built to rock the floor. Both tracks are really melodic and have a lot of layered harmonies. They were both made at different times but I think they have a thought provoking feel that brings them together nicely. Also, the WDDS Woods jungle remix is fire and adds a wicked flip on the lead track “What Happens After The Tub”. Having set a solid foundation with this EP I can’t wait to share the forthcoming release's which are being mastered as we speak.
What advice would you give to people thinking about taking DJ and production lessons?
I would say there’s no time like the present, jump in and start nerding out. It can be a bit overwhelming, and knowing where to start can be difficult, especially in production. There are so many different ways to make music, so instead of focussing on the top of the mountain just focus on one thing at a time. For example you could say, this week, I want to learn how to make really nice pad sounds. Soon enough you’ll have your own way of doing things!
In terms of DJ’ing I would say listen to as many DJ’s as possible, the best DJ’s are like good librarians, it’s all about selection, knowledge and practice. Take as many gigs as possible in the early days, because the small undesirable gigs are where your going to learn how to rock a crowd, and when the club gigs come it will feel easy.
What are the three key lessons you've learnt about the industry?
It took me a while to understand that rejection is part of the game. As an artist putting yourself out there, rejection can feel pretty cruel sometimes, but its never personal, and it's important to not compromise your sound or style so that certain people like it, especially in those moments. Trust me its worth the wait when someone you respect comes a long and tells you they love your music.
Try and work out what is unique about your sound and style and be really confident with that. For me I love live music, and improvising so I try and make sure that the improvisation comes through in my shows. Anything that helps you stand out from the crowd is a good thing. It could be that your music is rhythmically delicate and complex so make sure people are aware of that.
Patience is the underrated mothership! You’ve probably heard it a thousand times but if your passionate and pushing hard, people will notice. Keep your head down and keep plugging away, and remember your already doing what you love so you have won half the battle!
We love your improv live streams and you also performed at our event at Camden Assembly. Can you tell us more about your Live DJ sets and why you work in this way?
Ever since beginning to produce and DJ, playing live has been one of my biggest goals. I really wanted to have a show where I have control of all the elements of the music at my fingertips, and can basically jam
ideas on the spot and improvise with them. In short its like a really fast studio session. It feels really special to make music spontaneously that you might never play or hear again, and it makes performing feel really intimate. In that way it provides a nice contrast to DJ’ing with other peoples records.
The cool thing about working in this way is that it puts you in the same position as the crowd because you don’t know whats coming next, and you can quickly turn something hard into something dreamlike or into something dreamlike into a percussive real etc.
In terms of the technical approach I have all the hardware running through Ableton, and use midi controllers to manipulate Ableton parameters. At the start of the show I have a blank session and usually build in some drums or some kind of soundscape. From there I can basically record in any sound or loop I like on top. I am able to record everything from the notes I am playing to and any live automation I do, which keeps the show evolving and stops it from becoming to stale.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not foolproof, and I spend a lot of time correcting problems with hardware and MIDI, sometimes even during a show, which is always interesting, I just try and keep dancing when the problems occur, to try and distract people that your equipment has gone completely out of time with each other, and some random sample of a chicken that you didn’t know you had has been triggered.
Theres still a way to go but I am really pleased by the way the show is developing.
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