The prowess of the UK-born and bred Tisoki continues to dominate as his prolific output of dancefloor heavy-hitters and melodic heartbreakers continue to push the boundaries between genres. Merging dubstep with trap, pop, sad boy vibes, and straight up UK bass, Tisoki’s forthcoming Razor Blades EP on Dim Mak is an emo-fuelled romp through the mind of the ever-impressive producer.
Turning in some of his best work to date, 2019 seems to be yet another turning point in the evolving career of Tisoki as the smoke still settles on a series of epic performances that took him from Red Rocks, Coachella, EDC Las Vegas, and of course last month’s headlining slot for the Bassrush fam at Academy in Los Angeles. With an appearance at Lost Lands on the horizon, we’re just as surprised as you are that the producer finds time to get in the studio and continue to crank out the unholy amount of tunes that he does.
As the long-awaited release of his Razor Blades EP project due to drop later this week (lock in your preorder here), we thought it was the perfect time to catch up with Tisoki and sit down for a wide-ranging chat that takes us from his childhood roots all the way to the new wave of vocal-driven music he’s unabashedly exploring and making his own.
Take us back to your roots. Give us a sense of what kind of community you grew up in and especially if there was anyone musically inclined in your family.
In the early years, I actually attended a school that specialized in the performing arts (drama, music, art) so a lot of my friends around that time were creatively inclined as well. Growing up around the house party scene also lent more of a creative side to me as well, going to these gatherings and hearing quite left-field music really gave me an ear for the “DJing” kind of world, I also used to watch deadmau5 live videos religiously. [Laughs]
What kind of music do you remember hearing around the house when you were growing up?
My mum was, and still is, an avid lover of Queen and that style of music. So, I guess a lot of theatrical type rock music? I don’t think you can get much more British than that.
It seems like you were musically inclined right from the start. For those who don’t know, remind us of the instruments you played as youth.
I play a lot of instruments but my true loves are guitar and drums. I also dabbled in violin for a brief period, piano (it was a plastic keyboard) and bass, but I feel like if you can play guitar well then bass is pretty much a given. Sorry bass players.
At what point does electronic music and dubstep in particular enter your world? Is there a key moment that you see as being the catalyst that changed everything for you?
I dropped out of school pretty early but before that point I remember for a short while I had an IT teacher who would show me old Rusko songs on his laptop in class because he knew I was having some troubles in my personal life around that time. He would put his MacBook—which, holy shit, I never thought I’d be able to touch such an expensive laptop—in front of me and told me to plug in my headphones. Shit was so awesome, listening to Fabric Live mixes whilst learning basic coding
When does this transform into a desire to produce or DJ and which came first: DJing or producing? Were there ever any other names besides Tisoki that you considered using?
I think producing has always been at the forefront of my mind. DJing is more of an addition, for me at least. It’s the only real way I could play my music out without spending a ton of money (which I didn’t have) on midi controllers and a “big rig” setup. I’ve actually never had another moniker and I don’t think I ever will; it’s just kinda stuck this entire time.
Do you remember the moment you came up with Tisoki as a name? While some may know the meaning behind the name, remind the new-school fans of what it’s an anagram of and tell us the origin story for the birth of Tisoki in general.
Yeah! I was playing Sims (that virtual world type game) and I was super into emo bands at the time so I had to choose two last names for my characters. One was “Alesana” (great band) and the other was “Tisoki,” which is an anagram of “it is ok.” It’s kinda just always been a cool word to me and I’d never seen anyone else use it.
Flash forward to the present and music has turned your world upside down and inside out! If the whole Tisoki thing had never worked out what do you think you’d be doing for a living these days?
I think I would still be in the music space somewhere, definitely the co-production space or maybe even being a manager. There was a short period of time in my transitional period in 2017 where I actually managed myself, booked my shows myself, [tour managed] myself and I thought that I did an ok job. I was probably shit at it.
Well, let’s be thankful the Tisoki project is alive and kicking. We’re still buzzing off your headlining appearance at Academy last month and still rinsing the guest mix you hit us with as well. We’re going to assume LA is one of your favorite spots to visit and even if it’s not tell us what your favorite parts of the LA Bassrush crowd are and if there’s anything you love to eat or do when you’re visiting our hood.
I actually lived in LA for nearly two years and whilst it’s great for tons of people, it was just a hard time for me because I’m pretty introverted as a person. That being said, LA definitely throws some of—if not the—best shows. It’s essentially entertainment capital of the US and I feel that lends perfectly to the LA Bassrush crowd. People are a lot more open to different styles and have a wider pallet and are generally more accepting to some weirder, more underground vibes. Anytime I’m in LA I gotta get Fat Sals. That stuff is crack.
Speaking of crack, your forthcoming Razor Blades EP continues your tradition of defying easy categorization. From emo/sad boy vibes to rough and rugged dubstep/trap thrillers the EP has it all. Give us a sense of how the project came together.
For the most part they have been singles but they all revolve around this new wave of music I wanna be putting out. I’ve dabbled in the pop world and really admire the fact that vocals definitely make a song. So, with that being said, I’ve tried extremely hard to cross those two styles over. I think I was just getting tired of making songs with no lyrical content.
With that in mind, give us a sense of where you go from here and if we should be expecting a full-on album project from you in the coming year.
Oh man, I have no idea where I go from here. The thing is, I make music super fast, so I’m always shuffling through ideas. Right now, I don’t think I have the attention span to really sit down and craft a full album as much I would love to. I’ve never been a fan of albums that are essentially just random songs put together. It has to tell a story and has to have a narrative and right now at this point in my career I don’t feel it’s time. Maybe in a couple years when I’ve been doing this for 10 years I’ll do a full conceptual album or something, but for the foreseeable future, I’ve been finishing up a ton more dope stuff which I’m super excited to get out there!