Artist to Artist: Om Unit & TM404

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om unit tillandier
Written by Om Unit & TM404

Jim Coles aka Om Unit and Tilliander aka TM404 get to know each other properly after their recent collaboration.

Om Unit, the alias of revered electronic music producer Jim Coles has consistently pushed the boundaries of these things we call genres.

From Jungle and beyond, his innovative soundscapes have intricacy and depth.  Om Unit and TM404 have been delving into the realms of dub and acid in their respective works, exploring sonic territories that blend wide-ranging influences.


Their collaboration In The Afterworld on Acid Test brings together Om Unit’s fascination with breaks and reggae instrumentation and TM404’s expertise with the TB-303.  The result is an LP filled with acid, dub, breaks, and ambient elements, a primordial soundscape. Tracks like “Motorway Acid” and “Microdose Mondays” take listeners on cosmic journeys, while “Meanwhile In The Smoking Area” dives deep into submarine territory with bass-heavy sonar signals. The album, aptly titled “Free the 303,” resides in an altered state, between worlds and styles, reflecting their open-minded approach to music and collaboration.

We asked the pair to sit down and properly get to know each other…

Tilliander: So, Jim, how did you start your journey in electronic music?

Om Unit: I guess around the age of like 12 or 13 years old I was really taken with the UK rave movement and the same time I was also really interested in playing drums and learning about music composition at school. I’ve always been a nerd and I’ve also always been interested in trying to create a bit of a different take on whatever it is I’m interested in so my earliest electronic music “work” was back when I was 14 in 1994, Which was mostly me, rehashing recordings of DJ sets using tracker software. It was really bad.

Om Unit: So, I have the impression of you being an artist who enjoys being kind of tucked away from the world somewhat, and who enjoys being deeply embedded in the creative process, kind of like away from the limelight. Would you say that that’s accurate or do you feel like you want to be more connected to the landscape?

Tilliander: Yeah, I would say so. Most rock artists say they got into music to get girls. For me, I got into music to avoid being out with girls and mopeds (lol). I love spending time in my studio, but I also miss touring a lot. Before the pandemic, I played everywhere but then my booking agent went out of business due to the pandemic. So I really want to go “back on the road again” soon. I envy you a bit for being born in the UK. Most music I listened to growing up was from the UK. As a child, I got into Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, and later The Smiths, The Cure, Throbbing Gristle, etc. In my teens, I discovered Aphex Twin, LFO, and Autechre. In Sweden, we really didn’t have a scene like that when I was young. It’s a bit better these days though.

What about you then? When do you enjoy your profession the most, in the studio or on stage / in the DJ booth?

Om Unit: For me, they’re two very different spaces so I try to see it in context. I like the studio for the playground effect (which also exists on stage) but it’s a very private expression as I work alone. Obviously, that comes with its own pitfalls in terms of writer’s block or self-doubt and all the usual tropes of artistry but It’s again very different to a performance space. On stage for me it’s about presenting music in a real entertainment context, even if the set is ‘alternative’ or ‘experimental’ I try to think more of the ‘other’ in the sense of asking myself ‘Would I dance to this’ and even actually ‘people are paying me to entertain them’.. it’s very different. I really enjoy that challenge of showing up to DJ or perform live and just trying my best to make sure i’m doing my best, and to learn how to do it better. I don’t really prefer either and I think those two spaces really inform each other in terms of the writin and performing because of that.

Om Unit: Can you name 3 of your most favourite gigs you went to purely as a member of the audience?

Tilliander: As a teenager, I was super into The Cure, and seeing them in the mid-nineties was such a joy. At the time I was mainly attending EBM and techno nights but seeing The Cure playing three hours and still not getting enough was perhaps the best pop concert ever in my life. In the early 2000’s I opened for Rhythm & Sound and Tikiman in Amsterdam. I don’t even remember my set one bit because what the three of them gave to us in the audience was immense. The bass, the joy, and the fantastic tunes. Another fond memory is seeing Antipop Consortium making excellent beats while finger drumming. I was such a geek. Front row just smiling.

What about you ?

Om Unit: I used to love Anti-Pop Consortium – specifically the album with DJ Vadim ‘The Isolationist’ – that still really stands up! I guess for me, it’s hard to pick but Seeing David Axelrod with a full orchestra in I think 2003/04 in London was really special because they performed all his sampled ‘hits’. Seeing DJ Shadow perform ‘in tune and on time’ live was really something, and I think i’d have to say the whole of ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’ at Alexandra Palace in 2011 where they had Company Flow re-unite for a one-off show, MF Doom, PJ Harvey, Portishead, Beak, Black Roots and more. I feel like you’d never get a show these days with that calibre of lineup in one day, it was really special.

Om Unit: Do you have many albums that you keep going back to from your youth? If so what might those be?

Tilliander: Wow! I Would’ve loved to see DJ Shadow! Bought Endroducing the day it was out. Game changer. In one of the tracks, he sampled the Swede Pugh Rogefeldt who passed away just last month. Oh, All Tomorrow’s Parties! I was there when My Bloody Valentine curated it. I actually thought of it when you asked me about my favourite concerts. Seeing MBV three days in a row was fantastic. Got to meet Kevin Shields and Thurston Moore too.
I really hate nostalgia and I almost get upset when my friends are listening to the Depeche Mode records, we listened to as kids. Having said that, while writing this I’m on the bus to celebrate Midsummer’s Eve which is a super big holiday in Sweden. In my headphones right now? Basic Channel. I know all the tunes inside out and they feel like coming home. I think I read their approach to music production was making a loop that you can listen to all day without getting bored of it. I’ve listened to their recordings for almost 30 years and it’s still haunting every time. I use the same method when I make music. If I can stand listening to the same beat for an hour or two, I know I’ve got something. I then start to mute various parts and press record. I usually make music that way. Having one loop with lots of ingredients and fading various channels in and out. I have a feeling you work in a similar way?


"Basic Channel's approach of refined chaos is definitely one of the approaches I have."


Om Unit: We should discuss Basic Channel’s influence for sure! I think that approach of refined chaos definitely is one of the approaches I have. I use this type of method mostly with the acid dub studies work, and in fact with the encouragement given from my partner for example who helped me a lot by giving me feedback with tracks like ‘Tapped’ from the 1st LP… where that track had a lot more going on and with her encouragement, I was just deleting and deleting parts until it almost fell apart. This was done more in the post-editing phase though. I am learning to be bolder and record whatever is happening in the hardware and kind of think of that as almost done. I did that a lot with our record where there’s a calmness to setting strict boundaries of ‘this is it just record’ and it removes the second-guessing and need to edit so much. I think it’s a great way to work.

In terms of that almost ‘live performance’ approach to making music, that’s really yet to manifest for me in terms of making a 100% ‘live dub’ of a track but I’m getting there via being on stage doing these live dub performances with my acid dub studies. I think I’ll be doing more of that soon in the studio with my more dance floor records potentially. I love the sense of spontaneity that this approach brings because you’re not just staring at a screen with a mouse. I think really is the key secret to Basic Channel’s timelessness – it’s these immediate-feeling and addictive grooves that are so raw and honest and just hang there so beautifully that they are undeniable. I think they must have come out of a very sincere, earnest but playful space that involved a lot of spontaneity and flow state.


Om Unit: What do you do with your time outside of making music? Do you have other hobbies that help balance life?

Tilliander: Lovely to hear your thoughts regarding songwriting and recording. Many times, on stage I’ve performed full tracks using just one drum machine, usually the Machinedrum. There are so many patterns in that box that I did 15 years ago. I tend to play them live but as soon as I try to record them in the studio, there’s something missing. The excitement of playing in front of a crowd, I guess. Music has always been my profession but making electronic music usually means sitting alone in a basement with no windows and in my case no internet. So, it was super fun doing this LP with you. Obviously, we didn’t meet but just having someone listening, commenting, and reworking your material was great. I’ve also made a few records with Brendon Moeller / The Echologist / Beat Pharmacy in the same way. Sending and receiving bits and pieces. It’s a fun way of working. But I also enjoy actually working together in the studio.

Time outside of music? I’ve never heard of such a thing (lol). I think about music all the time every day. I wish I had a hobby. I sometimes buy the latest game console hoping I will finally become a gamer, but I end up not playing at all. I guess I go running, hang with my dog and partner, or occasionally even meet up with my friends. Speaking of friends, do you have a lot of friends that are into the same kind of music as you? Both listeners and producers?

Om Unit: Someone needs to book me in Sweden, and we jam! I guess my partner to some extent likes a lot of similar music, and I am always really inspired by friends and what they are listening to and playing as well as a lot of them are DJ’s or musicians. Here in Bristol there are a lot of people making music and playing live/DJ’ing who congregate a lot on weekends at events like any other city. I’m not a hugely social person but I get a lot from occasionally going to events and hearing great records being played. There’s a great session in Bristol called ‘Under Heavy Manners’ which has been going for years with DJ’s Andy Payback and Chris Farrell which is a Sunday early session of music, mostly vinyl and it’s all kinds of stuff from their collections but also with guests. I’ve played a few times myself and it’s always really inspiring to just sit and take it in sometimes, and to talk about music with people who really love it, people that collect records; Basically, nerds doing nerd things.

Tilliander: Sounds lovely. I come from a tiny town in the south of Sweden but left for Stockholm after I finished school. In my 25 years of living here, I mainly made friends thru music which means most of my friends are musicians or DJs. Perhaps not in the same exact style as me but it’s still great to be able to borrow a synth or have someone listening to your sketches. My partner is very much into sound, and I guess that’s the reason we met. We did a collab LP some years ago being in Japan for a month. We went back there just before the pandemic and our next album is more or less finished.



Om Unit: What’s the last album you bought?

The latest album I bought is my Lisa Stenberg. I think it’s her debut album actually. It was recorded using the huge EMS Synthi 100 system in Athens. The synth uses to belong to Iannis Xenakis, and I saw Lisa perform live using the Synthi 100 in Athens some years ago. She had a residency there and recorded the LP that is out for a few days. It’s released by Fylkingen, which is a platform for experimental music, dance, etc. and is celebrating its 90th year this year! Fylkingen is super important for the weirder side of culture in Sweden but now it’s going to be homeless due to the market and rental prices. Terrible.

Do you still purchase a lot of records? And when you DJ, are you bringing vinyl? My last DJ set was in June, and I opened for Aphex Twin. Well, on another stage but still quite fun. This was the first time ever that I didn’t bring records or drum machines to the booth. Just a USB stick. I felt like David Guetta!

Om Unit: I still buy records, mostly used stuff like old dub and dancehall records, ambient and some occasional house/techno/breaks stuff that I will usually ‘rip’ and master for DJ’ing digitally, I very rarely DJ with vinyl if at all unless it’s local for obvious logistical reasons. I really prefer digital DJ’ing because I can be more creative with it and I just found over the years that most clubs just don’t have the right equipment to be able to play records without issues.

That’s awesome that you collaborated with your partner, and in Japan too! I am just listening to this album, it’s very dreamy – love it! So sad about the Fylkingen space. This seems to be happening everywhere in the world sadly. Rough times thanks to how the world banking system has been managing itself. Politics aside, the last album I bought is something new from INHMOST called ‘The Feeling Of’ on RE: ST. I have a collection of ambient records that I love to play when relaxing/cooking or having dinner, which I went deeper into during the pandemic for sanity and perspective musically too. The boldness of ambient music composition I find to be very impressive, and I feel like I have a lot of new records that will be with me for years to come. One of my favourite composers of this style is Evan Caminiti, do you know his work?

Tilliander: Oh, I didn’t know of Inhmost or Evan Caminiti, and listening to both now while waking up in the countryside. Lovely to sit on the porch with my wireless headphone sipping some coffee and listening to your ambient tips. Inhmost is perfect at this hour, but I think I will enjoy Caminiti when I go to bed tonight. Apart from this day being the actual and long waited release day of our collaboration LP, it’s also Midsummer’s Eve today! The Midsummer celebration is super important in Sweden and it’s my favorite season celebration. To be outdoors eating Crispbread, or Knäckebröd as it’s called in Swedish, (vegan) herring, some glasses of akvavit while singing drinking songs. And of course, the sandwich cake, Smörgåstårta! We usually listen to Swedish music too and since I’m from the very south I tend to play music from that part of Sweden. Especially Peps Persson, who passed away two years ago. Peps was the only Swede ever that could play reggae and now we’ve lost him. Listen to this one, Låftamannen. The drum beat!


So now you know how I’m gonna celebrate the release of our LP today! What about you, how are you celebrating? Perhaps you’re playing somewhere?

Om Unit: I love this gentle soul! I remember hearing some of Peps’s music years ago. Thanks for the refresher! It’s nice that it’s reggae style but somehow more complex and unique. I like that he’s also not Jafakean too.

I am currently away in Belgium after playing my acid dub studies live show last night at STUK in Leuven for Artefact festival. It was a great event with people really locked into what I was doing. I’ve been expanding the setup recently to include the original bugbrand delay I used on the lp which is honestly the most slept on and amazing hardware delay pedal. I have two and I’m keeping them for life.

I’m celebrating the release of our album purely by enjoying people’s response and reflecting on how much fun it is to just manifest art with people you are a fan of just by knocking on their door and asking. It’s something I’ve done quite a few times and it’s usually something fruitful and exciting for me to be able to make new connections over time, even sometimes raising eyebrows and exceeding expectations from fans and music listeners in general.

Om Unit: So, final question I think for the gear nerds – your top 3 pieces of studio gear?

I started making music in my early teens and the first thing I bought was an Amiga 500. I got it for the sole purpose of making music, not to play video games. I’d used a home keyboard before but after purchasing that Amiga and Protracker I finally felt that I’d discovered what I was looking for. Playing in bands didn’t interest me because I wanted to be able to finish full tracks by myself. Even though I do have a big interest in instruments, outboard FX, etc, I still enjoy the computer and all its possibilities. Being able to make full productions using just a laptop and Ableton is bliss. Having said that, making music watching a screen isn’t always fun so while writing this I’m actually waiting for UPS to deliver the new standalone Push, which I’m really looking forward to. I still haven’t found one single piece of gear that I’m 100% satisfied with to use for full productions. The Analog Rytm is close, but I want more FX. Ok, so if I’m not on the road or at home with the laptop, I go to the studio like a regular 9 to 5 job. I’ve got an original ARP 2600 in the studio that I’m very fond of. Also got the EMS Synthi A, Minimoog, Mono/Poly, and, as you already know, some of those 202 303 606 808 909 instruments from Roland. Sometimes I use nothing but the Rolands for six months, then get bored and just patch the Buchla system for some months. I guess one of my favorite things at the moment is the mixer I purchased about six months ago. The APB H1020.

Back in October last year I decided I didn’t have any need for a hardware mixer anymore and sold my 24-channel Midas. What a huge mistake! As I said earlier, my way of making music is jamming while recording, and the mixer is obviously in the center of producing music that way. I’ve been looking to get the H1020 for about two-three years but never saw one for sale close to me. In January I took the six-hour train ride from Stockholm to Copenhagen and bought it. I’m so very pleased with it! Oh, and as you probably also have guessed, I’m a big fan of echoes and spring reverbs. Obviously, I’m very very fond of the Roland Space echoes that I’ve had for 20 years. I also got a Binson, Echoplex, etc. But one unit that perhaps not everyone knows of is the Aira Locobox which I’ve used a LOT over the years. It was my first piece of gear and it’s an analog delay plus spring reverb. Purchased it in a local music shop back in 1992 when I was 14 years old. I still got the receipt somewhere!

Tilliander: Ok, I know we said this was the final question, but if you don’t mind, I’d like to ask you the same. Your top three then?

Om Unit: That’s more than three mate but who’s complaining! I also started out with trackers, screamtracker and them impulse tracker myself. I need to come and jam properly in Stockholm sometime, your spot sounds like a lot of fun. For me at the moment it’s a lot of in-the-box going on but I use my Behringer 808 and 101 clones a lot too for synthesis (I know shame on me, sorry I was too poor to buy Roland gear years ago even when they were cheap second hand) and I’d say my Bugbrand PTdelay remains central to my outboard FX setup, which I keep daisy-chained to a Strymon Big Sky Reverb for added space. I bought an old Midas F16 console recently that is a proper beast and sounds really solid, I use it to track all my outboard stuff through as well as routing sounds from inside the computer to outboard gear and back, it’s got a very full and clean/true sound to it. Other than that synth wise it’s hard to say but I’ve been diving into my Korg m1 more of late which is dreamy if you drown it in fx, very classic 90’s sound which is a great starting point for modern sound explorations using further processing, something I’ve been into for some time now, and I think something we explored with ‘In The Afterworld’ for sure.

Stream and Buy their collaboration on Acid Test RIGHT HERE