behind the groove with tummo

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

Airplus Recordings catches up with producer and DJ tummo to gain insight and perspectives on his music, future plans and some reminiscing. Enjoy!

CLICK HERE to check out tummo's new release!

AP+ Who is Tummo?

T. Tummo is a manifestation of my burning desire to create music, which, ideally people can both dance to just as easily as kick back and lose themselves in. Tummo is also a Tibetan word, literally translating as “fierce woman”. She’s a goddess of heat and passion, which I didn’t know when adopting the name. But it seems pretty fitting, given the previously mentioned burning desire to make the music I’m making.

AP+. What is your motivation for producing music?

T. I don’t really have a choice. If I don’t sit down and make music for three to eight hours a day, I feel deeply dissatisfied. I’m very grateful I have the resources to do what I’m doing.

AP+ Who are your early influences and some current ones also?

T. My Father introduced me to classical music, and my Mother introduced me to Blues, Soul, and Disco. The first albums I really sank my teeth into were the Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley collections, as well as the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack, which is all disco, baby. I’d listen to music all day, everyday. (laughs) I still do! I remember pretending to be sick from school so I could stay home and watch the Saturday Night Fever movie and practice John Travolta’s dance moves. My Mom came home early from work and caught me, mid John Travolta point to the sky. She smiled and said she understood. So, my parents were the foundation. The Crystal Method’s “Vegas” album came out around 1997 (I think I was fourteen), and it inspired me to start creating music. Early influences in dance music included Dj Dan, Mark Farina, and Timo Maas, as well as Dj’s I was seeing regularly at the raves I was going to, like Dyloot, Tom Slik, Kid Hype, and a bit later on, James Zabiela. At the moment, I’m inspired by Skee Mask, Ricardo Villalobos, and Moodymann.

AP+. Haha, I can definitely see you doing a "Travolta Strut". What kind of equipment do you use to produce and what is your typical process?

T. I keep things as simple as possible. I use an Elektron Digitakt, Logic Pro X, and a Zoom H2N field recorder. Most of the plug-ins I use are stock Logic. I believe solid songwriting and song arrangement, beat slick production, everyday of the week. I typically start by creating my general focus or theme for the song, be it a melody, or drum loop, or moody atmospheric pad, and go from there. It all depends what kind of feeling I want to convey, and where I’d ideally like the listeners focus to be. Sometimes I’ll create a line of poetry and break down its inherent rhythm and melody, adapting that to a full song. This is the writing phase. Next comes arrangement, then extra production with effects, then mixing, and mastering.

AP+. Tell me about the best and worst gigs of your life.

T. My best gig was at a (still) secret location in Northern California. There’s a little art commune in Napa Valley on a defunct ranch that host amazing parties. No name. Word of mouth invite only. It attracts a surreal audience of incredibly kind, creative, and fun people. Everybody that shows up is there to listen, connect, and dance their asses off. It’s unreal. Their parties consistently have a palpable magic to them. My worst gig was in a place called “Hunters Point”, which is an incredibly rough neighborhood in San Francisco. After getting dropped off by a friend at the venue, I discovered that cabs won’t go there. The club wasn’t a club, it was a warehouse with a meth lab, and a gang of staggeringly large men. I had invited a group of close friends as well as my little sister, not knowing what I was getting into. I felt awful about the whole situation. Long story short, I was forced to play, and it was a pretty dark experience.

AP+. Yo that's nuts, that reminds me when you were living in the East Bay, tell us a crazy Oakland Dj’ing story.

T. Haha ok, there was a rave at the old “Mother’s Cookies” factory in Oakland, with a very old, naked man sitting in an armchair in the middle of the dance floor. He must have been at least 80 years old. And not one person aside from myself seemed to notice. Maybe he was my spirit animal or something.

AP+. If you were dead and Dj’ing for God to get into heaven, what would your first and last tracks be, and why?

T. Hmmmm… start with Stairway to Heaven by Zeppelin, and finish with Jeff Buckley’s rendition of “Hallelujah”. Really, man, you’ve gotta know your audience.

AP+. Have you ever gone into town high, while listening to “Don’t Go Into Town while High”, just ‘cause?

T. Yes. Of course. I currently live in a very small town, out in the country, where everybody knows everybody. Going into town while high is risky because you never know who you’re going to run into, and subsequently need to make small talk with. One time, I smoked a spliff and biked to the one grocery store in town while fantastically high, and it was a fantastically awkward event. Now I make a ritual out of it despite likely coming across the same way as Johnny Depp in Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas in the hotel lobby scene when he’s tripping on acid. Lizard people, everywhere.

AP+. What’s your favorite color?

T. My wife’s smile. Those with synaesthesia will understand.

AP+. You're scoring major points with that one for sure! So what are Tummo’s future plans? Any releases or events planned for the near future?

T. Learning. Staying curious. It’s a perpetual education for me. I’m getting more involved with Airplus Recordings and have a few E.P.’s dropping through them, as well as a regularly occurring live stream on Twitch where I’ll be dj’ing and potentially some live jams with the Digitakt.

AP+. Can't wait, if you could collaborate with any living or dead person on a track, who would it be?

T. Jim Henson, anything his mind touched turned to gold. He had a very warm, raw, and genuinely creative vibe that I would love to rub off on me.

AP+. Great choice! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat we are looking forward to working closely on these upcoming projects, they truly are 1,000% magic. Any last shout outs?

T. Shout outs to my squirrel friends in my backyard that somehow manage to urinate on me on a miraculously regular basis. Keeps me humble. And seriously, that’s some remarkable aim. 🐿

AP+. Last Question. Why are fish so good at music?

T. Well, people often say that “music is life”. People also say that “water is life”. Fish literally breath water, which also means that fish literally breath music. So naturally they’re the best musicians.

AP+. No silly, it's because they're good at scales ;)

Check out and support tummo's debut release "The Bright Way Looks Dim" available for streaming and purchase on all the premier digital outlets.