He came, he went, now he’s back, in ‘Bans!
Tom Vek has been a very busy boy since the launch of his long awaited second album Leisure Seizure and has taken the time between tours to work on an interesting project conceived by iconic eyewear brand Ray-Ban. The project saw legendary band hopping, ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr provide four contemporary talents with various forms of inspiration to write an original song. To mark the unveiling of the project’s results, Ray-Ban put on a gig at East London’s Village Underground last week where i-D online took five with Tom as he prepared to headline the show.
Tell us about the “Ray-Ban Raw Sounds” Project… It involves influential guitarist Johnny Marr working with 5 contemporary artists to make a new piece of music themed around some influencing factors that Johnny gave us to work with.
Presumably you were set a deadline for that project. After taking 5 years out to complete ‘Leisure Seizure’ did you have to change the way you work? I think it’s fun to do projects like this because they’re quite playful, you’re asked to react to something which is a lot easier than to do something completely out of the blue. With my own music the canvas is blank and it’s like ‘what do I have to say?’
You featured on ‘Warning Call’ a track on DJ Shadow new album, how did that collaboration come about? I’d reached out to him for a remix on my first single. He said he was too busy working on his own album but then we had a call after saying ‘Actually we’re looking to try vocals on this track, do you want to try it out?’ and I said ‘of course’. I didn’t hold him ransom for a remix which is what I was thinking of doing!
Are you a control freak in the studio or was it nice to have somebody telling you what to do for a change? I am a control freak over my own stuff but when I’m working with someone else that gives me sympathy to know what a control freak wants. I actually really enjoy working with people, it can be a bit more fun. It can get a little serious when you’re on your own and it gets a bit introverted so I embraced that.
Artists such as yourself bridge the gap between electronic and rock music. How do you translate the electronic side for the live shows? I spent a long time developing the live stuff because there are a lot of electronics and even samples that might originally been something organic and have been affected so much that they now need to sound exactly like that. Without samplers I’d need so much stuff on stage to recreate every sound. It’s a necessity to use samples but you want them to be performed as much as possible.
On a different note, you look considerably slicker than you did five years ago. Was it a gradual transformation or was there a ‘eureka!’ moment? It was pretty gradual, I had long bohemian curls and then I went short back & sides with messy of the top and finally smart on the top. I think mens style is in a good place at the moment, I like the smart look it correlates well with growing up and it keeps the hair out of my eyes!
Which Ray Bans are you rocking these days?I’ve got these Laramie’s which are ones I was shown when we were doing the filming. They showed us some new models and I thought these ones look great!
Are you going to disappear again now? I don’t think so! I feel like I’m representing myself very honestly now. I wanted to spend the time away to make sure I could come back and be ready, the time that I spent should shave off time in the future but who knows… If I don’t write another song that I like again then that’ll be the end of it.
Text: Hugo Allon