INTERVIEW: Boom Merchant is One to Watch

Glasgow-based DJ, producer and label owner Boom Merchant is a man worth keeping tabs on over the next couple of months. You might have already encountered his label, Tribal Pulse, an imprint which really pushes the boat out as far as off-kilter house and techno goes. The main man’s own musical vision is pretty much the same in that essence too. We checked in with him just as his latest release hit the stores…

OTB: How’s your day been so far? How’s all in the world of Boom Merchant and Tribal Pulse?

BM: My day has been good! We have some fantastic countryside not too far outside the city, so I took a trip to clear my head a bit with my girlfriend. I always come back with some good ideas, but today we also came back totally soaked, not the best weather! I’m keeping myself occupied working hard, writing new material and playing gigs, and we’re about to release the 7th EP on Tribal Pulse, so busy times!

OTB: How did you decide on these names by the way? Do you attach much importance to the name or is it just something you came up with one day?

BM: Boom is my favourite word. It has a nice ring to it, like the sound of a kick drum. I wanted to trade in music, beats are my products, so Boom Merchant.

A lot of people associate the TP label with tribal sounds. This is true to an extent and we’ve put out some really percussive stuff, but I think the name has more to do with music bringing people together. Of course the music is the most important thing; the names just popped into my head!

OTB: Are you permanently based in Scotland? What are the best and worst things about living there from an electronic music point of view?

BM: I’ve been here for almost a decade. I think Glasgow is a really interesting place music-wise, and I’ve really enjoyed my time here. I think a positive side is the size, diversity and heritage of the electronic music culture here. One of the bad things is the amount of shit you have to wade through to get to the good stuff. Things could be better, more diverse.

OTB: Is it an inspiring place to make music?

BM: I think so. Glasgow has a kind of post-industrial vibe a bit like Detroit, and like Scotland has some really epic nature and places to visit.

OTB: Do you find different parts of the year more inspirational to make music? When do you find you’re at your most creative?

BM: I’m not sure when I’m most creative. I’m most energetic in summer, but that’s also when I’m busiest doing things apart from making music. The season definitely affects what kind of music I write though.

OTB: How does your mood dictate the music you make?

BM: When I’m trying to generate ideas, mood is extremely important because I’ll decide what I’m going to create based on how I’m feeling at the time. Most of the time I’m just working on completing ideas and tracks that I’ve already started, so my mood isn’t so influential. At the end of the day I started to make music because I had ideas in my head, so my drive comes from wanting to make sounds that make me happy, not to express my inner emotions to the world. I want to generate feeling, not portray it, so maybe mood isn’t as important to me as it is to some artists.

OTB: Can you give us some insight into the label? Who do you run it with? Why you set it up? Where you operate out of etc?  

BM: It’s underground music, and I like to be a little bit secretive about how we operate. I receive help from a lot of people, and we are a really tight network of individuals who love to listen to forward thinking, energetic, funk-driven music. The label’s releases feature artists from all over the globe like Pole Folder, Acidulant and Kaban & Di Rugerio from Mexico, who’ll appear on our next EP. We also run some really nice parties, collaborating with visual artists and bringing in guests who we know will provide a really special and exciting soundtrack.

OTB: Was there one person who convinced you to set it all up? If yes, how influential have they been on your career?

BM: It was a lot of ideas over a long time, and I received a lot of my advice from friends who have been doing this a lot longer than I have, but no single person convinced me. I think the main motive was to set up something that would bring together and promote these exciting recordings; distinct house and techno music that tells a story. I was playing a lot of gigs in Glasgow and people were going crazy for this specific kind of music. It was sometimes dark and percussive, sometimes melodic but always driving and futuristic, so both sides of the project were born out of the same musical ideas.

OTB: And this latest EP – can you tell us about it a bit?

BM: It’s a 2-track featuring electrical, pulsing sounds and lots of percussion. One track is by Kaban & Di Rugerio and the other is by myself. It’s released 18th May and it’ll be available on vinyl and digital. Feedback so far has been phenomenal across the board and both tracks have been featuring regularly in my sets for months. They always get a great response.

OTB: What’s your ultimate aim with music? To be successful or to keep enjoying what you do?

BM: I think you only need to watch MTV or listen to the radio to see that ‘success’ doesn’t have that much to do with quality output a lot of the time. I’m more concerned with making and playing the music I love. Hopefully success will continue to come with that.

OTB: How important is it that your producer peers check out your music then?

BM: I have a really nice network of friends and contacts who make great music. Receiving demos or new material from them is exciting, so I hope they’re excited to receive mine too! The label’s releases have had a lot of feedback from some great DJs and publications. It’s always nice to know that people are enjoying your work.

OTB: Tribal Pulse is quite renowned for incorporating all sorts of house music. What’s the idea there?  

BM: There are many totally different formulas of instruments, sounds, patterns and arrangements that can be used to make outstanding music. The idea behind the label was to just release recordings that were special, and a lot of labels limit themselves to a very specific sound which can become boring, so we aimed to avoid that.

OTB: Is it purely the case that you want to do something on your own then? Maybe have more creative freedom?

BM: I have all the creative freedom I could possibly ask for. My only limitation is that I’m always drooling over the newest drum machine or sampler.

OTB: What track do you play to rescue the floor?

BM: I love every single track that I play, and when I play I try to craft a journey through diverse sounds and rhythms to keep you moving, so that I never have to rescue the floor! My tracks are categorized in my head by the sounds in them and the type of emotions they generate, so of course when I want to add a certain feeling into the mix or change the direction I’m going in there are specific tracks I’ll turn to.

OTB: And what track makes you happy? And sad?

BM: I don’t really play much sad music. I’m not a huge fan of being sad if I can help it! One really beautiful track with quite a sad vibe is Fur Die Liebe by Lee Burridge and Matthew Dekay. The strings and the vocals work so well together to create a melancholic feeling. There are so many tracks that make me happy that it’s almost impossible to pick one. One off the top of my head is DJ Bone’s own remix of his track ‘The Music’. It’s a fantastic uplifting, euphoric track but there’s a really raw, genuine edge to it as well, and that kick!

OTB: If there was one track to define the Tribal Pulse story so far, what would it be and why?  

BM: I think both the tracks from the new EP would do that quite well, because they’re our most recent output so they provide a good snapshot of where we’re at right now. Go check them out!

Boom Merchant + Kaban & Di Rugerio’s ‘Overflow / Surge’ is out now on Tribal Pulse

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