Shur-I-Kan – real name Tom Szirtes – has been making his mark on the scene since his debut release in 2001 on Freerange Records. With a background playing keyboards in numerous jazz, rock and funk bands in London, it comes as no surprise to hear these elements play a prominent role in his productions, and his deep love and understanding for the instrument has no doubt helped him to stand out from the masses. 2008 saw the birth of Dark Energy Recordings, a joint venture alongside Milton Jackson that now boasts over 30 releases from artists including MANIK, Kris Wadworth and Shades Of Grey as well as showcasing their own work. Ahead of his appearance at BCHP on the 24th May, we caught up with him to speak a little about what makes him tick, his take on the current state of house music and where he sees things going in the future. While we had his attention, we invited him to contribute the latest addition to our podcast series which you can check out below:
How healthy do you think the ‘scene’ is in the UK? Do you have any favourite events or venues that always hit the spot?
I think the scene in the UK is just fine, there’s always loads of producers and DJs out there doing their thing. London is a major hotspot for the club music and has been for decades. There’s always new venues popping opening, but I often find myself at Plastic People, Horse & Groom or East Village – but thats because I’m an east london guy.
How does the scene differ outside of the UK? Do you prefer the vibe abroad or on home soil?
House music is global, but of course each country has its own vibe and flavour. The Japanese like it dirty and jazzy, the Brazillians like it loud and hard, in Europe its about the deep. I like to travel its more fun, but there is something nice about being able to play in your backyard.
Do you do any live performances such as those you did with The Bays? Are there any plans for some further gigs with The Bays?
No the Bays are on hold for the moment. Andy the drummer is far too busy earning a fortune playing drums for Chase & Status, and musically directing the likes of Labyrinth and Rudimental. I’d like to get a live set together for Shur-i-kan sometime soon – perhaps after the album is done.
Suddenly everyone’s talking about Deep House. As one of the pioneers of this sound in the UK have you benefitted from this or is there a second wave of dj’s and producers who have perhaps piggybacked your sound?
To be honest I don’t even know what Deep House means anymore these days – it seems to be a term thats tagged onto anything that isn’t mainstream EDM. There’s lots of up and coming DJs doing their thing and thats cool, I continue to do mine. I think the Shur-i-kan sound is still pretty unique out there, it was never particularly leaped on by the media, which is advantage because it means it ages better!
There’s a lot of production with an early nineties sound around at the moment. Any thoughts as to why this sound might be having such a popular resurgence?
I have a theory that its a generational thing and that pop-music regurgitates music of about 20 years ago. Thats why disco / 80s was in a few years back, now its the nineties. Personally I’m really looking forward to someone reinventing Soul II Soul and the acid jazz movement for the new millennia…
When did you set up ‘dark energy’? Why did you set up this label and what’s your musical plan with it?
Dark Energy was set up by myself and Milton Jackson, primarly as an outlet for our own releases. Then we started to get other artists approaching us to release their material on the label and so it spread, we’ve had a great rostur of artists including MANIK, Ian Pooley, Office Gossip, Tom Middleton and Terrence Pearce. Obviously we like to think we are solely responsible for their success 🙂
You like to produce music in other genres i.e ambient/nu-disco. Where does your interest in these other sounds stem from?
It stems from a general interest in music. I don’t understand people who only like one particular kind of music. Its natural to specialise, but I think you can get a bit stale if you only do one thing. Not every emotion makes sense to be expressed to the thump of a 909 kick drum, so thats why I try different things. It keeps me interested and fresh. That said deep house is certainly my mainstay and its definitely what I play out.
When is your next release on freerange? Can you tell us something about it? Do you produce a certain ‘sound’ on this label?
My next release is called Stepping Tones and its out on the 24th June. Its kinda classic Shur-i-kan sounds – deep house with emotive chords and lush textures. Its getting loads of great feedback so looking forward to unleashing that one.
Where do you draw your inspirations from when you produce?
I draw them from other records – some of them are dance records, they may be jazz or ambient or even pop records. Most of the time the tracks come from experimentation – you just have to sit down and see what happens, where the journey ends.
Do you have different inspirations when it comes to dj’ing? What’s the difference between Shur-I-Kan in the studio and Shur-I-Kan in the DJ booth?
About half a bottle of vodka normally 🙂 Shur-i-kan in the studio is quite boring – its just a guy sitting in front of a computer, plying beats and then regularly checking facebook. Shur-i-kan in the DJ booth is a much more playful chappy – enjoying the music and the vibe.
Which do you prefer?
I like both. I started off a producer first, so I guess making the music is my first love and gives me the greatest pleasure. But its no good making music without being able to share it other people and thats what DJing or performing allows me to do.
If there were three words to best describe Shur-I-Kan what would they be?
Little. Bit. Different.
You can catch Shur-I-Kan this friday where he’ll be playing at DAB for the second installment of BCHP.