TCTS was first introduced to me back in August, fresh off the heels of his release on Chase & Status’ MTA label, ‘Games’, by Mike who insisted we bring him in to play our re-launch party for version 2 of the site. I checked it out and was hooked and after he slayed our party he’s stayed on our radar until the time has been right to see what he’s up to and introduce him properly to you guys.
It’s not hard to see why we clicked, his reference points are the same as ours, he grew up in the same area of the country as we did, and like him Mike and I have certainly enjoyed decadent nights at Warehouse Project, under Manchester Piccadilly Train station.
TCTS, or Sam to his mother, has just released the ‘Body EP’ on MTA, an infectious slice of masterful production and has really benefitted from some shrewd guest vocalist selection. We caught up with the rising producer recently and although he is maybe still finding his feet, this is absolutely not the last you’ll be hearing of TCTS.
You released Games last year, what’ve you been up to since then?
Since Games came out in the summer I pretty much threw myself straight back into writing the new Body EP, alongside playing lots of shows.
you still based in Manchester? What kind of influence do you think being based there had on your music?
I actually moved from Manchester to London about a year and a half ago. It was a tough decision but made sense for me, I’ll always be Manchester’s biggest fan! That city had a massive impact on me – especially studying there and being introduced to things like Warehouse Project. Manchester has a really strong music scene and is full of brave and dedicated promoters meaning there are always great parties going on.
So you used to play more guitar music before you got into house. What were some of the bands you were listening to around that time?
I grew up listening to guitar music and playing in bands with my mates. I think it really helped me coming from an instrument background and playing piano and guitar since I was young. I guess that translates into my music being quite musical / song-led rather than super ‘beatsy’. I was into bands like The Postal Service, American Football, Foals, Bloc Party, At the Drive In, etc. Usually stuff I found interesting but also a bit poppy.
What was the name of the band that led to TCTS?
Haha nah, I was playing my first DJ set and needed a name for the flyer; to be honest it just kind of stuck.
How do you think growing up playing guitar music has affected your writing process?
I think there is quite a lot of musicality in my tracks; I enjoy writing songs and having a touch of pop sensibility in the music. Pretty grateful now that my mum forced me along to piano lessons when I was little.
You got into electronic music during your time at University, which I’m assuming wasn’t that long ago, relatively speaking? Do you think that you’ve found your sound and your place in the electronic music scene yet or are you still defining that?
Growing up in a relatively small town the club music scene was terrible. I knew I loved house but wasn’t able to fully explore it in a decent club environment until I got to Uni. One of my mates had introduced me to a lot of Ed Banger type French house at college and then I got to Uni and the dubstep, garage and house scenes were massive.
To be honest in terms of my sound, I think it will always be developing. There is quite a difference between something like Games and Coupe De Ville, but I think you can tell they’re all me – which I like.
Who are some current producers that are inspiring you?
I’m currently listening to a lot of Jamie XX, revisiting old Daft Punk, stuff coming from the BOSO label like Gardens of God and Few Nolder and the new Scuba and Brodinski albums.
I’m always interested in the role of the internet; making it easier and easier for up and coming artists to get their music out there. How much was this a factor for you in the beginning? Because at the same time, Manchester has a pretty vibrant scene so I’m sure playing out and getting involved locally was equally as important?
Man the Internet is such a great tool. When I was studying and just sticking music on soundcloud I put a track called Like This on my local BBC Introducing uploader and sort of forgot about it. I randomly got an email from Huw Stephens’ producer telling me the track had found its way to Huw and he would be playing it on Radio 1 that evening. That literally kicked things off for me. Playing out was definitely important for me cutting my teeth as a DJ and I was lucky to get support from mates who ran club nights, but BBC Introducing online was the thing that helped me get a foot in the door.
What’ve you enjoyed playing out in your sets so far this year?
There are a few bits I really look forward to playing at the moment. Jonas Rathsman is killing it right now; his new Wolfsbane tune has been a standard for a bit. Theres also a Claptone remix of Gregory Porters Liquid Spirit. I’ll also always stick a bit of Little By Little, wAFF, Oliver Dollar in too, that type of thing.
Are you doing the festival rounds this summer?
Yes, I’ll be at places like Hideout, Love Saves The Day, SeaDance in Montenegro, Creamfields, Mutiny, and then a few others that I don’t think have been announced yet! Can’t wait, festival season is the one.
What other plans have you got for 2015?
I’m currently cracking on with the next release, which I’m excited about. Really can’t wait to get stuck into festival season again, its always massively fun. We’re also aiming to get out for a run of shows in the USA/Australia before the year is out.
Is an album on the cards?
Yes, but I’m not rushing it. I enjoy writing EPs and the freedom it gives you to draw a line under four tracks and then do something fresh. I like the idea of committing to creating a full album, but I’m not doing it until the timing feels right.
Intro: Tom Kirkby
Interview: Mike Evans