For the next Pica~Sounds, we’re joined by a lad from Leeds called Tom Dyer (or TMCT as he sometimes likes to be know). To whet proverbial appetites, here’s a mix from him, as well as an in-depth interview about hip hop, cassettes and hip hop on cassettes.
Listen to the mix below, then scroll down to find out various interesting facts about Tom.
Okay Tom, I’ve got to admit I don’t know too much about you. Where do you live? How old are you? What do you do for a day job?
I’m from Leeds, not too far from you lot. I’m 33. I have my fingers in a few pies... I work in a shop kind of similar to Oi Polloi actually a few days a week, I DJ once or twice a week and run the label. I’m also a new dad. That’s definitely a day job but the best thing in the world.
I know you play a lot of hip hop. When did you get into it?
I can’t really remember where it came from. There was definitely links with the things I was into at the time, like basketball and skating. I loved hip hop and R&B mostly then, but I was still listening to soul, jazz and Brazilian stuff the way I am now. I think a lot of that came from listening out for samples when I started making beats.
There were a small group of us making music then and a little group of MCs. Leeds actually had a good thing going on in that respect back in the day. We used to hit a bar called Dr Wus every Thursday which is long gone now. My mate Eliphino used to play Mobb Deep, Noreaga, Primo type instrumentals with an open mic. They were good times.
It’s hard to say exactly what hip hop I’m into. I’m not sure I’d even class a lot of it as 'hip hop' as we know it. Just whatever moves me. I went through a big stage just loving out loads of Detroit stuff early on. I like raw sounding music.
I know a lot of people have that mind-set with hip hop, where they think it had its glory days in the mid-90s, and don’t listen to anything after that. What are your thoughts on hip-hop in 2017?
I get where people are coming from with it but man, I’d be so bored just listening to the old stuff still. It’s hard to answer cos it depends what’s even classed as hip hop now. I struggle with the majority of new rappers. I generally find something to cringe about in a lot new 'hip hop'.
A lot of it is forced. It’s rare that both the MC and the beat are equally as good too… a lot of regurgitated disposable shit. That’s not saying there isn't some good stuff but it’s refreshing when that’s the case, which is a shame. There are a handful of rappers I listen to.
I do listen to a lot of beats. Kind of instrumental hip hop I suppose but it’s hard to pigeon hole. I listen to as much soul, jazz and funk as I do hip hop, but it’s all linked. I hear hip hop in all of that.
What’s Acorn Tapes?
Acorn is a label basically dedicated to the music that we love. It’s an outlet for us to release artists we're into the world over. We've built it up over the three years nicely with 17 releases to date. Some artists are better known than others but that’s not the point for us. We just want to release music we like and I think people who have been with us from early on trust our judgement a little bit now. It’s very loosely ‘hip hop’ but its music that lends itself to the analogue format.
We started it shortly after we closed our previous business. It was a side project then. We didn’t really choose tapes. It kind of just happened naturally. We wouldn't have just started a music label. It was always going to be cassettes. We were buying loads at the time and we knew that was what we wanted to do.
Cassettes have come full circle a bit now and more and more people are releasing them again. Why do you reckon this is?
Sadly I think it’s because they're seen as 'cool' now. It's a little annoying but I suppose it’s kind of good at the same time. They're in bloody Urban Outfitters and stuff. Apparently Tyler The Creator is releasing his next album on cassette.
I don't know... people like nostalgia.
Did you buy a lot of tapes growing up? What are your memories of them back then?
Oh yeah. Everything I had back then was on cassette. I even had 'Do The Bart Man' by Bart Simpson on tape. Embarrassingly one memory is recording R&B shows by Steve Smooth Sutherland and Trevor Nelson on a Sunday evening trying to just record the tracks I wanted live. But R&B was still on the verge of being good then.
There were a couple of pirate jungle and hip hop shows around then too with loads of stuff that was totally new to me. Funny now. Making my own mix tapes. Cutting and pausing everything. It took some effort. Swapping mixtapes between mates... it’s nice to reminisce over.
It’s strange how things come back around. Do you think there’ll be a time when MP3s are cherished in the same way vinyl and stuff is now? Will Creative Zen or iRiver MP3 players demand high price tags on eBay?
Haha, just you wait. Moving away from music now… am I right in saying you used to own a clothes shop in Leeds or something? What stuff did you sell?
Yeah man. About six years ago me and Dan who I do Acorn with now used to run a shop here in Leeds called Open Lifestyle Store. We sold all sort - homeware, records, tapes, magazines, grooming bits and clothing. We sold brands like A Kind of Guise, Garbstore, Soulland, Han, Reigning Champ, Lafayette, Tantum, Ebbetts and a few lesser known brands too.
It was wicked. It was all stuff we liked.
What clothes are you into now?
I like Beams, Battenwear, Neighbourhood, AKOG, Satta and Carhartt. I’ve got too many 70s Converse but I’m not into spending loads on stuff for the sake of it anymore. If I really, really dig something then there are exceptions but to be honest I like a bit of Uniqlo.
What sort of stuff do you think you’ll play at Pica~Sounds?
A range for sure. Hip-hop, a bit of 60s-70s sweet soul and jazz, some late 80s R&B and smooth funk probably.
What else are you cooking up at the moment?
Who knows what’s on the horizon? Loads coming up with Acorn. Another compilation and a few really exciting releases in the making but its top secret for now. Hopefully I’ll be dropping another tape of my own in the near future too if I get time.
What else are you into?
I’m no spring chicken anymore. I’ve got responsibilities and I’m enjoying it at this stage. Lots of family and friends time, just enjoying the simple things and the things that are actually important. I need a hobby though aside from music - something that will help me lose this lil beer belly. Oh yeah that’s what I’m into… beer.
Okay, I think that’s all I’ve got… any wise words or thoughts you’d like to add?
Be yourself. Be nice to people. Don't judge too quick. Change things up every now and then. Don't sweat the small stuff. Don't get stuck in a bubble. Don't worry about what other people are doing. Don't do things because you're 'expected to'. Do favours without wanting anything in return. Focus on what’s important... have a good time.