music journalist since 1992 teacher since 2004 blogger since 2012 podcaster since 2020
Lily Moayeri: What makes the present time perfect for TILT to reform?
Mick Park: We rebooted TILT properly back in August 2011. It was purely to play at Cream in November later that year. We got to listening to the TILT back catalogue. You sometimes fall back in love with those tracks, and that’s kind of what happened. Alex had been working with me on another project with Nic called Terracotta Army and he was always playing us new tracks, and to be honest, we weren’t overly impressed with the vast majority. They were basically all production and no substance so that’s when we thought, “Let’s get back in the mix.”
Nic Britton: I think the time just feels right. Dance music and clubbing is back big time and the underground scene has a buzz about it. Creatively, we are hyped up and ready to get our ideas out and back into the music.
Alex Brown: Being the “new member” of the band and also a TILT fan throughout the late ‘90s and early 2000s, I can’t really answer that question. Having said that, as Mick mentioned, I have worked with him and Nic on a couple of other projects. We know we are all comfortable working with each other, have very similar musical tastes, and all bring something different to the table. Because of this, when rebooting TILT was mentioned, it certainly felt right in terms of the three of us working together and putting a modern twist on a new era in dance music.
How does the new material compare style-wise with previous music from TILT? What can fans expect?
Mick: It’s a tricky one because we are very conscious of what we are best known for, but time moves on, and so must our sound. We have always made a point of putting drama into all our mixes. It was never about a groove, and at the risk of sounding like a cliché, it had to take you on a journey. Our philosophy has always been: great music is great music no matter what genre. We’ve made tracks that are trance anthems or tribal anthems. One thing is true about all of them: We always went with our gut instinct. The new material is very much like the tunes we are known for. They are big and bold with great hooks, and the odd amazing vocal. We are happy with that. At the end of the day, we’re here to kick the music industry’s ass, not kiss it.
Nic: As Mick says, it is important for our tracks to take you somewhere. Personally, I want to make sure we keep our musicality and production levels as high as we can and keep the TILT sound constantly moving forward.
Alex: That’s quite a tough one for me to answer as so many of those tunes are all time favourites of mine. I think the main thing as TILT is that we don’t try and have a particular style, we just make music that we love and believe in regardless of genre. You hear so many tracks these days where producers lock on a particular style of track or remix they have done which does well and they just keep trying to recreate that same track. I think people can get bored quite easily when that happens. As a collective we would also get quite bored if we did that. So although not sticking to a particular genre may not please everyone, it really helps keep us on the ball musically and gives us much more of a creative drive.
The electronic dance music scene has changed a lot in the last few years. How do you feel TILT’s current music will fit in with the sounds of today?
Mick: Music is ever evolving and mutating. That’s how it should be. Musical production and advances in technology are so accessible to everyone, it has made the scene very competitive. I feel it’s great to face a new challenge. We relish the idea of shaking things up again. Musically, we have tested the waters with a few cool projects. I’m happy to report it is looking very promising. We’ve had great response from Radio 1 and Kiss FM. All the main jocks are into what we are doing, which is very important for your future plans. The ultimate test is on the dance floor. It has always been about people feeling the music and making it go off.
Alex: We pay a lot of attention to what is out there at the moment and we are always looking for new music for our DJ sets, podcasts, and radio mixes. We have, of course, used some of our new material in these sets and it has worked really well alongside other producers’ stuff so we are really happy with where we are in terms of our sound fitting in at the moment. As Mick has mentioned, we have also had some fantastic feedback from radio and club DJs as well. Ultimately, it will be the people on the dance floor who decide.
Nic: The most important thing for me is to make music that rocks clubs. We have always tried to push sonic boundaries. There are lots of new equipment and production techniques to keep us fresh.
How have the other projects you have been working on informed and influenced what is happening with TILT at the moment?
Mick: We have always listened to a lot of different styles of music. It could be a classical piece or a full-on heavy metal track. It has to have a spark of inspiration for us. Some things we work on never get past the first day in the studio. It may be a case of not feeling the direction of the track or even the arrangement. People tend to go too far with their mixes—we call it “cooking them to death.” We’ve been playing around with different compression techniques and of course new synths. We’ve also recently moved over to Logic as we have always used Cubase, so that has taken a little time to get used to.
Nic: I’m always checking out what new technology is on the horizon. We will use whatever synthesizers, plug-ins and digital audio workstations that suit the moment.
Alex: For me they have been really important because they have allowed me to integrate my own ideas and way of working into what Mick and Nic already do. I certainly feel I have developed and grown in confidence artistically because of that.
Who are some of the collaborators and guests you are working with for the TILT album?
Mick: Maria Nayler features on a new track we’ve just completed. We love her voice and she is a beautiful person to work with on any project. Another is our old friend Sam Mollison who flew into the UK for a few weeks so we have brought his amazing soul voice to life on the album. Finally, we have Dominique Atkins AKA Grace–the voice of Perfecto in our opinion. It took over two years to track her down. With any album project it’s ever evolving but right now, we’re delighted with its progress.
Nic: Maria, Sam, and Dom all have unique voices that add very different elements to our songs. Each of them personalize the songs in a unique way that sits with the TILT sound. We have also been collaborating with Ben Shaw of Namespace fame, which has been great for adding yet another dimension to our productions.
TILT performed live at the Cream Reunion in 2011. Describe the TILT live show for those who haven’t experienced it yet.
Mick: Going off!!!!
Nic: A full on show including the right mix of live and programmed elements. Sonically, we want to keep the TILT big dance floor feeling. When you add in live vocals and parts with a big PA, it sounds massive.
You are starting a DJ residency in Liverpool called Rez. What brought about the residency?
Mick: Basically, we are a restless bunch of men. After we played at Cream in November, we wanted to develop that kind of night again. Liverpool is TILT’s spiritual home. Paul Oakenfold made all our records anthems in Cream over the years, so it was a no brainer really. Were working alongside Rob and Kenny who organise the Freeze nights in Liverpool as they have a great local knowledge of the city and know how to put on a great night. The venue is a bit crazy, but we fell in love with it when we went to see it. They’ve also drafted in Stuart from the Cream reunion to play alongside us so it has come full circle.
What are your plans for the residency musically both for your audience and for yourselves as artists and producers?
Mick: Musically, we want it to be an extension of what we do in the studio, hence the live showcase. It will feature some new and old material—with the odd surprise. Its just going to be a fantastic party with a great atmosphere, we just want people to enjoy what we do best and have an amazing time.