(Original Photo By: Chelone Wolf)
Out of anywhere in Europe, the United Kingdom sure attracts a lot of creative talent from various different cultures. It seems to be the hub for passion and determination. Even becoming a taxi cab driver is dreamt about and a highly pursued career in London. With a diverse cultural history comes great music, especially the highly eclectic mega genre we all know and love. Out of the giant pool of dance music genres, there is one staple that has remained in the U.K. for a very long time: drum n’ bass.
Tom Casswell, better known as TC, is a Bristol native that has been part of this long innovation and upkeep of the fast tempo and bass heavy genre. Growing up in Bristol, TC was always around music. Living right next to the Malcolm X Center–a nightclub as well as a community center, he would hear Dancehall music late at night.
TC lived a relatively average life, but knew something bigger was out there for him to conquer. He didn’t like anyone ever telling him what to do. Naturally, school was one of those things. He left school at just 16 years old, but remained in close contact with one of his teachers, who taught him how to play the (jazz) piano and inspired him to make music.
At 18 years old, TC landed his first gig at the Discovery Channel. Writing 10 chains a day and producing music for various TV shows on the station just to get by. He met a guy during this time who had his own drum n’ bass (DnB) record label, which kickstarted his career. Inspired by the Bristol music scene, DnB, and the Afro-Caribbean community, TC worked hard at tackling the music industry by being a producer as well as a vocalist. His first and only full-length album, Evolution, came out in the year 2007. His career really ignited after that, especially with the wildly famous track, “Where’s My Money”. The song was then remixed by Caspa, which came out around the time of the kick off of the dubstep era. Through the years, he has been a musical maniac, producing music for record labels like Valve, D-Style, 3Beat, RAM, and his own label, Don’t Play, and collaborating with the likes of known artists such as Sub Focus and Pendulum.
The Drum n’ Bass genre is quite “old” in electronic dance music. Old doesn’t mean bad, it just means there is a lot of history. DnB emerged in the early 90s in England, which was derived from the Jungle movement. Since then, the popularity has gone up and down, to back up again. In the U.S., there are limited cities with mega bass scenes… Denver and Los Angeles to name a few. Although, over in the U.K. DnB is still widely popular with pop hits from Rudimental and Sigma. Overall, the real question about all of this is: what is it like producing a genre that is a very defined niche.
TC explains, “I think (drum n’ bass) is completely ingrained in me… It is not a universally accepted tempo but that is the cool thing, not everyone is going to get it. Even if you aren’t the king there is always a small circuit of people who want to hear DnB.”
Anyone deciding to commit their life to music is an extremely dedicated and passionate human being, especially when you go for a niche like drum n’ bass. He remembers back to a time when a stadium full of people walked out on him because the tempo and genre switched. He states humbly, “The EDM guys don’t have a BPM they have to play, or boundaries, and have their fans walk out… But, I didn’t change my set for anyone.” Laughing it off, he appreciates the few people that stuck around for his set because those fans truly appreciate DnB and will hang out at the afterparty to grab a beer and talk about it.
Just like everyone else, relationship and life struggles have occurred for this UK native, but TC believes it is all about the way you handle things. “There have been times in my life where everything has been crushed and I’ve just had to pick myself back up.” Although life can be unpredictable and difficult at times, it is important to stay true to yourself and restart again. Taking the negative and twisting it into something positive is the best way to go about it. TC says, “Failure is just a part of life.”
Through the good times and the bad, TC has turned into a very kind, respectable, humble, and significantly talented human being. He mentions something that has helped him a lot in the most recent days, which is the Buddhist Society in Western Australia. Learning about peace, love, kindness, and compassion, TC has adapted these positive attributes into his life. He even listens to these talks before his really big shows, like Bass Rush at the Palladium in Los Angeles a few months ago.
Drum n’ bass lives on, just like it has for the past few decades. It isn’t going anywhere either. The music certainly isn’t for everybody, but the ones who do enjoy it really have a strong passion for it, which creates a more dynamic and open community. TC loves this about the path he has chosen and has contributed to for years.
For all of the aspiring drum n’ bass producers he wants to let everyone know, “Just persist. Keep making tunes, man. There is a lot of hard work going into it. Then, send your best tunes to me.”