In 2011, the news announcing Tom Vek's return emblazoned headlines with the words "TOM VEK IS BACK". Like a malfunctioning neon sign stuttering above the entrance of a popular haunt, it had only been five years since his debut album, We Have Sound, but once his second album Leizure Seizure finally arrived, Vek could relax under the glow of it all.

We gasped at his comeback, hell I remember by mistake swallowing the apple's core I was eating, and not because of the notes, the lyrics or the temperament of the tracks, but because it was revelatory: They showed us not a forced approach, but a sensitive pragmatic mind making a surprising choice to wait until the right moment to return. Vek definitely has a formula, and next week he stages another return with his third studio album, Luck, in which he retools his trademark hybrid monster dance sound with extra stabs of rhythmic menace and intensified grunge hostility.

Good things come in threes.

It seems the best Vek is nearly always contained in an unexpected mesh-up of palpable electronic fixations. His music repels, fascinates and awakens me simultaneously. It's purely repellent because I feel completely hypnotized by it, manipulated and dragged into a state of a musical-escapism and it fascinates me because that manipulation overpowers and gets right under my skin.

"The idea of fate and controlling stuff is interesting to me," he interposed. Vek's layered samples unravel sequentially, a formulaic characteristic that leads our mind to make predictions of what's going to come next, to which he affirms, "The gaps that you leave, they are there to be filled up by the listeners other senses."


What stage in your life are you at now to make a record like this?

Ummm, good question! I don't know? I continuously feel it's a slightly unreal circumstance that I find myself in, where I'm professionally delving into the mystique of an art form. I find myself doing design for the music and as a slightly older man I do enjoy solving problems and striking stuff off a list. I don't want to make music that depresses me I want to make music that reminds me not to be upset about stuff.

So many of your tracks have this build-up and then a moment of release, does this formula enhance the songwriting for you?

That's another hang up from the grunge era I loved I think, to have that sort of verse chorus, verse chorus, drop, and then chorus. It's funny I was just looking at the test pressing of the vinyl that I'm proofing at the moment, I can physically see that a lot of these songs have this gap, this point where the drums drop out about three quarters of the way through. It's the standard song structure that I go to by default, and it seems to work but every now and again something will go against the grain, arrangement wise, and then it feels quite fun.

I'm not much of a vinyl head myself actually I find vinyl quite frustrating because it adds the extra pops and glicks that I just spent three months trying to remove [laughs]. It's fun to see it on the record now, just to notice these patterns is the most interesting thing.

You're also releasing your upcoming album Luck on Moshi Moshi records - what made you go to a different label this time around?

I suppose my relationship with Island Records ended on the last record in accordance with the agreement that was made. You know considering the type of music that I make it made me very proud that they put it out in the first place, but it's really nice to go back to a small team of a smaller label. I'm also glad to have experienced a major label when I did; it was that chapter of the music industry that changed essentially with the advent of the Internet, and I experienced the very last year of the way the industry used to work.

"Albums are still important placeholders and chapters of work that you do and I quite like the idea of it being a document of a period in my life..."

Things have changed! Even when you started the "lo-fi" tag was thrown around a lot. I know you love drums and haven't ever used samples in the past, but did you go about making this record the same way then?

Yeah there is a pretty strong principle behind my music, which is that it has to be something that I've made from scratch. I like that rule, so there'll be a bit of drums looped up and copied and pasted over and over again to get that sampled feel and it's quite fun that I've ultimately made all the noises. I think I can envisage there being other side projects where I venture into other styles, but I just try to keep this on track of its original intention.

Speaking of side projects, I know the last time you 'returned' everyone made this big 'ol hullabaloo about how you took a break for so long, but you're always busy. From the brilliant Nothankyou collaboration with Olga Bell to releasing 'You'll Stay' which is on this album, back in 2012?

Oh yeah! I did put that one out a while ago. It's weird that break thing - I was obviously very surprised with what had happened with the first record and that just raised my own standard and added neurosis about the whole process. Ultimately I was just waiting until I'd done the next thing I thought was good enough to follow that up, and that took a while. As soon as I did 'You'll Stay' I wanted to put it out straight away, because I kinda think that the culture of how music is consumed has changed. I think that there might be a point down the line where its quite rewarding for an artist to put out songs when you do them. Albums are still important placeholders and chapters of work that you do and I quite like the idea of it being a document of a period in my life. It feels like a very weird stage - you have to disappear for a bit while you make it, then you have to sit there whilst someone else listens to it, then wait for people to comment whilst you're sitting there going...

Whaaat the fuuuu-


I don't think a hiatus is necessarily a bad thing, it depends on the artist - but what was it like to excavate 'You'll Stay' and put it on this album?

I'm really fond of that song and I think its one of the best songs I've ever produced because it touches on all the elements. It's interesting, I have lots of music that I like that doesn't necessarily go into my own music, but then there's genres like Jungle and drum and bass that I don't really get. I'm getting close to them, there's sort of rock drum and bass beats going on, but it's just an odd hybrid track that I accidentally stumbled across. The square-pusher-y drum programming that I can't really do, but I was just messing around and recorded bits, took them out of context that's what came out. A lot of my process is like that. I didn't set out to do it and I also don't know how to get it back.

Can music by itself be the message? I wouldn't call your music angry, but I think the average listener would come to the conclusion you're not terribly happy with the state of things before you open your mouth.

I think what ultimately happens is I'm still so informed by the music I grew up with, which was grunge stuff that had an angst-y sort of element to it. That's my idea of what writing a song is about, it's about exercising some kind of catharsis about being angry. In real life I'm quite pragmatic and I'm not gonna solve any problems by being angry, but saying it out aloud makes you realise how stupid you are about stuff. There's something that seems to work better in music when listening to somebody being angry in a song, or art, and that's why I think lyrically I try to avoid being straight up frustrated. I think there's this second layer of self aware emo music - you've written a song about the process of delving into emotions and a lot of the time I'm improvising to find words that are interesting or sloganeering or call to arms, maybe they have importance, maybe they are nonsense, maybe that's even funnier I think.

I definitely think there's something patently pensive about the song 'The Girl You Wouldn't Leave For Any Other Girl', even if it is confrontational in nature, how do you feel about putting out a song like that?

I'm pleased you've interpreted it that way. I love elements that are abstract and when I look at them I can see they're simple, but I get a lot from them. A lot of the time I'll start something minimal and there is a lucky element even though it was one riff and one line, and I'm like well something else managed to be captured in there and that's what I find interesting about trying to record music.

"For as long as I've been recording music, I've always been excited about somebody else listening to it. Somebody who doesn't get it, I'd rather they don't hear it."

What is the role of your voice within your music?

It's a clichéd term, but I like to think of it as an instrument, so you think of it as a tone not just the words. I enjoy leaving it quite bare and obviously there's no pitch correction, 'coz that's fun. Being able to have those dynamics so that at the very end it can be almost whispered right inside your ear.

Exactly how I felt, your music sometimes really grabs me by the throat

Yeah yeah good! It sort of demands attention right? I think you try to put something together so it's the sole experience that someone is having. The gaps that you leave, they are there to be filled up by the listeners other senses.

Then do you see luck as an acquired skill and fate as something that's pre-destined?

That's the thing, I don't know what I think about it yet, but it's still interesting to investigate. It's the human condition to a degree; it's this unexplained variable that you can't control. I feel I'm at the mercy of a lot of circumstance when I'm recording. I spend a day in the studio and it will be really good and then I think, 'well what if I hadn't gone in today?' When emotional music matures what do you talk about? It's more - 'here's an idea I don't want to argue it'... it's just interesting to me.

It's quite a striking word and it's so interesting how you've depicted the face on the cover with the letters L U over the eyes, C over the nose and K on the mouth - what's the symbolism here?

It's kind of clouding your vision or your voice - clouded by elements that are not even your character. It's nature versus nurture and how personalities are formed and in a way even how entitled you are to have a certain personality. I mean this is getting a bit profound now but you know what I mean.

How far ahead are you always thinking?

You can't help not think to a degree. For as long as I've been recording music, I've always been excited about somebody else listening to it. Somebody who doesn't get it, I'd rather they don't hear it. Some people are on the fence and you can do something that helps them understand more of it... you give people ways into the vocabulary you might have.

Tom Vek's new album, Luck, is released on June 8th via Moshi Moshi Records.