TM Shuffle: Finnish Dub Techno Master & Purveyor of Black Gold
Hello readers, Eric here. Over the last couple years I've been really into dub techno sounds - especially some of the material only out on vinyl. It's not everyday one of your favorite new producers pops by for an in-depth Q&A. So I'm very fortunate to have such talent open up on a ton of topics below.
His release called "Midnight Dubs" is probably my favorite EP in a long time and it's definitely the favorite piece of vinyl I've added to my collection in the last couple years.
This just got released on Bandcamp for those of you without turntables or those vinyl super fans like me who wanted a digital copy without the hassle of recording vinyl to digital.
Tell us who you are, where you're from, how long you have been DJ'ing Producing
My real name is Jukka Hänninen and I come from the forests of middle Finland. I produce and dj as Tm Shuffle. I also do/did collaborations being half of Shuffless and Sleazemaster. I got into djing in 1991, first in school discos and local restaurants. Techno got me pretty soon and I stopped playng commercial music.
First it was techno and trance (Harthouse, Rising High records etc) but the moodier techno with dubby and Detroit influences got me around 97. From there on ”the basic sound” has remained somewhat the same. I took a break from about 2004 to 2014 but been pretty active since that. I've stayed pretty much under the radar and that will probably stay so too as I'm not into pushing myself into the spotlights. But I do want to do my best to promote the music I love.
What labels do you represent? Vuo/Ranges Dubs - anything else?
I've been fortunate to have my music released on some pretty cool labels. I've released an ep on Irenic, another on Mouche, also tracks on Ranges, Stardub, Berg Audio and my own Vuo records. As Shuffless we have released on Synchrophone, Feel Raw Audio and HPTY. I'm very proud of all these and every release always feels special. As a vinyl head I value highly especially the vinyl releases. Cant beat the feeling of putting a piece of black gold on your 1200.
What is your signature style or sound?
If needed to pigeonhole it, it would be dub techno. And that does sum it pretty well but then again I dont like to just do the same track over and over again. Sometimes it goes more techno, sometimes more house, sometimes it's nocturnal moods, sometimes beach sounds. But every time there are quite a lot of delays, echos and perhaps a certain trippiness and deepness in there.
The Shuffless tracks are a different story altogether; they derive from the classical techno cities' sounds and are thus more ”organic” than my personal production.
Let's talk about the excellent EP "Midnight Dubs" - initially released only on vinyl and now for sale digitally on bandcamp - what was the concept and thought process?
Thanks, cool that you like it! The concept was first doing a split EP together with my friend Monoder. We listened to each other's fresh production trying to find tracks that would spark ideas for remixes (the idea from the beginning was to do cross-remixes. I somehow love the concept of split EP's a lot). When we finished the remixes we looked at cool labels that release similar-sounding music. We made a list of 3 labels to approach. Ranges was the first on the list and as they loved the tracks, it was clear that the music had found its home.
Who is Monoder - and his interpretation of Dream State is also amazing - thunderous hypnotic and drummy - is this his style in general or how did his variation come about?
Monoder is a longtime friend of mine, Jussi-Pekka Parikka. He has done a lot in the field of music; releasing tens of EP's, playing in Jori Hulkkonen's experimental 303 orchestra, running his labels and so on. Of his productions I always loved the Monoder stuff the most. Its his output for dubby, more technoid experimental stuff. On that alias he has done some serious groovers like the Ikikieriö EP on Statik Entertainment and terrific stuff for Pakkaslevyt.
Nice detail is that I taught him to mix on 1200's sometime around 1994. We have gone quite a long road together...
His remix was what he wanted to do to Dream State. It sure is thunderous and very very powerful – I love it.
The track "Dream State" is the stand out for me - what kind of chord progression is this, can you give a brief music theory lesson to the readers?
The chords are pretty basic, the base is minor E chord. Heh, I almost always go minor. Perhaps its the Slavic musical influence of certain melancholy. I played with the chord, made a few lines around it and selected the one that worked best and then loop, loop, loop with minor modifications. I have a 4-hour rule. It means that when you make a loop and can listen and work on it without pausing for 4 hours, it's powerful enough. In that 4 hours you can do quite a lot of basework for the actual track too.
Do you know how to play piano or do you use various tools or sequencers to play chords and such?
Yeah I have basic piano skills. I can play from notes somewhat and play chords etc. That is the base for all work but still most stuff I produce comes by ear. I also love using samples, and also using them for different things; using just a small bit of a bassdrum sample for a clap, using a chord sample for a bass and so on. Generally misusing samples is a nice way to get tracks started. Also when you sample from vinyl, you get a nice warm sound that might be crucial to the groove of a track. But on Dream State, I played the chords in and only did a bit of quantizing for them. If you quantize it totally, it loses liveliness. So it's gotta be tight enough but not 100%.
And also what about the patch of the chord itself? Is it a hardware or soft synth?
The chord patch is done on Subtractor of Reason (my one and only Daw). Quite many folks who use Reason nowadays dont touch Subtractor as there are a lot of way more advanced ones available but hey – it's their loss. You have pretty much all that is needed in it and you can make sounds fast. Sometimes you need to be very fast to catch an idea that comes to mind. After the patch plays, it goes to a chamber of different echoes. I like using a lot of different reverbs and delays, they really warp the sound to outer space when (mis)used properly.
I have a thought of having the track pretty simple if written to notes, but on the course of the track the notes just sound very different. Would be cool to have thought of that myself but unfortunately no, heh. When you listen to for example Basic Channel stuff you have it; for example an eternal classic TrakII by Phylups; the notes stay exactly the same for 13 minutes but the moods and atmospheres change so much with the use of effects and slight modifications to the sound. I just love it.
Those spicy 16th note dirty shakers love them! Are they in fact shakers - never really heard percussion like this and they really stand out - perhaps they are hi hats
Yeah, they do jump on you a bit... They are shakers, played really low and they have a ton of delay and reverb on them. The fx bring back the lost highs. Pretty basic twist but how it sounds alltogether (also mixed pretty upfront) makes the sound.
And the bass - definitely has that walking bass - sing/song vibe - similar to above - are you proficient on the keys or did you program that in?
The bass theme is quite common in dub / dub techno. Heartbeat bass, walking bass, whatever everyone likes to call it. A few extra notes added in there so it doesn't sound too monotonous. It comes from a sequencer but it has some tweaks on it. The patch on this one is also from Subtractor, triangle+sawtooth waves, a bit of detune and filtered real low + some tube damage to make it round but punchy.
Speaking of studio & production - tell us about your approach - is it in the box, hardware, all of the above?
It's all that and none of that... Sometimes it's only Reason, sometimes it's all hardware jammed live in. It depends on mood and feeling of the day. I have a basic way of working in Reason so catching a quick idea is most times done with that. But for the jams I have some trusted pieces of equipment; TR8, Korg Es-1 and ESX samplers, SH-01A, Akai Miniak, Emu XL7 and of course a BX mixer to bring in the warmth.
You mentioned you like to break the rules and have some un-orthodox methods - can you give some examples from this Dream State or the other tune Tracks Name?
Yeah, it sounds a bit cliche but sometimes breaking the rules gets you nice results. No risks – normal outcome and no excitement. On Dream State and Tracks name remix, maybe not so many uncommon tricks besides going all wet on the shaker fx but nice things can be gained for example sending the whole drum machine to a verb or a delay or using a sample for something totally different than it was aimed for.
Let's talk vinyl - how often are you putting records out? Are they purely vinyl only or do most get reborn sometime later on digital platforms?
It depends quite a lot. I do music all the time and send it to labels I love in bursts. It might take 4 months without sending anything but when I have some nice tracks, I might send more demos in a short time. It's always to labels I love and buy records from. The music has to come naturally and when it does, I check what labels it would suit and approach based on that. I'm definately a vinyl junkie so I'm looking for labels that release vinyl. It's tangible, feels nice, smells nice, you know if your favourite was A1 or B2... and also that is what I always have loved. The music is tied together to the piece of black gold it is on. I have no problem with digital but for me it's just not the same.
Then again, I think the music should be available to everyone so digital release should be included too in the perfect scenario. That's what I do with Vuo records; first the releases come out on wax and after some months digital. I haven't shouted too much of the digital releases of Vuo so far, it's been more so that ”one that seeks, finds”. But Vuo will get more into the digital game too.
What are your thoughts on BandCamp and selling direct to fan?
I like a lot what Bandcamp does. The division of money is pretty fair to me. I also love how they have program for bands and record labels, and in the agreement text of the band program they say ”we know that some record labels use this program but no problem, we wont sue you” or something along the lines of that. So yes, I think they are the good guys.
For people wondering how they can go about putting their own music out on vinyl - how much cash should they have if they want to do a nice 180 gram disc with a proper sleave?
It all depends a lot but as a rule of thumb; the pressing for 250 records is somewhere in the ballpark of 1100€, mastering some hundred €:S, shipping etc some hunders too and so on. If you want to do business, do something else. But if you are passionate about it, it is the zen-level of things for sure. But, pressing a wax of music that doesnt have passion in it doesnt make it any better. So music first, medium second is my opinion.
Do you find a distributor first who may say "yes" or do you go right to mastering for vinyl and send the distributor test presses and cross your fingers they say yes.
I think it's best to first think the whole thing through pretty well; have an idea of what your label does, who is the music aimed for, have the 3 first releases planned etc. When you have that, you upload the EP's (as private links) along with the gfx and your ”story” and approach the distributors. Again here its important to approach the ones that distribute similar sounds to yours. There is no point whatsover in sending a million mails to random companies and relying on your luck. It's a waste of time for everyone involved. Do your homework and approach the ones that already work with something close to your sound and thing.
Can one expect to make any money or should it be expected to lose/break even?
You can make money of music but I dont think its the way to look at it. If you are passionate about it and would do it for fun anyways, then you should look into it. For making money there are better ways like copiers and greenbacks (I didnt say that...)
Can you let us know about any upcoming events/broadcasts and releases?
I do a monthly podcast (last Sunday of every month) called Ruutana By Night for Timeline Music. So the next one is on the 26th of April. It is a soundtrack for what the streets of Ruutana sound by night; distant, mellow, nocturnal but on the other hand things might change for at-your-face too. So it's mellow techno if you want to say it simply...
The next release of Vuo records is released on 12” in the beginning of May. It is called Nocturnal Mood Series Vol3. It is the 3rd in the Mood Series and has some serious mindbending, hiptwisting music by Octaedre, Ohm, Halbton and Tm Shuffle. It's dubby and deep but has a lot of ruling power over your hips. I'm very proud to have the incredible tracks from producers whose sound I really love on the release.
I also have some EP's planned for some favourite labels of mine but as there are no release dates, it's best to limit that info to this at this point.
Any last words or parting words of wisdom?
Stay deep, stay real.