UE.9: thomas tms
Give it a few years and Thomas ‘tms’ Midgley will be a name on everybody’s lips. The Yorkshire born-and-bred beatsmith is currently one of the North’s best kept musical secrets. A record collector, producer and DJ known for the wizardry and eclecticism of his output, Thomas is slowly but surely making waves in all the right circles. With releases in the pipeline on the forthcoming label arm of the Louche franchise, Urban Essence caught up with Thomas at his Leeds residence to talk about the early years, his new-found passion for German techno and an amusing incident involving Nicolas Jaar.
Hi Thomas, thanks for your time. First off, could you please introduce yourself for us.
Well I’m just a beat head from Yorkshire. I DJ and make beats ranging from far out hip hop to gully techno.
How did you first get into electronic music, DJing and production? Am I right in thinking you are first and foremost a big hip hop fan?
I got properly into electronic music around 2006 when I first went to the West Indian centre in Leeds. I was blown away by the sounds and the bass. But I’ve always been into music, I played the drums as a kid. I got into making beats when a guy I used to buy weed from gave me a copy of Ableton, I didn’t really know how to use it but I got the basics down and started making drum and bass loops and the odd dubstep wobbler.
Yeah, I’ve always been in to hip hop. You kind of have to growing up in Huddersfield, there’s the whole Jehst legacy. I love the whole hip hop culture: graffiti, b boys, blunts, 40s, all of it. But I’d say first and foremost I’m a funk, soul and jazz man. That’s the first music that I really felt a connection with.
You studied in Leeds. How influential was the city in shaping what you do? Which elements inspired you in particular?
Yeah man Leeds is amazing, there’s always a party going on somewhere and people are always up for a session. However more and more I feel like the club nights are getting stale, they have some massive bookings but the vibe just isn’t there. Of course there are still nights that keep it real, like Louche, Butter Side Up and Cosmic Slop, but I personally think Leeds needs a new venue with just a massive sound system and a strobe light.
Subdub and Exodus were the first nights I went to, mainly because it was the only place that I could get into at 16. I learnt so much about DJing from going there, just getting to the front and watching. Then obviously Tribe records was the place to go get records from. I pretty much spent all my student loan in tribe in my first year at uni. More recently I’ve been getting some nice records from Waxwerks; they haven’t got a massive selection but there are a few gems to be had. I also have a secret little record shop just outside of Leeds owned by a miserable old Yorkshire man but he’s got all the classic funk and soul joints.
What really influences me in Leeds is that there are just so many talented people making dope music and art, and most of them haven’t had releases or anything, they just do it for the love of it. All the Loose Onion clique: Slobodan, Venuq, Lazarus (aka slippery Lez). All the real W.Y crew, Bambooman, C Jay, Diddy and all the enjoy family, The Louche boys. Vic 53. The list is endless..
Your productions cover quite a broad range of styles, from slow tempo hip hop beats to recently more banging techno. Is this just you experimenting and finding your sound? Or do you think you’ll always enjoy producing different types of music?
I’m not in this to be pigeonholed, I’m in this to make music. I don’t listen to just one genre of music so why should I only make one genre of music? Its easy to just stick to what is popular and what will get you a booking or a release but fuck that, I make what ever I’m inspired to make.
I’ve been making techno because I recently spent some time in Germany and you cant help but make techno after going to Berghain.
Rumour has it you’re going to feature on the soon-to-be-launched Louche record label. Can you tell us a little bit more about this?
Well I’m not saying too much but me, Ste Waite and Josh Tweek (founder of Louche) have got some bombs lined up..
I heard some story on the grape-vine about Nico Jaar really liking some of your beats. Could you share the full story with us?
Yeah that was a good night. Josh Tweek was warming up for Nico and he was playing loads of my beats. I was in the ridiculous queue on my own trying to get in and I could hear my beat on the system. Basically Nico heard one of my beats called Space Muffin and I think he described it as beautiful, the best thing about it is I made most of that beat on my phone.
Are there any other releases on the horizons? What does the future hold?
I really like DJing especially when I get to play for like 6 hours so I’ve just stated playing at HIFI at their funk and soul nights. It’s quite a lot of effort to get enough good music to fill out six hours but it’s such a good laugh. I have also started a residency at a new night called Catacomb which is a night based around just playing interesting electronic music and the first one went down really well.
I would like to get more gigs just playing house and techno though to be honest.
As far as release go I’ve got a lot of music ready to release but I’m just waiting for the right label. I want to be connected with the label. I don’t want to just give my music to any one to release, I want it to be done properly. I am doing some stuff for Bamboomans project Health. I like working with Bambooman because I can be as creative and as abstract as I want and I know he will dig it.
Ive also stated a project with one of my friends called LeftHandDown, we’re going to be send some beats out soon.
In the meanwhile catch me at soundcloud.com/thomas-tms!