Living up to all the hype, this past Tuesday was an absolute killer of a night over at Dim Mak Studios in the City of Angels. In between the sets of Roska and Angger Dimas, a UK mate by the name of Thomas Bell aka Toddla T hit the decks as part of his US and Canada tour in support of his new album entitled "Watch Me Dance." Tom was kind enough to take the time before his set to catch up with DxE and interviewer Stephen S. in no better setting than the DMS kitchen! Check it out:
DxE: Growing up in Sheffield in the UK and getting started at such a young age, what was it that got you started with electronic music?
T: Well I was always into hip-hop as a kid from like 10 years old so I was playing hip-hop records throughout all my teens. Then I got turntables when I was around 12 or 13 and when I became old enough to start going out I was seeing more types of music a lot of it being electronic, whether it be reggae, house, techno, garage, drum n bass, grime, whatever it was I realized 'hey this is all the same.' Even if it was different genres, it was still music so that's when I started mixing it all together.
DxE: Was there anyone in particular that sparked your interest and got you started in the scene out there?
T: People back home, Sheffield DJS that are still DJing in Sheffield they've got full-time jobs. DJs called Winston Hazel, DJ Pipes, these are all DJs that still play music together in a very individual way at little underground and warehouse parties. I used to watch them and be like these guys are amazing and they're still some of my favorite DJs to this day even though they're not really well-known.
DxE: So we all know where the "T" comes from in Toddla T, but where did the "Toddla" part of it come from?
T: Since I was DJing really young around like 12 or 13, everyone was a bit older and I was short so everyone used to call me "LIttle Tom" and it just went from there - Little Tom, Baby Tom, and finally Toddla Tom then to Toddla T.
DxE: Your new album just came out entitled "Watch Me Dance" on Ninja Tune Records, how would you describe the Toddla T sound to someone who's never heard your music before?
T: Well it's sort of like an insult really to sound system music as in the 60s when the Jamaican community moved to England and they brought sound system into the playback industry. That influenced our whole infrastructure of music so you have reggae, then we had hardcore, then acid house, jungle, drum n bass, then we had grime, dubstep and I guess I'm heavily influenced by that whole thing. My album of music represents that style in 2011, so it's very bass heavy but not necessarily a single genre - it's reggae, hip-hop, soul, house, electro, you know, it's all got a very bass feel.
DxE: You also went to Jamaica to get some inspiration for the album right?
T: Yeah I went around like 4 times.
DxE: Was that more for influence, to produce, just for kicks?
T: All of it really, it was such an influential part in my music in general so to go back to the root I found that very important. But also to record and add to my flavor.
DxE: So you're on the tour right now in support of the new album, just hit a couple spots in Canada, what's been your favorite spot on the tour so far?
T: Well Toronto, we always have a good time in Toronto. We were just there 2 nights ago and it's always really good I almost don't know why *laughs* it just always seems to be fun up there.
DxE: And then you've been all over the world but if you had to pick one spot you've performed at before as your favorite, which would it be?
T: Well when I started DJing in England a lot I remember when we used to go to Sheffield, which is a city in the UK, we always had a good time there. Since then I've had a lot of gigs but when I first started DJing those are the ones that come to mind first because it was all still so new to me. Playing at home in Sheffield is always fun, I did a gig over in Jamaica which was a great experience to go back to the root and project my sound to them was really special as well.
DxE: Out of the people you've collaborated with, who's been your favorite artist to work with?
T: That's really difficult, everyone's just so different you know what I mean? Like you can't really say just what, who and why. Everyone's special in their own way so there's not a single particular person I could say to be honest with you.
DxE: Well if you could pick one or two people who you could collab with in the future, who would be your top couple?
T: Oh my gosh, umm well I'm so lucky to have already worked with so many people I've looked up to but I'd really like to work with some American artists. I've been a hip-hop fan since I was a kid so I'd wanna work with some rappers and singers, things like that, maybe some big names like Lil' Wayne haha.
DxE: Last one for you and we'll let you go hit the stage. 2011's about to close in a few months, it's been a big year for you. What can we expect from Toddla T in 2012?
T: I'm now remixing Duck Sauce's new tune, it's pretty cool and then, now that my album's finished, I can start messing around in the studio again and that's really when things happen. Just like out of the blue, you'll be like 'woah I made this tune with this guy' so Ima be doing that and then just DJing a lot. I'm on BBC Radio every month so I'll be doing that a bunch aaand just kind of continuing being in the works, simple really.
We'd like to thank Tom again for taking the time to sit down with us, super legit dude who's got a really bright future in front of him. If you haven't check out "Watch Me Dance" yet, get on it cuz it really is an album like none other.