Years in the making, TVAM’s debut LP Psychic Data floored us upon release last month. The solo artist’s early live shows and singles had demonstrated his vision and production capabilities, but the theme, structure and balance of the full length work managed somehow to exceed the expectations that each had sown. Electronic Sound Magazine were similarly impressed, stating, ‘Quite simply, this is one of the best debuts in recent times. Utterly and unashamedly brilliant.’ Riding high, TVAM embarks on a headline tour next month, playing in Dublin, Liverpool, London, Brighton and Leeds either side of his sold out show at Soup Kitchen on 7th December. Ahead of the show, we had the opportunity to ask TVAM about his expanding line-up, production tricks and musical memories.
You recently announced that you’re involving a second musician in your forthcoming live shows. What prompted that decision and how will it impact upon what you’re able to achieve live?
TVAM: ‘I think the time is right to expand the live show. I’ve gigged as a solo act for a while now and it feels right to open it up a bit.’
Have you accrued any more visual gear since your last set in Manchester?
TVAM: ‘I got myself a cheap projector from eBay so people at the back don’t have to squint.’
The striking processing heard on Psychic Data is one of its many outstanding qualities. Can you tell us a little about the techniques and equipment you used to achieve the brutal drum, synth and feedback sounds we hear on tracks like Narcissus and Porsche Majeure?
TVAM: ‘I love working with old synths and drum machines, particularly Roland gear from the 80s and 90s. I’ll also use samples and sequence drums from scratch, then push the whole mix through cassette tape or VHS to lock it all together. Most of the treatment comes from household A/V equipment.’
In terms of production and sound design, are there any figures in film or music that have influenced your approach to recording, or that have taught by example?
TVAM: ‘I worked in studios, so I know the “correct” way to record; but for TVAM I just threw everything out and tried things my own way. As far as production, I was thinking of a point between Boards of Canada and Suicide. Somewhere between my own childhood memories and something intent on erasing them.’
Can you remember how old you were when you first became interested in the idea of making music? Did you always envisage recording and playing live as a solo venture, or was that something that took shape as you developed?
TVAM: ‘I remember being into music as a kid and listening to my older sister’s records, but I suppose it was high school when I first had any interest in actually making music. I knew I was working on a personal project with TVAM, so it never really crossed my mind to make it a band early on. I think the visual aspects of it all came from not wanting to perform it like a singer-songwriter. It demanded more.’
You’ve had some glowing reviews for the new record. Given its underlying themes, did you expect that warm response and for it to resonate so deeply with those first few listeners?
TVAM: ‘I’ve lived with these songs for a couple of years now, so it’s nice to learn how other people are hearing them for the first time. The sounds and themes I’ve been using have been really close to me, so it’s good to find I’m not alone here… I don’t think you can prepare yourself for people’s reaction to it all. I’ve been fortunate to find people are either into it or they aren’t. There’s something in there which either catches people or totally turns them off. I’d much rather that than somewhere in between.’
If you could be granted access to one single multitrack and allowed to take it apart, analyse it and make a remix – no restrictions or creative limitations – what track would you choose?
TVAM: ‘Only Shallow, My Bloody Valentine.’