October 2018

Constructing Things

Words: Caroline Clements Images: Tamas Jones

I wanted to find a connection between building houses and building music – a relationship between the two, for the sake of Tamas Jones. Though an architect by day and DJ by night, notably as one part of Hey Convict!, in his mind there are in fact no particular links between his two chosen ventures. For him, simply, work is one thing, and music is another, and he splits his time between the two. In the meantime, this bearded rogue has also managed to re-record a track with Dominik Von Senger, which is to be released in just a few weeks.

Caroline Clements: How did you know you wanted to be an architect?

Tamas Jones: There was no epiphany or moment but rather a slow accumulation of experience. We we’re always surrounded by buildings and it’s interesting to me to remember places from my childhood. Even seemingly ordinary ones, and realise that they have influenced me. I think architecture is a career that suits aspects of my disposition, and it’s a real challenge.

CC: Did you want to build big buildings as a child?

TJ: No, I was busy being a child. I was really into archery for a long time and then skateboarding. I made a cool spine ramp down the side of my parent’s house. My Mum and I spent loads of time with Stonnington Council to get the old Prahran verticle ramp built too. I remember the then Mayor, Chris Gahan, turning up at our place one evening wanting to find out what a skateboard ramp was all about and rummaging through my magazines to show him. I guess these were formative experiences in some manner.

CC: Tell us about where you work – Robert Simeoni Architects:

TJ: I didn’t like studying at RMIT much and didn’t do well at university. Once I finished I had some opportunities to do some private work and naively thought I would set up my own business where I could pursue both my musical interests and architecture. Looking back it was a slightly mad thing to do. I ended up DJing in clubs a couple nights a week and doing quite a lot of interior design – the Mimco store on Oxford Street in Sydney is one that’s still standing. At this time I collaborated with a good friend of mine James Staughton who now runs Workshop Architecture. Both James and his brother Stephen have been big influences on me. They are both creative, extremely disciplined, highly knowlegable and they are also nice guys. They have an impressive sense of the civic responsibility of architecture and I learnt a lot from them both technically and ethically. It was largely through their recommendation that I came to work for Robert whose work I’d seen before and really admired. Robert and I share very similar interests in architecture.
 
CC: What sort buildings appeal to you?

TJ: I like buildings that have a subtle quirk to them and particular kinds of spatial surprise – architecture that at first glance appears normal, even polite but that is on closer inspection actually unexpectedly beautiful. I also appreciate thoughtful detailing. My influences range from everyday things you see walking around near where the office is in Carlton, to stuff by a Melbourne partnership called Field Consultants who are no longer about, and my friend James Keulemans’ grandfather Neville Gruzman’s work in Sydney. I also really like what Durbach Block and Neeson Murcutt do.

CC: Now to the music – you’ve been playing and making music for while yes?

TJ: When I started DJing, I liked the challenge of mixing tracks together and played mostly house music, which then gradually led back into disco and sideways into rock. Eventually the whole thing kind of caved in on me and I now find myself buying almost anything that fits into what I do, which has evolved through experience playing out. But I still like the challenge of mixing tracks together.

CC: What sort of music are you into?

TJ: I largely feel my way through what I collect, meaning that I don’t try to over-analyse songs or over-determine a record’s effect. I’m certainly cautious of anything that is the latest ‘thing’ because I think the hype and newness of a piece of music can sometimes mask the fact it’s not really great. That said, I think I’m getting better at picking the longevity of music and certainly its suitability to my DJ sets. I swing from playing popularist stuff to the obscure, and the DJs I like hearing the most tend to do that well.

CC: Do you often play solo? Where?

TJ: Yup. I live in Melbourne and play around town. On Friday night I often play at The Toff in Town (who just won Best Music at the Australian Bar Awards) and occasionally on Saturdays at Revolver and Sorry Grandma! I also like playing the odd party at Joe’s Shoe Store. So far my attempts to break the interstate market have been met with at best, modest interest.

CC: And you are one half of Hey Convict! Tell us about this.

TJ: I met Jason Evans years ago and we started throwing some parties together on Sunday afternoons where we could play all sorts of stuff that I suppose might be described as Balearic but was probably a bit more erratic than that. We like smooth 70s rock, and the spikey stuff too, but we like all kinds of dance music. Occasionally these things go well together and at other times we just put them together anyway. We decided to make a mix which we called ‘Time to Noodle’, that was sold through Jetset Records in Japan and Piccadilly Records in the UK. Since then we’ve done a few more mixes and played together both here and in New York where Jason now lives.

CC: Where did the name come from?

TJ: Hanging out and saying funny things to make each other laugh. It’s an insult. The punctuation mark is our trend-setting grammatical touch.

CC: So you have a record coming out on a New York Label called Golf Channel Recordings in a couple of weeks. What’s the story behind this?

TJ: The record was to be a re-release of a song called ‘No Name’ that Dominik Von Senger recorded years ago. We put this song on a mix we did for Tim Sweeney’s Beats In Space radio program in 2007 and Dominik emailed us to thank us. We started talking about a re-release only to discover that the original tapes had been lost and to our amazement Dominik offered to do a re-record with Rosco Gee the original bassist. Jason told Phil South about it and Phil runs a great label that releases small runs. Brennan Green helped us to put together our own remix of the re-recording – it has come together nicely.

CC: Do your worlds collide much, architecture and music?

TJ: I used to look for relationships between the design I do as an architect and my DJing and I’m quite satisfied to report there is none. Both satisfy me in very different ways and I’m happy to split my time between them. 

Hey Convict!

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