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Ones To Watch (No 17): Tornado Wallace

When the inevitable music media-wide glance back at 2010 takes place sometime towards the end of December, those with an eye for the point where disco meets house will have one or two sentences of praise for Tornado Wallace. The mustachioed alter ego of Melbourne based producer Lewie Day – known for housier productions on murmur and 8bit – released a breakthrough EP on Jimpster’s Delusions Of Grandeur imprint replete with Linkwood remix earlier this year which turned heads.

Subsequent remixes for Eddie C and Loin Brothers on Hometaping and Future Classic as well as another Delusions of Grandeur twelve inch have really marked Wallace out as one to watch in the coming twelve months. Our man down under, James Manning from Tea & Techno, managed to pin down Mr Wallace for a little chat about how it all began and where it is going.

You’ve just returned from a quick trip around Europe – how was that?

Yeah, I went over as a holiday really and just to suss out the scene over there, I was with my girlfriend and a group of mates. I was mostly interested in Berlin because I learned German at school and it’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to go. I managed to hook up a gig at Kleine Reise in Kreuzberg which was cool. We went to all the hotspots but I’d have to say one of the highlights was seeing DJ Harvey at Panoramabar – that was pretty amazing. It was funny going into cafes in Berlin around lunch time and hearing minimal being played, not always the thing you want to hear at 1pm in the afternoon. I also spent two weeks in London and ended up seeing Moodymann and Floating Points there too. Just seeing Moodymann was enough as I’ve always been aware of his whole persona so seeing him get on the mic was great. What I really liked about London was meeting lots of artists and putting faces to names. I bumped into Ethyl and Flori and had dinner with the Horse Meat Disco guys. That’s what struck me about London, everyone is everywhere.

You originally produced tracks as Lewie Day with murmur and 8 bit, tell us a bit about that.

The Lewie Day stuff is still alive. I have been producing as Lewie Day since I got into house music in around 2004. My first release in 2005 was on a very progressive label, which was David Seaman’s  Audio Therapy. I was listening to quite a bit of that at the time as well as house, a bit of everything really. Then over the years I started making more happy and fun sounding stuff, I was really influenced by the Mannheim sound and got a release on Siam and Hertzlich which are digital only labels – I was pretty happy with those tracks. That led to the murmur release, my friend Mic Newman was working with them at the time, he helped me a release on their side label. I think I’ll do another one for mumur before the end of the year too. From that Tornado kind of opened up as I was making music less about a druggy sound and more of a drinking mocktails by the pool sound.

And where did the Tornado Wallace name come from?

I don’t really have an answer for that, it just popped in. I was actually changing my Facebook name one day just because I thought it would be fun and I changed it to Tornado Wallace. Then I started making stuff that wasn’t very Lewie Day and it stuck, I should really make up a story up about it, it sounds like a deep south blues artist or a logger from Nebraska, so somewhere between there…a blues logger from the south of Nebraska.

Is Tornado Wallace taking up most of your time now?

I think when I start track I don’t really know how it’s going to turn out. The Tornado sound tends to come through a bit more now than Lewie Day. What I think of the track and my approach to making it determines whether it’s going to be a Tornado Wallace or Lewie track. I’ll finish another Lewie Day EP by the end of the year which will probably go to murmur, so he’s alive, he’s twirling, always twirling (laughs).

“Tornado kind of opened up as I was making music less about a druggy sound and more of a drinking mocktails by the pool sound”

And your Twirling, Swimmin’, Paddlin’ theme?

Where we are now I meet up with a lot of my mates and we have developed our own language to a certain extent, a lot of it is Simpsons based. We probably see each other more than most people as we all work on the weekends. We need something to fill up our week and we get sick of saying the same formalities, so we have these little words that we say. I then try and turn those words into a track so in a way my friends become part of it too. Paddlin’ is from the Simpsons and so is Twirlin’ but I guess that’s what a Tornado does. I’ll do another Delusions EP with some sort of Simpsons reference.

And how did you first get in touch with Jimpster and Delusions of Grandeur?

I sent some tracks through the Delusions Of Grandeur MySpace. Without knowing Jamie (Jimpster) was behind it he wrote back to me and said he was interested in them, although he didn’t end up taking them and they ended up getting signed to Sleazy Beats. When I did “Paddlin” I sent that through and he was really happy with it and ready to take it on. I also played before him in Melbourne and he knew of some Lewie Day stuff that he’d been playing so maybe that helped push things along.

And how did the Linkwood remix come about?

Jamie (Jimpster) asked me to list five producers who I would like to remix “Paddlin’”. I can’t remember who I wrote now but I do remember that Linkwood wasn’t on the list. I’m not sure if Jamie looked at my list or not but he came back to me with the idea of getting him to do it, to which I immediately agreed and secretly cursed myself for not thinking of it first. We did the same with my last Delusions Of Grandeur EP and we went for Space Dimension Controller. He was too busy at the time – and you can see why with all these releases coming out – but by the time he got back to us I had finished “Twirl And The Beanstalk” which rounded off the EP nicely.

Your Tornado Wallace productions have been turning a quite few heads. How does that feel to receive so many positive reactions?

I’d been making music for that long and I was at a stage where it was getting tough as many labels weren’t taking an interest. No one gives you much too much time of day when you are an outsider and only so many opportunities present themselves, so it was amazing when Jimpster picked up the Delusions EP. That did so much for my profile and it was one of my favourite labels and still is. Seeing guys I aspired to like Greg Wilson playing my tracks in Melbourne was great. He was a big spark in my appreciation of what I call fun music, music that was less drug influenced and more good time party stuff, so seeing him support it and getting emails from The Revenge has been really awesome.

Tell us a bit about what you listened to growing up in Melbourne and what led you where you are today?

The moment I got into making music was when I got a copy of Computer Music magazine and it had a demo of Fruity Loops on it. I just started farting around a bit until I got a bit better at production. I’d always been into music and I used to play a lot as a kid, Mum and Dad dragged me along to do piano for years and then I did a few more instruments at high school. So I think what got me into electronic music were the same avenues as a lot of people such as the Chemical Brothers and Daft Punk ,but also some of that really shitty euro trance gave me a taste. I learned all these instruments and there is only so much you can do with a piano or guitar. Listening to electronic music made me think you can create anything you want. I like the opportunities electronic music gives to music.

A big electro wave swept through Australia in 2007, did this effect you at all?

Yeah we did have that big movement but I wasn’t really sold on it at all, by that stage I was playing and making things a bit housier and minimal, I was never really sold on the over the top electro.

And Melbourne is where you call home – is that the way it’s going to stay?

Berlin as a place would be so awesome to live and I would definitely like to go back there for a couple of months. I had a really good time in London and I think my sound works a better there. For the two weeks I was there I spent a third of my budget – it’s a expensive city. When it started getting cooler in London it really got to me too, I really enjoy an Australian summer and I think that would be the hardest of all, missing an Australian summer, having said that next year I will tour the UK and Europe for two months or so and then come back and get back into the warmth.

Who else is doing good things in Melbourne?

We have a nice little clique and we are all helping each other out to a certain extent. Mic Newman and Andy Hart are always firing out really good music. We tend to work together as far as giving each other feedback and ideas which is very useful. A + O, which is Andee Frost and Daniel Ooi, have an amazing release under their belt on stillove4music as well as a number of great new tracks in the bank. Francis Inferno Orchestra has a stream of quality releases forthcoming. I’m also loving what the guys behind Haul Music are doing. Mike Callander, Christian Vance and Craig McWhinney all have an awesome individual sound. It’s been great having all these like minded producers as good friends around town.

“Listening to electronic music made me think you can create anything you want”

And your C Grade party, tell us a bit about that?

Yeah it’s a monthly party in Melbourne at The Mercat which Otologic, The Mercat guys and myself put on. It’s been getting better and better since we started the night a couple of years ago and now it’s really kicking ass, staying open until 10am. Otologic and myself self-indulgently play from 1am until close each week. I think having the same DJs on for that length helps the flow of the night. Subconsciously, seeing the same DJs still playing at 9am from when you walked in probably tricks the mind into thinking it’s not so late. Musically though too, having three DJs play together for the 9 or so hours provides a more consistent flow. The crowd – especially the regulars – are just as integral though. Geographically The Mercat is slightly harder to get to than most other haunts. If you’re there, it’s because you came to be there, not because you happened to walk past. Perhaps that is why those who come don’t order a light beer and sit at the bar – or maybe it’s because we don’t have light beer nor any seats at the bar. Analysis aside though, it’s just a lot of fun!

What’s next for Lewie Day & Tornado Wallace?

I have just finished a remix for Cutters which is Cut Copy’s label and I’m really happy with that one, I went for a mid tempo Carl Craig type of sound. I also just finished a remix for Z Records – it was good to work with them as it’s a label I have always followed. Hopefully by the end of the year I’ll finish another Delusions EP and another murmur EP under Lewie Day.

Interview: James Manning