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Evolution of the Art: Sleepy Tom

Longtime Canadian Musician contributor Kevin Young had plenty of leftover material from his extensive interviews for "The Evolution of the Art," his feature story on the past, present, and future of music and production technologies and workflows for our March/April 2019 40th Anniversary issue.

Here's more from his conversation with Canadian EDM star Cam Tatham, aka Sleepy Tom, slightly edited for length and clarity.

The Vancouver-based DJ and producer released his debut EP, The Currency, on Fool's Gold Records in 2013. Since, he’s collaborated with a variety of EDM artists including Diplo on the hit "Be Right There." His new EP, The Times, will be released in 2019 via eOne Music.

CM: Are there any current app-based tools for music creation that you use regularly?

ST: The only thing I use on my phone, music wise, is an app called Tap That Tempo and I honestly don’t use it that much. I have friends who use loads of apps to record, but my phone is more of a distraction than anything.

CM: Overall, do you think we generally just don’t take app-based instruments very seriously?

ST: Certain people don’t, but I’ve seen videos of young producers – who’ve grown up with phones since they were babies – who are now producing full songs on their phones. I’m 29 and didn’t get a phone until I was 18. I mean I just sort of missed that train. I studied at Nimbus in Vancouver and did the whole recording engineer thing, so I have a bit of a different route than a lot of DJs, who would just make music on their laptops. Creating music and being an engineer are two very different parts of your brain… So I might spend hours on one sound until I’m like, "Well, it’s not even a song yet."


The engineer and the music making sides of his brain, he adds, “Kind of get in front of each other at times. Now I’ve been able to go and buy some analog synths, but (before), I’ve never really had anything tactile. I grew up using digital instruments on my computer and now, being able to go back and, well, the sort of inspiration that comes from having something right in front of you…

CM: Something tangible?

ST: Yeah. I think that’s more inspiring to me than sitting at a computer. But when I’m making music, I don’t want to have to think about problems with gear. Using tactile instruments can be inspiring, but at the same time, can be a roadblock. I think the way we're headed, probably, is a blend of the two. Kids who are making stuff with virtual instruments now, I think that when they have the money to spend, many of them who are inspired by music and want to have a life in music will be investing in that tactile kind of thing.

CM: It’s a bit like the resurgence in vinyl. We’re never going to go back to that, fully, but …

ST: But for those who have access, and are interested, there’s always going to be an abundance.

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Andrew King is the Editor-in-Chief at Canadian Musician. He is also a co-host of Canadian Musician Radio and NWC Webinars’ series of free music and entertainment industry webinars.