As an artist who has been awarded by Pete Tong as “Best Break Through Producer” and with his music recognized as the “Essential New Tune” several times (most recently with his track “The Future” released on Dirtybird), Tom Flynn is certainly someone to listen to when it comes to making your way as a musician. His advice however, is not to follow his path, but to forge your own. This is a path not found through copying the step by step processes of those who have gone before you, but by listening to what the music tells you, and to the guidance of your heart. Only by doing so can you find the audience that relates to the rhythms you produce.
Having written records with artists that include Pete Tong, Steve Lawler and Roger Sanchez, and with releases on labels like Innervisions, Planet E, Hot Creations and Dirtybird, Tom Flynn has found a widespread audience who discover that something special in the music he creates. Not limiting himself to a specific sound, his work in the studio has resulted in tracks that range from ambient to tech house, techno to deep house (and various undefinable genres), often with different aliases to represent the many aspects of his production styles.
Versatility and variety are a reflection of his personality, which also means both loving to get lost in the studio rabbit hole, while also enjoying a night at the club with others from the committed dance music community.
Covering a range of subjects including creativity, well-being, and originality, it was wonderful to catch up with Tom Flynn for this exclusive FRISKY News interview:
Hi Tom, it’s a pleasure to meet you! Since we’re catching up at the beginning of the year, I’d love to hear some of your highlights from 2018 – what were some of your favorite moments or most proud accomplishments from last year?
Releasing my debut release on Kompakt under one of my other aliases, Last Train To Brooklyn. That was pretty cool. It’s an ambient project I started. Also, releasing records on Carl Craig’s Planet E and Dirtybird would be stand out highlights of course.
Could you share some of the main driving forces behind your music? Do the aspects that inspired you to start working with music still play a role in your work today?
I just like creating. I’m always creating music, sometimes art. I have several different names I go under for releasing music which helps because I can put stuff out to fulfill certain creative ideas. I don’t really think I know what the driving force is behind my music, although I definitely think one thing is seeing my peers love my work; that’s pretty cool when you see someone you looked up to playing your shit.
How has your approach in the studio or behind the decks changed over the years, whether technically or from a different perspective?
I’m more patient as a DJ, I like digging out weird unknown records, I don’t play anything you’re gonna hear in the beatport top whatever, maybe a few, but I generally stay clear of all that stuff, it’s too easy and obvious to play all that. I’m more of a digger. My taste has matured. In the studio it’s not that different, it’s just now I know how to get ideas out my head quicker, but the key is how to get the ideas in there in the first place, that’s the main thing.
Having been involved in the music for so many years, has there ever been a point where working on music has felt routine? How do you balance being in a groove with still feeling challenged or motivated to do more?
Sometimes that happens, but not really, I said to someone the other day, I write how I’m feeling, so if I’m feeling deep or dark that’s where the music goes. Some days I feel goofy and write something that’s cheeky or fun. I’m very versatile, that’s why I can release ambient stuff on Kompakt, then some techno on Planet E then something fun on like Dirtybird. I don’t do it intentionally, it’s just who I am, it’s a reflection of my personality. I could never just sit there and write the same type of track all the time.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your career?
Pleasing myself. It’s hard sometimes, I want the music to be so dope. I just read something from one of the Beastie Boys who said it’s so hard when you finish a record because you just have no idea anymore if you love it or whatever. You can easily lose perspective.
What do you enjoy most about working in the electronic music industry?
There’s 2 sides of this for me; in the studio I like to be by myself, lose myself down rabbit holes for days, weeks, and just get lost in creating. Then on the DJ side, I love being part of this weird community of DJ’s, we travel, do unsociable hours etc. It’s like this commitment to nightlife, to the party, to put on a good time, to share good music. It’s a nice feeling, when you’re in a club and people are there for the music, when you pull out some weird old record and people are like hell yeah this is dope, that’s the club we’re all in together. It’s really a beautiful thing. I feel sad for people who just go to clubs to get wasted and not for the music.
Do you have a favorite music moment – something that will always stand out in your memory?
Being interviewed on Pete Tong’s show or hearing my music on there. It still feels crazy. I used to listen to his show religiously, before going out, getting in at silly hours, recording it on cassette and chopping it up.
What is one of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned that you think aspiring producers and DJs should know?
Get into this for the music. Not for the private jets, or looking cool, or any of that nonsense. If you are so passionate about this music, you’ll succeed. Just follow your heart. Also, when making music, I firmly believe don’t listen to others, don’t watch other people in the studio or follow these tutorials. Think about it, if you watch some DJ in the studio making tech house, the chances are you will go in the studio and try and do something similar to how they were doing it – how are you gonna come up with your own sound or unique thing if you’re doing what they were doing. You can’t discover random unique cool things if you keep watching tutorials copying how they do it. Go in the studio yourself, and find your own formula and sound.
I can tell that the well-being of fellow musicians is important to you – what are some things that you think would be helpful for people to do or know, when it comes to taking care of themselves in this industry?
Listen to your own body. I meditate, it works for me at times when I’m burning out or stressed, for other people they do something else, everyone’s different. Also, do not compare yourself to anyone on social media, don’t worry about followers, likes or anything. Just put out good music, be a good DJ, a good person, help people out. This is a global community.
Could you share the story behind your recent release “The Future” and your work with Amp Fiddler and Claude Von Stroke?
It was just an idea I had years ago and didn’t know how to execute it back then. I have about 8 versions of the track, gave Claude this one and he loved it. Having Amp on the record is just so crazy too, I was reading about him a while back and didn’t realize how much he has done with so many super dope musicians.
What are you excited about coming up this year? Any projects you can share?
EP’s on HotTrax, SCI+TEC, Soul Clap Records, Culprit, Ovum, I also have new music coming out under a different alias, more raw electro and techno, real fast stuff, proper gnarly. You won’t know it’s me though 😉
Is there anything else you’d like to share with your listeners?
I need a new manager and agent, interested? Hit me up!