Among many other things in recent weeks, I picked up a second-hand copy of a minor hit single dating back to 2005, by an artist I knew nothing about other than the fact that I had enjoyed listening to another of his singles when the video was aired regularly on MTV2, which for a couple of years was the source of much of the new music I was picking up on.
Not knowing much about Tom Vek, I turned to t’internet for some sort of help. As usual, allmusic was useful:-
London’s eclectic one-man band Tom Vek combines electronic music with indie rock, punk with dance, and influences like new wave and garage (and also made most of his early recordings in his parents’ garage, too). However, as a teen in the mid-’90s, Vek was inspired by grunge and began making rock along the lines of Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam; before that, he backed his guitarist father on bass and drums in their practice space/garage. When his family acquired a reel-to-reel tape recorder when he was 14, Vek began recording his music, which evolved from grungy rock to Warp-and Ninja Tune-influenced electronica as the ’90s came to a close.
Vek had been sending his music to a friend of the family (who happened to be Alex Cooper, the longtime drummer for Katrina & the Waves), who in turn sent Vek’s latest, electronica-inspired music to his cousin (who happened to be Tim “Love” Lee, the head of quirky electronic label Tummy Touch).
Lee signed Vek to the label, and in 2001 the 7″ “There’s Only One Thing Left Now” became Vek’s first officially released work. Tummy Touch agreed to release a full-length from Vek, which he began working on in between his graphic design studies at St. Martins. However, Vek’s music had morphed again, moving from delicate electronica to something sharper-edged and more rock-based. Singles such as “If You Want” heralded this new direction, as did gigs (with a full backing band) supporting acts like Bloc Party and Engineers. Vek’s debut album, We Have Sound, was released in the U.K. in spring 2005 via Tummy Touch, and then sublicensed by Island/Universal. Startime International released the album in the U.S. that fall.
After touring in support of the album, Vek took his time making further music. He found a recording space in East London and established PALLET Recording Studios, taking three years to fill it with custom gear and teach himself new production techniques, and another two years to write and record music. Vek resurfaced early in 2011 with the single “A Chore,” the first taste of his second album, Leisure Seizure, which was released digitally in June of that year and physically that September. When Vek was evicted from PALLET to make way for more housing, he took an even more independent approach to 2014’s Luck, recording the album entirely on his own.
It turns out that, a further six years on, Tom Vek finally got round to releasing more new music, in November 2020, in the shape of the album New Symbols. It’s been available in digital form over at Bandcamp, but plans are in hand to have a physical release, on vinyl, hopefully in July 2021.
The second hand single that I picked up was the fourth and final one to be lifted from his debut album. I only found out upon adding it to the Discogs account that it is the 12″ single released in France, and it might well be that the particular remix on the b-side might have been unique to this piece of vinyl:-
mp3: Tom Vek – Nothing But Green Lights
mp3: Tom Vek – Nothing But Green Lights (Digitalism Mix)
Again, my ignorance of the names involved in the mid-00s dance stuff meant I had to look up who Digitalism are, and am pleased to pass on the info that they are a German electronic music duo formed in Hamburg in 2004, consisting of Jens “Jence” Moelle and Ismail “Isi” Tüfekçi.
They do a fine job on this, and it’s one that I think will be enjoyed by fans of LCD Soundsystem.