Glasgow is a very supportive city, the scene has triumphed in recent years with a number of artists bursting through the ranks. Creatively, there is a vast array of parties, music, art and culture to be found. Thomas Clarke or Mr TC, as he has become recently known, is one third of the crew behind the Night of the Jaguar parties. He has always dabbled in music but in recent months he has seen his debut EP released on Optimo Music. It has been widely supported and played across the city and by DJ's far beyond Glasgow's reaches. Recorded at The Green Door Studios in the West End the record is club focused, maintaining the triumphant sound of the city's dancing underbelly. We caught up with Thomas for a mix and a conversation. Listen and read below:
Please introduce yourself…Who are you?
I’m MR TC or Thomas Clarke if you want my real name.
Where are you?
I’m in my apartment in Glasgow.
What are you?
A human, a son, a friend, a brother, a lover… I’m a booker at a venue and I guess I’m also a DJ and a musician.
How did Night of the Jaguar come about?
Night of the Jaguar is a party that I organise along with some friends here in Glasgow at a place called The Art School, an amazing venue. We’ve been doing the parties for two years now and so far so good, they’re a lot of fun. We all DJ there and sometimes we invite our friends who DJ at different places across the city to play with us, we also often put on live bands in the club and if we have the money we might invite a DJ that we like from outside the city to play with us ,but not too often – it’s better to keep it local. I guess it came about after I moved back from Australia, I’d always loved going to clubs but I guess I didn’t think much about how the music was being played. Then when I was in Australia I lived with a DJ who had decks that we’d play music on all the time. He taught me how to mix and when I got back I was just really up for starting something, so we did. I guess I’ve got bias but I’d say that we’re doing something a little different with the parties from anything else that is going on in the city.
Your latest release was for Optimo, how did that situation arise?
Yes, I recorded the EP at Green Door Studio, another amazing place, and after we had finished mixing it Stu and Emily, who own the studio and who were engineering the record, sent the unmastered tracks to JD Twitch and he got in touch to ask if he could put them out. It’s amazing to have them out on Optimo Music. It’s one of my favorite record labels.
What sort of hardware and instruments did you use?
Yep, nearly every synth sound that you hear on the record apart from one is a Novation Bass Station II, Then for the drum sounds I used a Roland 707 that I borrowed from Golden Teacher and a Korg Electribe EMX. On ‘Soundtrack For Strangers’ the Drums were played live and my friend Scott played the other rhythm on a kpangolo drum. Apart from that, I used a Roland SP-404SX sampler for things like the vocals in Hebrew House, plenty of percussion and a Microkorg for that other synth sound. I also used my Fender Jaguar guitar with some pedals and did some live vocals which I pitched down or up and finally everything was recorded to tape with a spring reverb, an analog delay and a space echo going through the desk.
How would you describe the music scene within Glasgow?
I’d say that it’s pretty great. For the size of the city, the amount of cool stuff that goes on is crazy. If you wanted to, you could probably go to a great show or a club night most nights of the week here and every weekend there are about four or five events that I want to go to. For example, this weekend just passed, I went to Green Door’s 8th birthday party and saw 5 great bands play then I went to the Art School to see Lena Willikens play, the next night my friends Breakfast Muff ,a great punk band – check them out, were launching their album and then Helena Hauff was playing, again at the Art School. After that there was an afterparty till 7am in an art gallery and everybody I know seemed to be there. You know, everyone does their own thing, but there are so many talented and interesting people doing great things here. I have a theory that because the weather is so bad people end up staying in doors more and since they can’t be outside, they get creative. Also, it’s a cheap enough city that you can afford to work a part time job in a bar or something, pay your rent and have plenty of time to make music or art. I’d say the only downside to the place is the council’s draconian licensing laws. All the clubs have to cut the music and kick everyone out at 3am. That’s not very cool.
Have you got any more music in the pipes?
Yes, I’m already playing some new stuff with the MR TC band and I’m back in Green Door for a week in January so hopefully I’ll get another record together then.
Where was the mix recorded?
The mix was recorded at home on my decks with a few level edits made and some small things added in Ableton afterwards.
What would be the ideal setting to listen to the mix?
I don’t know, it’s quite an eclectic mix, I know that if I was in a club and I heard it, I’d be going crazy, so maybe in a club? Or else at home while your cooking or having a drink with some friends, or just on your headphones, whilst you’re going about your day.
What should we be wearing?
Whatever you like.
What would be your dream setting to record a mix: Location/system/format?
I guess on two good turntables and a quality mixer in a nice comfortable and inspiring space, with a great sound system, a bag full of great records and a few beers.
Which track in the mix is your current favourite?
Hmmmm that’s tough! I like all of them but if I had to choose… I’m obsessed with that Maria Rita – ‘Cidade’ Track. It’s an amazing, really rare and intriguing and unique piece of Brazillian music from the 80s. There’s barely anything about it on the internet. My friends, the 12th Isle guys were the ones who discovered it from our friend group and somehow Fergus managed to get a 320 MP3 of it from a digger who had ripped it and he hooked me up. I think he might be chatting to somebody over in Brasil that might be able to get us some copies as well. I really hope that happens. After that track, I’d maybe say my favourite might be ‘Wah Wah Wahlenstein’ by Die Wilde Jagd. I cant get enough of those guys at the moment. Their album was one of the best records of the year for me.
What’s your favourite recorded mix of all time?
The one that started it all for me – Optimo’s Fabric 52 Mix, still absolutely incredible.
These days, anything by Vladimir Ivkovic. He’s one of the greats.
If you could go back to back with any DJ from throughout history, who would it be and why?
You know I’d like to say Larry Levan at the Garage, Or Mancuso at the loft (might be clichéd but whatever) but to be honest I think if I was put in that position I would just want to stand back and watch and dance. These days there are loads of people that I‘d like to play with. I love nearly everything that Red Axes do, their mixes are great as well so playing with them would be pretty cool.
What was your first DJ set up at home and what is it now?
I guess the first set up was my house-mate James’ one in Australia. That’s where I learnt to mix and stuff. These days I have two turntables in the flat, one is my flatmates, two CDJs and a really shitty mixer. I’m working on getting a better one when I’ve got the cash.
What’s more important, the track you start on or the track you end on?
Both are very important. I always love choosing the last song to play at the end of a night but the first is important too.
What were the first and last records you bought?
I think the first record I bought would have been Michael Jackson or something when I was really young. The last record I bought was Toulouse Low Trax’s ‘Rushing into Water’ EP on Themes For Great Cities.
If this mix was an edible thing, what would it taste like?
If it was an animal what would it be?
One record in your collection that is impossible to mix into anything…?
I think you can mix anything if you try.
Upcoming in the world of…
Starting to do live shows with a full band. Our first one is coming up on New Years Eve, we’re playing at the Optimo Hogmanay party at The Art School, then we’re doing a couple more shows with them in Edinburgh and Manchester in the New Year and I’m also trying to organize a tour with one of my favorite bands, can’t talk too much about that now. Going to be starting Night of the Jaguar up again in the New Year as well as my other club night, The Strangers Rotation Club that I run in London with MWX and hopefully also doing a lot more MR TC DJ sets around the place. Also, there’ll be plenty of more music and hopefully a couple of new records from me at some point.
Anything else we need to discuss?
Don’t think so! Thanks!