Before he joins Jane Fitz behind the decks at Wire for the launch of Relic, we spoke to Tom Drew about his record bag that is bursting to the brim with interesting tracks. The Londonder was invited to play, along with On Rotation’s Alex T, having run several amazing and friendly parties with his Loophole brand. These have showcased superb dance music as well as some more left field selections, particularly through their ‘Loophole Dub Station’ events at Hyde Park Book Club. Here’s what he had to say.
First record ever bought?
My first record must have been Rhythm & Sound – W/ The Artists. My good friend was buying a shitload of dub and reggae around Ladbroke Grove so I decided to head down with him and pick out some of my first records. It was at a time when I was getting well into my techno but was consistently also listening to his dub records – electronic dance music and reggae have always stood parallel for me, purely due to where I’ve been/ who I have been with. The aesthetic of dub really impressed me so when I saw that fully crossed over and incorporated with the repetitive and meditative nature of techno it just made sense. And vinyl became a necessity. Sound system culture – Channel One, Aba shanti, Jah Shaka, University of dub – even the old dubstep scene in South London all live and die by vinyl, and I came to terms with how important it is for this kind of musical aesthetic by going to these nights. Deep warm low ends, crisp clear highs and spacey echoes. Those guys (Moritz Von Oswald & Mark Ernestus) never fail to produce records that have this super high quality aesthetic… it’s a real special moment every time I put one on.
There are many. But to pick a particularly special one… Alfredo De La Fe – Hot to Trot – a timeless disco classic from 1979 dug out by David Mancuso himself. It has a quirky and muddled build up with whistles and intense percussion, followed by a smooth funk beat accompanied by the violins of La Fe himself, along with energetic, raw vocals. I don’t see how this record couldn’t fill a floor to be honest, the surprise and energy of it facilitates that. Bit of a different pick that I’ve been playing out recently is Gilad Kilana – Africa Shell (Red Axes Remix). Serious drama and tension to get the crowd focused. Big thanks to Andrew Weatherall for revealing that to me in one of his mixes, it always goes down a treat.
Best crate dig?
Gotta be INI – Centre Of Attention. Picked it up at Waxwell records in Amsterdam this year. This album is crazy sentimental for me – it was a favourite during my teenage hip-hop obsession. This along with Slum Village Vol II were both huge for me, I genuinely feel like my ears will never get tired of listening to these records. Essentials for hip hop fans.
Moodymann – Detriot ’67. So much sleaze. Freaki Mutha Fucker is an obvious favourite but the tune Det.riot is also quality. Got to love Moodymann.
Best warehouse/stadium filler?
At the moment it would be Luv Jam – Nip to Space. Really want to hear that on a proper system, I have no doubt that it would have a big effect on a warehouse dancefloor. To be honest though, I can’t really see myself playing in a situation like that.
Most nostalgic record?
It’s very hard to choose! On the top of my head it would have to be Villalobos – Dexter / Easy Lee. A bunch of friends knew I loved that track and chipped in to buy it for my birthday last year. Both are hard hitting in their own way, with that typical hypnotic and artistic production from Villalobos. I love playing this out, especially when my friends are around, as its something many of us can relate to and enjoy together. Other than that it would be dub albums like Lee Scratch Perry – Revolution Dub or the infamous King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown with Augustus Pablo. And Jacob Miller – Baby I Love You So. All these tunes were really eye opening for me, the fact that they were made around 40 years ago highlights the near endless possibilities of production, especially with how technology has advanced today. The list goes on…
Most valuable record? (monetary or sentimental)
John Martyn – Solid Air. Was scrolling through Youtube in the early hours of a Sunday morning and came across this tune ‘I don’t want to know’. Then the next I clicked was ‘Solid Air’. I wasn’t much into my blues/rock/male vocal kind of stuff at the time but wow, John Martyn really knows how to use his voice as the most sophisticated kind of instrument, to create mood and a pretty intense feeling. The content of the record is very sad, very melancholy, but there are hints of positivity in other tracks, and ethereal atmosphere is often created simply with musical composition, namely flickering guitar arpeggios and minimally inserted slow smooth alto saxophone. The relatable content of some of the songs on this record is probably what makes it so sentimental for me, having personally seen what effect mental health issues can have on a person or group of people – especially in young men. John Martyn was expressing a prevalent issue that still needs more attention in our society. I read somewhere that at some point he vowed to never distort his voice again as he was intent on getting his lyrics across – there is serious meaning in what he is saying. But in Solid Air the meaning is heightened by his voice distortion, as it is the thing that evokes the most understandable feeling you get from it. I feel like he gets his lyrics across – and some.
Idjut Boys & Quakerman – Life – The Shoeing You Deserve. I’m not sure there are any Youtube clips but the record is really cheap for some reason so it’s well worth a cop. There are so many trippy samples and effects in these tunes, namely Pay The Fare, with heaps of overlapping delays, which sweep over each other, focused with a tight but also flailing groove. When the vocal samples come in it really gets to me.
Last record you bought?
Naduve – The Race For a Handshake. Picked it up at Rush Hour in Dam. Already know a fair few of the disco halal records but when I listened to this EP, the purchase was a no brainer. Most of the tunes on there are immaculately trippy with an ever-changing narrative and touches of middle eastern sounds. Mastering is perfection too.
Record you wish you could own?
Everything on my discogs wantlist/ categorised iTunes playlists! But that’s too many to mention, so to note one in particular – I’ve been searching stores for War – The World Is a Ghetto for a while. Definitely going to bite the bullet and buy it on discogs though, I can’t find much that really sounds the same as this album. It’s inextricably tied to its time so I guess that’s way. You can tell a lot of passion and soul went into those songs.
Loop Hole’s first event at Wire is on 3rd March, when they will be selecting sweet cuts from dub, house, techno and disco, and giving half of their profits to Simon on the Streets. Check the event here.
Interview by Oliver Walkden