A suitably engaged Tom Showtime began collecting and spinning records in London in early 2000, seemingly motivated by his musical surroundings. After returning home to Melbourne in 2008, he releasedThe Showtime EP and followed up with EP3013 last year. After spending five years in the UK collecting records and focusing on becoming a DJ, he was messing around with beat making although at the time, it wasn’t something he considered serious. Upon his return home, he independently released The Showtime EP creating some interest from local labels.
“Then my wife and I bought a café,” he says, “which was an amazing yet time-consuming affair. Needless to say the tunes got put on hold. I got into a routine of hitting the studio a few hours a week and making a couple of nice beats at a time. So when it was time to put an album out, I had lots of tracks to build on.”
Otherwise, life is good in the 3013 for Tom, who is speaking presumably from his home in a Melbourne suburb with the same postcode. “I got into music at an early age – my mum is a gifted musician, playing tuba then double bass. I’m guessing that’s probably where my obsession with bass lines comes from!” Indeed, starting on trumpet at age 12 and moving on to sax a few years later, Tom found himself attending music schools and learning not only theory, but also how to enjoy music through performing, listening and creating. “The soundtrack of my life had shifted from jazz and funk to hip hop,” he explains.
“I was off, already diggin’ in the crates for what may be my next inspiration. Funnily enough it happened in London when I discovered the Fat City/Grand Central Records sounds of Rae & Christian, Aim, Quantic and Bonobo. Trip hop music was where it was at for me; I loved the beats, the hypnotic melodies and hip hop flavorings – it really moved me. I started making my own downtempo tunes, playing a lot of sax on the records and things progressed from there.”
Not surprisingly, music is now his life. He claims he is in a good place at the current moment with the new album done and some time to focus his attention elsewhere. “I’ve got a 45 coming up on Groove Penguin Records called Funk Pants in collaboration with The Psyde Projects; I’ve also been making beats specifically for MCs and am working on a cheeky remix and cutting up a very well known album. It’ll be a free download, so watch out for it.”
Which brings us to the album – The Jam Thief. The lead single – Spaces & Places – features collaborations with Gift of Gab, Lotek and Ash.One from Melbourne. It is a track he considers “truly unique”. Likewise, he reflects for a moment on who he might like to work with in future. “Actually, I’d love to work with some singers - Andreya Triana is amazing, Alice Russell or locally Kylie Auldist. It’d be great the hit the lab with Australian head-nodding masters Hermitude, Katalyst or Flow Dynamics.”
And he admits that nothing on the album occurred by accident. The sound is typically eclectic with Tom suggesting his diverse influences directed the sound for his debut record. “You’ll find nu-funk bangers, jazzy hip hop, downtempo tracks, an afro-beat inspired tune and some reggae - it’s all held together with little interludes as well. No matter what style or genre I’m producing it always has its foundations in trip hop with spaced out cuts, warm sounds and plenty of delay. I like to make tunes that I can play horns over, so I’m always conscious of that in the production process. It’ll be interesting to see which one people like best.”
No less, being released on local hip hop imprint, Obese was also a triumph for Tom. He continues: “I sent my EP to them in 2008 and Pegz considered it for release only to reply that although it was good, it wasn’t quite at the level it needed to be. I was told to come back when I had an album ready and at the end of 2011 that’s exactly what I did, The Jam Thief was picked up for distribution and that was that. The Fatter Than Ya Mamma people are great to work with and come April 13, we’ll have made something tremendous together.”
For Tom too, seeing people getting down and enjoying his sounds is the biggest reward. “I see a lot of people getting into the shows – especially the live sax routines. Supporting Prefuse 73 and Blockhead was my first big gig and that was nerve racking back then, playing to a packed Prince Bandroom. Warming up for The Nextmen was also good times.”
There have been plenty of good experiences for the lad actually – all of them an honour – and he sends a shout out to everyone that’s played a part. As for his gigs, he suggests that the punters should probably expect good behavior (!) and a new live show, which involves cinematic visuals, signature sax riffs and special guest MCs with Tom cutting up original tunes with a turntable and sampler.
Sounds like just the ticket, no?
Tom Showtime’s The Jam Thief is available from Friday April 13. He presents The Nice Up every Friday at The George Lane Bar.