Telomic exemplifies the stylistic fluidity and artistic opportunities that come from being a producer of the internet generation. Beginning under his Elliot Berger alias in 2014, he cultivated a following as an EDM producer who had a focus on big, bright beats, racking up millions of plays amongst a mostly American audience.
But, several years on, Telomic tells us now that he found the creative environment around Elliot Berger stultifying and stale, that he lacked the opportunity to make and do whatever he pleased. Thus, Telomic came into being originally as an outlet for the 170bpm-inclined portion of his creativity. Since then, Telomic has gone from strength to strength and has rapidly become not just an outlet, but the primary indication of his clear production ability.
With releases on Dexcell’s Breech Recordings, the flashy Terra Firma Records and now Liquicity, Telomic’s label history is even broader than his stylistic capacity. He described his recent four-tracker on Galacy, an EP which spans all the way from Visionobi-laden minimal force to 120bpm atmospherics, as “Telomic in a package,” and it’s clear from our conversation that he feels more creatively free than ever.
We rung him up to find out the story behind the music, how he feels about his current situation and what we can expect going forward…
Tell us about the genesis of Telomic as a music producer?
I was doing EDM already but was getting progressively more infuriated with it because there was an expectation of this sound that I wasn’t a huge fan of and every time I produced a tune that slipped out of that expectation, people didn’t really go for it. It got a bit irritating and it was frustrating me, so I started doing Telomic as a bit of fun and as something to break out of that.
Dexcell signed the first ever Telomic release on their label Breech Recordings in 2016 and it just became more serious as it went on, it was never something I intended to be anything more than an outlet, really. Then, in the last year or so, Liquicity have jumped on board and that was the point at which it became, to me, more of a thing.
Take us back to your early production mindset. You said Telomic began as an outlet – outlet for what?
The Elliot Berger stuff had an American audience and Americans and D&B is something that’s never really caught on. So, I just wanted to make D&B. I’ve always loved it and I’d been listening to guys like Etherwood and Keeno and the kind-of Med School roster. I’d also been going to a lot of Critical nights at Fabric and so was hearing Enei, Ivy Lab, Perez… Even guys like Emperor and that sort of thing as well. A lot of the tunes were just sub bass, a kick and drums, the stuff that I hadn’t appreciated before but when you hear it live, especially in Fabric, it’s like ‘yeah, this is sick’. So, it grew as an amalgamation I suppose of the Med School stuff with the deeper, more minimal Critical stuff as well.
Stylistically then, how would you describe the type of sounds you enjoy working with? What’s in your palette?
I think anything that says a lot with very little. When you’re struggling with a tune, it’s very easy to throw in a lot of stuff to fill it out and make it more exciting, but if you’re doing that then chances are the initial idea isn’t exciting enough. I love it when you hear tunes that are incredible but also so simple. Perez is amazing at it, Skeptical as well.
Yeah exactly. Guys who have the simplest thing, drums, piano and a bassline, but the three of them work so well together and the vibe is good. So, I try and do that, that’s what excites me as a musician: simple but great ideas.
How does the composition element work into that, in terms of writing chords and so on, because quite a lot of (especially young) D&B producers are more reliant on sampling rather than writing an original piece of music.
You mentioned chords, for me that’s pretty much it. If the chord progression is really good, then you’re set. That’s how 90% of my tracks start, a piano and some chords. The piano might get dropped later on, and if it’s not a piano it’ll be some atmospheres or some pads. Building up 8 bars that sounds good, then knowing whether it’s worth turning it into something or not. If a chord progression isn’t doing anything for you, it doesn’t need drums or anything else because you can tell it’s not going to be a be a good idea. Equally, you can have three chords and instantly you know you’re onto something. It’s always about starting with chords and going from there.
What’s your personal musical background? Did you play instruments as a kid?
I started on violin when I was 5 or 6, I never massively enjoyed it, but it was something that my parents thought I should do and I’m hugely grateful to them for that now but at the time it was a bit of a chore. When I hit like 12 or 13 I picked up guitar and taught myself, I was in metal bands and I listened to lots of pop punk and stuff like that. But it’s difficult, when you get loads of teenagers in the same room, to actually be all together and to stay dedicated.
Teenagers being teenagers, basically…
Yeah exactly. It then reached the point where I’d realised I could produce tunes, and there was no one else who would tell me my ideas were crap because it was just me vetting my ideas and there was no one I had to rely on. I could literally get home from school and produce for hours and hours without worrying about it, if I wanted a break I could take a break, if I didn’t want to do it I didn’t have to do it, but if I wanted to do it I didn’t have to contact someone and get their approval to do it. It was remembering the freedom of that I suppose that pushed me back towards Telomic.
What would you say are some of your strengths and weaknesses in terms of production?
I think in terms of strengths, I generally have reasonably tight mixdowns, I’m not Perez or Noisia but it’s reasonably clean. In terms of weaknesses, I sometimes struggle to get out of my own head, that’s the main thing. It’s like listening to something and getting caught up on the fact that it’s better, rather than hearing it and thinking about how to improve my own music as a result. I think everybody has that and I think writer’s block is 90% in your own head.
Has that improved as you’ve released more?
Yes and no, because there’s more pressure. The more you release and the more you’ve got expectations from labels and fans, as that grows, you get more confident but it’s also like ‘what if I put this out and people don’t like it?’ I think also as you start moving up in the world, so-to-speak, you start getting associated with artists that are better and better and as that happens, it gets difficult to not compare yourself to those artists. It’s difficult not to listen to someone you admire and think that they’re way better than you are.
For sure. But I guess at the same time, you can share knowledge and inspiration with those artists and use that to improve.
Yeah exactly, you can also bounce tunes off them and get feedback from them that you really respect.
So, how’s the past year or so gone for Telomic?
Mental really. Pretty much since the Home/Horizon release on Galacy, Liquicity have hit me up and said they’ve wanted to work together a whole lot more. I then met them in October and went from playing venues for ten people to playing a sold out Liquicity London in Electric Brixton to like two-thousand people. It’s been going from strength to strength and having the backing of Liquicity has been a massive part of that.
Your latest Galacy EP came out a few months ago. Do you think if someone listened to that they’d get a good grasp on what you’re about?
Yeah. When Liquicity spoke to me about doing that EP, they said two things. One, to just do me and forget about the label. Two, was to make sure that it had a nice variety to it. I hadn’t done a full EP for two years prior to this, so I wanted to make sure that it was Telomic in a package, and so it’s deliberately varied. There’s a slice of everything that you might expect from me moving forward but packaged into four tracks, pretty much.
Do you have a favourite out of the four?
I think No Resistance is up there, I’ve been a fan of Visionobi for a long time so to have Richard on a track is quite a big thing for me. Also Absence, because it’s the first non-D&B tune that I’ve done as Telomic that still feels like a Telomic tune, even though it’s at like 124bom rather than 170. It’s still got that vibe. It also opens the door in the future if I wanted to do something that’s not 170, so I’ve set that up as well.
How does the future look in your head? Both in terms of the boring career stuff but also the stylistic, musical side of things.
I think stylistically, I just want to develop what I’ve already got, to just keep refining the sound. Long term, I definitely want to do an album project and having a refined sound is probably the biggest part of doing that, so I’d love to keep on pushing my music until the point where I’ve really got it nailed, then I can think about doing an album project.
Liquicity have a ‘sound’ and people associate a ‘sound’ with them, but the team have always told me since day one to not think about that when I write, that if I write music, they’ll put it out and I feel like the Galacy EP is a strong indication of that. I kind of see myself moving forward with them and it’s largely for that reason. I’ve had experiences with labels in the past where they’re really set on you doing a certain thing and it becomes really frustrating, with a constant back and forth and someone else trying to make you be something you’re not.
I’ve got an EP I’m working on at the moment for Liquicity, beyond that point we’ve not spoken about what the plan is, but with them the conversation is always open, so I kind of feel like when that EP is closer to completion, we’ll have a meeting. But as I said, long, long term, I’d love to do an album, so at the back of my mind that’s where we’re going.
Before we finish, let me paint you a picture: you’re chatting to someone in a smoking area and they ask you to describe your music, what do you say?
Minimal and atmospheric, I think. Regardless of whether it’s light or dark, minimal and atmospheric describes my music quite well.