An Interview with Wave Racer

Photo Credit: Wave Racer Facebook Page

Tom Purcell, otherwise known as Wave Racer, is one of the latest and greatest producers to come out of Australia today. With his bright and shimmery sound, Wave Racer makes feel good party jams. WRGW had the chance to chat with him about touring, his influences, and even ice cream!

First off, welcome to Washington! How are you liking it so far?

I’m loving it! As soon as I arrived, I got to go see the White House and that made my day. I got a photo of that and that alone is enough of a reason to be here.

I first heard you through a recommended track on Soundcloud a couple months ago and that’s sort of how I got into your music. I was just wondering who some of your main influences were? I definitely hear Rustie and Cashmere Cat in there. 

Yeah, they’re both high up on the list. Hudson Mohawke, Sinjin Hawke, who else? It’s hard to name specific artists because I just scroll through Soundcloud like you mentioned. The way you discovered my music is the way I discover all the music that I listen to as well. It’s basically like an amalgamation of everything that I find on the internet–mostly through Soundcloud. But the artists you mentioned and the ones I mentioned are definitely high up on the list as well.

I heard you were pretty psyched about performing with Cashmere Cat last week. How was that? I actually caught his show in DC a couple days ago!

Yeah, I heard that one was crazy!

It was amazing. 

I did this show with Cashmere Cat and Lunice and Obey City and it was amazing. Probably one of my favorite shows I’ve ever done, actually. Really really amazing. And I’ve been to a lot of the places that Magnus (Cashmere Cat) has been now so we’re kind of becoming friends as well which is cool.

You just started your first North American tour at SXSW. How was that?

SXSW was amazing. It was very hectic and busy; I did nine shows in five days. It was a lot of shows to do in a short amount of time and the nature of Austin during SXSW is just chaos. So getting around and getting everywhere on time was just a struggle. And there’s always technical issues and things but all in all, I had an amazing time. I did some seriously cool shows and I was very lucky to be there. Super stoked.

When did you start making music as it is today?

Not that long ago, really. I’ve been producing music for a lot longer than Wave Racer has been around.

You were in Pablo J and the Lobsterettes?

Yes, that’s right! That duo, Pablo J and the Lobsterettes, was just me and my friend from Sydney who I went to high school with. We made disco-house music, sampling old disco records. Then, I kind of wanted to break out and do something new and I kind of discovered synthesizers and sound design and stuff like that and I just made little ideas on my laptop. Eventually after doing that for a couple months, I came up with a couple tracks and I just decided to put them out. I needed to think of a name and I came up with Wave Racer.

That was an old Nintendo 64 game, right?

Wave Race is the name of the game, yeah. I got the idea of the name “Wave Racer” from the game but I didn’t actually ever play the game. My friend Pat from Sydney, who’s in a duo called Cosmo’s Midnight, sent me some soundtrack videos of the Wave Race game of this level called Dolphin Park. It was a super cool track.

Is that why all your images are dolphins and stuff?

Yeah, kinda! It just suits the whole vibe, so I just went with that.

You’re also signed to Future Classic which is one of my favorite record labels. Literally everything that comes off of them is so great! What’s it been like with them? I know you’ve remixed a couple artists on the label, like Flight Facilities and Panama.

I’m super lucky to be a part of that label. They came into the picture really early for me, before I even did those remixes or anything like that. They signed me based on some of my singles that I had. Being part of that team led me to do those remixes for Panama and Flight Facilities and stuff like that. Having those opportunities are kind of life-changing because being able to do that remix with Panama was kind of a game changer for me because it did really well. And I wouldn’t have been able to do that remix if it weren’t for being a part of the Future Classic team in the first place. I’m super lucky and proud to be a part of it.

With so much new and good and awesome music coming out (your stuff included!), who would you say are three names to really keep an eye on?

I’d say Trippy Turtle is up there, he’s amazing. I’ve heard some of the stuff that he hasn’t put out and it’s so cool! Keep an eye on him; he’s a genius. And who else? Ryan Hemsworth. He did a remix for me which I love.

And you’re doing a remix for him, aren’t you?

Yeah! I did it already and it’s finished, it isn’t out yet. It’s coming out on vinyl with the remix he did for me as well, so that’s gonna come out soon. And to think of a third one, I’m gonna shout out Cosmo’s Midnight who are some friends back from home. They’re not only good friends of mine but really good producers and they’ve been doing it for a lot longer than I have. I think they’re working on an album so I would definitely keep an eye out for that.

Spinning off of the whole remix part, how do you approach remixing a song? Every remix of yours that I’ve heard has such a distinct sound; I can listen to it and be like “Oh, that’s by Wave Racer!”

My approach basically is instead of trying to edit the song or expand on the song, I kind of restart the song. I break it down so it’s like starting from scratch almost. I write a new song and basically just use the elements as compositional pieces of the song. I don’t so much remix, I write a track using the original elements.

Any big plans for 2014?

Like I already mentioned, the new remix is coming out soon. That’s the next release plan for 2014. Other than that, more touring, coming back to the USA later in the year, and I’m touring around in Australia as well, doing some cool stuff. Supporting Disclosure when they come to Australia, doing their tour there. So basically just more touring, a release, and I’m hopefully going to be writing a whole lot more music later in the year.

So my last question is kind of random: if you had to describe yourself as an ice cream flavor, what would it be and why?

Woah, that’s a really cool question! My favorite ice cream flavor to eat is actually vanilla, but I’m not gonna say that as my answer because that’s the most boring one, and I don’t wanna be boring. So I’m gonna say peanut butter.

I’ve never had peanut butter ice cream actually. 

It’s really good and really interesting. It’s unexpected, so we’ll go with that.

–Lotanna Obodozie

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