Vinyl Junkie Interviews - TOMMY THE CAT

Vinyl Junkie Interviews - TOMMY THE CAT

I caught up with Dutch Jungle warlord... The man they call Tommy The Cat... 

Hi Mate. How’s your week going so far?

Hey, my week is going great it has been a bit hectic with new releases going out.

Can you give me a brief bit of background on yourself. How old are you, Where you were born, where you grew up, what school you went to etc

Well my real name is Samuel van Cleef but people call me Sammie. I am 46 and have been collecting records since 1990. I was born in Den Bosch and lived most of my youth in Drunen that a small town next to Den Bosch. I went to various schools to end up at the art Academy.

So musically, lets start right at the beginning… Going way back, before raving and DJing and all that good stuff… What is your very earliest musical memory?

My dad used to listen to a lot of Tom Waits and Mississippi Blues Miles Davis, but also a lot of 60’s music would pass the record player. For the tune that might be soundtrack to my youth would be Spoon Full by Howling Wolf my dad uses to play it on guitar a lot.

When you were growing up, what music was likely to being played in your house? In otherwords… What was the soundtrack to your youth? And how did this music effect your future?

It affected me in such a way that I have a big love for hip hop soul bluebeat rocksteady ska blues jazz reggae blues etc. My dad equally got me to like jungle he had a Lloyd crucial tape in his car left there by my sister, and he was playing it over and over so after a while that album I think it is the one with the red sports car on the cover really grew on me.

How was the rave scene in Holland in the 90’s? When & What was the first rave you ever went to? What was it like and and how did this change things for you?

Well the rave scene in NL was different in the 90s’.  I have bin skateboarding most of my life and skateboarding and Gabber don’t mix so my 90s experience is not at Thunderdome .

But we went to the breakbeat parties and big beat and chemical beat shows with the wiseguys and chemical brothers live playing , jungle and later on DnB and yes there was some UK hardcore as well but that does not really sound like gabber. I went to Illegal acid raves where there were no gabbers Sp23 did some parties in the 90’s with a sound system called mononom so we would go there sometimes. late at night they would play really dark industrial acid. drop bass stuff. This is how I got more involved at the end of the 90’s in free party’s and travelling with sound system.

Are you a big vinyl collector? If so how many records do you have?? 

At the beginning of the 90’s I was just collecting my first record was a 7 inch By King Bee - Back by dope demand the first album I bought was Paris - The Devil Made Me Do It.

When did you first start learning to produce and what inspired you to do so?

I started producing with a friend in his studio with Cubase on an Atari connected to a s900 and a Dr rhythm we use for push pad with loads of weird collected synths I’m not sure which they were all a bit weird after that a friend of mine introduced me to FL studio or fruity loops at the time I have been using some different daws and thing but right now I’m back to using FL studio.
It’s a straight forward thing ( they manly all are) but easy to explain to kids. ( my son )

Why did you choose to call yourself Tommy The Cat?

Tommy the cat has a bit of a storey to tell. The name comes from a track By primus together with Tom Waits , I’m a big Primus fan and my dad was a big Tom Waits collector (both of my parents are not here anymore) so the name had some importance to me.

Being a prominent figure in Jungle how do you feel about the current state of the genre compared to the early days?

I really like the current state of Jungle, I have been collecting jungle ever since and seen it go faster more dnb more breakcore but the current state is the one I love it’s like the old days which made me fall in love with this music in the first place, but with a more new school sound and twist. It all gets me excited. I am collecting all the Samurai music releases so thats one that really catches my interest (really new school) but the Spatial releases By ASC i like a lot as well. I love Future Retro my bro Coco Bryce with Myor, the list goes on they all contribute to this now sound.

Being a prominent figure in Jungle how do you feel about the current state of the genre compared to the early days?

I think you need to keep jungle a bit to its roots (it always needs some heavy edits in the breakbeat.) and take it from there give it new school edit or glitch or just keep it oldschool and pitched put some more modern sounds in there and see what happens for me i try to keep things a bit organic sound wise but this does not mean I won’t go into a more nu sound and combine the 2.

Can you remember the first time you heard one of your tunes played at a rave by a big established DJ? Who was the DJ and how did it make you feel seeing all those people going mental to something you had made?

The first one i heard playing one of my jungle tunes would probably be Coco Bryce and that felt nice. Probably at the time i was thinking i know this track but who made it to find out after 30 seconds or a minute it was my track.

There has been a massive resurgence in vinyl sales lately with loads of old classics being remastered and repressed. Is this a good thing and why? Discuss….

The Represses. is a good thing, i love seeing the oldschool producers getting excited and seeing them getting the attention they deserve.
+ it’s a good thing for young people to get more on the history of the music and not having to pay top money to ow a oldschool classic although records are expensive as it is right now.

Do you think the vinyl thing will grow or fizzle out? discuss your reasoning…

Vinyl will always be there they told me in the 80's it would disappear they told me in the 90's it was going to disappear i even got shunt 9 selling ) playing records in the end of the 0's / 2010 but still it is here so i don’t think it is going to go anywhere anytime soon.

The sound of the early 90’s hardcore and jungle has come full circle with lots of young people, who were not even born first time round, adopting this sound, buying records and even producing music in this style… Its amazing… whats your thoughts on this and how is it going to effect the future of the scene?

Well it’s a really good thing young people are getting involved I think it will grow specially here in NL. I’m seeing it growing with younger people getting much more involved djíng organising party’s so i think there is a bright future ahead for the genre.

How does the newly produced hardcore / jungle compare to the original stuff?

For me it’s kind of the same vibe it gives me oldschool goosebumps but in a newschool way.

Tell us a funny story about your adventures out on the road DJing.

Not sure if I should tell those storeys there more road trip adventures
Seeing a big rig being build up all night 2 sound systems together on a teknival i think, with one of the guys from one of the sound getting drunk waking up in the morning drunk and walking to the rig he just put together and starts pissing in the front loaded bass slides , but I’m not sure this is an appropriate storey ;) not going to name names.

Or someone having a bonfire with one of the amps that got so overloaded by the sound system it catches fire.

Buit these are the less weird storeys, when travelling with sound system systems to teknivals or warehouse raves you will see a lot of funny and weird stuff

Any final words or shouts??

Much thanks for having me I would like to give love and special thanks to my wife Saskia both my kids Tygo and Indy Flatlife ( Jack Wax) For having my back and being my friend to Coco Bryce + All the artist on my label . FFF, Riffz, Dial-m, Subreachers, Msymiakos, MsDos, Duburban, Junglefever, Dart, Tim Reaper, Pastaman, Dubtuneka, Algorithmic, Nour Fawzi, Mikey Rea, Zoomie. I hope I’m not forgetting anyone.

Sam ( Tommy The Cat )

Thanks for taking the time to do the interview bro... And thanks for the guest mix which will be aired on my radio show on the 18th Jan 2024

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