New Orleans is a place of fascination for Tom Purcell. Being on his third international tour in only the past year, the Sydney producer (better known as Wave Racer) has seen his fair share of unfamiliar territory but none quite like the Big Easy: “I went to the French Quarter as a tourist and it was super amazing, there’s no place in the world like it!” Tom’s buoyant enthusiasm as we share an appetizer of garlic bread before his opening set for Chromeo is a testament not only to his unadulterated love for music, but his upbeat and ebullient approach to production as well.
Departing from former disco-house duo Pablo J and the Lobsterettes with fellow Aussie producer Basenji, Tom’s newfound solo project ‘Wave Racer’ virtually achieved overnight success after publishing the two original tracks “Stoopid” and “Rock U Tonite.” The groovy, 8-bit anthems boasting the euphoric vibes of main-stage progressive house yet with the trappy rhythmic motion of your favorite rap producer practically broke the internet – it was a complete game changer, skyrocketing the Sydney producer to heights he could have never imagined.
“It’s all very surreal and I’m still not really sure how it happened. I was just making music on the side for fun and putting it on the internet for my friends to hear. Then all of a sudden it blew up and I was getting emails from people all over the world asking me to play shows or asking to sign me. I had emails from Mad Decent in my inbox within a few weeks, it was crazy.” Almost instantaneously, Wave Racer found himself under dance music’s spotlight, receiving millions of hits on soundcloud in conjunction with getting signed to Australia’s biggest and most renowned record label, future classic.
Through masterfully sculpted synthesizers and brilliantly placed samples (shout out to Yoshi), Tom’s music spawns some of the most imaginably intoxicating melodies you’ll ever come to hear. Yet above the bubbling arpeggiators and silky smooth chord progressions Wave Racer’s music is sentimentally evocative, reaching above and beyond simply being sonically pleasing: “I like to call it bright, shimmering, uplifting, and nostalgic music. Nostalgic especially is a word I love to use because that’s kind of the vibe I go for, I’m always trying to induce that emotion.”
From Starbucks employee to international phenomenon, Sydney’s subversive and progressive musician has quickly found himself at the forefront of Australia’s budding avant-garde music scene. Surging a new wave of contemporary electronic production, Wave Racer — among Future Classic label mates Flume, Ta-Ku, Panama, What So Not, and former band-mate Basenji (just to name a few) — are largely responsible for fashioning a distinctive ‘Aussie sound’ and putting the land down under on the map, musically speaking.
“Geographically, Australia is an isolated country and we’re also a very young country, so we don’t have a deeply engrained music culture like other nations do. That’s the reason we’ve had to branch out and find influences from all over the world via the internet. That’s why the scene in Australia is so different and special.” With artistic inspiration knowing no bounds, Wave Racer is a true product of the musical globalization today’s internet age has cultivated, with resources such as soundcloud and blogs providing artists with endless musical content and influence: “Soundcloud has so much to offer, you can spend days just scrolling through and finding out what kids in their bedrooms around the world are making at any given moment – that’s always been really inspiring to me.”
While stylistically unique electronic music production seems to have fallen by the wayside, Wave Racer’s approach and distinctive sound is a breath of fresh air in an industry where generic copycats and ghost-produced sellouts are abundant. Where many artists fail, Tom possesses the intrinsic capability of producing originals and remixes alike with the unmistakable Wave Racer vibe, consistently showcasing his “shimmering and nostalgic” signature brand through different mediums.
“To be perfectly honest sometimes it’s quite hard to make new stuff that doesn’t sound derivative or repetitive. Working on new music can be a struggle because you’re trying to be original and present something you’re proud of that is, at the same time unique while reflecting the sound you’re trying to go for. Someone who can do the same thing over and over again while it’s still different every time, that’s the sign of a good producer to me. Someone like DJ Mustard who will make the most amazing rap beats; you know it’s DJ mustard yet it’s a totally new song and it’s completely reinvented every time – that’s true talent.”
Whether it be racing down Mario kart’s rainbow road or jetting down the Pacific coast, Wave Racer’s music tells a story; it paints a vivid and compelling illustration for the listener generating majestic euphony, intoxicating vibes, and above all else overwhelming emotion. Pure bliss, turnt-up exhilaration, nostalgia… whatever it is, there’s no denying that Wave Racer’s music is special. Only being in the game for a little over a year now, the sky is the limit and the horizon seemingly endless for Australia’s illustrious saw-wave carving melodic surfer. With upcoming collaborations alongside Mad Decent’s Liz and Norway’s renowned beatsmith Lido as well as an original EP in the early works, Tom Purcell and his music is a wave you don’t want to miss.
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