A long standing member of the Perc Trax cohort, Tom Russell better known as Truss has recently released his ‘Ganymede’ 12” through the London based label. The EP includes two original Truss productions, alongside two phenomenal remixes from Perc, and Birmingham based, Horizontal Ground affiliate Skirt. Following our interview with label boss Ali Wells aka Perc, we were given the opportunity to catch up with Truss ahead of the EP’s release.
Alongside his relationship with Perc Trax, Truss has also spent time releasing with Ear To Ground, and Sigha’s Our Circula Sound imprint. Russell has also developed a fruitful relationship with co-producer ‘Donor’, having released a series of 12”s with the New Yorker.
You’ve released a significant amount of work through Ali Well’s ‘Perc Trax’. How did you first hook up with the label?
I just sent Ali an email with some tracks myself and Greg Donor had done. It was three tracks, and he was interested in signing them, and that was the Indifference EP,the first EP that we put out on Perc Trax, it just happened really easily like that.
So it was work with Donor that you put out first?
Yeah, we’d released an EP on Dumb Unit, and an EP on Synewave, so that was our third EP I think.
You have your next EP, ‘Ganymede’ for Perc Trax following on from 2010’s ‘Osbasten’. How do you think your sound has developed since then?
It’s difficult for me to tell really, the Osbasten one I was messing about with a very swinging rhythm, and I tried to do the same for Ganymede but I think the track that’s telling of where my sound is and where its going is the track called ‘Hackney’ which is the B2 track. It’s a much more stripped down analogue type of sound. I think that’s definitely where my sounds at. I actually wrote Ganymede a couple of years ago, or at least the first version of it about three years ago.
So that would have been about before Osbasten?
Well actually I wrote it after Osbasten, but I gave it to Ali and I didn’t really give it to anyone else and he started playing it out a little bit. Then he asked me if I was up for doing a version of it for a release. I think he felt the mix I’d done was probably a bit rough, and so I went back to it and I accentuated the swing in the rhythm a bit. I quite like the UK sound, I hate to call it Bass music, but that sort of thing. I kind of like to think that in some way my music is quite influenced by that, so Osbasten and Ganymede definitely fall into that.
Do you think its fair to say theres some strong grounding in 90s acid and techno?
Definitely. The stuff i’ve been doing lately is definitely grounded in fairly early 90s acid techno, yeah.
So was the 90’s rave culture a big part of your life? Did it influence the sound you have today?
It was huge yeah, the thing I got into first really was UK hardcore, and it was just through rave tapes back in I guess 1990 - 1991. Then the big thing for me was finding techno, there was a Carl Cox mix called ‘Carl Cox at big bang’ in 92 or 93. I guess you could describe that as hardcore techno as it was known back then. That’s had a massive impact on me and I feel that it has a particular impact on the music I make at the moment.
You have released several 12” collaboratively with New York based producer ‘Donor’. Whats the collaborative process like at such a distance?
It’s interesting because were not able to spend much time in the studio together, so we had to develop a way of working which enabled us to both have an input from a few thousand miles apart. We kind of fell into a system of working which we’ve stuck to ever since, and it usually involves him starting off the track and then i’ll finish it. It seems to have worked quite well so far.
And you’ve done some live shows with him as well right?
Yeah, I’m always uncomfortable with the word live, because I guess a proper live show would be full hardware, and we haven’t had any time to spend practicing it together so when we do do it, I’d say its semi-live. We’ve done a couple of shows together, and its something we’d like to do more of but its very difficult when we’ve both got full time jobs trying to co-ordinate it, so that either I can go over there, or he can come to Europe.
Do you have any more planned for the future?
We don’t at the moment no, I think its down to Greg at the moment because he’s really carrying on with his career. He works for Apple, so that’s taking up most of his time. I think its a case of when he can find some time to come over to Europe for a few shows, but hopefully it’ll happen soon.
You have also released music under the aliases MPIA3 and Meibion. What do you feel separates your work under these monikers from your work as Truss?
Well Meibion was an alias which I haven’t really written and released anything for a while now, that was very much more my kind of anything goes from ambient-to-experimental-to-noise alias. I’ve done a couple of pieces recently which I’m quite happy with which might be getting released, but I think I’m going to write some more and see where it goes at the moment with that. MPIA3 is a project I started just over a year ago and I’ve been pretty surprised by the reaction that those tracks have been getting. That’s definitely more harking back to what I kind of cut my teeth on, acid techno from the 90’s. The production process which I use for that is very different from what I’ve been using for the past few years, Its very much a live take, just with outboard analogue gear. Its jamming with the machines and then hitting record and recording that, then that’ll be the track. Its a very spontaneous sort of thing, its really liberating having spent years of mouse button clicking, its a refreshing way of working.
As well as your own releases you have a rather lengthy back catalogue of remixes. Who has been your favourite artist to remix?
That is really tough. Remixing is a funny one, I kind of enjoy it, sometimes, but other times I’ll take it on and regret it. A lot of the time with remixing abstract dance music, it’s difficult to know where to begin. If there’s a hook, then it’s easy to base your remix around that. But a lot of the time, remixing dark techno, I find it quite a difficult thing to know where to take it, to make it something different whilst trying to keep it as a version of another track. I think there are so many techno remixes of techno records that are so unnecessary. So I don’t know if I have a favourite one (laughs). My favourite would tend to be one that has an obvious melody or hook, something you can hang your hat on. I’ve recently done a remix for these guys, Clouds. So that’s going to be released on Turbo Records in a few months’ time. I really enjoyed doing that because they sent me through a track and as soon as I heard it, I could hear what the hook was, and I got really excited about working on it. I knew that I could drastically change it and put my own sonic stamp on it. But with it being an obvious reworking of one of their tracks.
What are some your favourite tracks to play out at the moment?
Definitely Blawan. He’s a big inspiration to me at the moment. Another big record for me this year has been ‘Tapes’ by IUEKE, which came out on Antinote, a brand new Label from France. Another one has been the EDMX record on a label called Power Vacuum. That’s a really brutally hard 90s-style hardcore techno tune.
And what can we expect to hear from you in the future?
This is the point where I’m never sure how much I can say (laughs). I’ve got another release coming up on James Sigha’s label, Our Circula Sound, and that will be dropping sometime in the next couple of months. Then there’s some more MPIA3 stuff, a couple of remixes and collaboration with my brother Tessela. Gig-wise, coming up there’s one I’m doing on a boat in Paris, then London, Berlin and also Venice with my brother.