Two months since its release and Telomic’s Arrivals LP is still getting heavy rotations at 1 More Thing HQ.
Ticking all the right album boxes, flipping all the right album switches; Arrivals flexes across the bass spectrum with a dynamic variety that hits home ears and dancefloors alike and showcases a range deeper than Telomic has ever shown before.
From dancefloor weapons to cheeky garage nuggets, it’s a well executed debut album, and a well overdue one, too… It lands 13 years after he started producing and 10 years since his earliest releases under his birth name Elliot Berger.
As is often the case with big personal projects, the album was created during a very poignant time in his life, too. As the dust continues to settle into his new role as an album artist and being a dad, we called him up to find out more.
What’s a normal day for a Telomic? What have I interrupted?
I work from home so I do a range of different things. I do a lot of sound design and I do A&R for a sample pack label. That’s my usual workload during the day but there’s been quite a few shows lately which has put a bit of pressure on – especially as I have a son now and he doesn’t have much sympathy for my lack of sleep.
You’d think the rave life would prepare you for sleeplessness as a parent but if anything it makes you even more tired because you’re already lacking in sleep!
Haha yes! Before I was a dad I could sleep for two days straight after but now there are other priorities and absolutely no chance of that type of sleep time now!
I’m assuming the album name Arrivals is in relation to you becoming a dad?
Yeah it was a combination of my son being born, the travelling I’ve done as a DJ and the fact it’s a debut album. I’ve been producing for 13/14 years now and I’ve always been too scared to do an album so this is me finally finding a point where I’m confident to release an album. It’s all of that bottled up in the form of an album title.
Haha. Do you think you were too scared to do an album before then?
Yes. There’s a lot of expectation surrounding an album. You want to know what your sound is before committing to such a big project. I also wanted to know I had the right label behind it because I’ve seen a lot of people write an album and struggle to find a label afterwards. That’s scary; you’re putting in a lot of time into it and there’s a danger you don’t find the right label so a lot less people will hear it on a smaller label or self-release.
Or it dates in the meantime. Was fatherhood looming as you wrote the album?
Not when we first started talking about it. By the time I found out I was going to be a dad we’d just got passed the ‘sending sketches’ phase of it. So we were well underway. When we learned of my son’s due date then I set my own deadline.
Did you stick to it?
I did! I work well to deadlines. It wasn’t so tight I needed to make 10 tunes in a weekend and we had a bit of crunch time towards the end, but in general as a freelancer I work well to a deadline and can break up my time and allocate what I need to do and when I need to do it by. I’m sure you know this process?
Yeah it can be a thrill when you push yourself and you’ve managed to get everything done and ticked off the list! And with this particular challenge you’ve set yourself there was an additional layer of pressure as you’re showing more sides to the Telomic sound than you could show on EPs. And quite a very different sound for Liquicity, too…
Yeah I was really lucky. All of the tunes which I felt were curveball tunes for the label all got received by them really well. They were the ones the label were the most positive about. I felt when I was pushing that envelop that’s what they wanted.
I think maybe some people thought I might end up making dancefloor tunes because that’s what the label is best known for. I do love that sound and tracks like Remedy are a tribute to it but I’ve never felt any pressure to fit a certain sound. The label has actually told me they appreciate the variation in my sound and that’s something I’m very proud of maintaining both on this album and moving forward.
Awesome. Where do you think you’ve pushed yourself the most on the album?
Lesson Learned really stands out to me. As a liquid artist I’ve always struggled with DJ support. Liquid tunes don’t get the same reaction as harder tunes. So that tune was something harder that I wanted to fill that gap and he support I’ve had on that has been really cool. So that’s been really cool; setting myself a challenge and stepping up to it. That’s been great. And I actually wrote the core of that in a meeting.
Yeah someone was chatting away, the meeting was dragging, so I started messing around in Ableton. The concept of the tune was to do the 4×4 thing that everyone is doing but creating the sense of 4×4 with a chugging bass rather than kicks. I had that idea and thought, ‘Wow, I need to do this now!’ But I also had to pay attention in this meeting so I just cracked on and hoped I didn’t get busted.
Brilliant. And they’re none the wiser?
None the wiser. I’m not sure why it worked so well but I needed to react to that idea in that moment and managed to make it work.
The perfect crime! You mentioned support… I think you’ve had support from Coldplay haven’t you?
Haha, yes! Years and years ago. I’d been producing for nine months, this was around 2010/2011 and the whole dubstep thing was blowing up hugely. I did this bootleg of Coldplay’s Paradise and dubstep.net uploaded it. It blew up then a week later Coldplay posted about it on their socials and said it was sick, too. I was babysitting at the time and people were texting me saying I’d been mentioned on Coldplay’s socials. It was like, ‘What the hell?’ It was really crazy looking back. I’d not even been producing for a year and it sounded terrible!
Respect that they didn’t send you a cease and desist!
The label did, but that was a few years later. Dubstep blew up in such a mad way that the legality of bootlegs was ignored for a while I think. No one cared!
It was a mad time wasn’t it. That era was a game changer and set the foundation for where D&B is at now
Totally. You could put anything up couldn’t you? There were all kinds of remix competitions at the time, you didn’t have to worry about Soundcloud taking down your mixes, there was so much freedom that we don’t have now. Things are more TikTok-centric now aren’t they?
Yeah totally. But like now, back then it felt like anyone could blow up. There’s a lot of attention on drum & bass again and while that encourages some pretty crass commercial tactics, it also creates an exciting new wave and potential for young artists
Yeah there’s a lot of attention around drum & bass and it is exciting. I see a lot of older heads frowning at it and talking about the types of mixing and types of sounds but I look back at the stuff I was enjoying 10 years ago and it had the same extremities and energy. If it’s bringing new fans into the music then you can’t argue with it, even if it’s not for you.
Amen! There’s so much saltiness! The new generation will always be in control. They’re the ravers, they’re the next headliners
Absolutely. I do get the saltiness. I feel it sometimes when something blows up and I don’t get it. But, like I said, it’s bringing in new ears and that’s great. there’s so much drum & bass around that fans will find what they want to find. It’s a net positive for everyone.
Definitely! Was there a point for you where you started to go a bit deeper?
Definitely. Me and my mate would often go to Critical’s residency in Room Two Fabric. We were skint students. We’d be sober because we couldn’t afford drinks, get there for opening and stay until 5am for the first train home. I was moving further and further into drum & bass and the two sounds that really popped for me were the bright poppy liquid and the big dancefloor tunes. The tunes that hit me the most would have a sub, a kick and a snare and maybe a topline over the top but that’s it. They really resonated with me and that’s when I shifted to that style.
It’s all in the context. If you’re listening to a deep Critical tune on shitty earbuds you’re not going to get the same effect as you will when you hear it through a massive rig. So it wasn’t until I heard it in the way it’s intended.
You’re absolutely right!
It’s the same with MCs isn’t it? MCs get bashed so badly online but the people bashing them have clearly never experienced a good MC live in the context of the rave. Even regardless of the historic reasons for MCs being part of the culture, and how important that is, when a good MC comes on and does their thing it totally elevates the whole crowd doesn’t it?
Yes! You mentioned you’re an A&R for a sample pack company. I saw a really interesting conversation on Mitekiss’s page recently where he said ‘using loops wholesome from Splice is like buying pre-grated cheese.’ How do you feel about that?
I have a lot of respect for Jonny and I love his music and me and a colleague were involved in that debate! For me, I really don’t think it matters how you make music. If it sounds great then it sounds great.
Let’s say 20 years ago I took a big string sample from a score, put a think break on it and some subs and released it. Is that any better or artistic than using samples from any sample pack? I can point out many tunes that have been big successes that use drag and drop samples. But if people like them, and if you like them, how does it make it any different once you’ve learnt how it’s made? Why would it hinder your emotional experience?
It shouldn’t do. But I feel there is something in me that wouldn’t like it as much
Drum & bass and a sample-based culture. Hugely. And with that comes a creative art in sample choice. Whether it’s from an old record or from a sample pack, picking the right sample and using it well is an artistic strength.
One point that was made in that conversation was that ‘people are dragging and dropping samples and calling themselves a producer’. But what does it matter? If people are creating, that’s great. I love music and love creating it. I love that process. If all music eventually becomes AI generated I will still create music because I love it. So my conclusion at the end of that whole debate is that none of it matters. I can see the argument – people put in hours and hours and hours crafting every single sound and in comparison sampling does seem lazy but if it elicits an emotional result then it doesn’t matter.
Amen! And there’s only so far pre-made ingredients will get you so if people want to have a longer career in this then they will eventually have to learn the technical aspects.
Yeah there’s that for sure. If you can’t find the right sample or if Splice goes down and you’ve got no way of finding a solution musically or technically then it will hinder your creativity. I agree with that.
What do you think you’ve be creating if you didn’t get into D&B?
If D&B wasn’t a thing then I’d be making garage. I got a lot of love for UKG. It’s got a lot of similarities with D&B in terms of its drums and its range and musicality. I wish I could create visual art, too, but I can’t for the life of me do that so I’m glad I’ve fallen into music.
I’m glad you have as well. So the dust has settling on the album. It’s been out for a month or so now. Has it lived up to any expectations you had? Or maybe has it been an anticlimax?
Funny you should say. I was on a call with friends and it went over midnight and into the release date and it was actually a bit of anticlimax.
I’ve had that too with books! Nothing can match expectations on release day. It’s always going to let you down. It’s what happens after release day that counts…
Yeah you’re totally right. The online reaction was cool and the DJ reactions have been great. At every show I play I get messages from other DJs about playing my music which I find very respectful and I never mind. You could play the whole album before I come on and I honestly wouldn’t mind!
I feel way happier about it now, but the difficulty I have is that there was so much variation on the album that I’m not sure which direction to go in with my new material. But the shows have helpful in the way that I’m learning which of my tunes are my favourites to play and which tunes are going down the best. So that will help me decide.
I’ve not written anything for a while. I finished the album then mixed it down, then my son was born so I took some time off and it’s only now I’m starting to write again. So yeah, I did struggle for a moment, but I’m happy about the album and I feel pretty positive about where I’m heading next now. It’s an exciting time!