Tom Russell: the man behind two of UK techno’s most lively projects. His work as Truss, alongside collaborative efforts with Donor, Sigha and Tessela, has been released by some of Europe’s leading techno labels: Perc Trax, Our Circula Sound, Stroboscopic Artefacts, Prime Numbers and new label Brothers – his music as MPIA3, by one of electronic music’s most significant trailblazers. The ‘Your Orders’ EP on R&S Records is one brilliantly brutal record and stands out above his two also-excellent Avian 12″s as a highlight of last year’s UK techno awakening.
Truss bridges the hard elements of early electro with rough-n-ready techno, making for uncopromising peak time bombs that vary from one release to another. The MPIA3 alias was born out of a dissatisfaction with his own productions and a feeling that the scene lacked authenticity. It expresses his deeply-rooted connection with the 303, acid techno of the 90s, refreshingly void of any duty to trend. Listen to his RA podcast from Monday, mixed as a combination of the two projects.
Amongst names such Blawan/Karenn, Perc, Shifted, AnD, Ventress and Clouds he’s been a key player in the industrial part of this techno renewal, both in furthering the genre’s rich history and making kids – brand new to the sound – rave like maniacs.
Before Friday’s Wigflex x Mimm x Hyponik party in Nottingham we quizzed Russell on aliases, collaborations with Tessela and album plans.
You’re down as Truss/MPIA3 on Friday’s flyer. Will it be definitely a set of one, or the other alias, or a combination of the two?
It should really be listed as Truss AKA MPIA3, haha. I mostly DJ as Truss, but I have also been doing the odd set as MPIA3 recently as well. The difference is that as Truss I play vinyl and a few CD’s, where as with MPIA3 I do a short, intense set with Ableton and a controller. As Truss I like to play across the board in terms of House, Techno and Electro, but with MPIA3 it’s more focused on the harder and often retrospective shades of Techno.
Would you say the boundaries between Truss and MPIA3 have blurred or become more distinct?
My MPIA3 alias is barely a year old yet so I guess it’s still too early to say. MPIA3 is very much a project for me to indulge in my interest of a particular area and era of dance music.
Are you trying to replicate the sounds of that era or put your own spin on it?
I’d like to think I’m putting my own spin on it, but I’ll leave that for other people to decide.
What do you like to listen to when you’ve had enough of techno?
Gabber, or maybe a bit of Enya.
So much has been made of the surge in the UK techno scene over the last 18 months or so. How much have you noticed it as an artist and when DJing?
There’s definitely been a resurgence and this is most notable by the number of people attending events. There’s a lot of people making great music at the moment and also a lot of people throwing great parties. It’s still quite a niche scene when compared to other strands of dance music, but it’s great to see a renewed interest in Techno here.
I imagine the standard crowd in the UK, for the type of music you play, has become more diverse?
I’ve always tended to find Techno crowds quite diverse anyway. Parties like Colony and Plex always seem to attract a wide age range and a healthy mixture of girls and boys.
Did you approach the ‘Your Orders’ EP like a mini-album at all?
After R&S first contacted me I locked myself away and wrote a bunch of tracks. I was just hoping there would be at least one track amongst them all that they would be into. Fortunately, and much to my surprise, they liked 6 of them and so I was offered either 2 separate 12″s or a double pack. We all agreed that a double pack would be a nice idea as it’s in keeping with the way a lot of Techno records were released during the era that this music is referencing.
Do you have plans for your first LP?
No plans right now. Tbh I find the idea of sitting down to write an EP a very daunting prospect never mind a LP. My best music seems to always happen when I’m not focussed on writing with a purpose such as making an EP for a particular label etc. In that respect I think the only way I’ll ever get to album territory is by accident when I someday realise I have enough tracks lying around that form a cohesive listening experience and not just collection of mindless bangers.
You spoke in Juno interview about how the MPIA3 sound is intended to make people dance using the bare minimum elements to the track, just a 303, kick, and synth. How much further do you think this music could be stripped back and still be effective, or do feel you’re already at the tipping point?
I’m not sure really. I think it’s probably at about the limit of what would work in a club. However, I’m planning on seeing how I can possibly evolve the MPIA3 template.
Do you find you create more energy in the crowd as MPIA3? And, has this made your Truss sets get gradually harder/faster?
It all depends on the crowd really. If I’m honest I get more enjoyment from DJ’ing as Truss, but this is largely down to the fact that I’m more comfortable with good old vinyl and CD’s. My sets have generally probably gotten a little bit harder over the past year, but again it depends on the crowd. Some seem to be willing to let you take things up and down a bit, where as with others it’s obvious they want you to go hell for leather from start to finish.
What is the pipeline for 2013? Will any more of your collabs with Tessela see the light of day?
2013 seems to be the year of collaboration so far with a few different projects on the go right now. Myself and Tessela have been working on some new tracks and we just about have a EP’s worth of material ready which will be released under our TR\\ER moniker. We are also working on a live hardware set with with our first show in Ireland in March. I’ll also be concentrating on my solo projects with more material as Truss and MPIA3.