FOWL PLAY : DAM MANTLE IN INTERVIEW



Taken from “The Skinny.”

“Since 2009, Tom Marshallsay has been quietly producing diverse, avant-garde dance music, pushing at the boundaries of bass music, house, ambient and techno, edged with dashes of neo-folk guitar, jazz flourishes and post-rock time signatures. With high profile remix work under his belt for the likes of Gold Panda, Gonjasufi, Errors, and more recently for the likes of up-and-coming artists like Aches, Zebra and Snake, and Graphics, he’s an in-demand producer with an ever-evolving style. With previous EPs on labels such as Growing, Creaked and GETME!, including 2010’s First Wave album, he’s back on our radar once more with an eight track album on Gold Panda’s Notown imprint, entitled Brothers Fowl. The album sees Marshallsay embracing a warmer sonic palette, with emphasis on jazzy house on Lifting, and mellow, sun-flecked breaks on the majestic, two-part Canterbury.

“I think it’s definitely warmer, hopefully in a few different ways,” says Marshallsay over a half of ale in Glasgow’s Halt Bar. Outside, the wind and rain have momentarily cleared, allowing a glimpse of blue sky – a fitting moment to discuss the lush, organic sounds onBrothers Fowl. “In the first place, the Dam Mantle project was about wanting to break out of, or challenge what I was originally making music with; traditional rock instruments, folk instruments, basic songwriting structures,” says Marshallsay. “It got to the point where I was making fairly digital, maximal music – which I was enjoying making, and I guess I see those tracks as experiments. Some I was more pleased with than others. But I think all of these other influences were sort of sitting, and I thought, maybe at this point I felt comfortable enough to put them together and air them.”

Where do the jazz textures on the album come from? “I guess it goes back to when I was playing bass guitar, and getting taught jazz bass,” Masrhallsay continues. “These influences are from an earlier stage of when I was listening to music – buying less dance music and more second-hand records, hunting things down.” A confirmed vinyl addict, Marshallsay is a big proponent of physical formats over digital: “Physical releases have more longevity. The way my attention span works, and how I remember things, enjoy things; for me they have to exist outside of the computer. Apart from putting things on a device to listen to while I walk around the streets, I have to have it off of the computer somehow to really feel that it exists, or that I can enjoy it fully. But that’s just me.”

He was keen for Brothers Fowl to exist as a vinyl record: “I love vinyl, I wanted Brothers Fowl to be on vinyl, and it’s as simple as that. I don’t have any place to tell anyone that they shouldn’t listen to mp3s. Maybe they do sound a bit shit, but it’s not for me to say.” Does he think vinyl is a viable format for the music industry in the modern era? “It’s a huge fucking debate, talking about vinyl,” he says. “Unless you start melting down records yourself – which is something I really want to do. There’s never been a cutter up here, someone who cuts and presses vinyl. I’d love to be able to do it, starting by meting down old records. Because really, that’s what should be happening. But it’s not that sustainable. Vinyl’s made of fucking oil, it’s got to be shipped around… it’s expensive. But saying that, people use shitloads of electricity listening to their iPods and charging them every day, so…”

Brothers Fowl was in the making for a year or so, and then “my friend Derwin, Gold Panda, offered to put it out,” Marshallsay explains. “I finished it, and I was unsure what to do with it. It had taken a while, and then it got to the point where I just wanted to give it away, but we decided to press it and do it properly, so we screen printed the covers and stuff.” The new release is part of an ongoing creative partnership between Gold Panda and Marshallsay: “We toured together two or three years ago, did a little UK tour, hung out, and got on really well. We’re on a similar page, with the music we’re into. We’ve toured in the US, in Germany and again in the UK since then.”

Is the music on Brothers Fowl made principally with analogue gear, or using computers? “Pretty much every sound comes from outside the computer, but the computer is a totally central part of the music,” Marshallsay explains. “It’s the tool which I use to collage everything together. But I just prefer the sound I get when I use the equipment I have around me. I’m lucky enough to share a studio with friends who own a lot of synthesisiers, and I’ve always enjoyed the sound of tape, and of records; although this is maybe the first time it’s been evident. I guess Brothers Fowl resembles the music I was listening to at the time, and still am.” Marshallsay is an artist who resists genre tags: “All the artists I really respect are people who haven’t done just one thing. I mean, of course you use genres like you use words – words aren’t going to qualify what you really feel, ever, but you have to use words to get at those feelings.”

Marshallsay is a GSA graduate – what are his thoughts on the creative community that has flourished for years around the School of Art, sometimes referred to as the ‘Glasgow Miracle’? “The Glasgow Miracle, to me, is kind of a ridiculous concept,” says Marshallsay. “I can see that there are great things happening here, but in terms of why that is… the people around me who are making stuff are doing it because it’s real, they’re just doing it because they are able to do it here. You can live surrounded by your friends here, you can put on gigs yourself. If anything, it’s a hands-off attitude – it doesn’t have anything to do with anything other than people establishing communities for themselves. As far as I can see, it’s as simple as that. Maybe it’s got something to do with rent prices, or the weather – you could speculate on it all day. But I do feel part of a changing community of people making stuff, and of course it’s massively inspiring.”

For Marshallsay however, this DIY spirit and the collaborations which entail are not “site-specific.” He has spent 2012 working on several forthcoming recordings in cahoots with other players. The first he describes as “basically a band, but done over the internet, sending music back and forth with some people in London.” A record by the band project is slated for next year. “I guess I’ve realised that working with people is what I want to do,” says Marshallsay. “You can do amazing things on your own, things you won’t do with other people. But in the past year that’s become a huge part of what I do.” Other ventures on the horizon include a co-project with Glasgow-based producers Silk Cut, under the name Lovers’ Rights. He and Richard McMaster of Silk Cut also recently collaborated on a sound art installation for the Sonica 2012 festival. “It’s really exciting, because you’re just bouncing off of someone else,” he says.

Lovers’ Rights is nearly ready for launch, with Marshallsay predicting some live shows from the duo in late December. “When I was making Brothers Fowl, which was most of last year, we had a studio in an old school,” he explains. “Rich and I had all the synths set up, and we were just jamming and having a good time.” A planned EP is due out in February, and the first Lovers’ Rights track was showcased on a split single with a track from Brothers Fowl earlier in the year. “I don’t want it to ever become more than us just making tracks and playing out,” he says. “I’m excited about it – we’ll see how it comes off. The EP is coming out on High Sheen, which is nice, keeping it within Glasgow. We’re working on new tracks – we have a couple of sketches which are just on MPC and reel-to-reel, and we’ll be arranging those on a computer and finishing them off.”

Another collab, with an emcee based in the US, is still under wraps, although Marshallsay hints: “One track has strings and drums, lots of polyrhythms, really different influences – some of it’s almost like spiritual jazz, quite ’70s. Some of it’s post-punk or disco…. or something. Some sort of weird cohesion.” The collaborations have kept him energised and inspired: “I’m just really excited about working with different musicians – for instance in one track, I wrote a beat with a sample – a kind of swung, polyrhythmic beat. I sent it to my two collaborators in London, and one of them played that sampled part on the drums. He totally adapted it. So for me, it’s just a case of working in new ways, I guess.”

Does Marshallsay think his time at the Art School gave him a good mentality for the musical work he does? “It’s definitely shaped how I see things, and how I live,” he says. “Somehow, I was lucky enough to spend three years of my life just hanging out with people, discussing, debating, thinking and making. It’s a real fucking privilege. Even just to come to Glasgow and be surrounded by musicians and artists – it was pretty dope. It’s totally shaped me. That’s the nature of studying art – I don’t think I wanted [the tutors] to necessarily teach me; I don’t know what they could have taught me. But the people, and having the space to do stuff… like, if I wanted to just stay up late and make tracks, which I probably did a little bit too much, I could do that, just because it felt right. You had that space to make. It’s a shame that the majority of people don’t necessarily have that. I’m very grateful.”

Three years into the project, how does he keep Dam Mantle’s live sets interesting for him as a performer? “The word ‘live’ – even that’s quite problematic,” he offers candidly. “There’s not really another word for what I do, but live isn’t quite right. It’s not DJing – although it’s kind of a form of DJing, but with music that I’ve created; playing samples and loops. But it’s important to me to keep moving – I kind of want to take the set I’m using now and change it a bit. I feel like I’ve been playing some of the same music for a little while. It is important, and I do enjoy it – I feel like I’ve got control over what I play. I really enjoy playing stuff that I won’t release, or things that have yet to be released – because I’m performing from a laptop, I can do that. I guess I’m a bit more excited about the live shows for Lovers’ Rights – it’s just two MPCs and a couple of synthesisers. The band thing, too – but although we will get a record together, playing live is quite a long way off. It’s difficult – the other members have three other projects, and they live in London.”

How important is the visual side of things to Dam Mantle? “I’m very interested in music for image,” he says, “but I don’t think I’m that concerned with creating visuals which somehow relate to the music in a live setting. The typical club VJ thing… for some reason, I just don’t have the energy for it. But I’m interested in doing music for the moving image in a separate context. My best times in front of the speakers, it’s been dark, and I haven’t even been looking at the DJ. I’m not really that arsed about visuals.”

Marshallsay’s thoughts on the importance of performance and visuals for electronic artists are revealing: “Over the last few years with the Dam Mantle project, it’s been less important to me for people to know what I’m doing – because really, however difficult I make it for myself, I’m still going to be a guy pressing buttons,” he says. “It doesn’t really matter. As long as I know what’s happening, and the music coming out of the speakers is right, and it’s good for the audience and good for me, then that’s kind of what matters. There’s a tendency to feel the need to be gimmicky, and in the past I’ve been interested in the different ways you can do electronic music live… I still am, but in the vast majority of cases, in a club, people just want to have fun. You don’t necessarily need to dress it up.”

With a year of collaborations, releases and live performances planned, it seems the future is bright for Dam Mantle – he has become an important landmark in Glasgow’s ever-emergent musical landscape, trading in the kind of thoughtful, complex and experimental electronica for which the city is gaining an ever-growing reputation, thanks to Marshallsay and his contemporaries, like Konx-Om-Pax, Silk Cut and Tut Vu Vu. Could Marshallsay ever envision a cross-over with some of Glasgow’s celebrated indie bands, perhaps producing an album for someone? “I think in the future, I’d definitely be open to ideas of production work, but it would have to be the right thing,” he says. “If I could find a middle ground and I like it then yeah, of course I’d be totally open to that. The majority of music I listen to is band music. It’s probably not quote-unquote ‘indie.’ But yeah, I’d be totally into the idea of producing live music.”

An artist with incredible diversity in his short but fascinating back catalogue, Marshallsay’s reputation as one of Glasgow’s most sought-after producers will continue to grow, and more importantly, to change. “I’ve tried to make each record work around a certain idea, or feeling, or palette, and for that reason they’ve all been quite different,” says Marrshallsay. “The last thing I’d want is to get another record from an artist which just sounds like the last one.” In the case of Dam Mantle, that prospect seems decidedly unlikely.”





LIXO – NTS – 11/01/13



1. Colin Stetson – The Righteous Wrath Of An Honourable Man
2. John Talabot – When The Past Was Present
3. Luke Abbot – modern Driveway
4. The xx – Sunset (Jamie xx remix)
5. Les Sins – Fetch
6. Nina Kraviz – Ghetto Kraviz (Alex Kid edit)
7. Darling Farah – Bruised
8. Flako – Lion’s Mane
9. Lianne La Havas – Elusive (S Type remix)
10. Julia Holter – Marlenbad
11. Joe – MB
12. Falty Dl – Our House Stab
13. Gerry Read – We Are
14. Orquesta – Tengo Que





INDEPENDENT LABEL MARKET







BLEEP TOP 100 OF 2012 ON BOILER ROOM








LIXO : NTS : BEST OF 2012







PAVED WITH GOLD



The extremely talented Cieron Magat & Nina Manandhar present “Paved With Gold”, featuring music from Slime and Vondelpark.

‘London. for those who want to live and die here. there is no greener grass. no beach under the paving stones. the streets of London are paved with gold.’





LIXO – NYE MIX



Lixo has done a NYE mix ahead of his dj set at our large NYE party at Birthdays in Dalston.

1. Joe – R.E.J Bit
2. DVA – Fly Juice (4×4 mix)
3. Happa – Beat Of The Drum
4. Dark Sky – Hequon
5. Kode 9 – Black Sun
6. Cassie – Me and U (Mak and Pasteman edit)
7. The xx – Angels (Shadowchild remix)
8. Mosca – Dom Perignon
9. George Fitzgerald – Needs You
10. Julio Bashmore – Pelican
11. Hackman – Your Face Pulling My Hair
12. Fourtet – Sing (Mosca remix)
13. Untold – Bones (Joe remix)
14. Ossie – Ignore
15. Artifact – Burst
16. Playmodul – Null Vier
17. Dillon – Your Flesh Against Mine (Coma remix)

Advance tickets available HERE.





SLIME IN THE BOILER ROOM



Check out Slime playing saxophone for Nautic at last week’s Young Turks Boiler Room takeover.





JOHN MAJOR LAZER



The elusive John Major Lazer make their first and last appearance at our NYE party at Birthdays, check out the mix they made us.

Track listing :

1. John Major – Concedes Victory (Election ’97)
2. Underworld – Born Slippy
3. Rustie – Surph
4. Ruff Sqwad – Died In Ur Arms
5. Musical Mob – Pulse X
6. John Major – Resignation Speech (Election ’97)
7. Gang Gang Dance feat. Tinchy Stryder – Princes
8. Stereophonics – Dakota
9. John Major – Put Up or Shut Up (’95)
10. Trim and Roachee – Lord of Lords
11. John Major – On John Smith (’94)
12. Two Inch Punch – Moonstruck
13. Sky Ferreira – Everything Is Embarrassing
14. Andrew Marr – On John Major
15. The Streets – Weak Become Heroes