Tesfa ‘T.’ Williams is part of a growing clique of bass producers whose versatility has been hard to pigeonhole but draws influence from the last two decades of the UK’s musical spectrums. His productions fit suitably as space-out transit vibes as well as club-ready grinding fuel and has received nods from tastemakers like Boiler Room to Rinse FM. “When I was growing up, my Paps used to play a lot of reggae and dub. Every Sunday the whole house would just be blasting that, so I guess subconsciously I always had a love for bass frequencies,” says the producer over Skype from his London studio.
However, what separates the artist from the norm is his journey through London’s sub-genres, from his early days as grime moniker Dread D to the current house driven sounds of T.Williams. “My first love was jungle and drum & bass, so I draw a lot from guys like Roni Size and Shy FX around ’95-’96. Then, everything I’ve come through in the scenes of garage, grime, and dubstep – it’s been a full circumference of the U.K. dance sound,” exclaims the producer.
Grime especially paved way for the artist’s career at the young age of 17, with his first release on London’s Black Ops imprint. As Dread D, he continued to steadily push the grime sound for a few years until the circuit eventually fell apart. “Basically, the actual grime scene itself became more MC focused. As a DJ and producer, there wasn’t really much scope for me,” explains the West Londoner. “Instrumentals became tailored towards MCs as opposed to early grime tracks which had a lot more progression. Every other tune became an 8-bar tune. It became too much, and my general musicianship felt like it wasn’t as much in there anymore.”
It was around that time T.Williams fell in love with house music and began nurturing his signature hybrid productions. “I remember my brother had an Armin Van Helden album and his sound was so different. I wasn’t really into house but felt that his tempo sounded like me too, with a speed garage kind of vibe. I use to bump it like nothing and it really influenced me to cross over from the grittiness.”
Currently residing with PMR Records, T.Williams alongside label mates Disclosure and Julio Bashmore have been on the forefront of U.K.’s house revival, leading a cutting-edge facelift for the genre since its conception in the 1980s. “House music has come back for sure, but it’s only a natural progressive cycle in music,” he says. “All these great sounds have come out of house like garage, dubstep, and U.K. funky. Now it’s come back in a full circle to its roots, where these sounds are influencing house.”
Also home to PMR Records is Vancouver’s emotive lo-fi wunderkind Cyril Hahn, who’s been stirring up hype across the Atlantic since his Destiny’s Child remix of “Say My Name” virally cycloned through the internet last June. “Cyril’s work draws on the emotional aspects hard, he’s thrown in that Burial vibe but kept it dancey, which is cool,” says T.Williams. “We did a show together in Sheffield with Disclosure and before I met him I thought he was going to be this super emotional guy. Girls go ballistic over him though; I’ve never seen so many girls go crazy at a show!”
Whether it’s down-tempo rhythms or gnarly grime reloads, T.Williams’ flavour packed musical scope will surely take North America by storm as he and Mosca end the Canadian leg of their tour on October 2nd at Fortune Sound Club. “I can’t wait to come back [to North America]. I want to bring something unique to the table considering the selection I got. If I could play for five hours, I’ll play it, I’ll go through it all!”
T.Williams and Mosca headline Fortune Sound Club on Wednesday, Oct. 2 with support from Max Ulis and 314.
By Thomas BrayBC, British Columbia