By Andrew Reilly
Thomas Bullock, otherwise known as Tom of England, is considered well traveled even among his worldly contemporaries. From Tonka Soundsystem to Wicked, Tom has been at the forefront of dance music’s most landmark movements. Alongside Eric Duncan as Rub N Tug, he’s heralded the kind of free-flowing style and eclecticism that hearkens back to the more hedonistic times in dance music. He’s among an elite group of DJs whose sets are coveted as the stuff of legend and he’ll be bringing those impressive handles to LA this Saturday for Fieldwork’s inaugural gathering.
On November 12th, you asked to play from start to finish. We’re excited to host such a special night. How does playing all night change your approach?
It’s the only way to fly. When we were kids, raving it up, we all wanted a go, couldn’t wait, lining up to get on. But it’s no way to play a nightclub. You want to stretch out and let the thing unroll by itself. Let it happen, just guide it in. Sucks if someone’s going to jump in just as you’re turning the corner to a whole new vista. What’s the point in that? Makes no sense. Like catching a wave and someone else riding it
What do you want to show the people of LA this time around?
How to hang back and let go. Go for the long one. Connect with each song. Share love with your fellow dancers.
Throughout your career, you’ve been apart of many storied collaborations – what is it about each of these projects that unlocks your creative juices?
The person I’m with is the inspiration. It’s the same when you’re DJing. You’re playing for each person in the room. It’s group collaboration, live.
What artists have been inspiring you lately?
The mezcal producers I’m hanging out with down in Mexico. Old fellows who’ve been crafting away for decades never imagining anyone beyond their remote pueblo was ever going to know.
Given that it’s the 25thanniversary of Wicked this year, how formative was that time for you as a DJ and artist?
What, the early Wicked jams ? They informed my life more than my music. Your music philosophy is already in place before you start playing. But playing helps you discover who you are.
For some years now, you’ve been enveloped in the culture of mezcal and mezcal production – how has your understanding of that culture changed over time?
I’m learning that it’s affected in the same way all community based craft cultures are, from skating to playing records, it’s the same with mezcal, we’re under threat from certain individuals trying to make money out of it. But they’ll learn. You can’t capture the thing you love.
What’s going on with Mezcal Circle Club? How have those sessions influenced your perspective on music production?
It’s taught me that you can make great music in the time that it takes to play it. I’ve never liked programming, hunched over the laptop, that sort of thing. The MCC allows me to get loose. There’s a free jazz element to it. Pour primo mezcal all over the top of that and it just goes off.
What projects do you have on the horizon?
I’m in Oaxaca writing a book on mezcal for Quarto Publishing. In February I’m going to Indonesia to record an LP of indigenous musicians for Island Of The Gods, a label by UK champ Danny Mitchell. And then chill!