Interview with Tamsin Kemp
In the middle of a bustling festival season, Tom ‘Hot Dub’ Lowndes takes a few minutes to talk to BMA about being a maestro behind the turntables, a family guy, and a stalwart of the live circuit.
Tom picked up his ‘instrument’ some twenty years ago. He remembers purchasing his first turntables in 2002, which makes him an old hand in the fast-moving world of electronic music.
Tom started the Hot Dub Time Machine show in 2010, picking up Fringe Festival slots in Australia in 2011/12. His HDTM show took off after performing at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2012 and 2013, being hardworking and blessed enough to make it his full-time profession. He describes the scene at that time as “very serious”.
“I wanted to disrupt the seriousness and play for fun,” he says, with his “moment of awakening” happening when he recognised the pure “enjoyment of music” and “the natural rush” of being in the moment.
I asked him about being a curator not only of beats, but of moments in time—the nostalgia of music that sets crowds alight—and how he settles on those defining songs.
“The best songs,” he reveals, “are not underground. They are the ones that are universally loved.
“The great pop song stands the test of time.”
Time, as his musical Nome de plume suggests, is at the centre of his show. Tom takes us from the 1970s to right here, right now. Confessing his personal love for disco (me too), he says he loves to roll through the years and show “where pop came from”.
Tom has the time and his shit together!
Tom loves his job. He loves changing it up, finding a “different energy” for different crowds. “Never being locked into a set list,” as he puts it, allows him to be intuitive, and “thrill along with the audience”.
But it’s a hard job, too. Lots of travel, lots of late nights, and huge energy output. How does he manage that?
“I used to drink a lot,” Tom candidly states about his previous relationship with alcohol. “I couldn’t perform without alcohol.”
While he describes the many festivals he’s performed at—including high profile international gigs such as Coachella, Reading, Leeds, and Tomorrowland, as well as Falls, Splendour, and GTM here at home—as tremendous fun, he is honest about how the scene “can be quite dark”.
“Everyone in the music industry has a moment of reckoning,” he states, saying of alcohol: “You can be the sad, old, guy battling it or the old guy with his shit together.”
With a family, including two young ones, Tom made a clear choice. He’s been sober for two and half years now, and declares the “serotonin rush I get from performing” is all he needs.
He speaks with obvious love about the flexibility his job affords him, being able to take his kids to school, performing on nights when he knows they’ll be in bed.
It’s clearly a juggle, but the passion for the music shines through, which is why he continues to find the balance.
Tom tells me he literally “does nothing before the show” so he can “give it everything”.
We appreciate that Tom. Music definitely sounds better with you.
Hot Dub Time Machine performs at Wine Machine this Saturday, 25 March at Commonwealth Park. The event runs from 3pm – 11pm. For more info and tickets head to https://wine-machine.com/wine-machine-canberra/