Whether you have stumbled upon his treasure trove of elaborate remixes or unwittingly stood through a promising support slot, many of us have crossed Throwing Snow’s well-trodden pathat one time or another. It’s almostan inevitability. Ross Tones, at least under his seasonal pseudonym, has been making music for a while. Mosaic, his debut album, has been quite a long time coming, a notion that he himself acknowledges, blossoming into vivid technicolour after a steady stream of strong EPs that flirted with an array of meticulous touchstones, stitched loosely together by a barrage of tour dates with the likes of Actress, Bonobo and Atoms For Peace, and the tentative unveiling of his own label and various side projects.
“My first forays were with a band in my teenage years with my brother and best mates, playing UK metal, really,” he recalls. “After that, I just got more involved with studios before moving to Bristol and getting in to drum and bass. Throwing Snow started when my grandma saved up some money for me, which allowed me to invest in a small studio set up. I just wanted to combine the sounds I liked together.”
It’s this forthright approach that prompted Tones to take the intriguing step to postpone the expected release of an LP for a number of years, instead exploring swathes of sonic texture and the dingiest crevices of countless genres through each slighter offering, at a time when most artists (and record labels, for that matter) would have buckled under the pressure and churned out a half-baked effort. Despite pondering over every detail, Tones, somewhat encouragingly, still struggles to pinpoint a solitary influence.
It’s meant to be a snapshot in time and not something that I want to define my sound
“There isn’t one really, the whole point of the album was that it would be a mosaic of my influences. There are too many to name really, but it stretches from modern dance music to eastern music via prog.” While Mosaic remains awash with benchmarks for inspiration, too many for Tones to truly identify, he is rather more aware of the intricate narrative strands that meander their way from the LP’s core. “I’ve tried to use a feeling of tension and release a lot, alongside unexpected arrangements. It’s dark in parts, but also has lighter areas. The same sound set goes in to many of the tracks, but I try and make each distinct. The vocals also seem to tie it together, despite there being a lot of guests.”
He’s right, much of Throwing Snow’s appeal lies in its cohesion; his sporadic integration of guest vocalists amongst his clattering beats and off kilter, woozy rhythms feels seamless and never a clunky afterthought. Despite its frenetic pace, that trend is put to remarkable use throughout Mosaic. “I’ve been really lucky with the vocalists I’ve found and used, they are a talented bunch. There is a theme that sort of ties them together, but I’m not quite sure what that is. I’ve worked with some of them before, met some of them in RBMA and have wanted to work with Jassy and Kid A for a while. The vocals give a non-specific narrative, which hopefully holds the tracks together and helps it ebb and flow.”
It was a really interesting project and one that was a lot harder than expected.
With so much ingenuity frothing from each release, it was inevitable that Tones would seek further outlets away from Throwing Snow. A haunting collaboration between him and vocalist Augustus Snow, sporting the moniker of Snow Ghosts, snuck a rather tantalising album into our eardrums last year, while Alight, a mysterious solo endeavour, crept into view fairly recently, ensuring that, although Mosaic’s release date rumbles ever closer, Tones constantly has one eye firmly set on the future. “I’ve just come back from recording with Snow Ghosts in some amazing acoustic spaces in Dorset, using binaural microphones, so that material should hopefully be out this year. Other than that, it’s touring, and maybe some Vellico and Alight tracks will rear their ugly heads.”
Regardless of the forthcoming release date, Tones is already reflecting on the lengthy creative process that drove Mosaic and how upcoming undertakings may be approached differently. “It was a really interesting project and one that was a lot harder than expected. I’ve learnt from the experience and I think it’s made me better producer. I definitely felt greater freedom to incorporate interesting ideas that came from a headphone listening space, as opposed to the dancefloor. It’s meant to be a snapshot in time and not something that I want to define my sound, I always want to try and move forward. I just need to sit back and try and see it as a whole now.” Where Ross Tones heads from here is an alluring proposition; just don’t expect him to wait for you to catch up.
Live: Lovebox – Victoria Park