It’s not everyday you meet an artist who was born in Squamish, and returns to his hometown to play one of Canada’s largest music festivals. But that is the story of Cam Tatham, also known as Sleepy Tom.
“It was cool to go back to my place of birth and just play so much EDM [electronic dance music],” said Tatham, who opened the Blueprint Stage at this year’s Squamish Valley Music Festival last month. “It was a super well-run festival. I pretty much got the first set of the entire weekend for the DJ’s, a lot of kids were psyched on that.”
Sleepy Tom is no stranger to festivals. The Vancouverite played last year’s Contact Winter Music Festival at BC Place, as well as Rifflandia in Victoria. He has also been involved in the music industry for a couple of years before getting into producing. At the time, Tatham worked in the industry’s audio engineering side, working in studios and helped bands record albums. He began DJing in 2010, although only recently committing to it full-time.
“It’s been great. It’s a pretty welcoming industry, and not too cut throat. I’ve had a good time,” he said.
And Tatham really worked to where he’s at now, an electronic artist with the indie innovator label Fool’s Gold.
In the summer of 2010, the Brooklyn based record label was looking for street promotional teams, to hand out stickers at shows and to be the Fool’s Gold mascot at events. Tatham remembers his mascot days fondly. “It was the hottest day of the year, so I was in a suit with this big wooden cheese block on my head, and was trying to hype people up. Something about putting on a mask and being fun that makes people want to hurt you,” he laughed.
After going to audio school, Tatham worked on his own music and sent off one demo to a few labels. Although he got good response, he waited to see what else would come of it. “I was going to go with one label for a bit but then I just thought I would be patient and see who else responded. A month later, Fool’s Gold responded and they wanted to do a record, so that’s how it started.”
For Sleepy Tom, it’s all been uphill from there. A well-received remix of Diplo’s “Set it Off” lead to a Diplo & Friends Guest Mix last year, and a global recognition for the Vancouver DJ. “It was a goal of mine to get one of those mixes, but I didn’t think it was going to happen that year. I was pretty stoked when it happened, I put a lot of work into it. It was a really fun process. I want to do another one, an updated version.”
Sleepy Tom’s debut The Currency was released on Fool’s Gold, and his latest EP Jobless was released earlier this summer. Tatham – whose musical influences include Radiohead, Flying Lotus, A-Trak, and Diplo – also recently began a monthly mix series appropriately named “Pillowcast”. Fresh off the stage from Toronto Day Off last weekend, Sleepy Tom returns to his home city to play at Fortune Sound Club– for the first time in his career. And although he does enjoy his festivals, Tatham does appreciate the club shows.
“As of right now I like clubs better because usually my time slots are super early on festivals,” he laughed. “I feel like my music is more tailored for a smaller club. There are benefits to both, and it’s more about the crowd that’s there.”
The funny (and always alert) Sleepy Tom guarantees Friday’s show will be a great time. “It’s going to be the craziest party you’ve ever seen. Fortune is one of my favourite places to go, it’ always a good time. I have no doubt in my mind that its going to be crazy.” And if you’re wondering where the name Sleepy Tom comes from, make sure you ask him next time you catch him at a show.
Sleepy Tom headlines Happy Ending Fridays on September 12 with Klash Akt DJs, Cherchez & Dunham.