Com Truise is a spoonerism of the name Tom Cruise. What’s a spoonerism you ask? According to Webster’s, it’s a transposition of usually initial sounds of two or more words. For producer Seth Haley, it’s served as a persona that’s enabled him to make some of the most innovative music out there, transporting his listeners to far away galaxies with the use of dreary melodies, big drums, and robotic grooves.
Haley recently announced a 40 date tour with Warp stalwart Clark to begin at the start of May, which will bring them to the Mezzanine on May 9. He’s promoting his new album entitled “Iteration,” one that took him six years to put out. The electro-music maestro was gracious enough to take a little time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions for us, including why it took so long for him to come out with a new release, where he channels his sound from and what he likes most about San Francisco.
You’re coming out with your second full-length album in six years. What took so long?
I decided to slow down. I have been sitting in front of computers for 20 years. I became very bored of that process which led to a loss of inspiration. Unfortunately, the computer is the notebook of my music and there’s no easy way around it. Sure, I’d love to go into a studio and run it all through a console and slam it to tape, but that’s just not so easy these days. I also moved from the east coast to the west coast and it took me two years to really find my comfort zone for writing. I’m still not fully comfortable with my writing situation but I think this was a good challenge for me to create a body of music under semi-stressful circumstances.
What was your vision for this new album?
It’s a completion of the Com Truise story which began in Galactic Melt. Also, aesthetically I wanted to get rid of some of the sonic clutter. I used to just keep adding to songs until they were almost overloaded. I wanted to write something less compressed, give everything a little more air, keeping it simple and beautiful.
How’d you develop your sound?
It’s a culmination of producing drum and bass years ago, to falling in love with ambient music, and then tumbling down the 80s music rabbit hole. Also my obsession with synthesizers and drum machines of course! I think mostly that’s path developed the sound for me. If I think back about how much time I spent really “developing” my sound, I can’t honestly say I did much of that. I just picked equipment I liked, specific instruments that I felt comfortable and just started writing. I do think just constantly writing, something I used to do, had a hand in it. You kind of just write all the junk out and after awhile you have something you’re happy with, and that’s the only thing that matters.
There is something very sci-fi sounding about your music, what are some of your influences when it comes to that? Any movies, books, TV shows?
Blade Runner was a huge inspiration in the beginning for me. It embodied everything visually that I wanted my music to sonically look like. I love Philip Dick novels and the work of William Gibson, but I also draw a lot of inspiration for nonfiction works, occult stuff, conspiracy theory stuff, I find it all so interesting. I was very anti-television for a long time, I’m open to it now. So many good shows out there right now.
What would label your music if you had to?
“Synthwave” if we need to micro-sub-genre specific. Or its “down-tempo synth-heavy cinematic electronic music with strong 80s influence.”
What are you listening to these days?
So much random stuff lately, Bruce Hornsby, Mild High Club, GUM, Wild Nothing, Mac Demarco, The Cure, Tears For Fears, Mob Deep, Orbital, FSOL, Prince, B.B. & Q. Band, Tame Impala, Lapti, to name a few.
Do you still get nervous before going on stage?
Sure, it’s still the first time every time. It’s always a new experience to me. I think I’m slightly better but if I wasn’t nervous I don’t think I would care as much, when it becomes a soulless routine, I don’t think I’ll do it anymore.
With all these electronics you play on, have you ever had a Spinal Tap moment when everything seemed to go wrong?
Oh yeah, early on I stepped on the power supply and shut everything off. I’ve forgotten to plug in my laptop and had it shut off mid-set. I definitely have a checklist now!
I read somewhere that you have a background in design, which comes across on your album covers and Live set. What’s your vision when it comes to the Design element of Com Truise?
I think working in advertising lent itself to the way I structure my music. I’d like to think of it as a very organized mess. Sometimes I just can’t get the sonic ideas out of my head so I’ll fire up illustrator or grab a sketch book and work until on design until I’m inspired. It’s nice to have both skill sets, I’m lucky. I love being in control and being in control of the music and the visual element is huge for me. It might be double the work, but I do like being busy.
You currently reside in Southern California. How has the vibe over there influenced your music?
I think coming from a small town in NY to moving to central NJ and then Brooklyn, I really appreciate the space I currently have out here. I miss the seasons and the rain and thunderstorms mostly. I think maybe SoCal has slightly crept into my music as far as space. I still think I have a way to go before you can really notice it. It’s been trying living here, it’s very different to me. I’m homesick a lot and make a lot of trips home, but every time the plane lands at LAX and I get in the cab home, I think “damn, it’s nice here, why do I long to be back east constantly.” I guess I’m just getting older and realizing what matters most to me and that is time spent with my family.
Do you have any memorable San Francisco experiences or anything that really stands out to you?
I do, San Francisco was the first place I ever visited on the west coast like 6 years ago, I came out to play at 1015 Folsom. I remember thinking “I’m going to California, this is crazy.” I remember getting to my hotel and putting my bags down and immediately went out exploring. I think San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and I’m glad it was my introduction to California.
What do you like to do when you’re in San Francisco?
I love taking photographs in San Francisco or going down to look over the bay. I also love the food scene in San Francisco. The weather is perfect for me up there, makes me question why I choose LA, I love LA but I do like cooler weather!
Com Truise & Clark is playing the Mezzanine with Roland Tings on May 9, 2017 at 9:00 PM
Photo courtesy of effixx
— Com Truise (@comtruise) April 25, 2017