Not every kid raised on techno music
wants to be a DJ. Some of them, take the
road traveled by the likes of Prodigy,
Crystal Method and Daft Punk, turning
singing and keyboard skills into energetic
live stage performances filled with synthesizers
and drum machines. With a touring trail
that looks more like a bus schedule (how
many cities can you possibly hit in that
many days?), Speaker Junkies are set to
bounce off the road and into your home
stereo with the impending release of their
first full length original album, "Decibel
Therapy" later this year. Until then,
join us for a one-on-two interview with
Will Usey and Tekno Tom, aka Speaker Junkies.
Jennifer: How did you
Tom: Will's brother
married my aunt. One day his brother told
me that Will also does electronic music
and introduced us. I was very impressed
with his skills as a writer and performer
and asked him to work on Liquid Fiction
with me. I was taking this project live
and started to do gigs around Orange County
and of course needed someone to perform
and sing backup on stage with me. That's
how we ended up being partners. Can you
imagine - we used to sing behind our keyboards?
Wow - that was actually funny.
How did you get started in music?
Tom: During my first year
in college, I started writing lyrics and
singing and decided to record a few songs.
I was highly inspired by Depeche Mode
and started doing synthpop music. One
track led to more and more and I recorded
my first album in 1998. I called the project
Liquid Fiction (which can still be found
on amazon.com and mp3.com). So that's
pretty much how I got my feet wet with
the music scene.
Will: I got my first keyboard
at age 7 and learned how to play Yankee
Doodle. From then on I was interested
in music. My brother used to thump his
music in his car all the time and I loved
how the bass just made my whole body tingle.
I got my first guitar at age 11 and took
lessons. I learned how to record on my
computer at age 14. Music has always been
a part of my life and I loved experimenting
with it. I was introduced to the rave
scene at age 18 and fell in love with
trance and techno. I wanted to create
my own music after hearing the Robert
Miles album. "Children" is the song that
inspired me and ever since, my creations
have been evolving along with the music
What instruments do you each play?
Did you have formal training?
Tom: I've played the piano since
I was about 10 years old. I had formal
training to become a classical pianist.
Thank God my parents made me practice
everyday for an hour! Everything I've
learned has been absolutely beneficial
to my writing as a musician. I do mess
around with the guitar here and there,
but not even close to what Will on the
guitar. You should hear him jam!
Will: Keyboard and Guitar that's
How did your music evolve into a live
Will: It started with the equipment
we have. We had experience from our synth
pop band "Liquid Fiction", playing
our first live show at chain reaction.
We only had two keyboards, a sampler and
two mics at that time. Eventually we slowly
built our gear until we both had our own
home studio. We started to produce what
we thought was trance at that time until
we had enough for a one-hour set. We felt
confident enough that our music was sufficient
to get a crowd to dance and it worked!
Did you ever DJ?
Tom: Nope. Although I'm thinking
about giving that a shot sometime in the
future. Maybe when these keyboards get
too heavy to carry. DJ's are so lucky!
All they have to carry are their record
bags and their headphones. That makes
traveling a bit easier. But I guess I
get a good workout lugging all of our
gear to the clubs. Bring on those flight
of stairs dammit!
Will: Me neither. I never DJ'ed.
But I always wanted to.
How would you describe what you do
to someone who's never heard of you?
Tom: I usually tell people that
we play trance music at clubs and parties
without records or turntables, but with
keyboards and other synthesizers. It's
like a two man rock band, but replace
the rock with techno and replace the guitars
with keyboards and that's Speaker Junkies.
Do you perform all your own music?
Will: Yes. All the music we perform on stage is written and produced by us. Sometimes we like to throw in a cover song of a popular trance anthem and do a different variation of it just to let people know we can do that also. The crowds usually dig it.
Where are some of the biggest/wildest/your
favorite places that you've performed?
Will: Florida (Winter Music Conference),
Aspen, lake Tahoe, Club Raw, House of
Blues, Grand Avenue, Steam boat Colorado,
and a few other ones that I can't name
off the top of my head. Tom: Playing on
top of a mountain at a resort in Colorado
was crazy. People had to take these shuttle
gondolas to even get to the party.
What's the craziest thing you've
ever done on stage?
Tom: Jumping off stage and crowd
surfing. I only did a few times. I learned
my lesson though. The crowd usually doesn't
get me back in time to play my next part
- but it's worth it. Will: Dance. I used
to be terrified of dancing in a club.
I was afraid someone would laugh at me.
The rave scene surly depleted that fear.
Have you seen the scene change since
when you first started?
Tom: Definitely. There are less
raves now and the big massives aren't
around anymore. I'm pretty bummed on that.
Massives like "How Sweet It Is" and "Audiotistic"
were great. Now the raves are done in
clubs and afterhour parties. It's not
the same vibe and it's not about the PLUR
as much or at all anymore. I saddened
me when I heard that fights and gangs
started to pollute the scene. Come on
people - can't we all just get along?
Have you seen the events you play
be effected by the police crackdown?
Tom: Occasionally. It's silly that
security and police do not allow novelties
such as glowsticks, food, and candy at
raves and certain clubs. We were told
once to take off our glowsticks because
we were told that the county police passed
a law that glowsticks are a drug related
toy. I guess road flares should be illegal
also then. We don't want ravers to stop
in a middle of a road and stare at the
shiny stick now do we?
Will: Raves were our main target
for blasting our performance for all those
speaker junkies. Now we have to adjust
our music for the club scene.
If you weren't performing, where would
we find you at a party/rave/club: standing
in front of the speakers with your head
in a bass bin, in the middle of the dance
floor going for hours non stop, off on
the side picking up girls... or some where
Tom: Truthfully, I'd
be sitting somewhere listening intensely
to the new sounds DJ's are spinning. It's
exciting to hear how trance and techno
is evolving. It helps to keep us on our
toes and get fresh new ideas. I do get
off my ass and dance if I really like
the song though.
Will: I would be at home producing.
If I were not producing, then I would
be studying chemistry and biology. And
if I were not studying then I would either
be hanging out with my girlfriend and
friends or be playing counter strike.
How has your creativity and style
changed over the years?
Tom: Being inspired by 80's bands
such as Depeche Mode, I was a bit more
mellow and melodic in the songs I wrote.
Now I love the harsh sounds and craziness
of Nu Nrg and Hard Trance.
When I first started producing my creativity
was very high and my style was very melodic.
Over time I developed writers block and
was not very creative. Now I'm back with
fresh new ideas and a harder style.
What are a few of your current and
all-time favorite records and artists?
Tom: My current favorite artist
is an unknown synthpop band called Cosmicity.
I also like Nirvana, Paul Oakenfold, Madonna,
and OMD just to name a few. Depeche Mode's
Violator is probably my favorite record
of all time. Will: Robert Miles, Prodigy,
Fat Boy Slim, Daft Punk, Metallica, Diesel
Boy, 311, and many more.
Who has influenced the music you
Will: Robert Miles, Prodigy, Crystal
Method, Daft Punk, and those various Trance
Tom: Actually, Will influenced me
to start making trance. I wasn't really
into trance much before I met him. Besides
him, I have been influenced by mixes spun
by DJ's such as DJ Beej, Thermo, Christopher
Lawrence, and ATB.
What inspired you to make your first
Tom: I'll pass this question on
to Will since he was the brainchild behind
Will: I wanted to create a song
that would be filled with emotions and
uplifting - a song that would take you
on a dream - like journey. I was motivated
to make a song that everyone would enjoy.
Also my partner Tom and manager DJ Daniel
inspired me a lot
How did your music end up in an ESPN
Tom: A friend of ours gave a CD
to a commercial agent and basically the
agent called our manager and got us the
gig with ESPN and ipod. I didn't realize
we actually got the gig till I heard it
one Saturday morning. I turned on the
TV and was like "Wow... I can't believe
someone made a song that sounds just like
ours. Holy crap... it is ours!!!" I freaked
out and was jumping like a mad man.
How would you describe the music
on your upcoming full-length album, "Decibel
Tom: It's a combination of melodic
to hard electronic dance music that will
make you want to get off your seat and
bounce. Well, at least, that's what I
hope people will be doing. Will: Upbeat,
crazy, hard driving, dreamy, mood enhancing
Which of you does what in the studio,
on the album and on stage?
Tom: We both have studios in our
homes. So pretty much we produce and write
the initial part of the song separately.
Then we'd get together about 2-3 times
a week, share our new ideas, and work
on a few songs together. Our parts on
stage are pretty much equal - just depends
on the song. He'd play a lead part on
one song and I'd do the backup sound effects,
tweaks, and drum changes and on another
song it could be vice versa.
Can people hear any of your music
or mixes online?
Will: Definitely. You can check us out
We have sounds linked from mp3.com
What is your goal as the Speaker
Tom: I would love to make this
a full time job. Doing something that
I absolutely love with a passion and making
a living out of it. Getting signed with
a major record label wouldn't hurt either.
But until we do, we'd like to get our
songs to as many people as we can.
We also want to keep this style of
music alive. Music is our passion and
without it, life would be pretty dull.
What would you be doing right now
if you weren't making music?
Tom: I really don't know. I
eat, drink and breathe music now. I'd
be a very boring person if I weren't doing
anything with music.
Will: If I wasn't making music, I
would surely be listening to it and I
would fully concentrate on school to better
PLAY IT LOUD!
-- written by Jennifer