Since his beginnings with the outstanding ‘Soundtrack For Strangers‘ for the ever great Optimo Music, we kept a close watch on MR TC with the certainty that it was only the start of a long-haul multi-sensory voyage, doped on raucous bass hooks, smouldering guitar riffs and thick, dry kicks.
Thomas Clarke’s cuts show an unparalleled vision and leave the durable impression of hallucinogenic postcard views from a trip across the steep canyons and cacti fields of a LSD-induced death valley; 13th Floor Elevators rubbing shoulders with Red Axes in the background.
Released a few weeks ago, his second effort hammered it home and even pushed to further extents the rugged psychedelia of his christening release, confirming the emergence of a captivating music mind. This mix shall give you a proper taste of the ferocious trancey experience at work in his Night Of The Jaguar residency at Glasgow’s School of Art. You’ve been warned.
Interviewed by Baptiste Girou
"Psychedelia plays a big part in the music that I make and play and nature is probably the best possible source for that."
The mix smoothly combines kraut, techno, acid and a fair dose of primitive percussions. How and when was it recorded?
I think it was recorded in May, just at home on my turntables and CDJs.
There’s a lot of birdsong samples, earthly rhythms and other organic-sounding bits and elements in there. How important is the role of nature in your music?
I think this was just the vibe I was on at the time. Psychedelia plays a big part in the music that I make and play and nature is probably the best possible source for that. When I make a mix it’s usually based around what I’ve been buying/listening to in the days before recording it. With this mix it all starts with that amazing Golden Bug track with Julienne from The Twins. Spaced out, low-slung, slow and psychedelic. Now we’ve got the mood, let’s start walking.
Your new EP just came out via Optimo and confirmed all the good things we thought after hearing your debut EP, ‘Soundtrack For Strangers’. Can you tell us more about its confection?
Thanks! Like the first EP these tracks were all recorded in Green Door studio in Glasgow. They’re pretty raw, full of energy. Where as the last EP came together over quite a long time, by piecing different Ideas from different projects over the years together.
This time round the process was a lot quicker. I went into the studio with 4 tracks that I’d made over the course of a month, me and Stu (of Sordid Sound System and one of the owner’s of green door) went wild on the space echo and this EP came out the other side.
"I went into the studio with 4 tracks that I’d made over the course of a month, me and Stu (of Sordid Sound System) went wild on the space echo and this EP came out the other side."
What was your first introduction to Optimo Music? I guess it has been quite an honour to release your first record on such a widely respected label…
When I arrived in Glasgow in 2010 I was new to clubbing and Optimo was the perfect introduction to that world. I think my first experience of Optimo was hearing their Fabric 52 mix and it blew my mind and showed me what mixing could be. It was so great to hear so many different styles sounding somehow perfectly put together. It’s something that really resonated with me and I’ve been going to Optimo nights ever since.
They’re still a big influence, so obviously it’s really cool to be putting out music on the label. Through being involved in Green Door its kind of come to pass that quite a few friends are also putting music out on Optimo and it makes me really happy to be involved in such an exciting and productive scene.
"I’m always trying to discover new music. Maybe my ‘sound’ is just all this stuff meeting house and techno?"
Your sound busts genres, mixing psychedelic rock, kosmische and techno in a tense, hypnotic clash. How did you get to that unique sound? Did it take you lots of studio experiments or was it more of a natural outcome?
I think really it’s just a result of the music I’ve been listening to and making my whole life. Before I got heavily into club music, I was really into rock and psychedelic music from the 60s and 70s but also post-punk and industrial music.
I grew up on bands like The Doors, The Velvet Underground, The Stooges, Pink Floyd, David Bowie the nuggets compilation, modern bands like Suuns, The Black Angels and The Brian Jonestown Massacre, then Joy Division, The Fall and Suicide, the Krautrock bands and Kraftwerk.
That was the kind of foundation. Since then my tastes have just kept growing. I’m always trying to discover new music. Maybe my ‘sound’ is just all this stuff meeting house and techno?
"The tracks are a good indication of the kind of “sound” that I like to share with people when I play. Psychedelic, weird but also groovy and driving."
You are resident at the monthly friday night party Night Of The Jaguar at the Art School in Glasgow. How did it help shape your work as a producer?
I’d say the music that I make as MR TC is definitely linked with my experiences DJing at Night of the Jaguar. The tracks are a good indication of the kind of “sound” that I like to share with people when I play. Psychedelic, weird but also groovy and driving. Night of the Jaguar is always the first place that I play new stuff and where I experiment most.
What are your best memories of a night there?
There have been so many…We had a great weekend with Manfredas when he came to play for us. Our birthday with Christian S & Jonnie Wilkes was great too. Over the past year though we’ve been strictly booking live acts and not just electronic stuff.
We put on a punk band from Glasgow called Breakfast Muff and had them playing at 1am with us DJing either side. The energy that night was amazing and probably one of my favourite parties.
"They’ve created an environment where people feel so comfortable and free to experiment and go wild."
What’s your studio comprised of at the moment? What piece of gear would you never part with and why?
At the moment my set up is pretty basic but the studio is slowly getting there. The majority of the sounds on the records come from a Novation Bass Station II, a Roland 707, and Roland Sp404 SX, Roland TR8, Korg EX1, various percussions, a couple of Ghanaian drums and a Fender Jaguar guitar. I just bought a Juno 106 as well which I love! Right now most of my stuff is based around the Bass Station so that’s probably the one I’d hate to part with.
You’re affiliated with the Green Door Studio, one of Glasgow’s creative hotspots and most reputed organisations. What’s cooking there at the minute?
There always seems to be something amazing happening in that place. I think the main reason behind this is Stu and Emily, the couple that run the studio. They’ve created an environment where people feel so comfortable and free to experiment and go wild. At the moment I’m planning a project with them that will involve collaborating with musicians in Ghana. I don’t want to say too much about it though because things are still in a very early stage… watch this space.
What’s the last gem you dug up?
This great 1987 French compilation of industrial music called “Various – Stator” – I picked it up for €16!
Where can we find you in the coming weeks?
Over the next couple of weeks I’m playing shows at Fuse Arts space in Bradford (18th July) & Café Oto in London (19th July) with Groan Vessel, another project of mine that I do with Pussy Mothers & Leatherette.
Then I have Strangers Rotation Club (the night I do in London with MWX) happening on the 23rd. We have a MR TC live show in Glasgow on the 30th at the Rum Shack and then Night of the Jaguar is happening on the 6th of August with a great new Glasgow band Kubler Ross playing live.
After that, Heap of Neubau is coming to play with me in Glasgow and then I’m going to play with Autarkic at Breakfast club.MR TCOptimo MusicKrautrockPsychedelicTechno