Tom And His Computer
The fall weather has begun to bite into my face as I run through the streets of copenhagen’s trendsetting vesterbro and meatpacking districts to avoid the rain. The warm lights shine through the windows of the various hip cafÉs and restaurants I am passing by in an area that still reveals the contrast between the new and old copenhagen.
I should be cold, i should be freezing, but yet i have a warm and fuzzy feeling about it all. I am about to meet one of the most cutting edge artists of scandinavia, a man that has been A part of shaping a sounD that over the last 10 plus years has taken the world by storm; the melancholic electronica indie rock fusion.
With a debut album ‘Future ruins’ just out the door, one could think that TOM aND HIS COMPUTEr is new on scene, but that could not be further from the truth, Thomas Bertelsen has been part of the scene from the very beginning.
Hey Thomas, tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you after the stage lights are out?
I like to see myself as a very positive, open-minded, kind and thoughtful person that seems to enjoy melancholic mood swings. And I’m a family man and a guy who likes a good party. I’m interested in politics, chess, football, music and of course I’m a nerd who loves studio/audio equipment of all kinds.
Your sound is very dark and melancholic and you can spot it from miles away.
When did the idea come up for this sound and what was the inspiration?
I guess it all comes down to what choices you make in the working process. It’s a matter of what kind of notes, melodies and sounds you choose. All that combined will result in a final output, which in my case often turns out to be rather dark or melancholic. It’s not like I’m following a certain idea or a master plan. It’s more an overall feeling that I’m searching for. It may sound like a cliché to some but inspiration most certainly also comes from the ever changing seasons and many dark days with very little or no sunshine at all you have up here in Northern Europe.
You have just released your debut album ‘Future Ruins’, congratulations! What took you so long?
Thanks a lot. Well for me it was a matter of finding the right entry or that one track that could set the tone for the rest of the album. As a producer you make a lot of sketches that will never see the light of day but every now and then you come across an idea that will set the tone for a whole project. Besides that I have been busy DJing and making music for television and documentaries, etc.
My impression of the new album is that it’s a long journey into many small shimmering moments of different moods and awareness. It’s giving every sound it’s own moment and yet it’s so cohesive in the way it is programmed without feeling overproduced. Where do you as a producer draw the line to where you feel something is “finished” to keep the human touch in your music?
I’m happy you feel that way about it since this was one of the things I wanted achieve with the album. Well I try to give the production all I have and only when I feel I have nothing left to contribute, then I know it’s finished.
You have actually been part of the Danish electronic music scene from the very beginning. It’s a small scene that rather looks internationally for a reference of success than domestically and therefore pushes the artist beyond its borders to claim recognition. How has this shaped you as an artist?
It’s hard to say, I think, but I guess it somehow gives you an extra drive knowing that you need to fight a bit harder in order to get your music beyond the borders of a small country like Denmark.
Your DJ sets have always been very eclectic in terms of styles and energy throughout a show, where others rather stay on the more safe path. Where do you source your music from and how often do you think of random combination of tracks?
I’ve been collecting vinyl since my teenage years and I have always been interested in exploring new music genres. So a lot of my sources comes from a long history of collecting vinyl. Later the music blogs became the place to go for new music. These days I mostly use streaming services to discover new music. And of course the tips you get from colleagues and friends. The combination is something that happens whenever I’m playing out. You never know how an event will turn out, so when it comes to DJing I like to improvise. But I do, however, make a lot of re-edits and bootlegs etc. so that I can put a personal touch on the tracks that I’m spinning.
You have a Primare I35 Prisma in your studio, what was your first impression of it?
The first thing you notice is how solidly built it is. Heavy and robust, and with nice heavy-weighted volume and input control knobs. In my book that’s always a good sign. And I like the idea about having an amp that can work as the centrepiece in your studio with multiple connection options. But most importantly the sound feels musically clear and powerful.
You work closely with Trentemøller and the new album is released under his label ‘In My Room’. Was this release planed or it just happened out of small wonderful ideas?
I released my first two EPs on Trentemøller’s label ‘In My Room’ and we have talked about releasing an album for a long time, so I guess it was the natural next step to do. But yeah, it did happened out of small wonderful ideas.
Will we ever see a return of Lulu Rouge?
Most likely, yes. However, it’s hard to say exactly when 🙂
How do you cope with performance pressure in the studio and on the road?
I don’t think about it. There’s no point in overthinking things too much. Once I begin working I get caught up in a vibe that allows me to forget everything around me. That’s what matters. Pressure (if any) is something you can deal with later (e.g. before playing live). You can practice strict discipline, stay focused and you can work hard, but basically I don’t believe anything good comes from putting pressure on yourself.
What are your favourite tools to get creative in the studio?
I use a combination of soft and hardware when producing. As for the hardware I use a lot of guitar pedals and FX’s like SansAmp, Vinyl Junkie, Death By Audio, Analog Heath and channel strips like Level-or, Stretch and JHS Colorbox. My main synths are Arp Odyssey, Moog, Roland Jupiter 4, Roland Gaia & Korg Preset. I‘m a fan of the old rather quirky sounding mini Casio 80’s keyboards. And I have a few old drum machines that I really love: Ace Tone, Rhythm King MKII and an ultra rare Italian drum box that I don’t know the name of.
In a perfect world where everything is possible and there are no limits, how would you like to perform your music and in what setting?
On the Moon.
And if not… I would love to revisit some of the dark NYC, Lower East Side indie clubs we used to play at some fifteen years ago. They are probably all gone now. But I would love to relive those moments…
Tom And His Computer new album ‘Future Ruins’ comes with a fantastic music video produced by Martin Garde Abildgaard, which was awarded by the Los Angeles Film Awards (LAFA) 2020 as well as Bucharest ShortCut CineFest, Best Music Video at The Monthly Film Festival (TMFF) and Award of excellence at IndieFEST Film Awards.
TOM’S TOP 3
Top 3 songs you cannot live without:
- The Gun Club – Mother Of Earth
- Slowdive – Catch The Breeze
- Monica Zetterlund – Vindarna Sucka Uti Skogarna
Top 3 albums ever made:
- Eden Ahbez – Eden’s Island
- Slowdive – Just For A Day
- Public Enemy – It Takes A Nation Of Millions
Top 3 places to eat in Copenhagen:
- JAH izakaya & sake bar
Top 3 places to see in your Copenhagen:
- Freetown Christiania
- Take a swim in the harbour / rent a rowboat and sail by the old “Bådudlejningen” for a nice draft beer.
- Visit one of the best and oldest bars in Copenhagen, “Bobi Bar” in the old Copenhagen city centre.