The Art Of Experimentation: Getting To Know Tom Filepp of Cars & Trains

Field Notes Interview #41: Tom Filepp, Marmoset Artist

There's a thousand little worlds that exist within every beat by Tom Filepp (aka Cars & Trains). Bridging the gap between organic and electronic textures, Filepp has forged his own unique form of music. Filled with glitches, beats, loops and subtle textures, each Electro-Folk has something new to discover with every listen.

Filepp's music is cinematic in nature as it brings up so many different images and provides such an expansive, sonic world to live in. His track "Intimidated by Silence" was placed in a recent film by Mike Collins. We sat down with Tom and got to know his writing process and his thoughts on how his music translates to picture.


M: When did you start writing music?

TP: Probably in my early teens, basically once I started learning how to play guitar. I wrote bad riffs that were played even worse. My folks got me a little Tascam 414 when I was about fifteen, that I used to record a lot of song ideas on. They were mostly one off riffs instead of full songs, although occasionally I would work out some little ditty with me hand drumming on my desk, with structure and all of that.

M: What does a day in the life of a working musician look like for you?

TP: That obviously depends whether I’m on the road or not. When I’m at home I’m all over the place—I could be working on tightening up mixes or producing a new song; it’s just as likely that I’m sketching out a new song on the couch with an acoustic, some humming, and my little field recorder. I do a lot of bouncing back and forth from my day gig as a developer, so there’s not 100% of a rhyme or reason unless I’m wrapping up a new album, or getting ready for tour. There’s not necessarily a ton of structure to how I go about my day on that front. When I’m touring it’s another story, especially when I’m touring in Europe, everything is like clockwork. I love touring by train so everything has to be planned pretty tightly.

M: What role do you feel music has in film?

TP: I think it’s really the glue that holds the whole concept of the film together, whether it’s some atonal swells and stabs for emphasis, or a driving beat. The right decisions with scoring make all the difference with a film, whether it’s a decision for it to be almost completely sparse, or to have it back to back pop songs.

M: How do you feel your song complimented Mike Collins' "ReStore"?

TP: I really like the way it subtly adds movement, while not getting in the way of the narrative. When the claps come in it builds enough to keep interest while staying secondary. I’m a big fan of how they use the bridge to change the feeling about halfway through, it keeps things moving, but changes gears enough to keep the pace interesting.

M: What's the last thing you listened to?

TP: I’ve been listening to a whole lot of the San Francisco based old-school thrash band Death Angel’s last record “The Dream Calls For Blood”. So good. Just saw them last week and it was fantastic.

M: What are you excited about for the future?

TP: I’m excited about trying to continue to push myself out of my comfort zone and try new things musically, whether it’s my new all instrumental cars & trains record coming out this year, or my new electronic sludge/shoegazer project True Deceiver. Looking forward to seeing what comes out of more experiments in the near future!