The rise of Tom Budden epitomises what can be achieved when a dance music obsessive channels all that dancefloor enthusiasm wisely. By patiently building a reputation and not being afraid of the graft as well as the good times, he’s carved out an enviable position for himself as an in-demand DJ, producer, label owner and promoter. And taking the long term, focussed approach to his passion is now paying off big time.
A lynchpin of South England’s phenomenally productive, loosely connected house music mafia, which sees the region produce a disproportionate number of the UK’s highest achievers, Tom’s deep, rolling tech-house sounds are seeing his name regularly mentioned in the same breath as the guys who were his early inspiration.
Presenting a thoroughly modern sound that has furrowed paths at both the deeper and the more driving end of the spectrum, his DJ sets are renowned for being precision tuned perfectly for the vibe, the venue and time of night… or indeed day. This has lead to high praise when playing before or after some of the biggest names in the business. But that doesn’t mean Tom is content to play second fiddle, “given the chance I would play all night, and play everything from disco and deep house through to acid house and techno” he says, with a confidence that hints at just how well he’d pull it off.
With a string of seriously high profile gigs at UK clubs including Ministry of Sound, Sakneys, Shindig, matter at the 02 and Cocoon at The End, his international profile has truly taken off in recent years too. Whether it’s smashing it at Kristal in Romania, (where Tom has become a regular fixture on Bucharest’s nightlife scene), touring Australia and Asia alongside James Zabiela or ensuring the après skiers are literally swinging from the alpine rafters when joining James and Nic Fanciulli’s legendary DJ tag team for a night at the Snowbombing festival in Austria.
He remains loyal to his hometown crowd in Southampton alongside the growing global interest, with an ongoing residency at the infamous High Tide Boat Parties, which he also helps promote. It was from this party pedigree that he took another major leap in 2008 and launched his own label, the respected ALiVE Recordings. “The label was originally set up as an output for my own music,” explains Tom, “but it just grew organically. Now I have a handful of regular artists from all over the world as well as attracting some well known names. I’m really proud of its ongoing reputation.”
The label’s tenth release, Tom Budden – ‘The Tree Dance’ was a real milestone for both the imprint and its owner. The track appealed to some of the finest ears from across the board, being played by everyone from deep house DJs to the techno fraternity. It was one of Richie Hawtin’s most played tracks of that summer (just check his Twitter!) while also finding favour in sets as diverse as Milton Jackson’s and Steve Angello’s, and was snapped up for a range of CD mixes by big players including Global Underground and Subliminal.
Tom celebrates two years and 20 releases on ALiVE with his 3-D project this summer. Namely 3 packages of 3 tracks (a Tom Budden original, plus 2 remixes by ALiVE favourites and regulars), each released 3 weeks apart. It’s another confident move from a producer clearly entering his prime. You’ll also hear his touch further afield, on remixes including Tijuana’s ‘Groove Is In The Air’ for Bedrock, Danny Howells ‘Laid Out’ on Dig Deeper, James Zabiela ‘Blame’ on Renaissance and Simon Rogers ‘EC1M’ on Paolo Mojo's OOSH.
The boss expands upon the sound of the label via his popular ALiVE show on Proton Radio, which has been running for 7 years and airs on the fourth Friday of every month. And he’s dropped successful guest mixes for internationally syndicated radio shows including John Digweed's Transitions, Carl Cox's Global and Mark Knight's Toolroom Knights.
If there was a textbook on building solid credentials for clubland success then Tom Budden should have written it. He’s methodically earned a position as one of the most exciting names in dance music, and his continued ascent looks as sure-fire as his enviable track record