In this interview we sit down with Tom, also known as Tummy Aches, to discuss the making of his song Recon. Tom is an up-and-coming artist from Watford, based in Brighton. In this interview he discusses the motivations for his work and the process of making a song independently, through pure passion and a love for the arts. This interview is a must read for any aspiring musician, looking for the inspiration to get out there and start making music.
So, what is Tummy Aches? How would you describe the music?
I spent a year not really doing much with my life and started making lo-fi indie tunes in my bedroom just to fight boredom. After a while I started vibing and it’s gradually become Tummy Aches which is lo-fi bedroom pop that I bounce over to electronic producers I know to make it a little less whiny and a little more of a bop.
What was the motivation behind making this song and putting it out? Passion? Career? Just a creative project?
Recon came about after a third date with a cool girl ended badly. I just sat in my bedroom trying to play things out with a guitar. It’s an anxiety anthem. Those that heard it rated it so I threw it over to a producer called Digital Anarchy that I’d done vocals for before. He tightened it up, made it sound almost ethereal and just fucking nailed it really. I hadn’t intended on releasing it, especially not on Spotify, but after Zane a.k.a Digital Anarchy (@digitalanarchy_) perfected it, I just felt like it was the best stab I had at making something more of Tummy Aches. Dunno what that ‘more’ is though tbh.
Is Tummy Aches your first project? What have you been involved in before?
Tummy Aches is my first solo project. I was in bands that went nowhere for years but in college I stopped looking at music as a career goal and just started making stupid shit. From the 8 piece electronica mess ‘Octopus Handjob’ to just getting too stoned and making grime parodies with my mates, I eventually learnt how to write more than a riff, basic recording & production and found shit I actually wanted to say.
How long have you been making music for?
As a kid I begged for a drum kit and my dad got me a cornet (tiny trumpet). Trumpets are sick but I wasn’t feeling it. I’ve been writing songs and playing with bands since I was about 14 but the oldest track I still consider part of Tummy Aches is ‘YONE’ which I put on SoundCloud about 3 years ago.
Talk us through your process of making music
Honestly, I wish I knew. I’d get a lot more done. Recently it’s been playing chord variations until something simple sounds dreamy, then I just violate the acoustics by running it through cheap effects on my computer. I guess I start with something vulnerable and then gradually cover it up with bass guitar, reverb and distortion. I like to know there’s something personal deep in the mix but the priority is someone hearing it and thinking ‘what a bop’ not ‘are you okay?’
Have you done any live performances? We’d love to catch you perform one day!
I actually have never done Tummy Aches live. I miss playing gigs and want it to happen but need it to be authentic. I hate bands that rely too much on a backing track and I want this to be a musical performance and not just me blowing myself. I’ve worked with people on making it happen and it’s generally led to new side projects, but over quarantine I’ve been looking into how it could sound and chatting to the people I think can make it happen. So, I’m coming for Brighton soon.
What advice would you give to people who want to make music but don’t know where to start?
Just start playing. Don’t try and write a song, just play with sound. If you’re not enjoying that, you probably won’t enjoy song writing, but if you do, the song will pop out of nowhere as if it wrote itself. Tummy aches started by downloading a program to use my computer keyboard as a synth. Next thing I knew I was propping up guitar hero microphones to a guitar amp and making weird little hooks on GarageBand. Have fun, not expectations.
What are your favourite tunes/type of music?
I get most my stuff from r/bedroompop on reddit so I would say check that out for the overall vibe. But I’m listening to a lot of Still Woozy, Bay Faction & the new Dreamville album bangs.
Have you ever been to Amsterdam? And can we expect to see you here in the future?
I’ve been to Dam twice, first time I was a kid just looking at museums, but I went back camping with my boys when I was 19 and had one of the most fun weeks I can barely remember. Outside of music I also do a lot of film and media projects and I’m currently working on a miniseries about Amsterdam culture that’s getting going the second we’re not in a pandemic.