Tommy Gun: Plastic water guns and Barbie girls

Tommy Gun: Plastic water guns and Barbie girls

22 November 2016 Off By Floris Groenewald

Tommy Gun isn’t a machine gun used by gangsters in old movies – he’s a DJ from Cape Town, who’ll be visiting the last Park Acoustics of 2016 – this Saturday (26 November) at the Voortrekker Monument. We caught up with him, and had a quick chat about Aqua’s Barbie Girl, afternoon DJ sets, and – wait, did I say “Barbie Girl”?

“You talkin’ to me?!” Tommy Gun responds to my question about his gangster connections. “No… It’s merely a play on words based on an old nickname. I hate actual guns, but I love colourful plastic ones. Especially when water is involved. Or even better, Tequila!”

Tommy Gun has been DJing for almost ten years now, and he still gets a big kick out of a good set.

“I owe a hell of a lot to the world of music.”

Tommy Gun - at Park Acoustics November 2016 - Picture by Gerhard de Kok

Picture by Gerhard de Kok

And it all started with the Danish-Norwegian pop/dance band Aqua, who popped up (and practically disappeared) in 1997. Okay not really. But that was the first album he ever bought – for his first crush. The DJing thing was more of an accident…

“I had ended up playing some of my dad’s records for my sister’s friends to dance to at home,” he explains, “and the next thing I was asked to DJ at a 21st. I grabbed the opportunity (as well as my dad’s vintage turntables and DVD player) with both hands and thankfully things progressed steadily after that.”

Generally, his sets nowadays is based on keeping things uplifting and fun.

“When I started playing in clubs I was heavily into the indie-electro wave that producers like Justice and Soulwax were riding. I loved that mix of analog and digital sound that was very vocal-driven. These days that sound has moved towards having more of a house beat behind it, and you’ll definitely hear that in some of my latest sets. Last year I also started collecting some amazing old disco records from the 70’s and 80’s and that’s also had a major influence on what I have been playing lately.”

I asked him for the recipe to a killer party.

“It could be a whole list of things… Good music never hurts, but you also need to have that element of je ne sais quoi in the air. To create this is not as easy as it sounds, but as a promoter it pays to be aware of what the other events are doing and of what you can inject that is fresh and/or unique.”

“You wouldn’t usually mix music and dust together for example, but how well does this combo work at Oppikoppi?!”

And although Tommy Gun is from down south, he also really likes what he sees at Gauteng gigs:

“It will always depend on the event itself, but what I love most about playing in Pretoria is the ‘gees’ – it’s positively contagious. In Jozi it’s definitely the integration that does it for me. That’s a beautiful thing to witness (as a Capetonian and in general too).”

Tommy Gun - at Park Acoustics November 2016 - Picture by Gerhard de Kok

Picture by Gerhard de Kok

He’s looking forward to Park Acoustics, for something different to the usual club gig. “Obviously a much bigger crowd and a world-class Funktion One sound system – hard to ask for more. I also love playing in the afternoon/early evening, perfection for an old DJ like me.

“I’ll have my friend Danielsun dancing on stage which is a bonus. He loves music even more than me and has the most amazing ability – when he is at full tilt people just stare at him in awe. If I can make him dance, his energy is bound to rub off on the crowd.”

Finally, I ask him if he ever still listens to Aqua. He avoids the question: “I’ve really been into Shura’s stuff this year. Great voice.”

I’m definitely looking forward to seeing Tommy Gun (and you) at Park Acoustics on Saturday!

Tommy Gun is a DJ from Cape Town. See him this Saturday at the last Park Acoustics of the year (tickets available here)! You can also follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook, and listen or subscribe to his mixes on Soundcloud.