A two-hour journey through my musical collaborations for the excellent London-based record label Kit Records. You can listen via Mixcloud and I’ve written some notes about each track below.
The mix opens with some playful noises that are the result of a collaboration between Dundee-based designers Agency of None and artist, musician and creative powerhouse Yann Seznec. Agency of None commissioned Yann to make a jingle generator for their No Opinion podcast. Yann crafted a musical box with one button, when it’s pressed it plays a jingle which will stay the same for that day only. Every day the device will play an entirely new jingle, never repeating itself. I asked Ryan to record some of these jingles for Verisons which he kindly did and two appear on the mix. There’s more from Yann towards the middle of this mix too.
The artwork for Versions uses a variable typeface that I made in collaboration with Agency of None for this year’s Dundee Design Festival to allow people to make their own versions of the branding.
S-Type and Tommy Perman – From Planets to Pebbles *
As well as being a talented and successful hip hop producer signed to the visionary LuckyMe label, S-Type also happens to be my younger brother, Bobby. It’s quite incredible that I’ve never gotten round to asking him if I could remix one of his tracks until now. I decided this mix for Kit Records was a perfect opportunity for me to reinterpret a track from his excellent new EP S-Type Beat.
Hamacide – Flowers in Rain Water ft. Little Punk (Tommy Perman Remix) *
I met Hamacide (aka Yusuke Hama) in 2012 in China. The band I was in, FOUND, was on tour over there with King Creosote and Yusuke was part of a documentary filmmaking team following the tour. We bonded over a shared love of dim sum dumplings, hip hop and the ridiculousness of the situations we encountered. Yusuke is a great musician and producer and since we met he’s moved to Japan and started a label, Twin Capital, which releases exciting contemporary music from Japan and beyond. This is my remix of one of his tracks, a collaboration with Chinese vocalist Little Punk – it’ll feature on Hamacide’s new EP.
FOUND – Blackette (Django Django Remix)
I’ve known Dave and Tommy from Django Django since they were studying at Edinburgh College of Art. I was delighted when Dave was up for remixing one of FOUND’s tracks and love the direction he took his version in. This came out as a b-side to a single release on Glasgow-label Chemikal Underground.
#UNRAVEL (Aidan Moffat and FOUND) – The Lady in Red (EARLY BUSY CONFIDENT STORMY)
I started FOUND with my pals Ziggy Campbell and Kev Sim. We met at art school in Aberdeen and first collaborated on weird projects involving sound back in 2001. Over the years the collaboration opened out in lots of ways and we worked with many different people. One of whom was Simon Kirby who’s a professor of language evolution at the University of Edinburgh and a great friend. Our most famous collaboration is Cybraphon – an emotional musical robot who’s obsessed with it’s online popularity – which features later in the mix.
For #UNRAVEL we collaborated with Aidan Moffat to make an interactive storytelling machine that explored the unreliability of memory. The installation centred around a box of ten 7” records from Aidan’s collection. The audience could pick a record, put it on the turntable and then hear a story associated with that record backed by a robot band (natch). The narrator’s memories changed each time you listened depending on what was going on at the time. The time of day, the number of people listening, opinions expressed on Twitter and the weather all impacted his memories. On this mix I’ve put two of the variations – listen out for the other version later on and see if you can work out how his memories have been affected. It’s like a musical version of spot the difference!
Simon Kirby makes music with Basque singer and artist Nerea Bello. This is the first of two beautiful improvisations they’ve shared for Versions.
Rob St. John and Tommy Perman – Fashioned from Nature Soundmark (Stairs – Top)
Rob is a very good pal of mine. He’s a musician, writer, artist and all round lovely person. We’ve worked on loads of things together over the years. In 2018 we produced a soundtrack for a big show at the V&A called Fashioned From Nature that explored the “complex relationship between fashion and nature from 1600 to the present day”. We made a number of sound installations throughout the show, I’ve put two excerpts on this mix.
SHHE – Saint Cyrus (Tommy’s SOS Remix) *
SHHE (aka Su Shaw) is a brilliant Dundee-based musician who’s recently signed to One Little Indian. Our paths crossed a few times when we were both involved in the Fence Records scene in Fife. We became friends recently after a mutual pal pointed out that we lived on the same street in Dundee! Su’s live shows are breathtaking. I’m extremely happy she’s found a home on a very sympathetic label and I’m excited to see what’s next for her.
Nerea Bello and Simon Kirby – Live at Nice N Sleazy’s *
Modern Studies and Tommy Perman – Spectral Cannon (Outtake) *
I did a strange thing . . . without permission . . . in secret . . . which could have been deemed illegal. Granted the preceding sentence could be about many unsavoury things . . . but in this case it alludes to my curious decision to plunder Modern Studies’ Welcome Strangers LP and use the spoils to create a brand new collection of recordings which became Emergent Slow Arcs (out now on Fire Records). This clandestine scheme took me over a year and as part of the process I produced numerous versions of tracks which didn’t make it onto the final LP. This is one of them.
Free Blood – Grumpy (FOUND’s Blood Donation)
My friend David Mogendorff (who now works for YouTube Music) used to run a label called Adventures Close To Home. Back in 2008 he asked me to remix a track for a 12” by Free Blood – aka New York-based duo John Pugh and Madeline Davy. For the mix I enlisted by mates Emma Smith and Kev Sim. Emma’s an amazing double bassist and an incredibly intuitive musician. We also make each other laugh . . . a lot. I remember spending a very fun afternoon together recording for this remix. Emma is the creative force behind some inspirational projects including Bitches Brew – a performance platform for showcasing the “diversity of talent and raw energy of female improvisers from the fields of jazz, folk, electronic music and free improvising”.
This remix is capped off by a fine contribution from my longtime collaborator – the sonic genius that is Kev Sim. Kev provided some expertly glitched vocal edits for the climax of the piece.
Lomond Campbell – Unravelled
Lomond is one of Ziggy Campbell’s many aliases. A few years ago Ziggy and his partner Susie Brown left Edinburgh, moved to the highlands and bravely took on the restoration of a dilapidated rural primary school. Together they’ve renovated it into something truly special now known as the Lengths Studio. From this inspiring base Ziggy is now crafting spectacular innovative musical instruments. Their new home was spacious enough to house the sizeable #UNRAVEL installation after it’s exhibition commitments came to an end. Ziggy created this remarkable track with an interesting bit of kit called an Octatrack cleverly hooked up to #UNRAVEL’s robot drum set. Check out the video on his site.
Collision Music – Off World
Collision Music is a project on my friend Kenny’s (aka DJ A La Fu) label VaVa Records. The label describes it as “an unfixed collective of established producers and lyricist’s blurring authorship by submitting creative control to produce an unconditional composition. A subversive sound at point zero.” I first met Kenny through DJing in Aberdeen. We went on to work on various collaborations including a few releases for Surface Pressure Records – the label I ran in the early 2000s.
Jonnie Common – Howff Honey
Jonnie’s an old pal – over the years we played loads of shows together. I admire his playful creativity – which really comes across on this fascinating project he undertook for the McManus Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum on their 150th anniversary. Jonnie was invited to create a suite of music that celebrates the museum’s collection. The only catch was he couldn’t use any of the musical instruments in their collection as they were too fragile. He overcame this problem by developing a series of inventive and idiosyncratic production techniques. This piece explores his childhood memories of the natural history museum and the active beehive they had on display there.
When he’d finished making the suite of music, Jonnie asked if I’d design a record sleeve. It’s possible I went a bit overboard . . . I made a gatefold sleeve, a 24 page book, 300 unique risograph prints and six music videos . . . I get carried away sometimes.
Experimental Batch (Feat: Raghu Dixit, Suhail Yusuf Khan, King Creosote…) – Earth In Fewer Words (Tommy Perman Remix)
Experimental Batch was a collaborative songwriting / recording project instigated by Ziggy Campbell and Stephen Marshall (Triassic Tusk Records) in 2012. They hired a sculpture studio in Edinburgh College of Art for a week and gathered an amazing roster of musicians together (including King Creosote, Suhail Yusuf Khan, The Pictish Trail, Slow Club, FOUND, James Yorkston, Raghu Dixit). The sessions culminated in a limited edition LP however, this track comes from an intriguing extension of the project. Ziggy Campbell and Simon Kirby produced a beguiling interactive device they named Tasting Notes. I’ll let them explain: “Built from hand-crafted hardwoods and brass, and bringing together the latest research on synaesthesia and songs from some of Scotland and India’s finest musicians, it is designed to engage all your senses in the act of drinking whisky. After taking a sip, you’ll dial in the taste you’re experiencing, along with a memory that is triggered by this taste. Tasting Notes will analyse your responses and translate your memory into a scale from light to dark. You will be given a printed receipt of your tasting, and if you’ve tasted well, a link to download a remix of a specially composed piece of music shaped by your personal choices to enjoy at home.” Slàinte.
J Dilla – Safety Dance (ft Malcolm Middleton)
I can’t remember exactly how this came about. I think I posted a link to J Dilla’s Safety Dance on Twitter – naively unaware that it’s a cover of an early 80s hit. As I remember it, Malcolm replied to my tweet saying it was his favourite Men Without Hats song. Then somehow we hatched a plan for him to sing on top of the Dilla instrumental for a mixtape I was putting together. Malcolm recorded his vocals and sent them to me to be mixed. The finished track still makes me smile a lot – I wonder what Dilla would have made of it? Or Men Without Hats for that matter?
Yann Seznec – Volume 1: A Day That Will Never Happen Again
This track comes from Yann’s most recent project the Book of Knowledge of Impractical Musical Devices – a poignant critique of capitalism, shitty plastic midi controllers, the nature of sound, memory, love and the fragility of human existence – all wrapped up in three deliberately wonky musical instruments. Yann brought me on-board to help design the instruments and I’m really happy with what we made together. Take a look at the videos on the site when you have a spare few minutes.
S-Type – Soul For Your Stereo ft Finale (Dimlite Reevaluashun) + Bonus Beat
Switzerland-based Dimlite (aka Dimitri Grimm) is one of my favourite musicians and producers. I reached out to him in the early 2000s after his first EP came out and I discovered he’d bought a copy of my first vinyl EP too. We swapped some messages and I chanced my luck to see if he’d be up for remixing an S-Type track for Bobby’s debut 12” that I was putting out on Surface Pressure Records. The remix Dim provided is phenomenal. This version includes an extra bonus beat that came out on the label’s Surface Textures compilation album. The track also features the sublime lyrical talents of Detroit MC Finale.
Rob St. John and Tommy Perman – Fashioned from Nature Soundmark (Stairs – Bottom)
Here’s another of the sound works that me and Rob produced for the V&A’s Fashioned from Nature exhibition. I’ve since realised that this track sparked off my Modern Studies remix project. It is mostly constructed from a string recording that Rob slyly passed to me from their Welcome Strangers sessions with the suggestion that I make it unrecognisable. I totally enjoyed the challenge and it’s now apparent that it planted the seed that eventually grew into Emergent Slow Arcs.
Tom DeMajo – Army of Cat *
I moved to Dundee just over three years ago – I landed a full-time teaching gig at the art college here which meant necessitated me and my family relocating from Edinburgh. Dundee has treated me very well. I’ve found it to be a highly creative place full of very welcoming people. I quickly met a lot of linked minded folks including Tom DeMajo who, with Mal Abbas, is a co-founder of the cutting-edge art collective Biome. Biome make computer games which stretch the boundaries to their limits. One of their famous projects is a hard-hitting two-player game called Killbox which requires players to inhabit two opposing roles – a drone pilot and a child on the ground of a remote village in northern Pakistan. It’s a highly emotional, thought provoking experience.
Killbox is just one of a string of wonderful projects they’re produced – they’re wonderful people. I really wanted to represent their work in some way on this mix. I met up with Tom to chat over some ideas. He crafted this captivating track especially for Versions. Thanks Tom!
Agency of None / Yann Seznec – No Opinion Podcast Jingle Generator *
Cybraphon – A Quiet Sadness
The aforementioned Cybraphon is an emotional robot band that’s obsessed with its popularity online. It Googles itself constantly to see how many people are talking about it. If the internet is abuzz with chat about the robot then it becomes happy and plays up-beat music. However, if there’s not much being said about Cybraphon it can easily slip into depression and play more somber sounds – like this piece. Cybraphon is probably the sound installation that I’m most famous for – I made it with Ziggy Campbell and Simon Kirby back in 2009. It became loads more successful than my own band. Cybraphon even won a BAFTA and the robot now resides in the National Museum of Scotland. So, if you’re in Edinburgh you can go pay the moody automaton a visit and try to cheer it up.
#UNRAVEL (Aidan Moffat and FOUND) – The Lady in Red (EARLY BUSY INSECURE FAIR)
Now it’s time to test your memory skills . . . can you spot the difference in Aidan’s recollections?
Modern Studies and Tommy Perman – Ohm Sheen
I worked on my Modern Studies remix project in secret for a year or so. Over that time I produced a lot of music. I became very self-critical – loads of the music didn’t make it onto the album. The outtakes and alternative versions languished on my hard drive – destined for the virtual Trash. That’s where this piece would have ended up if Fire Records hadn’t rescued it as a b-side for Faraway Hills single.
Tommy Perman – Auld Reekie Apparitions *
This track was composed especially for this mix using recordings from around 10 years ago. It features the sounds of S-Type battering cardboard boxes with brushes recorded in our parents’ living room. It also features the ghostly abstractions of a string ensemble. Ziggy and I wanted to record some strings for FOUND’s second album and asked my pal Emma Smith to help us out. She brought in Pete Harvey (of Modern Studies) for a recording session. They played lots of parts in an afternoon and many of those recordings made it on to our sophomore LP. Some lay around unused until this summer when I resurrected them for this mix.
Sam Annand – Cupar Grain Silo – Cartesian Percussion Pattern
I’ve known of Sam for many years – I’d bought the records he released under the name Architeq and I think we swapped some messages on MySpace – yep that long ago. I only finally met him in person when he was working with Jonnie Common on the McManus project. We’ve since become really good friends. He’s done a load of exceptional mastering work for me, including Emergent Slow Arcs and a bunch of the new material on this mix. This track is from his LP – which is part of the Resono project. From their website: “Resono is a sound design project based around the concept of playing the echoes and reverberations of a building or space as if it were an instrument.”
Over The Wall – Angela (FOUND Remix)
Over The Wall were a great band consisting of multi-instrumentalists Ben Hillman and Gavin Prentice. I saw them play many times. They’re highly entertaining performers. This is my remix of one of my favourite tracks of theirs.
Andrew Wasylyk – Adrift Beneath A Constellation (Tommy Perman Kit Records Remix) *
Andrew Wasylyk and Tommy Perman – Adrift Amid A Constellation *
My friend Colin (aka The Lonely Piper) introduced me to Andrew at a Withered Hand gig in Dundee. Last year Andrew made a stunning record called The Paralian which emerged from an artist’s residency at Hospitalfield House – an absolutely enchanting location in Arbroath just north of Dundee. I attended the first performance of The Paralian and was smitten. It’s a beautiful collection of instrumental tracks incorporating harp, horns, piano, analogue synths, percussion and strings (perhaps not coincidentally the string arrangements and cello playing are by none other than Pete Harvey). Andrew enlisted me to make some videos to help promote his record and subsequently I’ve been doing live visuals for his shows.
I’ve been itching to remix something from The Paralian since I first heard it. My good friend Simon Lewin is starting a new record label – Blackford Hill – named after the hill he lives beside in Edinburgh. Simon approached both me and Andrew for contributions for the label and we thought it’d be fun to collaborate. These remixes are hopefully the first move towards a collaboration and Adrift Amid A Constellation will appear on the first of a series of compilations on Blackford Hill in early 2020.
Concrete Antenna – Church Bells (Tide Out) Wolf Remix
Me, Rob St John and Simon Kirby were commissioned by the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop to produce a sound installation for their landmark tower which opened in 2015. We made an interactive sound piece which played with the unusual size and shape of the tower and responded to it’s proximity to the sea – behaving differently according to the ebb and flow of tides at Leith. It was a success with visitors and remained open for 18 months.
Simon Lewin released a vinyl version of Concrete Antenna on his Random Spectacular imprint. This track is from the follow up book and CD package called Score Tae The Toor for which we invited musicians and writers to respond to the original sound installation. Glasgow-based musician and composer Kim Moore’s reinterpretation is spellbinding.
Hanna Tuulikki – Deer Dancer
Hanna’s an artist and musician who’s work is deep and multilayered. She explores the changing links between nature and culture using her voice, drawings, prints and increasingly performances with elaborate costumes. Her most recent exhibition – Deer Dancer – was a special commission for the Edinburgh Printmaker’s Workshop and the Edinburgh Art Festival.
For this show she turned her attention to how different cultures have represented deer through folk dances. Hanna produced a film in which she plays multiple characters each a different male archetypes. Deer Dancer highlights a connection between the current crisis of hetero-masculinity and ecological damage. Her artwork deals with serious and important themes but Hanna handles it all with grace, warmth and humour. I was delighted that she was up for sharing her vocal soundtrack from the exhibition for this mix.
eagleowl – Lord Gregory
eagleowl are legends of the Edinburgh music scene and I’m proud to call them my friends. I produced their debut LP This Silent Year in 2012 – it was loads of fun working with them. All the band members play in other groups – they’re very busy folks. Lord Gregory is a cover of an Alasdair Roberts song recorded for a compilation released by the Glad Café, Glasgow to raise funds to fix their roof and in turn save a treasured music venue.
Rob St John and Tommy Perman – Oxgangs Elegy
I became a dad for the first time in 2013 and took the difficult decision to leave FOUND so that I could stay closer to home while I tried to figure out how to be a parent (it’s a work in progress!). That year, Rob suggested we collaborate on a project that explored Edinburgh in an usual way. And so we embarked on a six month investigation using water as a way to uncover forgotten stories of the city. We gathered materials using every available method including experimental recording techniques, photography, drawing and writing . . . We traced Edinburgh’s water back to it’s sources in the hills then down through the city, on to the sewage works and out into the Forth. Along the way we found some amazing places and discovered some beautiful sounds. Oxgangs Elegy includes hydrophone recordings of pondweed photosynthesising in an artificial lochan that sits in the footprint of a demolished tower block. You know, standard stuff.
Rob St John – Sargasso Sea (FOUND Remix)
When Rob lived in Edinburgh he performed with a gifted group of musicians. They were a joy to listen to and watch. There’s not much more to say about this other than it’s my remix of one Rob’s songs.
Rose Ferraby and Rob St John – Quarry
Rob has recently been collaborating with artist and archeologist Rose Ferraby on a project called Soundmarks. They have used sound and visual art to “explore and animate the sub-surface landscape of Aldborough Roman Town in North Yorkshire, UK.” This piece is taken from the sound walk they developed for people to listen to as they wandered around the Aldborough. You don’t have to go to Yorkshire to enjoy it though as it’s also available on their website.
Simon Kirby, Tommy Perman and Rob St John – Sing The Gloaming (Sanctuary Version)
This comes from a sound installation Rob, Simon Kirby and I made in a forest in Galloway, Scotland. It was the first iteration of an ongoing project which is based on Simon’s linguistic research into the evolution of language. More specifically this project looks at a peculiar group of words in the English language that all begin with the letters ‘gl’. Many of these words have a meaning that relates to light or vision – for example glare, glimmer, glisten, glaze, glance, glimpse . . .
When Simon first told me about this group of words it sparked my imagination. I’ve spent a lot of my life thinking about and experimenting with the relationships between sound and light so I really loved these ‘gl’ words. For me they represent humans finding a way to synthesise light into sound.
Rob was asked to propose a project for ‘Sanctuary Lab’ a 24 hour art festival that takes place in the Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park. We thought that a sound installation with a cappella vocals signing about light was a fun thing to do for the festival. (We have an unusual sense of fun). I constructed 15 audio devices which housed cassette players. Each cassette player was loaded with a tape loop featuring a recording of a single voice singing one of the ‘gl’ words. They just about survived being outside in a wet forest for 24 hours. This excerpt begins with a recording Rob made at dawn after the tape loops had been running continuously in the damp for many hours. The sounds are pleasingly degraded and distorted.
We’re currently working on a new version of Sing The Gloaming which will be released on vinyl via Random Spectacular / Blackford Hill in the summer of 2020 and will feature many of the voices you can hear on this mix.
eagleowl – Eagleowl vs. Woodpigeon (I’m Quiet When You’re Not Version – Tommy Perman Remix)
I produced this eagleowl remix for Pictish Trail’s marvellous Lost Map label. It featured on a limited edition cassette which quickly sold out. However you can now download it as part of a compilation from their Bandcamp for as little as £1. Bargain!
Duncan Marquiss – Minor History
I met Duncan when he played in the Phantom Band. FOUND and the Phantoms were both signed to legendary Glasgow label Chemikal Underground and the bands toured together. The Phantoms were a great live band and it’s so nice to hear Duncan’s solo material. He’s going to have an LP out next year on the superb Trestle Records – I can’t wait to hear it. Aside from his musical abilities Duncan is a very talented visual artist. I’m a big fan of his drawing, printmaking and filmmaking. (Coincidentally he was also commissioned by the McManus alongside Jonnie Common to interpret the museum collections and the film he produced is stunning).
Morgan Szymanski and Tommy Perman – Down by Paddy’s Burn *
I chose to end this mix with a recent recording I made with one of my closest friends, Morgan Szymanski. We went to high school together in Edinburgh but Morgan is from Mexico City. He came to Scotland to study at the specialist music school that is attached to the high school I was at. Morgan is a phenomenally talented guitarist. We formed various wonky teenage bands together. We’ve since travelled separate paths but we keep in touch. He’s a busy man so I was surprised that we were able to arrange a week-long recording session this summer. We met up in the Perthshire countryside at a spot where my parents have a cottage in some woodland. It’s a magical place.
We recorded a lot of material there and I’m slowly working my way through the audio. It’s going to take me a while – I want to give it the time I feel it deserves. For now I’m very happy to share this one-take song we captured on the banks of the burn at the back of the cottage. It’s called Down by Paddy’s Burn after my six-year-old son who loves to play there.
* denote exclusive tracks for this mix.