Tom Vek ditches the sampling on his latest tunes.
Although he'd prefer to “do a Beyoncé” and just drop his completed albums out of the blue, Tom Vek (Thomas Vernon-Kell if we're getting formal) knows he has to play the promotional game to “educate new fans”, which is why he's talking The Music through his third record Luck at the musician-punishing time of 9am. However, after chatting to the 33-year-old Londoner for a bit you realise that even if he despised the process he'd probably be too polite to complain, such is his charming nature and dry wit.
There's plenty worthwhile to talk about though, with Luck seeing the eclectic solo creator at his most abrasive and elegant, Vek bonding those vibes through invention and reinvention. “Cool noises” is what he's interested in finding – exploring the evolution of a rock song. His stream-of-consciousness approach to lyrics, meanwhile, has once again given his songs ambiguity, though he's closer to a pure harmony than ever.
Luck is garage music, but it's made in the future, by one man who treats his songs like a puzzle, placing and removing elements until he completes the track humming in his mind.
“Those two words that you used before, abrasive and elegant, are perfect in terms of the attitude I wanted to get – these opposites that you want to live together,” Vek comments. “The greatest minimal music is just so full and has so much in the space between the notes. But a lot of the time, putting stuff on and taking stuff off; it's a lot of experimentation, a lot of noise, and then you just pull one thing out in all the mess that happens to crystallise into something interesting on its own accord.
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“It's become a thing that I'm quite proud of, that there's no sampling – I play everything – but I still have been influenced [by sampling],” he continues. “Most of my favourite music growing up was sample-based, but because I wasn't a record collector and I didn't have the decks, there wasn't immediate opportunities for me to try and sample from a record. But it inspired me – I learned the drums playing along to DJ Shadow, breaks, stuff like that. Also, recording myself, I do feel like I'm sampling [me].
“There's this one side of my character that's just recording loads and loads of nonsense, and then there's this other person that just walks in and goes, 'I'll just have that, I just want that bit,'” Vek adds. “And there's always that hope that I can just get away with it – like there are examples on the album where there's just one motif, one loop, but it's trying to get a whole song together around that one thing.
“It's like writing a great rock riff – you can listen to that for four minutes – and I think that culture is there in hip hop as well. I'm just trying to incorporate those great bits, I suppose.”