Tom Hodge is a composer, pianist, and clarinetist from London. Through his various collaborations with artists including Max Cooper, Franz Kirmann, and Floex he continues to push the boundaries of experimental contemporary classical, jazz and electronic music. Tom’s recent work includes the score for prime BBC drama McMafia which was composed alongside Franz Kirmann.
In addition to his album releases and OST work, Tom has a wealth of experience in composing TV commercials and film trailers.
Tomáš Dvořák aka Floex is a clarinetist, composer, producer and multimedia artist from Prague (Czech Republic). His music is distinctive by unique exploration of electro-acoustic field and deep atmospheric mood of the tracks. Beside releasing albums Tomas is experimenting beyond the linear music scenarios creating unique multimedia installations or music for games.
Floex has released full-length albums ‘Pocustone’ (2001), ‘Zorya’ (2011) and Gone EP (2014). Both received several prestigious awards not only in Czech Republic (3 Czech Angel Awards, Nomination to Europian Qwartz Awards, Nomination to Apollo and Vinyla Awards). The latest and very exciting collaboration is with Tom Hodge…
He is well known for his cooperation with Amanita Design on the soundtracks for the games Samorost 2 (2006), Machinarium (2009) and Samorost 3 (2016). Machinarium OST gained massive reaction by both fans and critics and made Tomáš music known internationally.
Tomas is also the author of several unique interactive music multimedia installations and performances (RGB, Crossroad, Live Score, Archifon serie with Initi) which he created from 2002. These works have been presented on international festivals like Ars Electronica, Sonica or Nuit Blanche Bruxelles.
Mercury Records’ KX label has announced the release of Floex & Tom Hodge’s collaborative album ‘A Portrait Of John Doe’. Due on 29th June, the album will be preceded by a series of EPs, the first of which – the ‘Wednesday (Is The New Friday)’ EP – is available now.
The album ‘A Portrait Of John Doe’ sees Floex and London-based Tom Hodge bring together classical and radical “avant-garde” electronic music.
Decoded Magazine managed to grab some time with both Tom Hodge and Floex to discuss the upcoming collaboration. To kick things off we asked Floex and Tom to talk about their history in music. Tom Hodge said “I balance my time between making records and writing music for film & TV. I was lucky enough to start my composition career making music for commercials and from this base, I have branched out into all sorts; a ballet, fashion shows, films, TV and of course working with some fabulous musicians and producers, one of which is Floex.” Floex then added “I have been doing electronic music most of my life, my debut album was released in 2001. Since I come from Prague (Czech Republic), it is not known so much worldwide. However, during this time I tried to find ways how to connect acoustic instruments with the electronic universe, this is something that continues until today. I also compose music for games and sometimes people know me just for that. Indie games like Machinarium or Samorost 3 by Amanita Design are really cult on this scene.” He also added “I am originally clarinetist and it is funny because Tom does play clarinet as well. So finally I have someone to play duets with. His main instrument is piano though.”
I had heard that Tom and Floex had met at a festival in Berlin. I asked them about the meeting and how they then began to work together. Tom said “all our artist friends were hanging out in a big group at the festival if I remember rightly, and we got chatting. I spent most of my time pretending not to believe that Tomáš was indeed the artist known as Floex… It seemed hilarious at the moment… Floex added “yes, I remember coming to Tom to tell him how much I was impressed with his clarinet play. He answered, he really wants to show this Floex guy he is not the only one playing the clarinet “on the electronic scene”.
We went on to talk about the Floex and Hodge’s collaborative project and what the ethos was behind the work…
“This was a very spontaneous and organic project where the actual product, namely an album, sort of snuck up on us. I guess the ethos comes from our own general but individual approaches to music-making. And certainly at that fascinating initial music creation stage we have a lot in common, where we both embrace the magic of spontaneity, quirky approaches to sounds and playing, improvisation on live instruments or anything we can get hold of, or in general, I guess anything that can throw open an interesting musical door” – Tom Hodge
I went on to speak with Floex about his connection with the Prague Radio Symphonic Orchestra (PRSO)… “It’s really interesting that many things came out really naturally as Tom has already mentioned. The offer to do something with the orchestra really came in the same manner. Around the time when the album started to show some shape, I was at a concert in Prague and I met a guy from the Prague State Radio which also has its own Symphonic Orchestra with one of the best string sections around. He asked if I would be interested in doing something with them, just at the same point we were looking for some ways to record arrangements for the album.”
Being a huge fan of Max Cooper I had to speak with Tom Hodge about that work he completed with Max on ‘Remnants’.
“I have an ongoing collaboration with Max. We have done a handful of EPs and I also contributed to his ‘Emergence’ LP. We are in the process of getting a full collaborative album together too” – Tom Hodge
Moving back to talk about the new release I was intrigued to know the metaphor behind the track ‘Wednesday (Is The New Friday)’. Tom Hodge answered… “It has a double meaning really: For our protagonist, John Doe, there is no hidden message. It is simple- he likes to go out and have a few beers on a Wednesday and party like it’s Friday night. For us with the so-called gods-eye view, it’s more ambiguous and makes comment on society’s obsession with the new at the expense of everything else.”
The track above has been remixed by Hidden Orchestra. I asked Tom and Floex how the remix came about and the relationship they have with Hidden Orchestra. Tom said “Tomáš has known Joe a good while longer than me. But he has done remixes of both my work with Franz Kirmann and Max Cooper. Floex added “as Tom says, Joe discovered my music long time ago. It is an actually interesting story, his friend was at the Big Chill festival in 2004 and saw me playing there. It was a rare appearance in the UK. He came to me after the concert saying he really loved the performance and I gave him the CD just to show appreciation for his interest, it was a very good investment since he passed it to Joe from Hidden Orchestra. He wrote to me when I was about to release Zorya (2011) offering to do a remix. From this time we become really good music mates and we always look for an opportunity and somehow look for each other.”
Whilst discussing the album and the classical sound, in general, I was intrigued to know more about which classical composers and compositions are some of their most treasured… Tom Hodge said “it’s kind of difficult to summarise. I grew up with all the classics and played a bit of everything on the piano; Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Liszt, Brahms, Bartok, to name a few that spring into my head. My wife is an opera singer so I have a good knowledge of the coloratura soprano repertoire”. Floex went on to say “I really like Bartok too. My most favourite clarinet piece is by Bartok. It’s called “Magyar Kepek” (Hungarian Pictures) and it was originally written for the orchestra but I love the rearrangement for piano and clarinet. It is an incredibly creative piece of music. A long time ago I made a whole theatre show about it… Obviously, there is a big tradition of the Czech composers like Janáček, late Martinů which I love. There are some interesting and less known like Antonín Rejcha, Miloslav Kabeláč as well.
Having just released ‘A Portrait Of John Doe’ and realising the passion these guys have for music I was wanting to know if they have any other releases in the pipeline… Tom answered, “we have some plans! Some nice remixes, some interesting reworks, and bits of new music floating around. Watch this space…”
Being a big fan of both of their musical styles I asked the guys if we could expect to see them playing live together in the near future. Tom Hodge was keen to say “Yes, we are deep in the planning phase. Hoping to roll something out for Autumn of this year and then let it organically grow from there.”
“We are preparing some really interesting audio-visual show for the Autumn tour. I believe it is quite unique as we are trying to bring the Symphonic Orchestra experience to the audience in quite an unusual way” – Floex
Whilst talking about live music and as we head into the festival season I asked Tom and Floex if we could expect to see them playing at any of the many festivals around the globe this year. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Tom will be… “it sounds terrible, but no. Without a live project right now, I will mainly be writing at home and trying to recharge a bit after a hectic last year or two. I’ll certainly take advantage of the amazing music scene in London though over the summer, and maybe take in a few concerts in Prague when I am visiting Tomáš.” Floex went on to say “My most favourite summer festival is very unusual. It is a small party in the secret place of my artist friend who builds from this childhood incredible buildings in trees. Part of this festival is happening just in the trees and another party under the trees. Hence the name “Tree Party”. I used to come every year. I usually end up at this party with an 8 hour or longer DJ set. Looking forward to it this year.”
I would like to thank Tom Hodge and Floex for their time and we here at Decoded Magazine cannot wait to see their live show.