Mention the words ‘Jeff Mills’ or ‘Techno’, and the rolling hills of Wales do not immediately come to mind. But for a young Tom Demac, digging through the latest Tresor records in his local vinyl shop was a revelatory experience, and salvation from the “hardcore and gabba” that Tom tells DT was “probably number one in Wales record stores back then”.
It’s been a long journey for Tom Demac from his youth in Wales to becoming a mainstay of London institutions such as Hypercolour and AUS, and arch remixer for heroes including Roisin Murphy and the Pet Shop Boys. The journey wasn’t simple. ‘We all used to jump into my Peugeot 205 and make bi-weekly pilgrimages to either the Orbit in Leeds or Birmingham’s Atomic Jam’ says Tom with the air of a man who knew where he wanted to go from the very start. From these early “rave pilgrimages”, the young Welsh techno nomad found a likelier home in Manchester, where university lectures took a backseat to ‘learning how to produce in Reason, my student credit card maxed out on purchases of outboard synths and mixing desks’.
Like a magpie with an affinity for gleaming new sounds, Tom has gathered an enviable studio of analogue devices. A feature with FACT magazine in 2014, where Tom was given 10 minutes to produce a track from scratch, highlighted the young producer’s versatility in the studio. At the heart of Tom’s sounds are the infectious baselines which abound in tracks such as “Critical Distance Pt. 2” and “The Shuttle Awaits”. His favourite toy, he says, is his ‘Kong Monopoly’. Its effect, simple: “bass-line heaven”.
Now rooted in London, Tom’s releases are rippling in unusual places. A recent remix of the Pet Shop Boys ‘Say It To Me’ – a synth drenched piece that conjures whispers of darkest club corners before climaxing with a euphoric breakdown – reached number 2 on the Argentina iTunes chart, beating out tracks from Calvin Harris, Justin Timberlake and Lady GaGa. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. Locked away in his studio for the past year, much of Demac’s magic has been scattered on what his audience is yet to see. “Opening myself up to collaborative work has been key,” Demac tells us. As well as scoring music for adverts with composer Philip Kay, Tom has been working with vocalists on original tracks to be released in the coming year. “One artist I’m particularly excited about is a singer called Will Morgan,” Tom says, “He’s got hints of a young Thom Yorke to his vocal, and features on a number of my new tracks”.
Seclusion can be tough for the young artist, and Tom admits himself “very emotionally attached to my music”. Followers of Tom’s Facebook page will be familiar with the face of his cat nestled among bass traps and tape machines. But away from the studio, Tom credits his girlfriend as deserving “a medal” for living with his musical obsessions. Turkish breakfasts with local shop owner & purveyor of double deckers, Ken, have helped keep sanity in check, too. As 2016 comes to a close, Tom’s efforts are bearing fruit. As well as a host of remixes, Tom recently debuted a new original, “Hanging Flowers of Albion”, in a video promoting an upcoming set for London party-makers Moodroom Collective & Chapter 24 Records on Saturday October 15th at the new Kamio in Shoreditch. “It’s released on the Hypercolour 10th anniversary compilation in November,” Tom tells us. He promises us more original tracks are on the way. Will we get a chance to hear them on the 15th? A wry grin. “Definitely”.
As our conversation continues to move closer to home, we discuss how Tom’s adopted city of London faces uncertain times. Following the closure of Fabric, and with silence falling on venues such as Dance Tunnel and Shapes in recent months too, Tom opens up about a city he feels is “becoming just for the elite, with late licensing laws crippling events and promoters”. Dance culture is not the only victim to the changing face of London, Tom feels. “I think all creative industries are feeling it. London has always been expensive but rents are getting out of control and creative and studio spaces are getting shut down every week to make way for fancy flats. The Fabric closure is the nail on the coffin in a long string of closures, and the reasons for closure from the council in a forward thinking, affluent borough of London were just archaic and completely out of touch”.
Echoes of breakbeat in a recent remix for British twins Ardyn mark an unusual turn, but the spirit is quintessentially Demac. Whatever the future for London, Tom’s path is clear. Keep innovating; keep surprising. Where will that take him next? The world is waiting.