Tommy McCoy is surprised to have dominated Best of Savannah’s Best Electronic Artist category—with only two recordings available online and a small internet presence, he considers himself an under-the-radar artist on the local scene. But what started as a hobbyist’s venture into electronic music-making has turned McCoy into a key component in Savannah’s DIY circuit.
McCoy moved to Savannah as a child and, though he’s left town for a spell here and there, calls Savannah home. Most days, you can catch him riding his bike around town, helping his wife Lauren at her shop, The Future on Forsyth, or running his painting company. At night, he sets up his gear and transforms into Tommy Techno.
He got into electronic music in high school and immersed himself in the late 1990s-early 2000s rave scene, DJing for fun around town.
“It was crazy,” he recalls. “We had warehouse parties...there was The Zoo, that was really popular, River Rocks was pretty popular, down on River Street. It was a different time. I guess the police got involved, but that was a nationwide epidemic, and now it’s been rebranded as ‘EDM music.’”
The process and culture surrounding electronic music has completely evolved in the last thirty years, but despite technological advancements, McCoy likes to keep it analog. When he began the project Tommy Techno two years ago, he focused on creating a live experience using a sampler.
“I’m a little bit experimental, but not too crazy,” he says. “I started off with one small sampler, and now I have a synth and two samplers. I don’t use a computer at all—I do everything with hardware I make, and all my samples are on the hardware.”
When he plugs in, audiences sync to a four-on-the-floor rhythm and a steady build of sounds and textures.
McCoy admits to not being great with computers—“kind of ironic, doing electronic music nowadays,” he laughs—but that’s part of what makes Tommy Techno stand out.
“I feel like most anybody can open up a Mac and make anything in GarageBand,” he notes. “It’s not as special as it was years ago, or as hard to do. I guess it’s a little nostalgic and self-indulgent, but I’m learning as I go with everything.”
Currently, McCoy is booking shows around town on the house show scene and beyond and potentially gathering material for an album. His priority is keeping the Tommy Techno project an enjoyable outlet for creative expression.
“I’m not trying to make a career,” he says. “I’m just trying to make something I’m proud of.” — Anna Chandler
Runner-Up: Bero Bero