Wave Racer has become an integral part of the Australian music scene since releasing his first single ‘Stoopid/Rock U Tonite’ on Future Classic in 2013. Since then, he has travelled the world playing at festivals such as Coachella and Electric Gardens and supporting fellow producers Disclosure and Porter Robinson. Born Tom Purcell, he grew up in Sydney playing shows with friends in venues that have since been shut down due to the lock out laws. We spoke to him about the current climate of live music culture and where he fits amidst it all.
How do you feel the lockout laws affected the scene in Sydney?
I lived in Sydney for my whole life until six months ago. I can verify that it has had an immense effect the music scene but also the nightlife and arts culture of Sydney in general. I think it’s getting worse by the day. The lockout laws are harmful to the economy of Sydney too. The problem is that there are very few venues, you could probably count them on one hand now. The effect of that is people who are now in the same position I was in a few years ago, who are just starting to make music, no longer have any avenues to express themselves. They can’t just play shows, get a leg up or immerse themselves by giving it a go. They’re unable to find a platform in Sydney. Other cities around the world and even locally in Melbourne, still have those smaller venues and platforms for artists to experiment, to learn, and grow. Sydney no longer has that as an option. It’s quite sad and it’s very noticeable when you go out. It creates stagnation in arts culture in Sydney.
On the topic of live music, is there a particular performance of your own that you would consider a career highlight?
I’ve played a couple of crazy festivals in America. One of them that comes to mind is Electric Forest in Michigan. I’m actually playing it again this year. It was very special. One that really stands and that I will remember forever is when I played at Coachella. I played on the Do LaB stage last year, which is kind of weird because it’s not technically official Coachella billing but it’s still within the festival grounds. I played to a massive crowd and people actually knew who I was. Coachella is the biggest and best musical festival in the world. I just had such a fun weekend.
Are you still growing as an artist? Is there new music in the pipeline?
I am working on loads of new stuff but it doesn’t have a release date predicted yet as it’s still in production. I don’t want to say too much about the project but it is an interesting departure from what people might expect me to make. Over the last three years, I developed a sound and aesthetic for myself in the Wave Racer project. This is the next chapter of that, an evolution into something new. I might surprise some people with what it sounds like. Some people might not like it. It’s more pop-based, there’s more vulnerability in it, more subtlety and more delicacy. It’s not as cartoony and bright and fantastical – it’s a bit more organic. I’m interested to see how people respond to this change in direction. It’s very hard to say how long it’s going to take to finish but I’m extremely excited to get new music out there.
Are you using any new musical equipment on this new project?
Yeah, I have actually. I recently bought my first ever analogue synthesiser, I’ve never had one before. Even though it’s the same process in making the sounds a lot of the time it just feels different because you’re making it in a different context and setting and being processed a recorded in a very different way so I found that interesting. On top of that I’m constantly upgrading my arsenal of virtual plugins and instruments. The palette of sounds I’m using now is a fifty percent upgrade from what I’ve been using over the past few years.
Wave Racer wears Asics Gel Kayano Knit.
This feature originally appeared in the February issue of Limit’d.