Com Truise – real name Seth Haley - is a towering figure in the music world. A hulking 6’2", this statement is both metaphorical and literal. The DJ, known for his ‘mid-fi, synth-wave, slow-motion funk’ was in town over the weekend to play a set at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental’s second MO-Sound Bites, which debuted in March. We wrote about EDM taking over Asia in our June issue, and it looks like the craze isn't going anywhere.
My first encounter with Haley was something from a movie: as I stood outside MO Bar, waiting to be taken to the interview, a familiar face descended the marble stairs. I looked at him. I looked at the gigantic poster of his face. I looked back at him. He looked at me. He looked at the gigantic poster of his face. He looked back at me. We smiled, awkwardly, and he passed by, popping outside for a smoke. Moments later, in an uncomfortable turn of events, we found ourselves in the same lift, en route to the interview room. We laughed about it all, but did not fall in love, as I imagine we would have done in the cinematic version of these events.
Haley is soft-spoken, verging on shy. His gentleness is endearing, and it’s hard to imagine the same man will be holding the attention of a packed MO Bar in just a few hours. Speaking with him, two things become abundantly clear: his passion, and his confusion. Despite his critical successes, Haley still seems to be slightly baffled by his life. “I worked in advertising and was completely happy with that. I thought I’d have a normal life, get married, have a family,” he says, before describing his non-stop schedule over the past few months.
His latest album, Iteration, dropped the day we spoke. It's immediate critical success means the artist won't rest for months to come. We quickly go over his plans for the immediate future, and calculate that the next time he'll sleep properly is around November. A daunting reality, but one which Haley happily accepts.
Why did you choose the name Com Truise?
Because I had no expectations. I remember going to lunch with some friends, and we started saying spoonerisms and eventually somebody said ‘Com Truise’. I had this music I had done, and needed a name, and it fit. Then I found this blog, sent them my EP and they put it out the next day.
Do you ever regret the name?
Not really, to me it sounds more robotic than anything. It’s a way to shield myself as well, like, they’re not talking about me, they’re talking about Com Truise.
Do you ever Google yourself?
No, never. Well, not anymore. I just don’t want to know. It’s not all bad stuff, but there are so many opinions. After shows I’ll go on twitter, click the refresh button again and again and then shut my phone off and pretend it never happened. It’s weird. Everyone is welcome to their own opinion, but I want to work uninfluenced by others opinions.
Since your name is Com Truise, do you have a favourite Tom Cruise movie?
Yes, Days of Thunder, the Nascar movie, it’s so good. Top Gun is a great movie, and Risky Business – I literally watched it last night before I fell asleep.
How do you want people to feel when they listen to your music?
Sad [laughs]. No, not sad, but nostalgic, definitely nostalgic. All of my music is based on a narrative, and it’s very open-ended. There’s a loose story that’s out there for people to know, but I don’t want people to be like ‘oh this song is this part of the story’. It’s incredibly open to interpretation. There can be a song that I think is emotional, and a little more deep, but others will think it’s a happy song, and they’ll dance around, and do hula hoops and all that stuff. It’s interesting to see people’s take on it.
Have you always been nostalgic, even when you were younger?
I think so. I’ve always been kind of blue. I was diagnosed with depression years ago, and took medicine for a long time during my childhood, but then I just stopped. I realised you can be blue in life sometimes, and I enjoy being blue, which sounds silly. It’s definitely more inspiring than being happy. I don’t write happy music, or I don’t try to, though it might be happy for someone else. Maybe that makes me nostalgic? I don’t know.
Your latest album, Iteration, just dropped today. How does it feel?
It’s, interesting. It’s gotten pretty good responses already, better than what I expected. I guess you just have to wait six years before you release something new!
You’re like the Adele of mid-fy synth-wave.
Ha, now I just call it down-tempo electronic-music. It’s simpler. It’s been interesting, definitely.
You have multiple personas for different styles of music, why did you decide to go down that route?
I like having personas because I like compartmentalising the music for myself, I like putting a box around it. I can think better inside of a box, which sounds crazy, but I like to be inspired in a certain space, and adhere to something. If I didn’t do that, I would just trail off into madness.
Where does Seth Haley stop and Com Truise begin?
It’s always me. I’m very shy up there, and if there wasn’t the big table, you could see my hands shaking while I’m doing things. I’m still very nervous. Been doing it for six years but it’s like the first time, every time. I just don’t fully understand the live shows and the live music. I can sit in the studio for days, but live shows, they’re still a beast to me.
Your previous albums told a three part, inter-galactic story about the trials and tribulations of Com Truise, can you fill us in on his story so far?
From Cyanide Sisters up until Iteration, it’s all been the same story. They’re about the first android astronaut sent up to this planet called Wave 1 to make contact with a civilisation and establish a relationship between them and Earth. Everything is fine for a while, and then he falls in love with this alien girl. He’s not supposed to have those emotions, she sort of hacked him to make him feel this way, and that causes a rift between the two societies because he’s not really focused on his work, just this alien girl.
How does Iteration fit into the story, and is it the end of his tale?
Iteration is about the deterioration of that relationship between the two societies, and the growth of Com’s relationship with the alien girl. It’s about them escaping oppression to drift off into space and live happily ever after. This is the end of this story. I have more albums to come, but they won’t follow this narrative.
You are a huge sci-fi fan, and have reportedly seen Blade Runner 300 times. What would you say is the best sci-fi book of all time? What about movie?
Neuromancer, by William Gibson. Blade Runner is, obviously the top, but aside from that, Aliens. I love that film, Bill Paxton is amazing.
The ultimate question: Star Wars or Star Trek?
Star Wars, but the reboots can get a little silly, and I’m serious about my sci-fi. I just love the way that someone came up with how the universe looked. Someone had to come up with all the displays and technology, all the little buttons. That’s really inspiring to me, and I try and bring that into my music.