As we head into the sunny months and the temperature starts to rise a notch, we continue with our next instalment of the Brighton Mixtapes Series.
Next up we welcome one half of super duo Evil Nine AKA EVL TOM. Tom has been focusing his time on an eagerly awaited up and coming solo album, which has got us all at Berlin-Brighton HQ very excited.
As a background, Evil Nine first came together in 1998 after meeting in Brighton. After sending in a demo cassette they were signed by Adam Freeland to his Marine Parade record label, with their first release being the single 'Less Stress'. According to Tom (in an interview given to Fabric Nightclub) part of the reason that their demo cassette tape was actually listened to rather than thrown away (by 1998 cassettes had become virtually obsolete in favour of CDs) was because of their friendship with Jemma Griffiths (pop star Jem) , who worked for Marine Parade at the time.
After further single releases their debut album 'You Can Be Special Too' was released to critical acclaim in 2004, winning the breakspoll 2004 award for best album. The album featured collaborations with Aesop Rock and Juice Aleem, amongst others. The album track "Hired Goons" features in the video game Test Drive Unlimited.
In addition to their own material, Evil Nine has also released two albums for the Y4K and fabric mix series (see FabricLive.28), as well as producing remixes for dance artists including Adam Freeland, Timo Maas, Ils and UNKLE.
The pair has developed a reputation amongst both fans and critics as not being afraid to push the boundaries of what is considered breakbeat music, and tend to incorporate a multitude of styles into their DJ sets. An example of this is the track listing for Fabriclive 28, which includes artists as diverse as Simian Mobile Disco, Bodyrockers, Mystery Jets, and The Clash.
As well as regularly playing at various nightclubs both in the UK and Europe they have held residencies at Fabric Nightclub in London and Audio (now Patterns) in Brighton, as well as holding the position of 'Super-Residents' at Urban Gorilla in Sheffield.
Having met Tom many times across various decks and venues in our beloved city of Brighton, we thought it was about time we sat down together and chewed the fat about all the exciting things past, present and future. Here we go!
Hi Tom, how are you and what have you been up to this week?
Hey, good thanks! Apart from doing this mix for you and answering these questions, I’ve been finishing drawing the artwork for 3 single releases for my album and mixing down a public enemy edit I’ve done. It will be included on a mix series I’ve recorded, to be rolled out before I drop my album. I wanted to make a bunch of 'manifesto tapes', a way for people to get the vibe of my new solo outing. Originally, I was hoping to make a rave pack with 8 tapes but it ended up proving too expensive to produce, so I’m just going to pretend they’re for physical tapes. It’s basically 16 mixes, 45 minutes each from 100-140 bpm with all the tracks from the album interwoven. These will start to drop on my Soundcloud as the run up to my first single. So yes, that's all that’s been going on this week plus trying to sit in the sun as much as possible now it’s here.
You hosted one of the Brighton Music Conference afterparties two Fridays ago alongside Mini Da Minx, Chad Jackson and Luca Leblue. Must have been gorgeous in that glorious sunshine on Brighton beach?
Yes, it was lots of fun, the other DJs are awesome, I’ve known Mini for quite some time and met Chad at Moovin Festival the year before last. That was a super special moment for me with it being the first big crowd I played for out of lockdown. There was a lot of love in the air and it was a wonderful time to hang with a ledge like him. Luca I just met that day but he is also a top lad. The Break Point Cafe where it was held, is a nice little spot too.
You have been working on an album recently, sounds exciting! Tell us more.
Yes, it’s my debut solo album under the name EVL TOM, I dropped the I for mysterious reasons. I’m calling the album 'Absolute Melt' and it’s coming out on 'Out Yer Box' which is a subsidiary of 'Jack Said What', a new label straight out of Brighton from titans Carl Loben, Steve Mac and some up and coming author, I think his name is Irvine Welsh ;-)
It’s a bit deeper than previous EVIL NINE stuff but it’s the same themes I’ve always been rolling out. Sound wise, it sits in between Moodyman, DJ Shadow and 2 Bad Mice with a nod to my Evil Nine past.
I’m really happy with the sound of the record, which I caned together through the help of my top bro Alex James. He’s a young producer from the north, who used to record as Luvian and who I met when he did a course at the BIMM Institute back in the day. We mixed it in his studio near Bradford during the last year of the pandemic, which was logistically challenging but I think was well worth it.
I’m proud of what we achieved and can't wait for people to hear it! You can check one of the tracks 'The Heathers' near the end of the mix I made for you guys.
You made a huge splash in the breaks scene with incredible releases plus a very famous Fabric compilation (which I still love today). Breaks has certainly been on a journey and is making a big comeback. How do you think the modern breaks sound has evolved, if at all?
I’m loving where we’re at with the breaks scene again, lots of diverse producers making breaky influenced tracks across a wide range of flavours. This is the sort of question that I could get super deep into but then the answer would run to a couple of pages of text!
I guess I’m loving the variety of stuff coming out now, which suits my peculiar tastes. I’m not so into the party line when it comes to breaks and much prefer to play stuff from the fringes, the B side of a Techno record, which has got a broken rhythm, the house track that’s rolled out a breakbeat underneath rather than a four four... that’s the kind of stuff I love. So yes, there are a lot of people experimenting with broken beats now, which yields weirder and less cliched results, so whilst there’s still a standard sounding fare it’s also being pushed into new directions. I think there are brighter days ahead for the breakbeat massive.
Are there any releases or remixes that are your stand-out favourites or that have special memories or resonance with you?
Two times we sent off instrumentals and got them back with these insanely incredible rhymes over the top and that was with Evil Nine ft. Aesop Rock - Crooked and Evil Nine ft Danny Brown - The Black Brad Pitt.
It’s a mad feeling to hear these tracks, which we were already loving, to get elevated with these flows that completely exceeded our expectations. I mean, we were just hoping they wouldn’t be rubbish but they completely killed it and turned into something iconic (in my mind at least lol). So yes, they are my faves.
Where was your first gig in Brighton?
The Pav Tavern for legendary Brighton night Gogglez - a sweaty, sticky carpet flex pub.
Which other DJs or producers are you liking right now?
DJ Slyngshot, Willow, Eamon Harkin, John Talabot, Gallegos, Etch (Brighton's brightest), October, Leon Vynehall, Pangaea, Toshiki Ohta, Avalon Emerson, Logic1000, Peach, Eris Drew, Skee Mask, Eden Burns, Radio Slave, Shed Alex Boman, Bufo Bufo, Moy, Instinct, S.O.N.S., Chunky, Benton, Omar S, Dauwd, Luca Lozano, DJ Steve, Central and DJ Absolutely. Wow. Okay, I know I’ve written too many names here but I have wide ranging tastes and there’s too much good stuff around at the moment! I could go on!
What are your go-to labels?
Klasse Wrecks, Hessle, Livity Sound, Furthur Electronix, CloudCore, Club Glow, Kalahari Oyster Cult, Hypercolour, Sneaker Social Club, Tone Dropout, Illian Tape, Rekids, Lagaffe Tales, Suoer Rhythm Tracks, Craigie Knowes, Giegling…
You have compiled our latest Brighton Mixtapes Series Episode 020 - Tell us more about the mix. Like I mentioned earlier I’ve done quite a few mixes recently and wanted this to be a bit different so I chose a theme - Acid Breaks. The early days of the nu skool breaks scene was heavily influenced by sounds coming out of Florida, DJ Icey, Baby Anne, Electroliners etc so this is my nod to that. All the tracks involve an acid line to a greater or lesser degree, most are backed by breakbeat though and some 4/4 found it’s way in there too. There are a few Floridian classics peppered about, 'Loose Caboose' by Electroliners and 'The Feeling' by Richard Humour Vission, plus an old Andalusian rave killer 'Mental Ability To Be Different' by Oscar, and a small selection of other vintage tracks but these are mixed with a host of new stuff from the likes of Diskop, Fantastic Man, DJ Steve, Luca Duran, Bawrut and more. Hopefully it all adds up to a weirdly wonderful riff on the acid breaks template. I had a lot of fun with the mix and threw a few vocal edits in there just to add to the party. Hope you guys enjoy it.
What else can we expect from you soon? What's next on the horizon for DJ gigs or productions? Where can people see you next?
Not sure when the next Brighton show is, though I think a Block garden party is on the cards for Brighton Pride. The next big festival for me is Electric Castle in Romania. Apart from that, stay tuned for the album and singles in the next few months and before that the 'MANIFESTO TAPES'. Search EVL TOM on Soundcloud and give me a follow. Ta x
Thanks for spending some time with us, is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers? Peace, love and no new gas and oil xx
Exciting stuff! It's been an absolute pleasure talking with you Tom and you're actually really nice and not so EVL at all! Next up here's the Quickfire Round:
Favourite Colour: Aquamarine
What do you put on your chips? I grew up in the north, so it’s mushy peas and curry sauce - standard.
First record ever bought: Pass The Dutchie - Musical Youth Apple or Android: Apple
Ableton or Logic: Ableton
Can you juggle?: No way!
Weirdest/Coolest item of clothing: A tan cowboy jacket with the embroidered face of Lieutenant Blueberry on the back. He was a cartoon character in the French comic book Titan Moebius. It’s kinda niche lol.
Do you collect anything? Vinyl, books/comics, unusual nick-nacks, dust
Favourite place to hang out: Any sunny spot, beach, garden, park
Best club: A38 Boat in Budapest but in the past it was The Plug in Sheffield and Fabric in London
Favourite Bar/Club: Black Dove, Great Eastern, The Indy, Block Bar. It's a four way tie lol - all are Brighton spots.
Best place for a Sunday roast: My house
Favourite Wurst: Porky whites
Weirdest food you have eaten? Chicken feet
Coffee or Tea: Coffee
Spring, summer, autumn or winter? Summer
Favourite Footy Team: You mean what’s your favourite Anime? Hunter x Hunter
Favourite Track right now: Installation - Pangaea (that’s what it is today anyway) Favourite word: Kuriatko (little chicken in Slovak)
3 words to describe your mix: Acid, break, beat
Jellyfish acid - Lake Haze
Hidden Place - Bjork Acapella
Gimme Some Acid - Mr. White
Fools Gold ( A Guy Called Gerald Remix ) - Stone Roses
Discredit To The Edit ( Bawrut remix ) - Local Group
Tweeterized - Bass Trip
21 - Logic1000
Calumet - Reznik, Good Guy Mikesh
MUA - Sir E.U + Tooth C
Dobrag - Joe V and Cyrus
Urth Man - Ex-Terrestrial
Sunday Midday Business ( Ede Remix ) - Sarah Wild
Telenovela - Luca Duran
Lift Off - TRP
Lost - Xavier Naudascher
Angel Number 909 ( Breaksapella ) - DJ Steve
Let The Warriors Dance ( Unreleased DAT Mix ) ( ET Jumpin Edit ) - Addis Posse
Hammers Jack Voices Wail - Credit 00
Trance Sexual - Fantastic Man
Imaginary Trip - Omega Man (Stereo MC’s on 33 ( DJ Technics Loop Tool on top )
Hold Your Wig - DISKOP
Acid Zdoch - Maelstrom
Round & Round - DJ Duke
The Heathers - EVL TOM
Loose Caboose - Electroliners
The Feeling - Richard Humpty Vission
Okra ( Acapella ) - Tyler The Creator
Slo-mo - DJ ESP
Mental Ability To Be Different - Oscar
Acid Flange - Pugilist
When Your X Wants You Back ( Acapella ) - Surface
Badman - Beenie Man