From Nirvana to Kornel Kovacs, Sam O’Neill talks us through his formative musical moments.

What’s the first record you ever bought?

Dangerous start! If we’re talking any format it was Nirvana’s In Utero on CD. I’m pretty sure my folks were weirded out hearing ‘Rape Me’ coming from my room.

If it’s vinyl, it would be Sweet Female Attitude’s ‘Flowers’ when I first bought my decks.

The first time you remember hearing electronic music?

The first album I ever owned was a cassette version of Thriller by Michael Jackson that my dad gave me. I quickly become very into Michael and got hold of the ‘Earth Song’ single. There’s a track on there called the MJ Megamix or something – some mashup version that I was obsessed with, to the point I told my friends at primary school I’d made it on Dance eJay!

Then my dad showed me Robert Miles’s ‘Children’ off some Renaissance CD, and Moby’s Play.

Later on a big moment for me came when I first got to university in Manchester and heard Rich Reason play James Blake’s ‘Limit to Your Love’ at WHP. That sound bouncing off the bricks made me want to be a DJ.

Your favourite ever record?

Diana Ross – ‘Upside Down’. I love disco and this song has everything for me. It’s become a memory tune too and reminds me of Glastonbury – I was with my manager and my girlfriend and it was about 2pm and pissing it down. We sheltered in this bar which was full of people standing on the tables singing and dancing to this tune. It was a beautiful moment. And then the sun came out…

The guaranteed floor-filler?

Renato Cohen – ‘Suddenly Funk’. No one can resist that build, and that unexpectedly funky drop. It does the business every time.

The guilty pleasure?

Justin Bieber – ‘Sorry’. Like the rest of the world. Right? Love him or hate him, Skrillex’s production is always impressive. Plus a dope video!

The last track of the night?

Currently it’s often Kornel Kovac’s ‘Pantalon’ or Yotto’s ‘Personal Space’, depending on the kind of set. Both are ridiculously good tunes and kind of work anywhere in a set. I saw Kornel Kovacs recently at Corsica Studios, which was a treat through that sound system.

I finished on Yotto’s ‘Personal Space’ at a show in Seoul last night. It’s got quite an emotional impact and I’m a sucker for songs that do that.

The best chillout record?

I really love Lane 8’s new album Rise. I’ve been a fan of his for ages – the album is a work of art. Check out the Jody Wisternoff remix of ‘Sunlight’.

The soundtrack to a lazy Sunday afternoon?

Kidnap Kid – ‘Moments’ featuring Leo Stannard. Pretty much everything he puts out is golden and this is no exception – emotive as always with a stunning vocal. I’ve just been watching a live version of it from an Eton Messy session. It’s worth a watch.


The record you’re proudest of?

Probably my record ‘1997’. It kind of started everything and it’s great when people tell me they love it. I wrote it in my bedroom in Manchester with absolutely no goals or expectations from it and it means a lot to me. I’ve just about got to a point where I can listen to it without cringing at some of my early production techniques!

The future classic?

Dele Sosimi Afrobeat Orchestra – ‘Too Much Information (Laolu Remix)’. It’s such a groover and the vocal is super infectious – it kind of transcends trends. I can see it sticking around.


TCTS’s ‘Jelly’ is out now on his own Make Something label. Find him on Facebook, Twitter and SoundCloud.

15th March, 2016

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