August 12, 2015

Tom Furse is the keyboardist and synthesiser player for a little band called The Horrors. Heard of them? Of course you have. We caught up with Tom to talk about his latest project, Tom Furse Digs, which is a compilation of tracks he’s hand-picked from the Southern Library of Recorded Music. We found out how he approached such a vast archive of music, his favourite discoveries and how many tracks he actually listened to.

UO: Hi Tom! Tell us about how Tom Furse Digs came to be.

My friend Jon Tye who runs Lo asked me if I wanted to curate a library compilation and of course I jumped at the chance. It’s a real privilege as a record head to be asked to do something like that.

UO: How do you go about approaching such a vast archive of music? Where do you start?

There’s a little archive of this stuff so I just went there and listened and recorded as much as I could.

UO: How much music did you have to listen to before deciding on this mix?

These records have catalogue numbers that are MLLP 1, MLLP 2, etc. so I started with 1 and made my way through to 50. It was a lot of listening but there’s always the fear I might miss something.

Did you have a preconceived mood for the mix before you started it or was it something that developed over time?

It’s weird, I started to put together a little imaginary film in my head. Each track was a scene and they had to make sense with each other. I think the film was a cross between the sixties psychedelic film ‘The Trip’ and ‘The Endless Summer’, which is this iconic surf film.

UO: How has the experience of making your own music affected the way you might curate other people’s?

I think you have to look at it like giant feedback loop, where everything i do in music feeds back and influences everything else I do. So it’s hard to pin the exact influence of much of my activities but it all has an effect. Hopefully it’s just more insight into music, trying to get a big overview of this huge connected patchwork.

UO: Do you think that the tracks took on new characters when placed in your new context?

Definitely. I went in this quite breezy exotica direction but it could just as easily been really dark and intense. I’m thinking about pt 2 now.

UO: Did you have an idea of how this might be listened to when you curated it? Is it designed with a particular listening experience in mind?

Absolutely, anything that kind of echoes the imagery I had in my head when listening the to the records. Sitting in the sun, drinking tall colourful drinks, hazy evenings.. any of that stuff.

UO: What’s been your favourite musical discovery from the Southern Library?

Finding some of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop stuff was really cool, they weren’t really allowed to do stuff outside of the BBC so they would adopt pseudonyms. Also being just dumbfounded by the huge amount of variety and scope that these composers had. I don’t think there’s a lot of people in the world that could achieve something like that these days. It’s inspiring.