Steppin up, steppin in. Tom Esselle, one half of the minds behind the South London label and former Peckham record store, Yam Records, joins the WOLF Music fam for his first full length EP. And you best believe it doesn’t disappoint.
Following VA appearances on Rhythm Section and his own imprint, he goes all out for this first solo EP outing. Shuffling bumpers, SE LDN jazz-flecked deepness, tough drum workouts and broken beat heaters, all mixed down by Chaos In The CBD main man Beans, this really does have a cut for every occasion and shows an accomplished head rests on Esselle’s shoulders. Someone who’s been part of the scene for years, slingin’ records and throwing parties, he knows what makes people tick and even better what makes people move.
This is premium grade dancefloor tackle, tinged by a whole host of different influences and genres, strung together with that distinctive South London feel.
WWD: Hello Tom. Where are you today and what are you up to? Are you a born and bred South Londoner?
Hey! Currently sat in my new flat in East Dulwich taking a break from work. I was born in South London but grew up in Hertfordshire – so born but not quite bred? SE LDN is definitely home though!
WWD: You opened the doors to Yam Records in 2014. What were you doing prior to that?
Theo and I actually both had full-time jobs when we opened YAM – Theo was an electrician, I was office manager for a talent agency in Soho – and we worked them more or less the whole time the shop was open. When I look back it’s mad we managed to juggle everything as long as we did!
WWD: How was the record store experience for you? What’s happening with the store these days.
The experience was amazing, I met so many nice people and made some friends for life. It was really rewarding but super hard graft, I salute anyone who sticks it out! We closed the shop at the end of 2017 but the Discogs page is still up and running – look us up!
WWD: Yam Recordings came next. What are some of the labels key releases?
The two releases that just won’t quit are Chaos In The CBD – Global Erosion and Joe Armon-Jones & Maxwell Owin – Idiom. It’s been incredible to watch their careers take off in the way they have and I’m immensely proud to have been trusted with their music. Honestly though, every release has a very special place in my heart. I think there are some real gems in the catalogue, and I’m really pleased with our output, as sporadic as it may be.
WWD: You’ve released on the mighty Rhythm Section. Are they still in and around Peckham these days or have they moved on to more dizzy heights?
Yeah! It was great to be included on the compilation, shout out BZP, Mali & the rest of the team! They’re still very much SE15 focussed, it’s great to see them keeping it real while becoming a truly global indie.
WWD: There is certainly a whole vibe come out of the quarter musically. What’s in the water there? What are the elements that make up this unique sound?
It’s so difficult to pinpoint, I think the stars just aligned and the right people gravitated to the area at the right time. There’s such a sense of community and comradery there that the scene flourished in a really special way. I try not to analyse it and just enjoy being a part of it 🙂
WWD: How did you hook up with the Wolf guys? Have you been a fan of the label?
I’d bumped into Stu a couple of times over the years but never really knew him until I was shopping this EP around. I’ve always been a fan of their output and their attitude toward putting music out is pure as hell – just press good music and let the vibes do the rest. That really resonates with me and I’m grateful they put their trust in this EP.
WWD: Talk us through ‘Praise Bes’ a little and tell us about Chaos in the CBS’s involvement?
The EP is an amalgamation of 5+ years’ worth of tracks that had been gathering on my hard drive so it’s kind of a reflection of how my production changed over that period. The older tracks were pretty rough, so Beans very kindly offered to help me mix them down – he’s an absolute wizard in the studio and I learned so much in the process. Special shouts to Dan & Lizzie for their contribution, the EP wouldn’t work without their input!
WWD: What other projects are you working on right now that you can share?
Nothing solid yet but there are a couple of EPs I’m working on so keep an eye out in 2023…
WWD: Tell us something we would never know about you?