TC: The Realist
TC’s sophomore album Unleash the Wolves is making serious waves across clubland and beyond, and with the Bristol-based producer giving away the parts to every single track on the album for free, it seems we’re about to see some next-level remixes too. We caught up with the man himself for a chat…
Yes Tom, thanks for taking the time to chat! You’ve just Unleashed the Wolves on 3Beat… 😉 What a release, huge congrats on what was no doubt a serious labour of love! Was it easier to approach the album format the second time round?
Yes Maja and all Drum&BassArena crew 🙂 You are very welcome!
Many thanks for your kind words about the album, it truly was a labour of love. A second album for me feels like a great responsibility, not only for myself to be able to turn round in 10 years time and say “yeah, that’s real” but also for music that I have completely devoted my life to. The saying “Drum and Bass is my life” really defines me, honestly.
I spent the first two weeks when I set out to make this album listening to all the music that ever inspired me from Prodigy to Pendulum, Dillinja and pretty much my whole record collection, D&B to classical. I then went through every idea I ever made with one thought in mind: “Make something real.”
I’m not going to bullshit you, I did not make this album to sell a tonne of records. This might also sound weird but I don’t want my album to do well in the eyes of the wider music industry. I am not interested in massive commercial success, I make enough money to live at the moment and I do what I love and what I always wanted to do. Who would ever want to change that by getting into the battle for radio or becoming some kind gimmick?
I do want to keep playing amazing nights for people who want to come see me and care about the music that I love. I made it to be true to myself and for the music I love and also to immerse myself in something that will live on for years in the hearts of the people I really care about and not just be dead in a week because it’s out of Vogue.
I believe that music is only alive when people who care are listening.
Absolutely! Nuff respect mate. How different was your approach to this album when compared to the first?
Alongside new tracks like “Start A Riot” and “5 Eyes” quite a few of the tracks on the album were around on dubplates for years in my and others DJs boxes, and a couple of other tunes for a lot longer. I needed to make that work and get them out there, hence the title “Unleash The Wolves.”
When I wrote my first album I was pretty young so there was little rhyme or reason involved really, but I stand by it for what it is just as I stand by “Unleash The Wolves”
My heart and soul are truly in the record.
That certainly resonates! Was it inspired by anything in particular?
So many things inspire me to do what I do. ‘I want to have new things for the weekend to play out…’ is my usual thought when I hit the studio. There is literally no better feeling then letting 1000 hardcore d&b fans hear a tune for the very first time and see what happens!
9 years since Evolution – how much of that time was spent on Unleash the Wolves? Some of the tracks are at least a couple of years old, right?
Yeah some of them have been around for a good couple years, the last track I must have made at least 6 years ago. I have made changes to the tracks to make them work in the context of an album which I would want to listen to the whole way through… If for nothing else but for my own sanity as I had to listen to it many times in the making and will have to for a good few years to come.
You’ve written a fair bit of music for other artists – Is it difficult to separate what you’re making for yourself to what you’re making for others and to still stay inspired?
I probably make less music for others than you might think. I have done some songwriting and singing for Pendulum, Sub Focus and Camo & Krooked along the way and I have done some collabs. But other than that I don’t do too much more than helping some friends with mixdowns and that kind of thing.
Some serious collabs on the album – from Metrik, to Jakes, to MC Fats, did you manage to get in the studio with everyone?
With Metrik and Jakes we had a few studio sessions but not with Fats. I needed the vocal quite quick and he is in London and I was in Bristol so we worked over the phone and Internet. I have to say he gave me the vibe the track was asking for, it felt to me like it was just what was already there.
He certainly has a gift! Absolutely love the collab with Stylo – really unexpected that one! There’s a real eclectic nature to the album and really feels like you’ve covered a wide spectrum. Truly something for everyone… Did you make a conscious effort to arrange it that way?
I really care about the flow of the album. I just did what felt right.
What was your studio set up like for the album?
Mac Pro, Adam P22a Moniters, Apogee Ensamble, Virus Indego, Nord Wave, Moog Rogue, Micro Korg, JV2080 and a few other synths and FX pedals. Drum Kit, A few Mics. I pretty much recorded everything I had on every track even if it was a tiny sound in one place in a tune. Everything matters to me.
What you will hear is my drums, recorded in my own studio with my mics. Lots of interesting hardware all mixed through the same desk I mixed Tap Ho.
When I had it mastered I spoke to Stu at Metropolis at length about the sound I was looking for, and I asked him to treat it as if it was 2008. I sent him very quiet masters that would really let him do the thing he does best.
This is the album I should have done in 2008. Just a couple years late?
Perfect timing I say! 🙂 Hold On is a personal favourite.. Love the way it’s structured, it’s really quite emotive.. Is there a story behind it?
Thanks very much man, it’s pretty much the story of being a travelling DJ and also takes on another meaning taking its place to round off the album by stating the way I feel about the music I love and that what I have to bring here is just the beginning of what I hope to achieve in the years to come.
Were any tracks particularly frustrating to complete?
As I remember every second was a beautiful dream 🙂 lol, I don’t understand how anyone could ever complain about having to make music. If I had more time for the studio it would be all the better.
What’s your personal fave on the album?
I like “5 Eyes” the most.
Jakes is a long-time collaborator – what do you think allows you guys to work so well together?
He is my best mate so its not even like we are working, it’s just kinda doing what we do.
You recently unleashed 16 previously unreleased bootlegs – a lot of long-awaited material in there! What made you decide to finally give the tracks a release?
I had a lot of people asking for them and it was a great way to announce the new album.
Certainly made a lot of people happy! Do you often make tracks for yourself that may never see the light of day?
Many many tunes!! Some I play, some I just make for me. There is a filter, I don’t think any artist should put out everything they make.
You played to a full-house at our Summer BBQ recently and absolutely smashed it – are club events/ festivals just as important to you as studio time? I’d imagine that’s your chance to really connect with your fanbase and see how people are reacting to your music?
One of the first overseas shows I played was Dour Festival, and it was to 4 or 5 thousand people and it was absolutely mind blowing. I played my little heart out and I fucking hated every second of it, I was just a d&b kiddie from Bristol. It was very intimidating and exhausting from the sleepless night to the airport madness.
Every year from 2007 I must have at least clocked up a couple of shows every weekend from Canada, USA bus tours supporting Zomboy to Australia NZ tours, Russia to South America and so many random places. I love connecting with people from all over the world who love drum & bass as much as I do.
What’s the plan for the rest of the year then? Any time off after the album or is it just full-steam ahead?
No time off. The plan is, 2 EPs – a jump up influenced EP and then an interesting EP of some half-time material to finish off the year… and then album 3 next year.
SICK. Last track that gave you goosebumps?
All of the tunes at some point and that would be a massive part of the choice of why they are on the album. The last one for me was…
Don’t ask me why, it’s personal 🙂
Artists you’ve been impressed by recently?
Metrik, John B, S.P.Y, Fred V & Grafix, Camo and Krooked, The Prototypes, Voltage, Leaf, Easy… To be honest I get so much great music every time I check my promos I am blown away!
Any shout outs?
Shouts to Sophie, Jakes, Fats, Metrik, Stylo G, Armanni Reign, Tom my Manager, Jeryl at Infectious, Jon, John, Pez, Tim working on the promotion and all the Drum&BassArena crew!! Big up to you all 🙂 !!!!!
Right back at you mate! Final words of wisdom?
Show compassion, Kindness, Peace, Love and Respect. It will make your world a better one to live in. #UnleashTheWolves #UnleashTheRemix
Unleash The Wolves is out now. Get it here.