“I didn't really want to release the song on SoundCloud, I wanted to release it on a label. But I thought, sod it… I just put it out and it blew up, 50, 60 thousand views a day. It got to number 2 on SoundCloud and went above Drake just behind Central Cee’s Obsessed with You… and all the labels must have started twitching”
Born and raised in Parson Cross, Sheffield. TeeDee aka Tom Dempsey grew up around the burgeoning bassline era of music that defined the city in the early 00s. A scene that saw the rise in prominence of other Yorkshire acts like Leeds T2 and Sheffield’s own Toddla T.
“Do you know what it is? I’ve dedicated half of my life to making music and all of this that’s happening now is a result of me chipping away at it for so long. It’s now coming together at the perfect time” and it’s the timing that is key here. It wasn’t so long ago that he signed up to Sony RCA UK, sealing the deal with the release of his debut single Love Me, which rather aptly has just been released.
TeeDee’s journey to where he is today has taken him almost a decade
From starting out as a plucky aspiring DJ hosting an event that had to be shut down by the police at 14 such was the excitement for his first event, right through to producing records for emerging and established artists across the UK Drill, bassline and the house scene, as well as setting up his own studio spaces which he would hire out to other musicians and artists along the way. But what was that about the police you say?
“Basically what happened is, I did an event when I was 13 or 14-years-old at a pub called The Forum (in Wincobank), years ago now. But the owner didn’t realise I was actually doing an event. I just spoke to one of the bar staff and they probably thought that I wanted to do a function. So then I rang a few people and then I started handing out flyers to kids at my school. As it got to around 7pm, I noticed taxis turning up with a few girls and I thought this is going to be ‘’bang on’, anyway, I’m about to go and DJ and I had this lady collecting fivers and pound coins from people, but she keeps coming up to me with bags of money and by 8 o’clock it was rammed… I couldn’t see all the way to the back, it was that full. I went and took a look outside, it was crazy. The beer garden was packed and there were people all over the road as well, people jumping up and down, flares were going off and before you know it the police turned up, riot vans and police cars. My dad says that we should probably go, so we dipped out and left.”
Footage of the event was shared online, initially in community forums on Facebook and then further afield.
“What ended up happening is that the manager of Plug got in touch and my dad and I went down for a meeting. They offered me the chance to use their studios. I was also asked if I’d be interested in doing events there, which is great as it’s a safer space. It were hugely beneficial at that time. It wasn’t easy though, we had to get all sorts of permission from the council which took ages to sort out.”
“It was amazing. Here I was the same age as all of the kids and I was DJing mainly bassline and other music to them all. I’d even get acts to come down and perform as well, like BassBoy and Nitro Clack. It was all part of the journey to where I am now.”
The name TeeDee may not mean much to many of you, not yet anyway. It goes without saying that he is very much the antithesis to the overnight sensation.
He’s been putting in the graft from the morning through to the evening, and the early hours, for years now.
“One of the things I really wanted to do when I was at the Plug studios was just to watch how other people worked. I wanted to be involved and see what people were doing, music is all I lived for and I didn’t do anything else other than that”
TeeDee has been patiently honing his craft, his understanding of music, and how things work in a music studio setting. He spent countless hours observing his peers, taking notes, listening and learning from them all. Through doing those studio sessions, TeeDee ended up meeting an artist called Shaxx who put him in touch with a producer called TomMakesBeats, it was from there that they started a YouTube channel, fuelled by the growing interest in Type Beats, an online movement where producers put out instrumentals that in theory match those of certain artists. And it worked. One of those beats resulted in Tee taking a trip down to London for a studio session with Loski and Fredo… after that the sessions kept coming.
Although it was a very steady stream of work, it just wasn’t enough for TeeDee who felt unfulfilled, “when there’s work that needs doing, I’m just focused. I would sit there doing 12-hour sessions, working on other people’s music and while it was good, I just wished I was spending more time focusing on mine.
“I always knew I wanted to do more of my own thing. The sessions were good but they didn’t excite me and I wanted to put myself in the best position going forward for me”
He went back to the drawing board, all while continuing to produce for others and in between selling beats he’d created, a solid business in its own right, he decided to start doing his own videos once more.
“I wanted to get my personality out there a bit more, but I also wanted to show people an insight into not only how a producer creates but how I do what I do”
He started to record these videos as TikToks and cross-post them to Instagram to get more hits… then he made the ‘How To Make A Tom Zanetti-Type Beat’ video, which received more than 250,000 views overnight, literally. That’s when he knew he was onto something and many others began to take notice of him, far more than they had done before.
After being courted by multiple major record labels, TeeDee eventually made his decision based on what felt most natural to him, signing to Sony RCA UK. From then he’s gone from strength to strength working not only with Fredo but Ard Ardz, Loski, RM, G Bugz, Silky and he’s even worked on a track for Jess Glynne.
TeeDee is very mindful and aware of what is going on in and around his home city, even though his personal situation financially may have changed he still has nothing but love for his hometown. He is very much a result of his environment, “in every city you have all of the negativity, shootings and stabbings that are in the media. There are so many positive things here, it’s not about ignoring the bad stuff but it’s also about putting the same energy into focusing on the good things that are going on.”
As a young man who has come into quite a bit of success, although it’s important to note this is well-earned after many years, I wonder how he feels about what people will think about him or does he worry about the attention he’ll get? “It’s important that you choose people you trust to be around you, friends who will look out for you and also not to get carried away or caught up in the hype” but the hype is nice sometimes, right? “It’s nice to be able to treat myself but I’m not bothered about things, fancy stuff and all of that. It’s alright, yeah. I just want to focus on my music and progression as a person.”
When he’s not giving followers an insight into his music creation process on social media or posting the obligatory bougie photo, tongue firmly in cheek and always very self-aware, TeeDee is also an amateur boxer, it’s a good way for him to focus and decompress in a controlled environment and it benefits him both mentally and physically, especially after a bout of Covid last year forced him to take a step back and essentially reflect on where he wants to go — he also won his last boxing match at Colley Working Men's Club in Sheffield.
“I’ve always been into fighting and boxing from a young age, my dad got me into it. Taking me to the gym. Then when I started doing the events, my focus slipped, I needed to step back from anything that was negative and get back to what I do best… that’s making music.”
For his debut song, he took a sample of the timeless classic Brownstone song, If You Love Me, and turned it into, Love Me
It’s a fresh sounding deep house track infused with a recognisable 90s tinged production style. It’s already been a viral hit with over 1 million streams on SoundCloud and YouTube alone and with a solid release plan is set to become one of the biggest dance anthems of 2022.
For someone who is essentially still in his formative years as a young adult, he has seen so much and has so many stories to tell. While we spoke an older lady approached us and asked if we wouldn’t mind watching her bags for a while to which he politely obliged. Behind the carefully curated bravado, initial perceptions of what the young uns today are like are often far wide of the mark. It’s a mark of his character, fame doesn’t and shouldn’t always change us… neither does the attention.
“I’ve had to go through so many things for this one thing to happen, this one thing to blow. It’s been hard and do you know what it’s been worth it, I’m grateful… but I’m nowhere near done yet. I’m always growing everyday.”
Love Me is out now on all digital streaming platforms.
You can follow TeeDee on social media.