For Australian producer Tom Stell, Golden Features is not a gimmick. It doesn't keep his identity a secret, the mask is not an alternate personality, and he doesn't conduct interviews in character. The golden mask he wears during performances started a simply a design element and became a critical part of his artistic direction. But it is also just a piece of the larger puzzle that acts as a tool for him to perform through. The music, the production, the visuals, and the mask, all come together as the vision that Stell has for his art.
Once a producer of Big Room House, Stell found himself dissatisfied and creatively strained, producing music not because he was inspired by it, but because it was what everyone else was making at the time. He departed from the genre and performing DJ sets to explore his own creative potential. That decision has spawned tracks bending a wide variety of genres, two EPs, a sold out Australian tour, and an impressive collection of remixes, including Porter Robinson's Years Of War (he also uses Porter's visual effects guy for a lot of his live video). And today, a double release on Foreign Family Collective.
First we have "Wolfie," which originates from a lullaby that Stell had been composing for his nephew. Soft and comforting, as one would expect from a lullaby, it hypnotizes us with it's charming, music box melodies and captivating vocals by Julia Stone. And ominous and heavy, "Funeral" takes on a noticeable contrast. The dark, after-midnight tones are something that would be right at home in a crowded, underground venue. Golden Features clearly draws influence from a wide range of producers and these two tracks do an exceptional job to showcase the versatility of his production.
Up until now, Foreign Family Collective has been pretty consistent with each of their releases. While the songs all tend to take on this wandering, ethereal theme, they're all built on a foundation of vision and imagination. The artists Clayton Knight and Harrison Mills choose to bring into the family are committed to producing music beyond any one individual song. It's more about creating an world that they can experiment in; and these artists all represent different parts of the same world, converging together to form the collective. Golden Features takes us on a tour of the darker side of this, descending into the shadowy, previously uncharted region. He opens up an entirely new realm of possibilities for the future of Foreign Family Collective, and exemplifies the kind of ambition that is the centerpiece of their brand. Never content with just what's safe and available, but far more curious in discovering what else he is capable of artistically.
"I always liked graffiti because it’s artwork that’s important to the world, but not all about the person who made it. You go out, you do whatever you have to do, you put it out there in the world, and you don’t expect personal credit for it. You just do it because it satisfies you. If people like it, they like it and if they hate it, they hate it - but at least it’s something real, out in the world."
- Tom Stell, Thump 2014