We recently spoke with the local composer, producer, creative and true gentleman that is Timo Peach to discuss the shed where it all began, his love of France, his didgeridoo and of course his wacky music act, Momo:tempo...
Well, first thing's first… we've seen the 'Nudge' video… should we be scared about this interview?
Well, >chuckles with barely any sinister overtones< I think we're good. The doctors say I'm doing great. Just great.
So, for anyone who doesn't know, who and what is Momo:tempo?
Momo:tempo is me: some bloke from Bournemouth. Southbourne, to zero in a little more. Although there is a new move to refer to it as "Sobo" these days, I hear. It seems Sobo is making claims on "Southbourne On Sea"s ambitions. It is unclear which will win control of the district's credibility. I for my own part shall merely stand back with a gin & tonic and wait for the dust to settle, hoping to be invited to both cocktail parties. When I'm not a keen participant in local life, however, I am creative, composer and producer Timo Peach. I work in a shed in my garden writing daft little tunes.
Haha, that sounds like a very sensible plan! Anyway, back onto the topic of your act: how long has Momo:tempo been around and how did it all begin?
It began in a shed. In Southbourne... The narrative arc of this story is soaring, isn't it? Twenty-odd years back I did indeed put a four-track cassette recorder in a shed in my parents' garden at the other end of the district and began attempting to make electronic music with a single Moog Liberation. The original shed still stands in that garden, though most of the garden now stands in it as well. Meanwhile, I moved nearer the shops and put some insulation into a new shed. A few things happened in between, including leaving a glamourous life in editorial publishing for the heady lifestyle of becoming an independent arty blighter. But I still have the Moog. Which I bought from Eddie Moors Music, having spotted it in the window like a staggering vision of the gods one Saturday in 1987. I had seen "Moog"s listed on the back of LPs by stratospherically deitical synth heros, so to see one with my own eyes in Boscombe struck me dumb. I rushed home with it to start making bleeps, and haven't stopped since.
I set up Momo as my sort of creative production house ten years ago, and Tempo evolved as the music project out of it. Today, around all manner of famously clever work, I create a kind of theatrical alternative electro-pop for myself, and various types of music for little TV projects, commissions and collaborations.
Ah, so you're both Momo and Tempo! Now that explains things! We assumed you had an invisible partner in crime that shyed away from the cameras and were going to ask you 'who wears the trousers?', but I'm hoping we already know the answer to this one now!
Yes, there's only one of me so we both wear the trousers. Although there are various people who join me live to make up the ever-evolving Momo:tempo Electro Pops Orchestra and most of the time all of them keep their trousers on also. Though Simon the percussionist keeps his lower half behind congas usually, and I'm not so sure about what he may be slipping into and out of behind me there to be honest.
Yep, you've gotta watch those conga players! Have you always wanted to be involved in music?
I grew up in a musical home. Parents met in the theatre. So I've always performed very comfortably, but my history of exposure to musical instruments was faultering and unremarkable before I found myself sitting at my mother's upright when I was 15 and thought no one was listening... Which was a good assumption to be prepared to work under, let me say. A light went on somewhere, anyway, and I found music was suddenly my guiding light of inspiration. Recorded music in particular, weirdly - playing with production. The showing off at the front part could easily be added afterwards, I reasoned.
Let's move on to talking about your recent 'Nudge' creation. Watching the video and listening to the song, one of the things that comes across is an enormous sense of fun. Was the video fun to make and is 'fun' a big part of the Momo:tempo live act?
Steven Fry, patron saint of modern Britons, once said that there's no more sinister word than 'fun'. Well, it is when it's a coercion, undoubtedly. Clown masks or village fetes, that kind of thing. But I'm afraid for me, Fun is definitely the operative word. Colour and life and all that. Big grooves and big tunes and a big fool often berking about at the front. I don't exactly have a manifesto of 'Joy To The World', but I do like making music that puts a stupid grin on the face and a little swell in the bosom. Where decent. Life is too short and miserable not to, or something. And boring dance music should be outlawed as oxymoronic.
Video shoots need to be daftly enjoyable for this, of course. Two of my influences which seem to have come to the fore in my work and melded intriguingly would be lyrical romantic wit The Divine Comedy and bonkers Dada electro stuntits Yello - who make music videos that are as daft as you like. For myself, I think costumes and puppets and vintage aircraft and dancers would all be put to very good use if I had the budget. The truth, however, is that video shoots need to be rather efficient and deliberate, like making any TV or film. Over and over, tighter and tighter. Now, "tight" isn't a word that easily fits my performances, I should point out to your no-doubt great surprise. But I manfully step up as a trouper, regardless. And in the case of Nudge, the Love Love film chaps worked arduously to compensate. It was as inspiring an effort as ever made a grown man weep.
Well, if your aim was to bring a grin to our faces, you certainly achieved that - you can't help but not enjoy the colourful madness of the Nudge video, which (for those that haven't yet seen it) includes Timo with a thick head of Sideshow Bob-style hair, his face squashed into a submarine and dancing... lots of dancing, amongst many other weird and wonderful imagery! However, back to your moves... we think that there are definitely some hints of 'that' David Brent dance in the video! Were all those moves impromptu and have you ever unleashed them on a dance floor?
..I BEG your pardon?. ..I have no idea what you're talking about. I'll concede it struck me as true that as an EDM act I am rather more akin to Morcombe & Wise than Madeon. But my moves are all my own improvised art. And other people do shiny Pilot sunnies dance music videos by pools better than I would seriously, so I was never going to do that. I did once perform a couple of Momo favourites with a dance group - a long time back at the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham as part of a showcase event of some kind. Think I opened the show. Spent the whole time trying to strike the successful balance between not getting high kicks in the teeth and not vaulting smoothly into the orchestra pit. I survived. I want a budget for dancers now obviously.
Haha, that wasn't meant to be a bad thing - we're huge fans of the Momo moves and think that they should definitely feature more in future videos!
So, we've heard your work on Youtube and we like it! Where can fans buy it?
Nudge exists in two mixes on iTunes and Amazon MP3 and Deezer and all manner of digital places. Momo's Mercato pages have some links. The current Momo LP, The Golden Age of Exploration is also available there, and as a CD copy from our shows. More in the pipeline imminently, and Amigos signed up to the mailing list get all kinds of free music anyway.
Let's get a bit more technical...
Talk us through your basic studio set-up. Do you have any favourite pieces of equipment? If so, what makes them your 'favourite(s)'?
Now. This is the bit where any credibility implied by my longevity will evaporate. Somehow, a defining aspect of my history as a 'tech music maker' is the staggering lack of gear. Problem of being a dashed reasonable fellow who won't blow all his wife's money on synths as he'd like to. He blows much of it on horn players and violinists these days, but still. I did want to get out of the studio as well as spend so much time in it, when younger. There's a whole world out there, I'd heard.
The Momo studio today is essentially a MacPro running Logic 9, with a humble project 16-channel Yamaha desk, modest Resolve A5 monitors and various things to shake, hit or blow through lying around. Plus a Roland Juno 60, bless it, a Kawai K4 for old time's sake and one sound, and a Roland F-thing piano. The rest is plug-ins, sample libraries and session players. I dream of buying an actual Yamaha CS80 one day, and being Vangelis for a year. And synths generally are my homeland - I drool over old models and would be Rick Wakeman in Yes if I had the space and cash and finger dexterity. And capes. I do also have a sofa, a didgeridoo and a yukka plant so big I can't see the other end of the small studio properly.
Now you mention it, we've seen you attempting to play the didgeridoo on Youtube… have your skills evolved from making 'a horrible guttural noise down a length of pipe'? Your words, not ours! Ever thought of including your didgeridoo skills in one of your songs?
Oh dear - not going too well then? We think we know what instrument wasn't included, but what equipment featured most prominently in the making of 'Nudge'?
Nudge is the most Dance-like tune I've ever made, I think. Though clubland sounds and influences are all through my work, I've never quite been able to free myself of myself enough to just 'do a dance choon' - but Nudge underneath all the Momo is close to it with that big staccato riff. But to Momo-ise it, the key ingredients are a hefty dash of live percussion from great maestro partner Simon Mellish (percussionworks.co.uk) and live strings from long-standing online sesh hero, Pete Whitfield of Realstrings in Manchester.
Any cheeky little production tips for our readers?
D'you know what? I learned an awful lot of formative stuff from twiddling the nobs on my Moog Liberation when I had nothing else to work with. It was a different world then, when the dream of making a releasable record at home was just that. But the limitations made me listen to the tricks of the synth heaven greats from the 70s, because the Liberation is essentially 70s tech, as an analogue monosynth with no patch memory. I loved, and love it. But generally, doubling up is one of the most basic routes to recording confidence in your sound. I've always done it with my voice on choruses - where my voice is appropriate as an instrument, and where we even have a chorus. ABBA did it with everything, didn't they? Two pianos, two drummers, two girls, two boys… I've always been a total waz for delay-syncopated synth bleeps too. Love building melodic elements that are rhythmic. I'm such an old synth whore.
You've already mentioned some of your video influences, but what other musical artists are you listening to at the moment? Are there any bands or artists that our readers should check out?
I've just discoverd Richard Cheese's swing version of Darth Vader's Imperial March. But that's not new. Or quite what you meant, I can see that. In EDM terms I love the French thing. Lots of French things, actually. But when Daft Punk turned their electro attentions to scoring a cheesy sci-fi flick I did rather think the swines had made a future Momo record - arpeggios and an orchestra playing huge themes, I mean what's not to love about the soundtrack to Tron Legacy? But hell, I just throw on Annie Mac and see what happens, mostly. Or FIP from Radio France - best source of insane segue curves on the wireless.
From ten years back, Jazzanova are a bit of a benchmark of production-meets-jazz-meets-credibility-in-Berlin-and-out-cools-the-world. Nitin Sawhney is similarly for me a production cultural benchmark - two massively quality acts I sound nothing like and only half wish I did. But they inspire me to keep pulling my socks up. Another great find was a record from about then too, which I only discovered in the summer: Klement Julienne's Panamerican. Amazing jet-set summertime groove album, combining so many influences I'm falling under the spell of; retro-swing, bosa nova and the Latin lifestyle rhythms of 20th century global daydreamers. Then, of course, there's the terrifyingly brilliant Caravan Palace, who may have essentially nicked my act and shown me how to do it. I'm going to need a jazz clarinetist and fiddle impresario, I can see.
Actually, we hadn't heard Richard Cheese's swing version of the Imperial March before - just Youtubed it now - genius! And on the topic of 'cheese', can we be really cheesey and predicatable and go all 'Desert Island Discs' on you by asking 'which 5 albums couldn't you live without?'
Oh, dear gosh. Only five? Well, there's a difference sometimes between the artistic works you revere and the guilty pleasures that actually find their way onto your music player of choice far too often. Which should I confess? Herbie Hancock's Fat Albert Rotunda? Miles, Kind of Blue? I'd never NEED to live without that, as it's available, like, in the AIR it's so ubiquitous, but still. Divine Comedy's Secret History? Yello's One Second? Kraftwerk's Computer World? Goldfrapp's Felt Mountain? Underworld's Beaucoup Fish? Jarre's Zoolook? Or maybe Equinoxe to actually listen to. LTJ Bukem's Logical Progression? Vangelis Direct? Actually, Daft Punk Discovery, probably. Tangerine Dream's Dream Sequence? Herb Alpert Spanish Flea?
...No. I think it's probably Cafe Del Mar Vol Cuarto; it has been our houshold holiday daydream of holiday heaven for fifteen semi-irrational years. First heard it on the back of a catamaran off the Whitsunday islands.
Scrub that. Gipsy Kings Greatest Hits. Hell, yeah.
Heeeey, we said five! We see what you did there! Although we'll let you off because you've named some crackers in there!
Back onto the Momo:tempo live act - we see that you recently appeared on the BBC Introducing South show. How did that come about? And what was it like?
It was weird. Good weird, obviously. But as my trumpet player John, said, it's sort of like a studio session - except you can't stop to retake fluffs. And as I said back, it's sort of like a live show - except you can't cover over a multitude of musical sins by pulling faces even harder at the front. When the red light lights, there's nowhere to hide. We did okay, I think - bags of our usual energy and soundman Dan worked a quick miracle to get three horns, congas and tablas and a drum kit under control well enough to hear my spoken word chapping about so clearly. I think Melita Dennet and the production gang enjoyed the hairy fun of our sound. But hairy was the word - half way to Brighton, I had lost three horn players to significant sudden inabilities to make the show and only had the one I had already bundled into my car. Somehow, by the time we rocked up to the BBC Sussex gift shop, Patrick our trombone player had remotely sourced a stand in for himself and a sax player too. So we went on air with two strangers. Who were consummate professionals, Damian and Nick. Typical Momo gig.
You mentioned the 'typical Momo gig'. So what exactly can people expect if they come along to one of your shows?
Fun. I hope. Big hairy noise from usually four horns - lead by trumpet legend John Herbison mostly. Simon, a drumming legend by day, is our resident percussion monster while Mark Adkins, long-time musical amigo, is Momo's live drummer and principle fun enjoyer. Mix all that with a punching digital arrangement of synths, and me titting about at the front to an eclectic range of vaguely club beats and bonkers influences and occasionally bothering my white little piano, and you have a lively original thing, I believe. Big smile and brain a little tickled along the way too. It doesn't quite sound like anything else, but total strangers seem to get it quick.
What's the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to you on stage?
How long do you have?
Well, I'm beginning not to notice. I've had song crashes and brain freezes and stoned people standing right in front of me mid song asking drooping-eyedly to "give me something to work with, man." But keep the beats and the stupid faces coming and no-one really cares.
Can you smile with your mouth but look sad with your eyes?
...That's just how I smile, isn't it?
If you had a time machine that could transport you to any point in time for one day, where would you go and what would you do?
One day? I dunno. Either any time in Edwardian Britain to try flying some terrifying, beautiful balsa-wood aeroplane out of a make-shift airfield and perhaps see if we can make it as far as Paris to buy Santos-Dumont an absynth and ask for a go in his personal dirigible… OR, Place De La Concorde on Bastille Day 1978 to watch Jean Michel Jarre do his first ever city concert thing. Probably disappointing. But what IS it about 70s France? You've seen C'etait Une Rendezvous, right? Womb tank wonderment.
If Momo:tempo was elected Supreme Ruler of the Galaxy, what sort of place would planet earth be?
Rather good for the first few days, I suspect. Everyone hugging it up and listening to disco and possibly wearing enormous comedy trousers. Or preferably dappered up to the nines and trying to be dashed decent, polite, clever and generous to each other. On about day three it would become obvious to everyone that no-one was running anything and the toilets were already blocked. Wouldn't work out well, really.
Sorry, the questions are starting to get rather silly now, so I'll steer this interview back on course! What has Momo:tempo got planned for the future and where would you like to be this time next year?
The new LP is the next big thing, really. Some fab tunes mapped out for it but, of course, I'll have to actually be able to DO them. We'll see. Could be some hum-ding-a-lingers on there if I get 'em right – but first up is the next official single… which has a nice new video out for it right now! Undo. A year from now, I'd like to have actually been allowed to play in some venues and finally had more than 200 people Like my Facebook page. A boy can dream. If as many as half of those actually signed up to Momo's mailing list I would feel giddy with success.
But really, I will want to be in the south of France somewhere again, probably. Ideally playing an old Roman amphithere on, say, two days out of the three months off I'll be enjoying down there in this fanciful dreamworld.
We've got a feeling that you'll be past the 200 mark in no time - you're certainly producing content that people will want to see and hear more of! We've just watched the 'Undo' video and once more were treated to a 3 and half minute grin-fest!
Do you have any tips for anyone wanting to get into the music business?
Are you kidding? I've been tiddling about with synth twiddling for over two decades and I haven't learned a thing. Other than: love what you do when no-one's watching - it will keep your soul intact... Do it well enough and you'll hopefully not even notice no-one's watching.
And find chums to muck about with - the talents Momo has collaborated with over the years have raised my game significantly while also making it even more fun. They'll take you in new directions too – one of the reasons I love commissions for TV and so on; you get to jump into different worlds. Some of my favourite work from this year has been scoring the exhibition to Lighthouse Poole's artist in residence, Hazel Evans – a project that grew into a whole prog-synth electro-fairytale album called Adventures Into The Monochronium. Even more fun is then trying to crow-bar in some of these more leftfield projects to the wider promotion of Momo. We managed to get Hazel guesting one of the pieces in our recent set for Oxjam Bournemouth in the Pier Theatre, and a few of our live pieces are from telly projects or scores originally. Love it. So... have fun and try sh**, I think is what I'm saying.
So if you weren't in the music business, what would you be doing?
What I AM doing - mucking about with all manner of other vaguely creative things instead of being measurably useful to society. Trying to make a film, probably. Bad science fiction, probably.
Have you visited the new Absolute Music store? If so, what do you think?
IT. IS. NIRVANA. And not the 90s band. It's amazing. I stood in the speaker audition room, imagining I was in a scene from Event Horizon, or something, and said simply to John and Mark, last time we were rehearsing down there: "THIS IS IN BOURNEMOUTH!"
Wow, thanks very much! We're certainly very excited about it as well!
Back to you though and where can people find out more about Momo:tempo and keep up with all your latest news?
momotempo.co.uk. Lots going on there, to do with Momo's own releases, shows and behind the scenes daftness, as well as my blog and links to the extensive Soundcloud playlists and stories of commissions and TV work stuff. Some fans I've met over Twitter kind of put my Soundcloud pages on shuffle regularly in their workplaces. Brilliant. The YouTube channel's daft fun too, plus I post all kinds of updates and links to other local creative stuff I hear about on my Facebook page - they're all '/momotempo'. Do go join in, everyone's very congenial there.
Well, we've come to the end of our interview and it's been an absolute pleasure. Thankyou very much for taking the time to answer our questions and we're really looking forward to seeing what comes out of the Momo:tempo camp in the future.
But for now, do you have any final words?
All's fair if it's funny. Sort of. Household motto... Be careful how you use it.
And Thankyou. Most important word on planet Earth. Throw that one around like a creative lunatic, I suggest.
Then we'll say it again - thankyou :) And to all our readers we'll say this - if you need cheering up, if you fancy listening to some music that's not too serious and is guaranteed to put a smile on your face or if you're just seeking some good old fashioned wackyness, check out Momo:tempo today and head over to their Facebook page to keep up to date with all their latest news!
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Photograph above courtesy of Dreadlock Photography.