Hello, I’m Tom Rockwell and I make fast music based around the music I listen to - centering mostly around footwork, grime, house, hardcore punk, hiphop, electronic, and of course, drum and bass.
Hello Tom Rockwell, we're Magnetic - you're kinda rad. You're also fresh off the release of your new four tracker and featuring in the Shogun Audio showcase at Andorra's snowy underground Horizon Festival next year. But yeah, you knew that. Gondola's, paintball, raving in the deep dank forest and hot spa cinemas galore - there'll probably even be some of the white stuff - SNOW!
Rockwell (also the frosty one, Icicle) are preparing to go hell for broke in an avalanche of audio come March 28th- but in the meantime, cuddle up and get cozy with the man below...
'A Chorus of Disapproval'. 1984 play written by English playwright Alan Ayckbourn and.... your new EP title! Do the two have anything do with one another? Where does the name stem from?
There’s also a old school hardcore band called the same thing, it’s a great name. It resonates with me due to the nature of the music I write. I understand in Drum and Bass terms that what I write isn’t for everyone. The strange thing is, based upon on what I listen to, it seems quite palatable - yet every time I submit a tune to the label they write back telling me I’m off my rocker. I don’t think I’m THAT weird, but I suppose compared to a lot of the utilitarian tunes around at the moment, maybe I am. The EP title refers to how certain things I play out are received in a club setting.
Speaking of titles - in a non-feminist ranty way, we’re curious regarding the ‘hoez’ in the tune ‘Hoez To The Floor’ - what made you use the term and what's it mean in the context of the tune?
I think I’ve listened to so much ghetto and booty house that maybe I’ve become desensitised to the foul language. It was in the vocal I was using to get some inspiration and vibes going, but I ended up leaving it in. I was so used to hearing it in the tune that it sounded weird when I took it out.
A key theme seems to be your keenness to deviate from the ‘norm' and have a point of difference - as a result, there’s a lot going on in your tunes. Is there even more before you strip them back or do you start small and layer up?
To be honest, most of the ideas are written really quickly, then taken apart and almost written again but with more layers and textures in order to make it technically sound. I do like to put a lot into my tunes, but all the barely noticeable little quirks are the things that are inherently ‘me’, personality wise. Some of it is quite deliberately tongue in cheek as I’m quite a silly person by nature.
Can you tell us about something you’d like to achieve or explore musically (or otherwise!) that you haven’t yet?
I would like to do some live stuff but probably not with this project. The tunes themselves have no ‘live’ element to their construction and are born more from a constant refinement over time. I feel that from a musically creative standpoint, there is little to be gained from performing them in such a way. I wouldn’t feel fulfilled pressing play on a ‘live’ laptop set under a huge light show, or being surrounded by a band recreating my music where all the live elements are happening around me at the hands of session musicians. There are people that do the live thing well, but based upon my skills and music catalogue, I’m unsure of how it would work without it being a bit bait.
You’ve recently mentioned (thanks Hammo Cranno!) that the tracks you play in your sets have got to impress you or fit a certain criteria. Can you put into words what that criteria might be?
The most important things I look for in tunes are energy - similar influences to those that I have - groove, at least a half decent mix-down, and fun. The last thing is missing in so much Drum and Bass, it’s either po-faced European Tech or Minimalism, or on the other hand, saccharine Liquid Funk. I want the tunes that sit somewhere in the middle.
That being said, are there any smaller artists who have impressed you lately?
There’s a guy called Lakeway in Bristol, and also a label called The Dreamers who have a knack of dredging up amazing tunes from unheard of producers, so I’m rating them highly.
How often do you attend drum and bass raves as a straight participant- do you enjoy that side of it or does it just hurt your ankles really bad?
Being honest, not that often. Drum and Bass is not a scene that moves very quickly and I've seen everyone I want to see so many times that if I have a night off, I’d probably venture out to something completely different. There are notable exceptions of course. Certain nights in London like Index and 20/20; I know most of my mates are going to be there and that the music will be on point. Same with Fabric, when it was open. I like to go to rock gigs when there are good ones on, and club stuff like Dance Mania.
Finally, easy one, best part about being part of the Shogun fam - go!
Having complete creative control on my output and having great laughs with all the other guys on, and at the label.
Aww warm fuzzies!
Rockwell is appearing at Horizon Festival on 26th March - 2nd April where you definitely will not feel warm, but most probably fuzzy.
Get on board the disapproval train and buy the EP here.