Interview with Tom Foolery
Interview and photographs by Michael F. Coles - 1/09
Photographs taken at Underground Sound 2008
Tom Foolery, if one doesn't know by now, is the main man who brings all the festivals at Salt Petre Cave together here in Murphysboro, IL. Instead of repeating my self by explaining what The Cave is and what all of these festivals are all about, when you are done reading this interview, go read the interview with Elephantronic that I did where I give a little history about The Cave (Well, somewhat). If, after reading this interview you are not satisfied with the questions I asked Tom, or the answers he gave, and still want to know more, just contact that man why don't ya!!
The Outcast: First things first, how was spinnin' in Hawaii?? Was it your first time there performing? Was it some sort of festival? Are there any new stories from this experience worth mentioning?
Tom: Spinning in Hawaii was fantastic. The entire trip was a string of moments of inexpressible beauty. The big island is incredible, you can be from beaches to rain forest to snow capped mountains within a couple hours drive. I have driven all across the mainland and had everything I have seen all within 90 miles out there. Simply incredible. I spent time with the locals at an AWA bar, spent relaxation time in tidal pools, snorkeled a coral reef, jumped off a cliff at the bottom of America, laid in emerald green sand, swam to beats at a healing retreat, did late night covert hiking to the edge of the lava flow. The scene there was great and varied. Everyone dances to everything. It is a very musical/magical place. I had no idea what to expect and I played my first set there on a Thursday in a small town outside of Hilo. I walked into a packed dance floor moving from front to back and even out the back of the venue, and at times into streets in front of the venue. I opened and closed with test drops of material still in the works (the opening was the healing edit of Playa Dust, done on the flight out just for that show). It was well received and I was able to just keep pushing deeper from there. Great vibes everyone from transient hippies, island natives, and even a government official were all grooving to the beat. I was invited to come out the next night to a place in the forest for another gathering. To my surprise I arrived to find hundreds of people packed into a large greenhouse with visuals covering everything. An awe inspiring sight really. I could write a novel about this and hope to make it an annual appearance.
The Outcast: Man, I wish I could have been there!! So for all of those who may not know who you are, who exactly is Tom Foolery? Where and when did he begin? Give us the details.
Tom: TomFoolery was a nickname given to me by DJ Brayks while I was finishing up my bachelors at Auburn. My earlier works in experimental electronic music was done under other names including 61. As 61 I was regularly in the top 5 experimental breaks tracks on soundclick (the days before myspace), this continued even while I was DJ'ing NuSkool as TomFoolery. I stopped producing electronic music for 3 years or so. Memphis P gets credit for getting me back into electronic production.
The Outcast: What's your greatest accomplishment(s) so far?
Tom: I haven't really thought about it. As a DJ? Promoter? Teacher? Student? I think the best feeling I have gotten is when a former student tells me that they learned things that really helped them. As a promoter, there is the nod. As a DJ playing across the country has been a dream come true, and every place I play I think gives me something to carry with my music. As a student finishing my masters.. But really I am still carrying forward and continuing to set goals both near and distant.
The Outcast: Are you disciplined in any other art media forms, or have any other musical out-puts besides electronic music?
Tom: Recording engineering of all kinds. I like field recording the sounds in my environment. I enjoy mic'ing up instruments and doing recording and mixing, but have been doing very little of that lately. I can get around photo-shop well enough to make flyers and CD covers, but prefer to leave the graphic arts to those that like to specialize in such things.
The Outcast: There are those who say that electronic music isn't music at all. What do you think of people saying that? Something I strongly disagree with.
Tom: I'd say they have had very little exposure to modern electronic music. Some of the first acid house you may be able to make that argument on some grounds due to the simplicity of it and using tone manipulation rather than melody to build and release tension. People will think what they like; it's true of any new form of music. Jazz and Blues were treated poorly at one time too, not to mention rock. Acceptance is gained with familiarity. But I think in most of our electronic dance music we strive to come up with alien tones and timbres to keep people in foreign and unfamiliar settings, while giving them a stable platform in the rhythm and structures. Do we do AB AB verse chorus verse? Rarely. Do we provide danceable rhythms that use melodic and harmonic elements to build and resolve tension? Sometimes. Do we use scales and rhythms to transform noise into something more? Usually. The real question I guess is; how does one define music?
The Outcast: What would you classify Tom Foolery's beats?
The Outcast: What, or who, got you into electronic music? What, or who, are your influences?
Tom: Miami Bass, 2 Live and things like that were my first exposure. We used to go through my neighbor's older brothers tapes when I was young. From there Magic Mike, because they invented parental advisory. My mom new what albums to look for. Magic Mike had all the bass without the lyrics. Everything really came to life after I started college and was brought into the New Orleans rave scene. The FreeBass parties of that time were legendary.
The Outcast: Tell me about CatalyticSouls. Is it a record label of sorts? Or is it a group of like-minded individuals helping each other out?
Tom: There are different facets to CatalyticSouls (one word). It started with the event hosting, which now continues as CatalyticSouls, LLC. Then the collective formed as a new facet followed by CatalyticSouls REC as a label for some of our musical output.
The Outcast: Being that your myspace page say's you are from various parts of the USA, (Florida, Illinois, Missouri), where are you originally from? Where is "home base", or is there one?
Tom: Anywhere I can sit with my laptop with internet access. I spend a lot of time on the road.
The Outcast: Tell me about the festivals that you bring together at Shawnee's Salt Petre Cave Amphitheater, specifically, Cave Stock and Underground Sound. How difficult is it putting one of these festivals together? Can we expect another Underground Sound this year (2009), or are you putting it to rest?
Tom: It's a good thing I didn't really understand how difficult it would be when I first committed to the projects... Underground Sound will be bigger than ever in 2009. We are making a huge leap in the evolution of this festival. I think you all will be pleasantly surprised.
The Outcast: Who has been your favorite head-lining performer you've brought to The Cave?
Tom: I rarely get to see any of the acts. Hallucinogen, Infected Mushroom, and Electric Skychurch, were ones I got to catch a bit of and enjoyed each. Our VJ Benji Ramsey probably deserves some mention here. He has been incredible at proving a quality visual experience throughout the nights. Starlight lasers have given us some intense eye candy too.
The Outcast: Where is the best place to get some of Tom F. and other CatalyticSouls musical outputs? Are there any CD's or vinyl's available?
Tom: Singles on beatport. com anything else you can pretty much find by poking around on myspace. com/djtomfoolery
The Outcast: Where can we learn more about the CatalyticSouls team?
Tom: You can check us out at catalyticsouls. com, myspace. com/catalyticsouls, or our individual myspace pages.
The Outcast: Well, now off to some other questions that usually go along with the theme to my zine. What do you hope to find after your life has ceased? Do you have any spiritual beliefs?
Tom: Bliss Consciousness
The Outcast: Do you think that the Christian God and the Devil are actual beings? What do you think of Jesus Christ?
Tom: I think the use of religion as ruling structure for centuries, has bent manipulated and corrupted the messages set forth to meet their needs of controlling the populace.
The Outcast: What do you want written on your epitaph?
Tom: Should you really write your own?
The Outcast: Thank you for your time, and thank you for providing the best outdoor entertainment for electronic music (and other) that I've ever experienced!! I've met a lot of great people because of your festivals that bring people in from around the globe!! Great times for sure!! (What's up Sherry, James, Brian, Tara, Alon and Brian!! There are more, but I can't recall all of them!!) Any closing words?
Tom: Get ready for festival season 09!