Providing Groove for the masses – How TCTS’ sun-soaked, sophisticated sound was born from the Dubstep boom.
There’s no doubt in the rapidly evolving world of electronic music the notion of longevity has become a topic that’s often undervalued. Living in extremely fast times it takes an extensive amount of dedication, work & quality to stand out. This by all accounts aptly sums up what’s been nothing less than a whirlwind few years for Sam O’Neill, otherwise known as TCTS, who’s releases have generated a major buzz as we settle into 2015.
Having initially caught our attention with the R&B influenced, bass-driven ‘Hands’ EP, support from corners including Radio 1 & Annie Mac as well as sets alongside the likes of Disclosure & Bondax swiftly followed. What became quickly apparent is the London-residing producer’s penchant for affirming styles of Garage & Disco with Soulful House that’s made tracks like ‘1997’, ‘These Heights’ & more recently ‘Games’ impossible not to enjoy.
Having acquired the services of a plethora of talented vocalists including newcomer Leo Kalyan & Aniff Akinola (co-writer of timeless classic ‘Voodoo Ray’) it appears O’Neill is firmly on an upward trajectory as his forthcoming ‘Body’ EP excels in both diversity & distinction. Having been snapped up by Chase & Status’ MTA Records it’s becoming evident that O’Neill is becoming an ambassador for the new school of crossbreed house that’s set to mark dance floors, and the charts, for the foreseeable future.
Building up to it’s March 30th release we caught up with the Manchester raised producer to discuss musical influences, most memorable shows, being a perfectionist & handling the pressure’s that comes with success.
Easy Sam, cheers for taking the time out to talk to us today. You’re coming off the back of a massive year yet your work rate seems to hold no signs in letting up, how happy are you with your progression up to now?
Hi! Yeah it’s been a great year – a lot has happened, the releases have been well received and I’ve been lucky to play some incredible shows in the company of great people. To be honest I’m the kind of guy to constantly shift the goal posts and keep pushing myself to see what I can do, still a long way to go!
Your ‘These Heights’ & ‘Games’ EP’s were so well received; resulting in airplay on major stations like Radio 1 & 1Xtra, did you feel any pressure from that going into your next project?
I’ve been really blessed with support on radio, to have tastemakers like those guys playing your stuff is super humbling and a massive compliment. I think the fact that These Heights and Games are slightly different records to each other, yet they both were really nicely supported is definitely encouraging as an artist. Its hard not to feel the pressure but I think its important to keep true to the music you want to make.
Your forthcoming ‘Body EP’ offers such a wide assortment of styles which for us is sounding like your most accomplished work yet, how did the hook up with Chase & Status’ MTA Records come about?
Thanks! We started talking to MTA a while ago and the intention was always to go there after Greco Roman. Both Greco and MTA are run by really dedicated and enthusiastic teams, I’ve been lucky in that respect. I’m quite a perfectionist, so I’m always tweaking and revising songs, so hats off to the guys at MTA for putting up with me sending endless versions of tracks and letting me take my time with stuff.
The visuals for the excellent ‘Coupe De Ville’ are as humorous as they are colourful, suiting the tracks warm vibe perfectly. How did the collaboration with Aniff Akinola come about and do you have much input into the concepts for your videos?
I met Aniff through Universal where we both are published, he’s this amazing dude from Manchester, and was involved in some seminal stuff like A Guy Called Gerald. We went into the studio for a day, Aniff just got straight in the booth and freestyled over a bunch of stuff I had. It was super spontaneous, he absolutely nailed it. I always wanted him to be in the video as the vocals are such a crucial part to the track, and we wanted that throwback VHS vibe about it. It’s a fun track and I think the video reflects that. Yeah I do like to weigh in with the video stuff, and MTA are great at listening to what I like and don’t like, and making sure we’re all reading off the same page. A video’s an extension to the track, so it all needs to fit together.
You’ve played some prestigious shows at this stage of your career including Glastonbury, Secret Garden Party and across Europe, is there a highlight that stands out above the rest?
I don’t think anything will beat the first Glastonbury. I was playing on the thursday night on the BBC stage, and it was drizzling and the tent was absolutely packed and it was the first evening of music so everyone was super up for partying. I was pretty nervous, for me it was a real bucket list moment. One of the most fun shows I’ve done and it was made by the fact I had various pockets of friends in the crowd sharing it. After that the rain disappeared and it was a heatwave, couldn’t have been better. Secret Garden is one of my favourite festivals, its always incredible to play. Another highlight would definitely be Bestival this year, I headlined the BBC introducing stage on the sunday night, so it was really nice to finish off the weekend with a bang.
Is there a particular set or place you’d love to play above all else?
I’d love to do one of the big US ones like Coachella sometime.
Your style definitely builds from styles of House, Garage and other styles of Electronica, where have the main influences on your sound derived from?
It’s a hard one, I was introduced to club music through going to university around the time of the big dubstep explosion, and quickly fell in love with the Jacques Greene and XXXY styles of bass music a few years ago. I love it when house music has soul and a musicality, that groove that you find in swung rhythms and warm sounds.
You’ve played with some of the biggest names in the scene, we’d love to know which producers your feeling most at present?
This year is going to be a huge for Jonas Rathsman, he’s a super cool guy and an incredible producer, his new Wolfsbane track is ridiculous. The new George Fitzgerald album is great, I’m listening that a lot. Also Few Nolder and Gardens of God too, on BOSO with Ten Walls.
And finally what does the rest of the year hold in store for TCTS?
Body comes out on the 30th March, so we’re gonna be feeding out music and remixes from that until then. I’ve got some wicked shows coming up that I’m excited to announce as well as festivals here and abroad. Snowboxx in March will be fun, and then I’ve got things like Hideout Festival as we get closer to summer!
The ‘Body’ EP is out via MTA records on March 30th, pre-order it here.