Tom Tyler/J. Saul Kane Interview

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We find Tom Tyler (above left) on a short break after recently releasing the electronic - jazz - hip hop sample-athon of Asleep at the Switch.

Tyler is a new addition to J. Saul Kane's (below left) DC Recordings label, where Kane performs as Depth Charge, Octagon Man and more. We manage to get a few words from Kane as well.

Thanks to both for cool sounds and lively talk. And a thanks to James Dyer at DC for helping out with the interviews and providing the photos.

AmbiEntrance: How did "Asleep at the Switch" get onto DC Recordings? What was your first impression of meeting J. Saul Kane?

Tyler: Well I first got in touch with the label a couple of years ago. I sent them a demo which they decided to release (as "The Right Information" ep), and we've just taken it from there.

I didn't actually meet J. Saul Kane until last year when we did a little DJ tour in Germany. I was expecting him to be a bit of a moody bastard to be honest, but he's a good laugh.

AmbiEntrance: Why the title "Asleep at the Switch"? It certainly sounds like you're on top of things...

Tyler: I came across the phrase in a Kurt Vonnegut book and it kind of stuck (it's not a common saying in The UK, so most people think it's a reference to being stoned in the studio). First of all it made me think of browsing through second hand record shops and flicking past these records which could have the most killer sounds and samples on them, but you just pass them by. It then just made sense for the album in general, cos I could have made it alot better. I'm a bit of a lazy fucker by nature, and I spent too much time watching TV instead of working on it.

AmbiEntrance: You cover a lot of ground here style-wise; what's your musical history and who are some of your influences?

Tyler: I got bit by the Hip Hop / Elecro bug in about '84, then got into funk and Jazz stuff from about '89 onwards when my friend set up a little studio and started digging for breaks and stuff. The nineties were all over the place really, deep house, techno, dub, ambient, all kinds of stuff. I suppose my main influences at the moment are Soundtracks, 70's Library music, Jazz (Miles, Pharoah Sanders, Marc Moulin etc) and Hip Hop of course, but other things always tend to creep in there.

AmbiEntrance: What are your instruments/electronics of choice?

Tyler: I've got a very basic setup, just a Macintosh, Akai sampler, bass guitar, a couple of analogue synths and little Mackie desk. I havn't bought any new kit for ages, because what I've got has been sufficient for what I've wanted to do.

I do want to build my studio up now though, there's a modular synth I want to get hold of and I need to gear up more for live recording, decent compressors and mics, stuff like that. I'm also gonna switch software... I've been using Cubase for the last ten years, and it's far too easy to slip into very linear, block like arrangements with it, so I'm gonna go over to Logic Audio and see what I can do with that.

AmbiEntrance: Using an example from "Asleep...", can you describe how you developed a particular track from concept to completion?

Tyler: The most enjoyable was "Wonderful Wino Radio"..... visited local 2nd hand vinyl emporium, purchased a bottle of whiskey on the way home, fed old records into Akai and Mac, fed whiskey into stomach, messed around, laughed alot, passed out, mixed down to DAT in the morning with a rather large headache.

AmbiEntrance: You seem to share J. Saul Kane's affinity for samples; With "Kilgore Trout" and the UFO samples of "Undupitably", I wonder if you've got a bit of of sci-fi fan in you?

Tyler: Yeah I do like a bit of Sci-Fi, books mainly. I'm well into Iain M Banks, William Gibson, Phillip K Dick, stuff like that. I'm really into Kurt Vonnegut as well, as you can see from the album title and "Kilgore Trout" I get quite a few track names from books I'm reading at the time, like "Chewin' The Chew-z", that came from a Phillip K Dick book.

AmbiEntrance: Some of the samples lean more toward the comedic... Obviously, there's George Carlin (in "Wonderful Wino Radio"), but who's the voice who says he wants to be cremated and have his friend smoke him? Isn't that an old Richard Pryor bit, slowed down to an old man's voice? Why these samples?

Tyler: I can't actually remember who that is as I sampled it years ago, but I do know it's definitely not Richard Pryor. Basically the samples made me laugh, and I like to have a bit of fun in the studio. Most of my tracks come out sounding quite deep and serious, but that's not really what I'm like, it's just how I like music to sound. The comedy aspect just lightens things up a bit, shows I'm not taking things too seriously.

AmbiEntrance: I understand "Shatners Bassoon" will be used in a movie soundtrack; can you give details on how, where and when this will be?

Tyler: The people at the label are getting heavily into the film side of things, they've been doing the "Made In Hong Kong" video label for a while, and they're also distributing arthouse films in the UK and are moving into production, so obviously they're picking up alot of contacts in that field. Basically someone asked them to submit some music for a film project in France, so they sent some of my tracks in and "Shatners Bassoon" was chosen for it. Then I found out that the film was produced by Luc Besson and that people like Massive Attack are on there as well so I'm really happy about it. It's called "Exit" and I think it's just been premiered at Cannes. I've been told it's released some time in June in the UK but I'm not sure about the rest of the world.

AmbiEntrance: Comment on the current state of electronic music; where do you see yourself in that mix?

Tyler: I'm not really up on much current music at the moment so I don't think I'm qualified to comment on that one, but I have heard some great things, and also some very bad things, so I suppose it's business as usual really. I have been buying quite a bit of Hip Hop though, and I'd say things are pretty healthy there.

Where do I fit into it all? I don't know, and I don't really care to be honest.

AmbiEntrance: What's next for Tom Tyler?

Tyler: A studio overhaul, as mentioned above, then just getting down to work on some new tracks - DC want more albums out of me so we're talking about that at the moment. I want to change the way I work and move it forward a bit, so I'm taking a bit of a break at the moment to take stock of things.

I've also been working on some tracks with James Dyer as "Stromba", and we're gonna do an album for FatCat, so I'm looking forward to that. That's all that's in the pipeline at the moment.

J. Saul Kane

AmbiEntrance: It seems you keep your plate very full with DC Recordings and Electron Industries, Depth Charge, Octagon Man, Alexander's Dark Band, Tet and others... can you help sort these all out for us?

Kane: I think the only way these things can be "sorted out " is by the person hearing them and making their own mind for myself they all seem to be different parts of the same

AmbiEntrance: Tell us about your love of kung fu films, etc.; how do you apply this to your music?

Kane: since i was a small boy I went to the late night cinema near where I lived the way these films were constructed and what they were trying to portray became part of my psyche.....thus came depth charge the nature of heroes was born

AmbiEntrance: I hear you just got back from Cannes; what was your overall impression?

Kane: my overall impression was a bunch of people talking about money...some with, a lot without. The other impression i got was if you had a complex about the way you looked it was not the place for you!

AmbiEntrance: Your music seems like it might come from some wild-and-crazy party-person, but in "real life" you're apparently quite straight... how do you explain this dichotomoy?

Kane: I have kind of explained it the way in which things that I like are created is the way I try to make tracks!... be it tv, cinema, music ,art or anything which involves a number of forward thinking decisions trying to predict the future in an artistic way......strange ,no?

AmbiEntrance: How did your early days of DJing prepare you for your current producer/artist roles?

Kane: try not to make crap records! AmbiEntrance: How do you personally differentiate between Depth Charge and Octagon Man? When you're creating new music, do you know beforehand which it'll be released as?

Kane: yes it seems to be very straight forward for me ...but a little less these days!

AmbiEntrance: You use a lot of samples from movies in your music... have you ever done any music for movies? (I'm picturing you scoring a martial arts flick, of course...)

Kane: no but some people have used tracks of mine in movies....but not the way i would like!

AmbiEntrance: Using Lust 2" as an example, can you tell us where some of your samples come from?

Kane: no

AmbiEntrance: Speaking of "Lust 2"... I loved it, but where does the "lust" part come in exactly?

Kane: er.......

AmbiEntrance: In Octagon Man's "Ito Calculus" you use a lot of "electro-orchestral" stringsounds amid your experimentalism... is there a symphony buff in you somewhere?

Kane: symphony = epic.....i love epic ...... epic epic epic .... more epic please

AmbiEntrance: Comment on the current state of electronic music; where do you see yourself in that mix?

Kane: whilst one is recording it can be destructive to look over ones shoulder.... as one may crash burn and die, this is not on the agenda......

AmbiEntrance: How's the new studio coming along? What are your plans for it? (i.e. upcoming projects from you and/or others?)

Kane: to make interesting succsessful music of different types... 1st to finish a new depth charge single for the summer...then??

AmbiEntrance: Thanks for your time and input... any closing words you'd like to add?

Kane: i usually am quite quiet when talking about my own veiws so not really.......

This interview posted May 29, 2000 | Interview Index

AmbiEntrance © 2000-1997 by David J Opdyke (except CD cover art, rights retained by original owners).