Last week saw the uplifting results of rising British house talent Tom Flynn being let loose amongst the entire Strictly Rhythm back catalogue. His new installment for the legendary label’s Strictly Rhythms compilation series (also available in a five-track sampler EP) follows in the footsteps of previous mixes by Radio Slave and Michael Cleis, and presents a complete picture on the label’s role in house music’s past and present.
The Birmingham native has let the music do the talking over the last two years, with a run of releases for Anabatic Records, dirtybird and Circus Recordings, but now he’s offering a bit of insight into his mix and his own background as a producer. Did you know, for example, that hip-hop was the primary musical influence for his new EP “Opera House“? Or that that once a track is complete it’s “dead to him”? Or that his track “Catch That Bird” is the sound of birds trapped in a car boot? Read on for more and to hear the sampler clip of Tom Flynn Presents Strictly Rhythms Volume 8! While you’re at it, don’t miss Flynn’s Strictly Rhythms Beatport Top 10.
Pete Tong named you Best Breakthrough Producer last year and your track ”Bianca” the Essential New Tune. What kind of effect has that had on your career?
Quite a massive one, to be honest. I used to listen to Pete when I was like 13, recording all his shows and hunting out the records he played. To have such support from him is unbelievable. When Pete supports someone, everyone else follows; you don’t really see it until it happens to you, but not long after Pete got on board, coincidentally so did everyone else. That’s the power he still has and why he’s like the dance music ambassador, I guess.
Can you give us the backstory of your latest release for Strictly Rhythm, “Opera House”?
I wrote it a long time ago actually, but like all my work it was inspired from hip-hop. I think I had been listening to early 123 or Daz & Kurupt records before I wrote that, and there’s certain things in the record, like production tricks that they did in theirs, that I brought to the house record. From a production point of view, I have no clue—once I write a record, that’s it, it’s dead to me. I forget it and move on. I write in different ways.
You’ve had an impressive number of original productions and remixes out this year, what have been your own personal favorites?
My personal favorite record that I’ve released is probably ”Catch That Bird” on dirtybird. I saw a bird sitting on the boot of a car when I was in traffic one time, and just kept watching it messing around, and for some reason I had this idea of making a record where there’s birds flying around the boot of a car and the boot keeps slamming shut trying to capture them. So I got home and wrote the record. From a remix point of view, remixing Pete Tong was an honor, but also remixing Worthy was equally as special. It was Worthy that inspired me when I first started, I’d never heard music like his, so I owe him a lot for turning me onto what I do today.
TOM FLYNN – CATCH THAT BIRD [DIRTYBIRD]
What’s your own personal history with Strictly Rhythm? Do you have any favorite tracks/releases/producers from the back catalogue?
My history with the label is simple: Listen to Danny Rampling’s LGDP on Radio 1 when I was a teenager, hear him say the words “forthcoming on Strictly Rhythm,” then go to the record shop Monday morning to try and find it! It was the first label along with Subliminal that I would always head for in the record shops. I have quite a lot of vinyl of Strictly Rhythm as most house cats do, but my favorite would probably be Live Element’s “Be Free”. That record marked a significant point in my life.
You were given free reign over Strictly Rhythm’s back catalogue for this mix, so how and where did you start? Was there one particular track that started it off, or did you already have a set list in mind going into it?
I had the mix in my mind already, like writing a record, I nearly always have the arrangement in my head before I start, so I knew how I wanted to structure it, but I didn’t want to just put on the obvious most popular Strictly tracks, I wanted to dig deep. Once I got hold of the Rhythm Masters’ “Spanish Ritual” the rest of the mix just fell into place. When I started searching for records, I thought this would be easy because I know most of their catalogue—wrong! I had no idea about some of the records, I discovered records that Danny Rampling had played and I’d forgotten about, it was unreal. I basically started from Strictly Rhythm 01 release and worked my way up to the present day. It took me five days to go through the records picking and choosing.
You’ve worked a number of your own edits into the mix, do edits always factor into your sets? And will any of these edits see the light of day as separate releases?
I don’t know if they will see a release, but yes, edits are important, just if you feel like there’s parts of a record where it looses its energy or you don’t really like then you can rearrange it to suit your set. Saying that though, a good record is a good record and should be left alone, no need to edit everything.
If you had to describe your mix in five words, what would they be?
“A lesson in house music.”
In your own words, how would you describe the influence and legacy of Strictly Rhythm?
Massive, the label has so much soul and credit. There’s everything from number one records to straight up underground bangers on the label. Where else will you see early Erick Morillo and Kenny Dope beats?
You’re following in the footsteps of Michel Cleis, Charles Webster and Radio Slave in this mix series, what new/different element do you hope to bring to it?
That’s hard, because those are three people who are top-notch, so to bring something seriously new is difficult when compared to them. I like to see it as my opportunity to show where I come from and what the labels back catalogue means to me, how it help shaped who I am today, you know?
What other new releases/news/forthcoming projects can you tell us about?