INTERVIEW: T. BUNTS
T.Bunts, could you provide a brief introduction of yourself?
“So Hi I am Tom. I DJ and produce under the name T bunts and operate from Sheffield in the UK. I grew up in Redding on the outskirts of London. Since adult life I have been into dance music. It sparked when I was 17 years old during the Dubstep boom in London. At first I was into bands and explored electronic dubstep vinyls. I got into house music when I bought Serato instead of vinyls: instead of getting vinyls I got mp3s.
Later on I went to produce with Logic and released productions over the next years but at some point I lost my momentum. Since the past two years I found back my momentum and during this pandemic I started to focus back on full time music production.”
How and why did you get into electronic music?
At first, I was into bands and acoustic music and later on into dubstep, but the first introduction was during this Dubstep boom in London. I was like what is H is this??? I started clubbing into London and went to Ministry Of Sound and Fabric on Friday nights. This was where the big dubstep heads played at the time. At twenty years old I went into Fabric on a Saturday and experienced a completely different sound. I remember I discovered this proper house and techno music and I immediately fell in love. By the way: Friday and Saturday in Fabric were completely different at that time so it was a kind of revelation to be honest.
So how long did it take before you discovered Fabric on Saturday nights?
Like a year and a half or so haha.
So is this vision of sounds of Fabric still going on: meaning is the difference still noticeable?
It’s slightly less of a divide but Friday is still more bass music. They’ll have dubstep and drum and bass, so mostly like bass music whereas on Saturday you could have a romanian minimal headliner or proper techno artist playing. However, the complete difference of vibe, clientele and sound is less than it was before.
I felt more of a connection to the DJs during those Saturday nights. Also that’s because of the longer sets they used to play. It was more of a journey on a night with an extended warm up and later on peaking with bangers than it was a night full of small sets with bangers only. For example like that time Appolonia played a warm up in the afternoon, from 6pm or so, with 5 hrs of exploration of house music. Brilliant.
So Tom, did you have any early role models? How is this different from your current role models?
Mm I’d say the role models have changed, but the first people I was admiring were the major techno names during those Fabric nights like Richie Hawtin, Loco Dice. I went to Ibiza and entered Space where we were going to see Marco Carola, but because Carola was sick I saw the most influential set of my life played by Capriati. From there on Joseph Capriati was a big influence during those early days for me.
“Joseph Capriati was a big influence during those early days for me.”
Did this influence also develop your taste?
Yeah, I would say those names inspired me to produce more seriously. I wasn’t trying to push a sound really, but at the time I worked with logic, learning and messing around with stuff and that was the sound I got on. But really, nowadays, the sound is quite different. My role models are different, less bigger names so to say.
Were you DJing during that time?
I have always been DJing. I had my own night in a small bar in Redding and went there on Thursdays and since then I have been DJing solely. The scene is bigger now than when I was messing around though. In terms of production I was more of an in-and-out-of-it music producer and I would mostly get inspired by those nights out clubbing in London. These experiences – nights out – definitely got me motivated and on board of it. Production didn’t come naturally per se. I consider myself quite musical and played piano at a younger age, but I had troubles getting my ideas onto the computer.
Why and when did you start producing? What was it that made you wanna do it?
I felt like it almost was a necessary part of a DJ career. DJs always play music and that’s what I wanted to do. It was fun to play all the gigs but it stagnated at a level and I thought production was necessary to take my career to the next level. So I got myself Logic, started messing around and I got lucky getting to genuinely enjoy the process of producing. But I had to get past that stage to get to produce. When I got to the stage of playing music for people that I made myself I was definitely content with the fact that I wanted to produce more music and had to do it. By this, my inner motivation was set.
Does producing have to be supplemental to get there as an artist. Do you think the trade has changed?
I do think the trade has changed. 100%. I think it’s not impossible to solely DJ and not produce, but it’s a completely different task to create a name for yourself and more. All we want to do really is to play a lot of music and gigs, because that makes us happy.
However, in the current state of the dance industry you can’t get those bookings if you don’t have the right tracks backing you. Most producers come from DJ backgrounds. Also, I think I might have missed the era of the DJ where it was about the DJ as an art in essence really.
Maybe if you own a label or be the face of it you can make a career as a DJ without tracks, but nowadays it is more of a standard in our industry to have them back you.
How would you describe your sound?
Someone asked me this earlier on. I went and bought a synth last year when we were allowed into shops. So the seller asked me what kind of music I make. I think I answered something like: “I make the minimal end of deep house.” A lot of people call it minimal, but it has changed from what it used to be. What I used to consider minimal is far from what I make now.
“I would say I make the minimal end of deep house that is quite focused on groove.”
It is not necessarily minimal, but it does not fit into deep house either. It is just good house music ideally.
What is/are the most important element(s) in your sound?
Mmm, so I guess when I synthesize I mostly go with a bouncy base line. I got a Moog MINITAUR, just a bass synth. I bought it when I played it in the shop. It’s the first analog kit I got and I have been using that a lot trying to make my own basses. It fetched me quite some groovy basslines.
Moreover, I use built in sequencers in Logic and I sample stabs and pads and try to process them. These are the most important elements for me: those basses and melodic sequences.
Your first releases have a very different sound than your latest work, could you please describe the difference between your earlier and current work?
I guess it was just what I was listening to at the time. My track on Viva music and Lemon-Aid were more tech house, but tech house is not what we call tech house today. That whole sound was a more Darius Syrossian sound.
My influences have changed: I listen to London sounds like Fuse and the dutch lads such as Toman and ANOTR. It is just the sound and labels that I listen to and try to reflect that in my own sounds today. I don’t see myself making one sound really. I do listen a lot to more minimal music actually and try to take elements from these producers to see what they did and try to incorporate it into my own sound..
We see a period of non activity in your Records output (2016-2020). What did you do during this period and what made you go back to producing and releasing in 2020?
Haha. What happened in the gap? I went to Ibiza with a plan to produce and basically didn’t.
I got myself a laptop and a keyboard and thought I went on to the best summer with new experiences, contacts and inspiration to produce but it didn’t. Basically went out clubbing for five months and got fucked. Got myself no production done: in five months I did not finish anything. All I did was go to all the parties and have a lot of fun, but when I returned to the UK I had really killed my momentum and I struggled to get back to production.
I wasn’t finding the time, wasn’t making time and wasn’t into the flow of it. I didn’t completely stop, got in and out of it. The next period of three years I went on with a job and DJing a fair bit, but no production done and no sending out tracks to the labels. Thats why.
All I did was go to all the parties and have a lot of fun, but when I returned to the UK I had really killed my momentum and I struggled to get back to production.
In that three years I stopped drinking. It didn’t instantly flick a switch start to produce fulltime, but I was still DJing a lot. It did, however, start a process of getting more production work done and when the pandemic hit and I lost my job I decided to use all my spare time on music production.
I started to treat it as a nine to five and refell in love with production really. It is not the stuff I was releasing in 2016 but it is the stuff I have a passion for now. I definitely found a silver lining in what some find a shit year and I got something positive out of it.
Where do you produce your music?
Just in a spare bedroom in Sheffield really. That is like my studio/office/gym.
And what is your music production routine? Any specific tips you want to share with our readers?
So, I kind of split. Sometimes I go to a track from scratch and start with a kick drum and focus for as long as I can on creating that 16 bar loop and get a coherent groove from just drums, basslines and percussion. Copying that for like 6 minutes and trying to arrange from there.
I’ve always used Logic and kind of considered Ableton a number of times since I hear people talk about the benefits and what not. But the Live View in Ableton just doesn’t work for me. I’m just undecided which one I prefer.
If I have a track that I like and I want to make more of the likes of it I will just strip it down back and forth. Having all the channels in there and all the midi data available in order to make a template. Sometimes they make up quite the same, but sometimes I will go into a whole different rabbit hole. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
Would you be so kind to share with our readers any tips on producing?
The main thing that improved my productions over time is just to simplify. I used to overcomplicate stuff and overprocess sounds. Also looking up all these immense hard mixing techniques and frequency techniques. And then, when I stopped that and started putting more energy into sample selection it felt like it just transformed my sounds.
In general, currently I am far less mixing sounds and I am just way happier with my productions now really. If I could give anyone a tip I would say it is not about having these expensive plug-ins that apply this magical compression or saturation that makes your tracks work together. it’s more about thinking about every little sound you put into that track and what it is adding to it really.
The main thing that improved my productions over time is just to simplify.
In a way, I am doing less now but my production is far more better.
What hardware and software do you use? Any specific gems you want to share?
I use Logic as software and have analog hardware like the MOOG MiniTour. With regard to plug-ins I use the Nicky Romero Kickstarter. It costs about ten pounds and it’s probably the best money I have ever spent on music production. All it does is duch the volume on the track. Instead of having to put a compressor on and putting your settings in and sidechain it to your kick, it just ducks on every downbeat. It is a super simple plug-in and I would recommend it to anyone.
Do you sample yourself? And if you do, what do you sample?
I do not sample myself so much really. Sometimes I sample vocals from crap of Youtube. I do use sample packs. If you like a producer just go and see if these have a sample pack. And of course the classic 808 and 909 drum samples.
I use Kontact as my main sampler and you can just scroll through samples and hear them realtime. This gives me a chance to really pick a sample that works by auditioning it. Next to that I make up my own sample library really. I collected ridiculous amounts of samples over time and it is impossible to sort through them all, but when I do, finding a sound that pops or has some character to it and filing it makes you just building your own sample pack and from there you can really start building your sound.
What is your solution for projects which get stuck in the creative process? How do you finish these projects?
If I ever get stuck, like staring at an 8-bar kick drum loop and I can’t think of where to go next, I simply listen to a track of a vibe I’m going for and to what notes the track plays. Let’s say that this track in this key plays these three notes. I set them in my keyboard and just try to create a bassline around it. Or sampling bass loops and trying from there.
In terms of finishing I listen to various sound systems to figure out any irregularities in de sound recording. Listening all the way through and making notes of these errors is quite common for me. I also make notes when I hear other tracks for a reminder if I ever want to build something from it.
So, what are you planning to produce in the near future?
Currently, I am making slightly more minimal stuff. I stopped making tracks for certain releases since it stops my creativity in a way. I am just trying to produce what I feel during that day. In essence, it is more of producing and then afterwards selecting where that track should be released later on. So we’ll see.
Monster Truck Experience, AMPLIFY. What was your inspiration for this project?
I watched Tarantino’s Film Reservoir Dogs and it has this weird like monotone radio announcer that comes up part way through the film. He’s talking about winning these monster truck extravaganza tickets and I thought that’s kinda weird. So I searched for it, found it and sampled it. I really enjoyed mocking around with that sample. I was gonna call it “Monster Truck Extravaganza” but changed it to “Experience”.
In terms of the sound, back then I was listening to a No Art track and it had this funky sound to it. I was going for something like a playful dancefloor oriented track and that inspired me to work on this project.
How did you go through this production process?
Haha mate, do you know what? Since it was over a year ago, I can’t really remember to the fullest! I do remember I was going for that No Art sound, but ended up completely different.
It had two sine waves in it and some scatty bits of percussion and a flanger on high rate, but really, I can’t really remember how it came together.
What do you really like about this track?
I love the vocals. It’s a weird monotone and just flows throughout the track. The pads and synth are also a bit weird and are therefore my favourite.
There’s really a lot going on in the multiple chord stabs and glitches, and the call- and responses flow really nice throughout the whole track. Did you deliberately come up with this or did this originate organically?
I worked on purpose around a call and response pattern of some kind in this track. I think it really helped me to keep it all coherent and still yet playful.
Where does this track really need to be played, in your humble opinion?
I felt it was going for a dinghy club banger really. It is far from like banging warehouse techno but it has this weird glitchy vibe to it so an underground club at 5pm most likely.
Amazing man. Thanks for the interview and really looking forward to the release of Monster Truck Experience on UNMUTE001 – AMPLIFY on the 28th of February!
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