Live music is back in WA (even if at reduced capacity) and next weekend, Hot Dub Time Machine will play at one of Perth’s biggest shows since lockdown with his Hot Dub Wine Machine in the Swan Valley on Saturday, October 17 (and a show at HBF Stadium the night before for those that missed out on tickets). KAREN LOWE spoke to Hot Dub Time Machine (aka DJ Tom Loud) about connecting with his fans through lockdown with Hot Dub at Home and the high potential for tears as he stands in front of the crowds for the first time in months.
You are currently in lockdown in WA ahead of your shows at HBF Stadium and Wine Machine in two weeks time. How has it been going so far?
It’s fine, very chill. Lots of yoga, lots of work on the show, lots of FaceTime with my kids. I’m reading them Charlie and the Chocolate Factory every night at the moment, it’s fun.
Hot Dub Wine Machine will be the first festival in WA post-COVID with national artists. How excited are you to be able to play again in front of a live audience and how many people, including yourself, do you think will shed tears of joy?
(Laughs) I’m very excited of course. And nervous! I haven’t done a proper gig in six months, and this is a big one to start back with. I have been doing heaps of DJing with my NOVA work and Hot Dub at Home live streams, so I feel very “match fit” but standing in front of a huge crowd will be a wild feeling. I don’t know what to expect! There might be tears.
Speaking of lockdown, Hot Dub At Home helped so many people, including myself, cope through difficult times. Did it feel weird at first performing in front of cameras only? And did it help you get through lockdown as much as it helped people around the world?
Yes, the live stream DJing is weird because you guys watching can see the whole room behind me with my kids and all my stuff and it looks colourful and fun, but I’m looking at a GoPro and a white wall! But yes, it was definitely something I needed just as much as anyone else. I had massive plans for this year and it was pretty heartbreaking to have them all disappear, but Hot Dub at Home really made me see the positives.
Hot Dub Time Machine has been responsible for introducing different eras to new generations. How important is it to you to keep music from the past alive and kicking today? And where did the idea for Hot Dub come from in the beginning?
I don’t really think of it that way, the music I play doesn’t need anyone, these are the greatest songs ever written and are ingrained into our culture. I don’t think they’ll ever die, they just get passed down generations and I’m happy to be a part of that.
I started Hot Dub because I wanted to make a show to tour at Fringe and comedy festivals. My first shows in Perth were at Rooftop Movies in Northbridge as part of FRINGE WORLD. I sold so many tickets in that scene that I managed to move across to mainstream festivals like Splendour and Falls and it’s been my job ever since. I still feel very much a part of the Fringe Festival community.
How much time and work goes into creating a mix for your sets, especially live sets where you have people on stage performing? And what’s your criteria for picking songs? Have you had requests for songs that you either cannot stand or haven’t been able to use?
Quite a lot! This is my full-time job and I try to be quite disciplined in always working on it, so I’m always making lists, thinking of songs and trying different songs together. So it never really stops! For these two shows coming up, I have about 200 songs I’m considering at the moment. The first step is choosing the ones I’m going to get my horn section to do because I need to get their parts written.
My rule is to only play songs I love or at least like! If I don’t like a song I don’t play it, and there have been many requests I’ve had to turn down. The line is constantly shifting though. If you’d told me 10 years ago I’d be playing Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls, I would be deeply confused. At the moment the line is Barbie Girl by Aqua. I just don’t think it sounds very good. Venga Boys on the other hand…
You’ve had the pleasure of touring Hot Dub across the world, including Reading Festival in the UK and Coachella. What have been your favourite places to play so far?
I’m really into touring Europe at the moment, it’s so fun. And when you have a day off there’s always something amazing to do. I did a gig in Switzerland in an old Roman Amphitheatre in like 30 degrees, then caught a train to the highest train station in Europe where there was snow in the middle of August!
What are some of the stranger things that you have seen on tour? And have there been any special moments that stand out in your mind?
You see a lot of stuff on stage. People think they are part of an anonymous crowd where everyone is facing towards the performer in the dark, but the flip side is that sometimes the performer can see very clearly who has their hands down someone else’s pants. For me the most special time is always to travel for 28 hours to Edinburgh, Scotland – the other side of the world, and then play to the most massive, passionate crowds. This year would have been my ninth Edinburgh Fringe Festival and they’ve really adopted me. I miss it very much.
What bands do you currently have on rotation? And are there any bands that you just didn’t get until you saw them live?
Right now as I’m typing I’m listening to the Electronic Groove Podcast, which is not at all unusual. It’s always really gorgeous minimal house and techno. I’m so often listening to pop songs for Hot Dub, I find really nice deep electronica is what I need most often. And yeah, I love how seeing a band live can add a new dimension to their recordings. I saw Tool earlier this year and it totally introduced me to their new album which I now love.