This summer 2017 Tom Bulwer launches Parasol Culture, a vinyl only imprint focusing on quality house and techno with a tinge of “It’s a London thing”. Dutch born Tom, came to London as a UK garage DJ working up his way the ranks of pirate radio stations Freek FM and Unknown FM, to producing and working with UK garage legend Karl “Tuff Enuff” Brown.
For the first release on Parasol, Tom has teamed up with long time partner in crime Anna Wall who previously wrote together under the moniker cassé. This EP is the outp ut of Tom and Anna’s red wine fueled winter months under the same roof in his studio in Hackney Wick.
‘Purple Love’ is a nod to Tom’s affection for the sounds of the French connoisseurs; think Jef K, Franck Roger and Dan Ghenacia. 909 rhythms are inspired by the legendary Jeff Mills and the ever evolving melody line was recorded during late night modular sessions with a head deep in cloud patches.
‘Sunday/Monday’ was a track Anna started waiting for take off at Gatwick Airport she doesn’t remember where she was going but no doubt somewhere exciting. It’s inspired by high altitudes and the retro sounds of acid house. The acid line is a live recording from TB Audio’s Atlantis and Metro giving it the real deal Roland SH 101 feel. For Anna life starts at 120BPM and this marks her second solo record since ‘Broken’ back in 2013.
‘It’s A London Thing’ is for heads that know ‘that ‘feeling when the right tune drops’ Deep stabs and UKG tinged drums drive this housey dub groove along. Big early support from Voigtmann (Toi Toi) over his summer gigs and getting the nod from the master himself , Mr Karl “Tuff Enuff’ Brown.
‘Definition’ started life as a cassé production. It was recorded when Anna had just returned from her stint living in Berlin and Tom had been frequenting many a Toi Toi party on the weekends. Field recordings fuse the track together and the French tip is prominent.
This year Tom is focusing on TB Audio, his analogue mastering studio in East London, and producing music on the deeper side of house and techno as a solo artist. Tom has released on labels such as Nu Faze,!K7 and Signatune Records.
2017 also sees Tom start a new venture with Dexter Kane (murmur, Get Physical), aptly named, Alternate Facts; a vinyl only label and party series; wax and stacks, party before profit, power to the people.
After stints living in Newcastle, Ibiza and Berlin, Anna Wall is rooted back in her hometown of London. Her debut release ‘Broken’ appeared on the 22Tracks ADE compilation, and she’s had re mixes played across the airwaves on BBC 6 Music. In the summer of 2016 she launched her record label The Bricks with an interest in championing up and coming producers, the 3rd release was from the man himself Tom Bulwer bringing their collaborations harmoniously full circle.
Listen to Sunday/Monday below
As a producer your productions have been far between. What inspired you to put out new music now?
It’s been a while since my first release back in 2013, I’ve had some remixes out since then but definitely exciting and also scary to have my own solo material out there now. I’ve been making a lot of music since my first but I think for me it was about finishing work that I’m proud of and having the confidence to put it out there. I’m still learning so much about production so lots more to come.
Parasol Culture is a vinyl only imprint. Do you feel it is important to put your tracks down to vinyl and do you not think that the short run vinyl market is becoming over saturated by labels compared to consumers?
There’s definitely something special and sentimental about having your music on wax, and I love the whole record buying culture. There’s such a big community of vinyl heads that have no idea what’s going on in the digital world which I think is ace. I actually think that the market is in a healthy place, to get a decent distributor there’s still quality control. Everyone’s talked about the ‘vinyl boom’ but I think that’s due to the major labels and re-issues which had a knock-on effect rather than the smaller dance music imprints.
Sunday/Monday comes from a trip through Gatwick airport. At what point exactly did heightened security and extra luggage fees inspire an acid house joint?
I know some people find airports stressful but I think I like flying, it reminds me that I’m about to embark on an adventure to somewhere. I try and get there early nowadays as I have so many hilarious stories and missed flight nightmares. For this particular trip I can’t remember where I was going, but I was obviously on one! I use a lot of field recordings in my productions; the low-fi sounds in this were inspired by take-off.
It seems that ‘Definition’ has been sat for a while…What inspired you both to pull this track out?
We originally made it under the moniker cassé; it’s a project that leant more towards techno and lots of French influences (cassé means ‘broken’) and hence the vocal samples. It’s quite a definitive track for us as it was one of our first collaborations after I moved back from Berlin, and it felt right to bring it out the vaults for this EP.
There is mention of the Intellijel Atlantis being used on ‘Sunday/Monday’. Do you prefer using hardware to produce?
When I work with Tom we get full use of his TB Audio studio, he’s got some amazing kit and a wizard on the modular. Our late night jams usually end up being material that we eventually make into tracks. He’s also got an Oberheim which I’m obsessed with as I love playing the keys and there’s no synthesizer quite like it.
Having DJ’d continually over the last few years do you see yourself more of a DJ, producer or label owner?
The DJing thing started first and foremost. It was a kind of obsessive passion that came out of partying too much and wanting to put my head into something productive while still being invested in music. I’d say I’m most experienced in the DJing as I’ve been doing it the longest; the production and my label naturally followed as I learnt more about the music industry and also worked out what makes me happy.
When you are producing do you think about how a track will sound on the dancefloor?
Quite the opposite actually! Many of the tracks I make are much more deep and ambient, with lots of field recordings and slow builds. So it’s nice to make something a little more dancefloor friendly like this EP.
What is your studio practice like…What does it take for you to create music?
Tom and I like to make a day of it when we can; we both cook so we’ll make something and have nice wine. I think if you’re in a good frame of mind it will always come naturally. When I work solo I work on my laptop in headphones, I love the idea of being able to make music anywhere.
What is next for you?
I’ve just had a vinyl release out on Luke Solomon and Justin Harris’ label The Freaks, a collabo with my friend Corbi remixing Queen drummer Roger Taylor. So that’s been fun. I’m also working on an album project with my friend Josie, follow up EPs with Tom and Corbi and plenty more collaborations. Lots in the pipeline for my label The Bricks, and I’ve just started a monthly radio show on KMAH radio. Keeping busy!