So who is “Dam Mantle”? Well, depending on who you ask, he is really “Tom Marshallsay”. But others will swear that his real name is “Tom Marshall”. We don’t know and frankly, we don’t care. We just wanted him to keep producing music. And since he is a private person, you don’t get that many chances to ask him! And don’t ask him who in Glasgow is similar to him or is playing his music or you might hear, “I keep my head in the sand a bit,” he says coyly.
Living in Glasgow, working on a Fine Arts Degree at the School of Art, he always knew that he wanted to create — he just didn’t know whether it would be art, music or technology.
“I wanted to make stuff, and that’s what I’m best at,” he shrugs.
After playing in a band which played Led Zeppelin covers and pursuing a solo acoustic project called Animals And War he decided it was time for a fresh start. The old group used to be a quartet named Beebah Stant, and supported Tickley Feather and Gary War, and ‘It was more folk influenced but I tried to reflect electronic music organically. And then I came to this point. It probably comes down to having access to software and collecting enough synthesisers and drum machines to make the music I do now.’. Remember the other group?? Animals and War! With that change, Dam Mantle was born.
“The old projects feel like my former self in a way, this is a new beast.”
But at the end of 2009, he decided to go it alone and begin the process of “creating” that he sought in his life.
“When I can make something at the best of my ability it’s on my own,” says Marshallsay. “Isolation really is where it comes from – late nights, staying up overnight being surrounded by what I love. “Fiddling and being dazed – getting involved in a tiny piece of sound and folding it out into something.
But it is his GREY debut that has the world talking. The reviews and the descriptions by the reviewers reinforced what he and Halleluwah Hits knew all along — he was a winner!
A kaleidoscopic mix of melodic samples, jittery beats and post-dubstep bass mutations, Dam Mantle’s tunes sound equally good in a club or a rock venue. ‘I’m more than happy to play to a club or play next to a noise band,’ explains Marshallsay, ‘I hope that music works like that and it can be seen in different contexts.’
Dam Mantle’s sound twists the once rigid rhythmic lines of hip-hop into a cocktail that confuses as much as it entertains. … from swirling symphonic strings …, to bass stabs that further put you off balance.
‘Glaswegian beat mathematician Tom Marshallsay, a.k.a. Dam Mantle, seems to embrace an amiably all-over-the-map compositional style. EP cut “Rebong” is an exceptionally groovy slice of glitch-hop, with a harp sample not unlike something Flying Lotus would use’.
One of his secrets? To play with an orchestra!
Despite his music becoming “almost explicitly electronic” at the moment, Mantle’s multi-instrumental talents will surely lead us even further into “the distorted source” of his fusion of cultures and sounds, and perhaps even onto his dream of playing “with a full live orchestra.”
Releases have ranged from the other-worldly chamber orchestration found in his ‘Grey EP’
the menacing, electronic-infused hip hop of the ‘Purple Arrow EP’,
or the joyfully eclectic bedlam of his ‘We EP’ release.
‘Brothers Fowl’ sees Mantle turning another corner, building the record with a similar palette of sounds and rhythms but bringing a noir-ish ambiance to proceedings. It’s his most fully-realised statement and a fine culmination of the last three years of activity.