MTS 2020: Tom Mundell, aka Metrik, has been a name on the UK drum ’n’ bass scene for over a decade, with an extensive list of single and EP releases first on Viper Recordings, then - post-2012 - on Hospital (under the auspices of whom he’s also put out two albums), as well as remixes of tracks by the likes of Eric Prydz, Swedish House Mafia, Gorgon City and Sub Focus.
With a tight, punchy and meticulously produced sound - first showcased in his sensational 2007 debut Your World - Tom is known for integrating ‘80s and ‘90s-inspired elements alongside cutting-edge beats and basslines in order to create tracks that are simultaneously referential and progressive. As it does with so many electronic producers, though, Tom’s musical journey began with the guitar.
“I was first introduced to the guitar by my mum, when I was about six or seven years old,” remembers Tom. “She had this black electric guitar that was like the coolest thing I’d ever seen, and I really took to it. I remember just messing around in my bedroom for hours on end, with effects pedals and all that kind of stuff. Then later on, I used to go into the music department at school and mess around with pianos and drums, and play with the computers, just figuring out how to use instruments.
“In my early teens, I joined a couple of bands - metal bands, basically, with elements of electronic music - where I would play guitar and do a bit of vocals, and produce very rudimentary beats from samples in the background.
“When I got to about 12 or 13, I was a bit of a nerd, to be honest, and I started up my own online radio station. I sold my PlayStation to buy a pair of belt-drive turntables, which was quite a sacrifice at that age. My mum was quite happy about it, though!”
Tom’s online radio station had a chat room, and through this, a listener ended up sending him six data disks full of drum ’n’ bass classics. It was a life-changing moment. “It was like the bible of drum ’n’ bass. It had everything: Dom and Roland, LTJ Bukem, Bad Company, a Grooverider mix... basically, the A to Z of drum ’n’ bass of that era. There was a particular Bad Company track called Silicon Dawn that absolutely blew my mind. I knew I had to make this style - I became obsessed with it.”
After graduating from the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford, then completing a university music course, Tom landed a job with a music distributor in London.
“For a couple of years it operated as a vinyl distribution company, mostly, so I was seeing behind the scenes of the logistics and distribution of music, which was really interesting. Then the vinyl market crashed and a lot of the distributors went down, so it morphed into a music management company.
“I was managing Adam Beyer and the Drumcode operation, doing social media, branding, graphic design, web design, all that stuff, just trying to make the artists look good from a visual point of view.
“We operated from the Sony offices, with Eric Prydz’ team. It was an amazing environment, seeing how everything operated first hand with some of the biggest dance music brands, and figuring out how to apply that to my own career.
“At the same time, I was releasing records on Viper to begin with. My first ever vinyl release was a remix of a classic techno tune - DK8’s Murder Was the Bass - and that put me on the radar of a few people. Then I slipped into a completely different style and made a few more melodic tunes, and then the track Your World was the one that really put me on the map.
“Eventually, I bumped into London Elektricity at a rave and we just got chatting, and I ended up getting signed to Hospital. I’ve been with Hospital for five or six years now, putting out music and playing gigs around the world. It’s been amazing!”
Check out the video above to see Tom taking you through the production process behind 2019 release Hackers, and discussing drum synthesis in general.
This video originally appeared in Computer Music issue 273 (October 2019)