In the hazy sunshine of Hospitality in the Park GIGsoup caught up with Tom Green, a.k.a Rockwell.
His eclectic dance floor sounds have taken him all over the world, from Ibiza to his show last night in Amsterdam. Sleep deprived but incredibly friendly, the DJ and producer chatted about his background, drum and bass and the closure of Fabric.
How are you enjoying the festival so far?
Well, I live just down the road. I walked here. It means I don’t have to get an Uber home! Or a flight, or a train. I’ve just come from Amsterdam on no sleep! I’m seriously flagging! I’m on the ropes!
Is there anyone that you’re interested in seeing today?
You know what I’ve been touring d’n’b for a while and I think I’ve pretty much seen everyone. I think I’m going to hang out and catch people on a social vibe today actually! Well, I may see LSB. We used to work in accounts together and never actually seen him DJ! Maybe catch a bit of Spectrasoul and then go and harass Friction. Just because its funny I guess!
Tell us a bit about your background?
I was working in fashion for a couture fashion company, in high fashion houses! I went from doing quality control on dresses who were worn by Madonna on TV fashion campaigns to playing d’n’b in scuzzy little clubs!
Ever been tempted to wear a couture dress for a show?
Maybe I’m if Louis Vutton want to hook me up; my channels are open, but I don’t think I’m their target market.
What prompted the change in career?
The 2008 financial crash. Shout out to everyone selling sub-prime mortgages! I actually got made redundant at the time and when that happened my tunes were getting signed. So I was still applying for jobs and trying to get back into fashion, but before I could I got offered agency representation. And I thought; may as well see where this goes. It’s been six years and I’m still not sleeping on the weekend and stressing out in the studio in the week.
Your music is quite usual. What influences to you draw on in your production?
I think I’m too d’n’b for people who don’t like d’n’b and not d’n’b enough for people who do. A lot of the time in d’n’b people will hold you in comparison to big artists. If you compare me to Andy C and that’s your benchmark, then you’ll find I’m nothing like Andy C. If you compare me to Noisia and that’s your benchmark you’re going to think I’m s*** too.
I just do my own thing; I’ve got a wide range of influences that don’t consist of d’n’b. I listen to a lot of old dusty 90s Chicago house and electronica like Hudson Mohawk. I also like the stuff coming out of Night Slugs and labels like Fade to Minds. The way they use space is really interesting. In d’n’b, its difficult to use space because it’s quite claustrophobic music; just because of the speed it is. You can see the old 90s influences in tunes like ‘1234’ and ‘Detroit’, definitely.
What kind of space do you like to perform in?
I like small venues I like festivals, I like performing in a variety of venues. It keeps it fresh.
Right now a lot of d’n’b artists like Andy C are putting out tracks or playing more tracks live that have a large house influences. Do you think this is the direction d’n’b is moving in?
My music has always had a lot of house influences, as you can hear in tacks like ‘1234’ and ‘Detroit’, which all based around 4-4 beats. Four-to-the-floor While there are more tracks getting released that do do that, I think it’s more of a phase.
What are your thoughts on Fabric’s closure?
I can understand where they’re coming from, after all if there was venue where there were deaths happening, of course they’ll be pressure to shut it down. I don’t believe all the rumours about it being turned into flats, have you seen a single window down there? The only thing that space can be used for is a cold store, which is what it was before, or just another club.
If you had to choose one; drum or bass.
Drums, I like writing riffs.
This Rockwell interview was written and conducted by Zoe Anderson and Andy Xhu, GIGsoup contributors. Photo by Marylou Villegas