‘Future Sounds of Jazz’ is one of the most relevant, most artsy, most forward thinking compilation series from the house of Compost as it has defined the term ‘future jazz’ ever since its first release back in 1995. With the release of ‘Future Sounds of Jazz 14’ the compilation series breaks new ground as it is compiled by Compost befriended artists and Permanent Vacation-label heads Benjamin Fröhlich and Tom Bioly, who displace Michael Reinboth, who had brought the compilation to fame. ‘Future Sounds of Jazz 14’ consists out of 28 tracks including three exclusives, one by Tom Bioly alias TB himself. ‘Unskinny Dub’ is the title of Bioly’s compilation contribution and nominally refers to him seeing a stranger wearing a tee with that print. It’s the little details that Bioly pays attention to in his everyday life, when compiling music, when working on projects that separates him from others. The track-affix ‘Dub’ is owned to the fact that the FSOJ-exclusive is instrumental only. A few days before the official release Torture the Artist caught up with Tom Bioly to deeply talk about the compilation, Permanent Vacation and the footsteps Michael Reinboth has left.
Tom Bioly: It’s summertime, juhu. I’m about to hop on my bike, go to the office, grab a coffee and a Bretzelat Viktualienmarkt, then work, work, work… speak with Benji on the phone, go to the post office. On my way back, I’ll grab some food and a second coffee at Gang und Gäbe, a Jazz café around the corner of our office – the owner roasts his own coffee, he is super nice, a coffee beans and jazz expert. Then back to some work, work … Feierabend (editor’s note: end of the work day)
Torture the Artist: Together with your label partner Benjamin Fröhlich each of you compiled one disc of Compost’s 14th edition of ‘Future Sounds of Jazz’. It’s the first time you did a compilation that was not released on your own label Permanent Vacation. How did leaving your ‘familiar musical surrounding’ come about and why could you not decline this offer?
Tom Bioly: We simply have been asked by Michael Reinboth, which was huge for us. We love the ‘Future Sounds Of Jazz’ series, so how could we decline this offer. We felt very honoured and it certainly also was a welcome change.
Torture the Artist: With the 14th edition the cup has passed you by a hair’s breadth, would you have agreed compiling the 13th volume?
Tom Bioly: Yes, sure.
Torture the Artist: The first 13 editions of ‘Future Sounds of Jazz’ were compiled by Compost label founder Michael Reinboth and voted ‘one of the best compilation series of all time’ by several magazines. How did you cope with the big footprints your predecessor had left?
Tom Bioly: We didn’t really feel any pressure. For me, I had a big desire to get started, I thought about it quite a lot and listened to plenty of their tracks. I used to work for Compost Records during and after my studies, and I was involved in the licensing and product management back then, so it was really cool to now be able to compile a volume for the label. We, Benji and I, have had an excellent and close relationship with Michael and Compost ever since.
Torture the Artist: The result of ‘Future Sounds of Jazz Vol. 14′ differs, of course, music-wise and in terms of sound from the series’ previous compilations. How challenging was it for you on the one side to press the compilation’s reset button and on the other hand follow the series’ vibe in a manner that fans are still able to adapt to the sound?
Tom Bioly: The great thing about the Future Sounds Of Jazz series is, that you have a topic from the beginning to start with, you don’t need to start from scratch. Personally my favourite Volume of the series is the Future Sounds Of Jazz Vol. 2 so I took it from there.
Torture the Artist: Your track ‘Unskinny Dub’ is one of the three exclusive tracks on the compilation. Was the track the missing piece on the compilation, meaning you produced it because you were looking for this kind of track or did you naturally include it on the compilation in order to give the compilation an even more personal touch?
Tom Bioly: More the second one, I guess. I wanted to include a track of my own, I had the demo lying around and when I knew what kind of vibe I was looking for, I finished the track in the first month of the selecting and compiling process. But the track wasn’t something like a missing piece in the puzzle. In fact, the most difficult part of the whole compilation process is the licensing, as you can just choose tracks easily but if you are not able to license them for an official release, it won’t work, and you have to start all over again. Here, Thomas Herb, who was in charge of the licensing at Compost, did an excellent job. A big thank you goes out to all the labels and artists being involved in the project.
Torture the Artist: What’s the story behind the track-title ‘Unskinny’, like do you wish to cause awareness to this certain topic?
Tom Bioly: I saw the word on a sweater a girl was wearing in a picture in some magazine and I liked it. Then I googled it, and there is a track from 1990 called ‘Unskinny Bob’ by Poison, which seems to have a different meaning. Then I thought ‘Unskinny Dub’ goes well with the track. I am not in for any position, when it comes to being skinny or not, as long as you feel good, come as you are.
Torture the Artist: How did you proceed when compiling the compilation and how did you find the other 14 tracks?
Tom Bioly: As I mentioned Vol. 2 of the compilation series had some influence on me, and the more I listened, I get more of a feeling of what I was looking for. There were only few tracks of which I instantly knew I would like to have included. Even though it is not a mix cd, I wanted to create something that works as a whole, when listened to from the beginning to the end. Some tracks are more interludes that lead to the next one, some are very short and others very long – for me this is quite jazz.
Give the listener an understanding of my own idea of the ‘future sounds of jazz.’
Torture the Artist: What did you hope to unite with the compilation?
Tom Bioly: I hoped to have a coherent package, and to sort of give the listener an understanding of my own idea of the ‘future sounds of jazz.’
Torture the Artist: ‘Future Sounds of Jazz Vol. 14’ could be seen as a symbolic act of two renowned labels, Compost and Permanent Vacation, uniting their powers to create something even bigger. Generally speaking, would you say that the electronic music scene lacks these kind of musical cooperations as a lot of artists and labels mainly focus on their own career rather than the whole that could be created?
Tom Bioly: Hmm I am not sure. I rather think there are lots of cooperations out there. I think it’s the year of collaborations, not only in music..
Torture the Artist: Name three events that changed the course of your musical career, accompanied by the reasons why.
David Bowie concert 1990 – wow
Love Parade 1993 – omg
Studying abroad in London in 1999, mainly Gilles Peterson’s ‘That’s How It Is’ at Bar Rumba and ‘Trash! ‘at the Annex – both have been quite influential
Torture the Artist: Your label is called ‘Permanent Vacation’ – does the name unveil a certain attitude towards work, or rather the feeling the music on the label shall create?
Tom Bioly: More about the feeling. I guess artists send us specific demos of which they feel Permanent Vacation could suit well…
I’d rather have a job somewhere else at a company, than doing this all by myself…
Torture the Artist: You’ve been working with Benjamin on the label from the beginning. Why do you appreciate having a partner instead of running a label all by yourself?
Tom Bioly: Having a partner is the best for me. I really wouldn’t want to run a label on my own. I guess it depends on what kind of person you are, but for me, I’d rather have a job somewhere else at a company, than doing this all by myself…
Torture the Artist: How do you complement each other?
Tom Bioly: We have now been doing this for more that 10 years, so we have a very good work flow. For example, Benji does a lot of networking and media work, whereas I take care of the numbers and administrative stuff. When it comes to the music and the creative decisions, we work and decide everything together.
Torture the Artist: What’s a memorable moment you both shared together?
Tom Bioly: Our first gig at Panorama bar with John Talabot and Pional, as part of John Talabot’s ‘Fin’ album. That was quite an emotional night for all of us. Also, when we received the Kathy Diamond album demo from Maurice Fulton.. out of the blue. And we only had 2 or 3 releases out then.
Torture the Artist: On the label’s artist roster you find scene-heavyweights like DJ Koze, John Talabot, Mano Le Tough etc. What’s an artist you would like to feature a release on your label?
Tom Bioly: James Murphy. When we started our label, DFA the label as well as their DFA remixes or their production for The Rapture, had a big impact on us. In 2010 when we played some gigs in the US we had the opportunity to watch LCD Soundsystem live at the Hollywood Bowl in LA and it was amazing.
It didn’t take much courage to release the sort of music we do on PermanentVacation.
Torture the Artist: What has been the most courageous release on the label so far?
Tom Bioly: None. It didn’t take much courage to release the sort of music we do on PermanentVacation… I think there are other labels who have a more far out sound.
Torture the Artist: What would be a musical extravagance you would pay for, if you were super wealthy?
Tom Bioly: I guess I wouldn’t, as paying a lot of money for music doesn’t mean it’s going to be any good.
Torture the Artist: What’s a producer you would like to remix a track of yours, and why?
Tom Bioly: Not so much a remix, but I would like if Tom Elmhirst would mix one of my tracks, and of course I would want to sit next to him at the Electric Ladyland Studios in NY. Okay, here I would probably need a lot of money, referring to your previous question. <smiles>
Torture the Artist: What’s a song that invariably gets you to jump up and dance?
Tom Bioly: Todd Terje – Inspector Norse
Torture the Artist: What’s the most catchy song that won’t leave your head once you hear it?
Tom Bioly: Yesterday I heard David Bowie’s Absolute Beginner through my neighbour’s radio and that got stuck, in a good way.
Peace, love, freedom.
Torture the Artist: What three wishes do you have for somebody else?
Tom Bioly: Peace, love, freedom.
‘Future Sounds of Jazz 14‘ mixed by Tom Bioly and Benjamin Fröhlich will be released September 7th, 2018 on Compost.
Interview by Holger Breuer