Tommy Holohan recently spoke to Slam ahead of the Scottish duo celebrating 25 years of Soma Records. They spoke about their humble beginnings, their rise to the top and meeting up with Daft Punk.
Q. With another strong line up this year at ‘T in the Park’, could you explain a little about how you first got involved with the festival?
A. “Our involvement in T in the Park came about from being booked to DJ at the first ever T festival at Strathclyde Park. After appearing we were asked if we’d be interested in becoming more involved in the programming and booking of the festival’s dance content – and hence the Slam Tent was born. Now we bring some of the best cutting edge and diverse electronic artists to Scotland every year.”
Q. Your project Slam Present Transmissions is based around bringing new artists to the forefront of the scene. How do you come across the right tunes to release?
A. “There are so many talented electronic recording artists based in Glasgow now – when putting the Transmissions album together we had a spoil of riches to choose from. We contacted all the artists personally to pitch the album idea to them – after all the tracks came in it was just a case of choosing our favourites in an order that flowed to our ears.”
Q. You’ve kept a label releasing top tunes for over 25 years, birthed the career of top artists like Daft Punk and have one of the best radio podcasts on the scene at the moment. When you first started off did you ever think it would be this big?
A. “We don’t think anyone knows when starting anything in the music business just how long it may last or big it may become – we tend not to reminisce much and have always had a forward looking ethos. Also Soma has never considered financial renumeration as a primary driving factor in decision making which we feel has help our longevity. So here’s to the next 25 years.”
Q. How did yous two meet and first start off producing / DJing?
A. “We met while working in a big bar in the West End of Glasgow and slowly gravitated towards each other through a shared love of the same types of music – fighting over who’s mix should be put on. DJing then was not the career choice that it’s become today – it was a real burn for us both to play the music we loved to a wider audience. From then it was an obvious jump to start making music, with the proliferation of more affordable hardware, and still being full of the DIY ethic of the Punk era we started SOMA.”
Q. Have you any advice for young artists trying to break through into the scene now?
A. “The main piece of advice we’d give – is to have your own sound, believe in the music “you” love – and have conviction and attitude to play the long game – not look for instant adulation and success.”
Q. What’s your favourite piece of hardware or equipment you have in your studio?
A. “Would have to be our “modular rig”. We considered buying a Dopplefer years ago but the price was prohibitive. So recently there has been an explosion in cheaper small niche producers of units – it’s not the wall of modules we’d like but it’s incredible, if not a bit unpredictable – but the sounds we’re looking for are the one’s you can never imagine finding.”
Q. Between producing, running festival tents, running a label and playing gigs, which do you prefer the most?
A. “We have a great team around us – and none of this would have been possible without them and all the hard work they do, but it’s still the DJing and studio that we love the most.”
Q. You have a new album ‘Machine Cut Noise’ releasing later this month, which will be your sixth LP. Why did you decide to producer another album? Did you set out to do an album or was it just how it unfolded?
A. ““Machine Cut Noise” was an album born of writing songs when we where on the road – in airports and hotel rooms. You’d have played the night before or just come back from the club and had a vibe from something you’d spun – we wanted to catch that moment of inspiration quickly. Before we knew it there was a album’s worth of tracks – so it was slightly unplanned , but to us all the tracks had a thread running through them.”
Q. What’s next for Soma/Slam?
A. “This year is Soma’s 25th year – which has just started with the the release of Envoy’s – Dark Manoeuvres – Remixes – from Norman Nodge, Dax J, Tensal and SHDW & Obscure Shape – so that’s out soon. We then have a very special limited triple vinyl album on the way; one record ( A ) with new tracks from producers that have been instrumental in the development of Soma – second ( B ) is a collection of remixes of back catalogue Soma tracks by newer artists and a third ( C ) which is exclusive Slam remixes and re-edits of highly influential tracks from the past, plus much more. For Slam – we have our usual unforgiving tour schedule with trips to the ADE, Australia, Concrete in Paris, Georgia and Chemical Brothers support, plus others – and back in the studio to start work on a couple of secret projects with some friends – but more on that at later date.”
Q. Lastly, do you still keep in touch with Daft Punk?
A. “Yes we do – met up with Thomas a couple of months ago in Paris for dinner, Guy was out of town. It was great to see him and have a catch up – we’re so proud to have been a part of their history.”