Not many youngsters are contemplating a career behind the decks at age 14. In Tom Flynn’s case, however, the music bug bit him at a young age. His desire to spin records for a living was solidified after his first gig at 16, and he’s since positioned himself as a key player in dance music’s underground.
In 2013, he’d been crowned by Pete Tong as an “Breakout Artist of the Year” after years spent honing his craft in the studio. Flynn is the ever-dedicated student, of course, hungrily consuming new music technology whenever he can, and continually searching for ways to evolve as a producer and DJ. It’s this drive that has since landed him on labels spanning from Jamie Jones’ Hot Creations, to the elusive Âme & Dixon-led Innervisions.
DIRTYBIRD is another entity that Tom Flynn’s struck a friendship with over his expansive career in dance music. He’d met Claude VonStroke in Ibiza around a decade ago, and the two quickly aligned over shared music values and outlooks on like. Not long after they kindled their relationship, he signed onto the label with a lush, Catch That Bird EP. The two titans have since joined forces again for one of the powerhouse label’s most unique, forward-thinking releases in recent years: an aptly-named, “The Future.” He’s crafted a flawless afterhours’ piece in “The Future,” pairing funk icon Amp Fiddler’s vocals with minimal, but effective sound design for cozy atmosphere. Label boss Claude VonStroke was also quite inspired by the tune, re-touching it into an island-y tech house number that fits more into peak time.
Following the momentous release, we had the chance to chat with Tom Flynn to pick his brain on his past, inspiration around “The Future,” and plans for 2019.
WWD: Hi Tom, Thanks for taking the time to sit with us! Where in the world are you and what are you up to at the current moment?
I’m on my couch after a 12 hour solid studio session.
WWD: Do you remember what your first dance party was like? How did you get to the point of being a full time DJ from there?
It was a friend’s bonfire party i believe, my mate and I played and I was nervous as hell! From there we just practiced mixing vinyl non-stop.
WWD: A lot has happened since your last release on DIRTYBIRD; how have you grown and changed since then, and how have you seen the label grow and change?
Personally, I’ve just become more well rounded as an artist and producer I think. I’m not so party mad, love clubs and club culture but more from an interested point of view now. Instead of being so deep in the party, I’m more curious about current clubland.
The label has gotten crazy, with their own festivals and everything. I’ve always said, there is no label like this, they always have a good vibe, they don’t chase sounds, they seem to ride a fine line between unique and accessible. They’re never too far either way.
WWD: What was the inspiration behind, ‘The Future?’ How did the Amp Fiddler partnership emerge?
I sampled Joseph, sent it over to him and he really dug it. I was super excited because he is such an inspiration, a real muso. I had the idea of doing this type of record about 7 or 8 years ago, but it just never really came to fruition ‘till now.
WWD: Tell us a bit about your creative process in general; how does a day in the studio go for Tom Flynn, and do you have a methodology around producing and DJing?
For producing, the best thing i think is to not listen to anything else before you go in. I purposely stay away from other music to stop it infiltrating my writing. I have 3 artist names and each one has a different approach. The less you use the better you will be.
WWD: Who are some other stalwarts you hope to work with some time, and why?
Maceo Plex, Helena Hauff, Nicolas Jaar, people like this.
WWD: What was the name of the first track you ever produced, and what kind of record was it?
I have no idea but i do have the track. I remember seeing it on a CD a while ago in some boxes. It was just a plain simple house track.
WWD: What have been some of your favorite labels to work with over the years?
DIRTYBIRD is always up there for me. They’re on the cutting edge. I’m a non-conformist so I like labels that push differently to what everyone else is doing. If everyone else is making bouncy tech house then i naturally wanna do the opposite. I don’t like following trends.
WWD: You like to make and play music pretty organically and hands-on, it seems. What’s your current studio setup like, at the moment? Gear you can’t live without while producing? New items you’re excited about?
I’m really a hands-on guy. I like to hear man and machine interacting, especially for my other aliases. My studio is a big organised chaos of cables, patching syths, drum machines, effects etc. I’m always curious, so I often spend hours just putting things through stuff to see what sounds come out the other side. I couldn’t live without my mixing desk – I love putting things through it, just to knock off the edges and give stuff a gentle warmth.
WWD: What new places have you been taken to recently on tour that you’ve really enjoyed, and and where are your favorite places to play in the world in general? What makes these places special?
I took a break from tour recently, so I’m looking for a new agent and manager! I think Detroit is always somewhere that’s special for me to play. I just love the vibe there – really nice people, great music heads. Spybar Chicago always goes down well too, such a great club, very open and receptive to good, interesting music. Ugh, take me back now!!
WWD: What’s coming up for Tom Flynn down the road?
New EP’s on HotTrax, Soul Clap records, Sci+Tec, Culprit, Circus. I’ve just released my first record as Last Train To Brooklyn on Kompakt, and for my other pseudonym I have music coming out on Maceo Plex’s label, R&S, and a top secret invite only label.
WWD: Thanks again for chatting with us Tom, have a great rest of your day!