A modern day breakbeat master.
Ed Russell, aka Tessela is one of the few and far between geniuses when it comes to making a club slamming, breakbeat, jungle-infused track. Not even mentioning his work alongside his brother Tom, otherwise known as Truss, on their Overmono alias, Tessela has almost single-handedly brought back breaks from a musical niche to a wider audience of techno fans.
His first release under Tessela came on Irish label, All City Records, and since then he has reached the heights of labels such as R&S Records and his own Polykicks. Best known for his tracks, ‘Nancy’s Pantry’ and ‘Hackney Parrot’, he makes his return to Dublin this Saturday for Surface Dublin at Hangar. Jordan Kinlan and Tommy Holohan spoke to him earlier about his roots, why he started Polykicks, and his return to the emerald isle.
Jordan & Tommy: Thanks for taking time out to speak to me today! How has your 2017 been so far? I’ve seen that you spend a couple of intense weeks in the studio with your brother.
Tessela: This year’s felt like a bit of a whirlwind so far. It’s probably been the most creatively intense period I’ve ever been through and I feel like I’ve still got a way to go yet. Which is a good thing, lots will come out of it. And yeah me and Tom recently went for a short writing trip to this studio Devon Analogue. It’s an amazing space set in the Devon hillside but I got home and realised I needed to rewire my entire studio.
J&T: You’re making your return to Dublin this Saturday for Surface at Hangar. Are you looking forward to it? You’ve been to Dublin many times haven’t you?
T: As stifling as Ireland’s strict licensing laws are, the fact that clubs are only able to open for a few hours a night makes for such a condensed and intense party atmosphere. Not much more you can ask for as a DJ.
J&T: Is it true that TR//ER’s debut live show was actually in Limerick?
T: Yeah, me and Tom had played for the Macronite lot a few times before and they asked if we could play live together. We told them we could give it a go and that was the start of that project. I think the first show was just Tom on two 303’s and me on two drum machines.
J&T: Your track Nancy’s Pantry has been an anthem in many clubs since its release in 2013, but how did the relationship between yourself and R&S Records come about?
T: Tom had recently done a record for them and I remember him telling me they had been in touch with him and I couldn’t believe it, I was so chuffed for him. Then a few months later I got an email asking if I would like to submit some music for a record but didn’t have any music to send them. So I said I’d get back in a few weeks. I took out all the R&S records I owned at the time and placed them all around me in my studio, literally covering the place, and the first thing I wrote was Nancy’s Pantry.
J&T: Your music is very breaks and jungle influenced, is this where your roots take hold?
T: I suppose so. But I mean my roots could have just as easily be defined as terrible early 2000’s ‘dance’ music. I guess you start cherry picking your ‘roots’ as you get older – filter out all the awful music that you listen to when you’re growing up. Breakbeats/jungle were just what stuck with me.
J&T: What was the reason for starting Poly Kicks and also releasing the 50 Locked Grooves with Truss and Haroon Mirza?
T: I set up the label just so I could release Hackney Parrot. I was in talks with a few labels about releasing it but ultimately decided it would be better to do it myself and have complete control and not have someone promo it out to a million people. At the time I only sent that record to about 5 people and I couldn’t believe how far it got outside of those 5 people. Me and Tom now run the label together and aside from the 50 locked grooves series it’s just going to be for our own records. The 50 locked grooves series will be continuing though and there’s some really good ones coming up.
J&T: Do you reckon the age difference between yourself and Tom (Truss) has helped with your productions together and let you influence each other in different ways?
T: Yeah definitely, we approach writing very differently. We both have a very immediate approach to writing but Tom more so than me. Tom’s very good at getting a piece of kit and getting the most out of it, I tend to ricochet off everything in my studio until I come to rest on something I’m into.
J&T: Speaking of Overmono, what are your future plans, are you looking forward to a big summer?
T: There’s a lot coming up from Overmono. Its been brilliant having the freedom to write all this music that has felt like it’s been trapped for years. As you define your sound as an artist, slowly all these influences that you once had get filtered out and your focus becomes narrower and narrower. We started Overmono to let all these influences back in.
J&T: When approaching a track, what would be your go-to piece of hardware, or VST etc?
T: My mixer – everything I do gets mangled through it one way or another.
J&T: FOUR-TUNE TELLER: Lastly, we want to know the last tune you listened to on your Spotify or iTunes etc, screengrabs are essential and no cheating!
T: I don’t even know how you see this on Spotify?? But I’ve just got back from a friend’s birthday in Cornwall so it’s probably like four rewinds of Olive – You’re Not Alone.