Tunes & Chips | This time with Om Unit

Label boss Om Unit delivers his first full solo release for Cosmic Bridge!

Jim Coles, aka Om Unit launched his Cosmic Bridge imprint in 2011 with his (now highly prized) collaboration with Kromestar, ‘Solar Cycle/Merkabah’ and despite further appearances on the label; remixing and collaborating with Moresounds, Danny Scrilla, EAN and compiling the labels DJ Mag nominated compilation of the year ‘Cosmology’, solo material from the prolific producer has been noticeably absent from the Cosmic Bridge release schedule... until now.

To celebrate this fact we caught up with him and asked a few questions...

As normal, lets open with an easy one - where did you grow up? (And did it influence your sound?)

I grew up moving around a fair bit, but basically Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, towns like maidenhead, marlow and cookham, they were quiet and low-key back in the 80's, and you'd have all sorts of characters about.

Nowadays it's part of the the yuppie london commuter belt and its lost a lot of its soul if you ask me. When I was a teenager we had a few good record shops about so we'd go out on a weekend to shoebox records on maidenhead high st or if we were feeling flush we'd go to the record basement in Reading who had two shops, house and garage on the left and dnb/jungle on the right.. Spend hours in there just smoking cigs and listening to whatever they were playing. I had no idea it was the epicentre of dnb distro's at the time.

So growing up out there you had a mix of kind of Middle-class skater type kids who liked all-sorts from ninja tune to punk and metal, and then the more "streetwise" types who liked garage and jungle and maybe a bit of oasis or something like that - I was friends with all sorts of people and always have been really so I soaked it all up.

Is it possible to sum up your musical approach in three words?

Do the thing. (Safe Ian)

I hear that your roots as a DJ are from turntablism - does this mean you are a vinyl purist?

Well actually I started out playing all sorts of music at university even a couple of hard house nights which I quickly fell out of love with tbh. The turnablism came in later when I found the discipline helped me come out of a rough patch, it's quite hermitic learning to scratch, most people you meet who are into cutting are beautiful weirdos as a result of years of being indoors making weird sounds with their hands.

I'm not a Vinyl purist at all - I tour with serato and vinyl controllers these days but play vinyl rips a fair bit - they sound better often because they are uncompressed. The whole vinyl sounds Better argument is simple science which is that when you cut to vinyl you can't compress and limit as hard as with digital and also there's some natural tonal dampening so it sounds "warmer" but that's actually because there is less tops going into the groove and also technics 1210's shave off some high end on playback.

Torchlight vol.1 has a broad spectrum of influences within its sound (as do many of the releases on the label) Do you consider yourself part of a Genre?

Genres are best borne out of social movements where the music was or is the voice of a movement. Culturally I come from a black hole, where there was no intrinsic "folk" music of "my people"..

Like most english white people I grew up in a town where the culture is job, woman, pub, tv, family - music is just something you buy.

So in essence what I've done is used that "blank slate" I had from having very little intrinsic musical culture growing up and filled it with exploring all sorts of music over the years, and by doing so I've re-appropriated ideas from the production styles involved in these various movments that have inspired me and tried to use my imagination to paint a picture using these elements but not necessarily pandering to the scenes associated with them..why? Because I have found that scenes that are based just around a musical style are short lived, often full of hot air and insecurity and attract fickle people. So I like to maintain autonomy outside of all that stuff and just express ideas with as much freedom as I can allow myself.

Looking at your discography, I noticed you have moved mastering houses quite a bit - why is this? Are you looking for a sound that you haven’t quite found yet, do you just need a quick turnaround, or what?

Naa Matt Colton just became really famous (and rightly so) and therefore expensive, so we had to move, thankfully I found Beau Thomas who is a total gentleman, salt of the earth and great to work with too.

Are you an outboard gear man, or an in the box kind of producer?

It's a Boring conversation that one really, I use both but they're just metal and plastic without us aren't they?

What was the last piece of musical equipment you bought?

An old Yamaha FM rack synth that sounds like crap, it's great.

The artwork for this release looks more than a little masonic, are you part of the illuminati?!?

I use symbology that is quite universal and dates back before the inception of freemasonry. Fire pon dirty Babylon (etc.)

What has been the most fun gig of the year so far to play at?

Playing at KOKO alongside congo natty, pinch and Adrian sherwood and Krust was a great buzz!

And if you aren’t out playing, just looking to chill where on the planet do you head?

I'm jus fine here in Bristol, a bike ride up the banks of the Avon'll do me just fine right now.

What was the last record you bought?

"Beyond The Black Rainbow" soundtrack by sinoia caves, its a great movie but the soundtrack is just beautiful.

And now for the big one… Do you like Chips?

Of course! Chip shop ones with loads of salt and vinegar with a side dip of burger sauce, or triple cooked with rosemary salt is the way forward with that