Rhumba Club talks Bowie, forming bands and setting his own brief

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With a headline gig coming up at the iconic Moth Club in Hackney on October 5th, we thought it would be a good time to ask Seed Funding artist Tom Falle, AKA Rhumba Club, a few questions about his path to becoming a musician, what inspires him and what he gets up to everyday.

How did you get started in music?

I played piano from about the age of 10 and developed a bit of an obsession with vintage pop – David Bowie, The Beatles, The Smiths, Talking Heads, Queen. My mum had a taste for 70s pop like ABBA, so it was always on in the car, for better or worse. I was irritatingly ambitious about forming bands at school – one mum even warned her kids to stay away from me because my dreams were so unrealistic…!

How do you work and what is a typical day like for you?

I get up around 7, go for a run, sit in the studio from about 9-2pm, take lunch, teach piano all afternoon, then rehearse or gig in the evenings and weekends.

Working in the studio has become easier now that more work is being demanded from me by management etc. I don’t have time to think too much and just get on with making stuff. If I do prepare for a bigger project like an album or a show, I use spreadsheets: I fill up all the cells with ideas, lyrics, or hyperlinks to online images. Coffee helps too.

 How has Jersey shaped you as an artist?

A lot of my work is about growing up in a community-oriented but sometimes socially conservative environment, so Jersey has clearly influenced that. I’m also very interested in British attitudes and life, so coming from the island offers you a unique perspective – you feel both inside and outside of British culture at the same time.

 How has an ArtHouse Jersey Seed Funding grant helped you?

 Money is vital to get noticed, sadly. Especially in today’s music industry, where the market is so saturated. You can make great music, but without the means to promote it, and package it somewhat professionally you have virtually no chance. ArtHouse Jersey, quite simply, has been an enabler – allowing me to get noticed by industry when I otherwise would have faded into the ether.

 What inspires you?  

Music that manages to tread between two worlds – I love stuff that can work both as listenable pop and thought-provoking art. For me, right now, it’s all about Blood Orange, Christine and the Queens and Metronomy. I also really admire anything that goes 10% further than it should – whether that be minimalist Japanese design or tasteless 70s Generation Game repeats.

 What do you love most about making music?

 That you can set your own brief, and if someone else doesn’t like it, that’s their problem. Also, working in music means you have an excuse to wear what you like. And I do.

What have you been most proud of achieving in your career as an artist so far?

 50,000 plays on Spotify for my track Normativity is pretty cool – as well as being asked to play at our next venue, the iconic Moth Club in Hackney.

If you could give a piece of advice to an aspiring musician what would it be?

Don’t fritter away your money on things like rent to faceless landlords – invest in yourself and your practice. Instruments, equipment, promotion. Far better to rent a studio and live with your parents than to spend double for the sake of independence (I learned that the hard way). Plan ahead. Follow the plan. Do everything yourself, and don’t expect anyone else to do it for you (including album artwork, video production, mixing), eventually you will be the better for it, and people will start wanting to work with you.

What do you hope for audiences to feel when they engage with your work? 

A sense of empowerment, and the confidence to think and behave differently. I’d also like to think they feel that their money has been well spent.

If you’re a Jersey artist looking for funding to create ambitious work then apply for an ArtHouse Jersey Seed Funding grant. 

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