Mix Master | Tom Tilley

By Jacqui Thompson
1st Aug 2013

All-round nice guy (with that winning smile) and current affairs journalist, Tom Tilley, took time out from his busy Triple J Hack schedule to give us his 'Spotify High Rotation' playlist. 

Also, Tom fills us in on 'Tribal Boogie', the latest Unearthed bands, fixie bikes, celebrating his masculinity and what it was like moving to the big smoke. 

TUL: So, coming from Mudgee, what did you think of Sydney when you first hit the big smoke all those years ago?

Tom Tilley: I remember standing in front of the Broadway Shopping Centre for the first time feeling properly anxious. The intensity and the claustrophobia were closing in on me, so I retreated back to Newport where I'd moved to. I think I ventured into 'The City' twice in my first year in Sydney. I actually thought the Northern Beaches was pure heaven and that I would never leave. How wrong I was . . .

TUL: What are your favourite Sydney weekend distractions?

Tom: I get locked into some cosy little routines. Those that mostly involve seeing tonnes of my friends and dancing to 'Tribal Boogie'. It's a brand new genre of music, created by a friend of mine who goes by the DJ name 'Smokey LaBeef.' Walk about Redfern or Surry Hills on the weekend, and you'll struggle not to collide with my celebration of urban freedom and masculinity.

TUL: I know you own a fixie… what are your top bike runs around town? And how do you cope with the crazy Sydney terrain?

Tom: The fixed-gear bike removes the opportunity for psychological weakness. You just gotta put that head down, bum up and pedal. In that vain, Sydney's hills just require a strong mind... and legs... and huge lungs. I've ridden all over this town, as far as Manly once... but most of the time I operate in a pretty small radius. 

TUL: How would you rate the diplomatic relations between Sydney drivers and Sydney bike riders?

Tom: I don't imagine I'm the most popular road user in Sydney. I ride quite assertively. It sounds like mindless bravado, but I think the faster and more assertively you ride the safer you are. 

TUL: Talking politics, mmmm so, can you give us a fitting metaphor for Australia's current political landscape?

Tom: Ummm... like a pre-school playground where somebody ate the Play-Doh?

TUL: Can you tell me your favourite Hack moment/ moments? 

Tom: Oh there's so many. Being on air with comedian Sam Simmons and losing my shit during a live talkback caller who was talking about life with a small penis. I felt like a very small human after that and assumed that I'd be fired on exit from the studio.

Interviewing the former Prime Minister Julia Gillard was a highlight... as was reporting on the apology to the Stolen Generations. 

The best thing I've done was a heartbreaking but illuminating story on a 25-year-old girl battling with voices in her head. The power of her voice on the radio got the biggest reaction I've ever seen. So much empathy and understanding, which is often hard to come by with issues people can't relate to directly. 

TUL: Far into the future, when you are old and grey, what will you be doing with your time?

Tom: Perfecting slap bass riffs, hosting raucous dinner parties and beating my chest about... um... suppose I don't know yet.

TUL: Are there any new Triple J Unearthed bands we should check out? 

Tom: Wolfwolf out of Brisbane is amazing. He started with pure electro-pop... now he's meshing that with some sweeter, old-school party sounds I dig. Oh... and look out for Sydney's premiere party band Beat Club.

TUL: Any major festival news?

Tom: The big music news for me last week was that Nile Rodgers of Chic will be playing Meredith. THAT will be COSMIC!

TUL: What are your Meredith Music Festival essentials? (I know you like a fancy tee.)

Tom: Cosmic shirts and Gaucho Pants (traditional South American cowboy pants) are essential festival wear... unless you're going all-out dress-up, which I wholeheartedly support. My last dress-up experience was at the Secret Garden Festival... my friend Kirk Docker and I went as Psychedelic Sheikhs. We thought we looked good.... I guess that's the main thing right?

Tom Tilley's 'Spotify High Rotation' playlist:

Tom Tilley's 'Spotify High Rotation' by The Urban List on Grooveshark

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