The rising, Dutch house fiend talks about the future of house and his latest collaboration with Bok Bok from the Night Slugs label.
Tom Trago is on the rise. The Amsterdam-based house don has steadily been kicking out his futuristic, soulful house jams for the better part of a decade, but it seems as if things are really kicking off for Tom and artists of a similar, syncopated persuasion right about now. Signed to legendary Dutch dance imprint, Rush Hour Recordings, the latest Tom Trago release, a collaboration with Bok Bok (of Night Slugs fame) on the reputable French Sound Pellegrino label, is a rock-solid, 6-track tour de force through the cutting-edge of contemporary dance music. We caught up with the charmingly down-to-earth producer for a quick chat about old skate videos, the Amsterdam scene and ‘mega-dirty’clubs.
AIAIAI: Hey Tom, how’s it going?
Tom Trago: Good, thanks - right now I’m just trying to get through all my emails. This is a typical Monday where everyone’s decided to send me something. After I finish with that, it’s studio time.
A: Alright, let’s get things started then. Could you begin by talking a bit about your influences?
TT: Music-wise? I guess it all started with skate videos. I used to watch a lot of them when I was a kid and most of them would have a really cool soundtrack. Everything from punk to hip hop was thrown into the mix. When I got a little older, I started playing records and that’s when I got heavily into dub, reggae and disco. After that, when I was around 18, I got involved with Rush Hour Recordings, the great Amsterdam label.
A: I was going to ask you about Rush Hour –what’s the scene like in Amsterdam these days?
TT: It’s actually quite lively here at the moment with a lot of younger people doing interesting things. Rush Hour are still putting out excellent stuff… they’re actually big heroes of mine - along with Clone records from Rotterdam. But in Amsterdam things are going down at the Trouw Club with people like San Proper, Martyn, 2562 and many others who are doing stuff that’s sort of similar to what I do.
A: Could you talk a bit about ‘Iris’, your latest album? We’re really into it.
TT: Thanks, man. I was trying to make a leftfield house album that pushed the envelope while channelling a very broad spectrum of my interests and influences. And I’m inspired by so many different things, which is why it came out so eclectic. Maybe it actually went a bit too far in certain respects. My latest release, which I did with Bok Bok from the Night Slugs label, just came out on Sound Pellegrino, and it’s a bit different from the album. This time around, the tracks are focusing on a very narrow part of what inspires me. And we both wanted it to sound like an old compilation called Hard Dance Mania.
A: How did you get involved with Bok Bok?
TT: I think there was just mutual respect to begin with. We started tweeting each other, and then I played at Panorama Bar in Berlin and he played downstairs at Berghain where we met.
A: What’s the best venue you’ve ever played in?
TT: I think I’ll have to say Trouw. The club has a basement called De Verdieping, which is this totally stripped down, mega-dirty place that’s basically just a room with some big speakers. Recently Trouw also got a really good chef!
A: Sounds like heaven on Earth.
TT: It keeps getting better. But hey, you’re from Copenhagen, right?
TT: A couple of weeks ago I played at Dunkel (Copenhagen night club – ed.), which I really liked. It kinda reminded of an old-school hip hop party the way that people were screaming and getting down. It’s a weird mix of a club and a bar.
A: Yeah, Dunkel gets pretty crazy sometimes.
TT: It was one of the best parties, I’ve been to in a long time. When I first arrived, I wasn’t overly impressed with the venue, but then more people started coming in and the party really hit its stride.
A: Nice. What are you listening to at the moment?
TT: A lot of different stuff. Hold on, I’ll just check my iTunes: Planetary Assault System, Blawan, a lot of the stuff on Night Slugs, Pearson Sound, a guy on Rush Hour called BNJMN…Clone Records stuff. Oh yeah, and Jam City. I have a lot of Jam City here. And I actually really like the new Feist Album.
A: And what do you think the most interesting developments are in house music at the moment?
TT: I think that after Paris and then Berlin the sound is now back in London where there’s so much going on. It’s a hybrid sound and it’s syncopated, which I really like.
A: How would you describe your own sound?
TT: Ooh, that’s hard. It’s the Tom Trago sound, you know (laughs). If I have to put it into a short sentence, it’s a hybrid form of futuristic boogie with Detroit elements.
A: Tom, Thanks for talking to us.
TT: You’re welcome.