Photo: Dorje de Burgh
After appearing online at the start of the month of November, before being physically released at the end of the month, Lasertom’s Drift capped off a pretty good year for the man better known to his mates as Simon Cullen. Totally Dublin caught up with Simon to dig a little deeper into those saucy analog grooves.
I saw you performing in Temple Bar Gallery + Studios and you were doing it by yourself, was the album [Drift] recorded in the same manner?
The album was a solo effort, yeah. Mostly it is just me jamming over myself, layering up each piece. It was a new writing process for me as you’re playing everything separately, often going back to redo and embellish takes. On a couple of tracks Sorca [McGrath – the other half of Ships] is singing and another friend, Bryan Quinn, plays the trumpet on one track. Even then I was directing them with what I wanted.
Did it take a long time?
Typically there were four or five versions of a track before it became what it ended up as. All in all it took about a year to make. Because you’re doing it all by yourself, you’re kind of moving between four or five tasks or jobs at any one time and its hard to be strict about which hat you’re wearing at any one time. And say each job require five steps forward to get finished, but only one task can take a step forward at a time. It was confusing at times but only because it was new. I was writing and performing with Ships in between it too, which often helped with gaining perspective.
It sounds like a DJ set or a mixtape both when you are performing and on the album.
It’s very much a piece in itself, the album. Often ideas for new tracks would start from ones I was working on. They were informing each other. One track would provide inspiration for the next one and so on. Or maybe, one track will develop certain ideas, and then at some point you realise that it’s too much for that track and it might become parts of something else.
Tell me about the origin of Lasertom – you were previously playing as a live group as Lasertom and the Blast Crew.
The name Lasertom was meant as a tribute to as the sound of a electronic disco tom but through the miracle of a few beers and some good vibes it developed into this character Laser Tom. He was a space miner who would fly around the galaxy blowing holes in planets to extract precious metals and minerals, and the Blast Crew were his crew who helped get the damn job done! When I started performing the first EP a couple of years ago, my friends Bryan and Donagh played the horn parts and so the Blast Crew was the name I gave them, which also worked because of the blast of a brass instrument. But at the moment I’m doing the music live in a solo capacity. I guess I’m still working out how to perform it in some ways because of the way it was written. When its all figured out the horn of assembly may still be blown for the Blast Crew to regroup.
It’s being released on a German label?
Actually it’s an English label [Nang], but I guess it sounds German. Or Klingon!
Well, when I made the original EP, which called Two Sides and had three tracks, which again were all formed of the same idea, I sent it around to a few labels and one in England Bear Funk came back to me to put it out. They also asked if I could do an album. The same people operate a few different labels, so when it came to the time that it was finished, Bear Funk already had their 12 month schedule of releases set, so I could wait or go ahead with their sister label, Nang.
What does a record label provide these days?
Nang is a small independent and quite niche label so it’s not like what you’d imagine major labels offer up. But it was great because they covered all the production expenses. A lot of people are making music that doesn’t require a studio so there’s much less need for companies to cover that cost. They covered the production of the record, the distribution and the promotion – and I also try to promote it as much as I can, with gigs blogs and radio etc.
You’re playing the Nightflight gig in The Grand Social at New Years again. I saw you play with Ships last year.
Yeah, Lasertom this time. So far I know that February and Mars and Adultrock are playing live too and I Am The Cosmos are doing a DJ set.
So is there a Ships full-length in the works as well?
There is! But first we’re doing a 7” in the early part of next year with a German label called Stratosfear, which is two tracks on the vinyl and perhaps a little more on the digital.
Lasertom’s Drift is available from Nang Records now, and Lasertom features as part of the Nightflight NYE Hootenanny in Grand Social.
Words: Ian Lamont