It’s quite chilly outside, wouldn’t you say? Staying inside is a great idea, and what better way to spend your time than by reading this little conversation we had with Thomas Datt? Grab your favourite hot beverage, and let’s get cracking. 🙂
TranceMag: Hi, Thomas. Glad you’re able to take some time to talk to us. Hope you’re doing well.
Thomas Datt: A good day to you, and everyone at TranceMag. It’s a wonderful time to be alive, so I’m doing pretty damn awesome.
TM: Let’s start off with a little introduction for our readers. When did you get interested in electronic music?
TD: A long ass time ago. Let’s see… I’m a child of the 80s, so technically that’s when I was interested in the music. Right? I mean, I loved it then, and I love it now. Most of my favorite 80s music was actually electronic, synth pop, or whatever. However, it was in the 90s that I realized I actually wanted to express myself via dance music. It was that super awesome, and super cheesy age of Euro Dance, with sprinkles of what would be Trance.
TM: Could you tell us more about your early musical background? How did it all start for you as a producer, and what were some of your influences?
TD: My musical background stems from classical piano. I actually went to a music school for a year or so, but even then you could tell I wasn’t very technical. What I mean by that is, I wasn’t very good at reading the notes on the spot, on the fly, as I needed to play. Instead, it came to me a lot naturally to memorize the melodies. It’s kind of like now with production. I wouldn’t say I’m very technical, by the numbers, making music and being an engineer like it’s some sort of math problem. Instead, it’s whatever sounds good to my ears. Know what I mean?
First software to mess around with on the computer, was probably E-Jay. Pretty funny looking back at it, but also very exciting at the time, especially not having a clue what you were doing. It wasn’t until I got my hands on Propellerheads Rebirth, when I started learning some proper production. Back then I had the 303 on lock, going back to it recently I completely forgot how to use one haha. Eh it’s not that hard after giving yourself a refresher. Right after that I went on to Fruityloops 1.0, and have been with it since.
You gotta remember I’m pretty old at this point, so my influences were actually the pioneers of Trance. Tiesto, Ferry Corsten, Oliver Lieb, Matt Darey, Paul Van Dyk, Tilt, Evolution, Sasha, Digweed, Breeder, Sunday Club, Christopher Lawrence, Transa, Hybrid, Qattara, Salt Tank, Way Out West, Starecase, Space Brothers (Chakra), Solarstone, Dumonde, Deepsky… Just a big list.
TM: What was the first track you heard and instantly fell in love with? What about the first record you bought?
TD: I don’t think I can go back that far, as to which was the first I heard. Though I recall listening to a local NY DJ, that would play on the radio every Friday night from the college of Staten Island. A lot of the music I fell in love with back then, would be through this radio show. I couldn’t always get the best signal, but would record the show onto a tape, even with all the static. One of the tracks that really stood out, which I fell in love with instantly, was Qattara – The Truth.
The first vinyl has got to be Trinity Sight – Three Mile Highland. Still love the track to this day, but it’s not something I would ever play out. Not a very DJ friendly track, and back then the music just didn’t sound all that great, technically speaking.
TM: Getting onto the production side of things, what is most important to you when making music? What message do you want to spread with your sound?
TD: That probably has changed over the years. Even two years ago I wasn’t the same person I am now, so the reasons at this point are different. The key elements that are important to me, probably have to do with me being happy with the outcome. That hasn’t always been the case, and there have been tracks I just made for the sake of doing something, or getting a small sum of money. Which is also the reason I no longer do remixes, or not as much as before. I feel unless it’s a very important remix, it ends up being a waste of time, that’s otherwise spent on doing my own work. At this point my work is taking me a very long time to do. Months at a time…
Shit, let’s get back to the question lol.
Melody. The overall feeling. A journey. Carefully selected sounds. Trying not to do the same thing over and over again, and recycle all the sounds. I think that sums it up.
Before I was just expressing myself, as best as I could, in musical form. Well, now I am as well, that’s always the case… However, now more than ever, I think the point is to spread love, awareness and knowledge. Much like Psytrance has been doing for ages.
TM: Do the listeners have to search for a deeper meaning?
TD: There is always a deeper meaning, especially more recently since I’ve had my awakening. Now I sprinkle a little bit of knowledge in there, but the frequency isn’t for everyone. If you’re not on the same frequency, you won’t understand the meaning, or it won’t come to you. In any case, everyone has their own interpretations and labels. Whatever they want to get out of a song, by all means, let it be exactly what they need at that time. As long as it uplifts, opens the heart, and takes you to another state of consciousness, I’m all good with the meaning projected.
TM: What is your opinion on the current Trance scene and the modern sound that people are attracted to?
TD: Let’s be honest for a minute… I wouldn’t exactly say that I am part of the scene. The scene is doing well without much of my involvement. I tend to come and go, here and there. Peeking in to see what’s up, and throwing in a bit of my soul into the mix. The world keeps turning, as does the scene, with or without me. I’m totally cool with it. The place I am in life right now, is exactly where I need to be. All part of my journey. I’ll get there, when I am ready for it. Until then, I will keep doing my thing, which is spreading love and sharing my soul via musical expression. Eventually more people will be on the same frequency as I am.
Still though, to actually answer the question… I’m very happy that Trance is rediscovering itself, and there’s a magical boom happening. Those huge festivals focusing on Trance and Psy are a great indication of how much this sound is thriving. Let’s be happy that the EDM bubble has finally burst, and is on its way out. I’m actually really happy that Psy is so huge right now because unlike for many others out there, it’s not a fad for me, or a bandwagon. To me it’s a serious spiritual experience, and a way of life. Which is why I am gravitating that way so much.
TM: What do you like about the scene? What do you think needs to change about it?
TD: As stated earlier, the Psychedelic experience, and way of life. I definitely don’t like egos. There are some serious egos in this industry. Truth be told, I used to have a ridiculous one myself, and burned many bridges over the years. Luckily for me, I learned much from those experiences, which has shaped me into the individual I am today. Egos create illusions of separation, when the simplest truth is that we are all one, helping one another to go further. I also don’t like favoritism. Sometimes it feels like we’re in high school again, with clicks of people hanging together, only helping one another and no one else. Another thing that is quite the shame really, is how quickly everyone forgets. Having to release something every month just to remind everyone that you exist, is not something I am in favor of. I much rather take my time and create something that stands out, rather than recycling the same thing over and over again, each month.
TM: 10 best tracks of the year so far?
TD: Not really in any order, just stuff that really resonates with me. Of course I’m avoiding my own because that’s cheating.
01. Gregory Esayan – Changes
02. Osher & Orpheus – Flymenco
03. Infected Mushroom – Nutmeg
04. Gux Jimenez – Zero (Sergey Shement Remix)
05. Hydra – Amber
06. Mindbenderz – Cosmic Dancer
07. Sneijder & Giuseppe Ottaviani – Nero (Solarstone Retouch)
08. The Key – The Light
09. Gareth Emery – Sansa
10. Technical Hitch – Mama India (Out Now Remix)
TM: Picking Up The Pieces and Inside The Glacier were tremendous albums, showcasing different sides of your sound. Would you consider doing a future album that reunites both sides, or would you still keep them separate?
TD: I am very happy with those two albums. They came out better than I could have imagined at the time. The problem with the chill out album though, is that it really put my career on hold, which I feel I am still kind of trying to bounce back from. At the time before starting work on Glacier, I was doing pretty good, wouldn’t you agree? Had a very good streak, and was on fire with so many releases and a lot of Perfecto stuff. So choosing to take a year+ off and focusing on a chill out album, was perhaps not the best move. Releases stopped coming out, with no releases you get no support, no support means no gigs, etc. After the album was finished, I couldn’t really tour either. It wasn’t an album made for the clubs, so there was a longer time period between my last supported releases, which would take another few months to turn around, given that I had to make something first and then you wait for the label to put it out.
Perhaps you can see why that experience has turned me off from writing another album. However, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have a slight itch to make another one. It wouldn’t be for a long time because I feel my career needs to change before I take time out to do something tremendous, and personal, once more. It’s a very time consuming endeavor, and takes a lot of soul searching and digging deep to accomplish properly. There have been many albums that are just a bunch of singles thrown together, but with me it becomes a journey, as an album should be. Greatest example of what an album should be is Eco’s Wolves.
I can’t say what the next album will be like because I am not in that state of mind, in that state of being. When the time is right, it will happen, but like I said, career needs to be in a steady place before I jump in.
TM: Where do you see yourself in 10 years time, in terms of your music?
TD: Part of doing Inside The Glacier, was to show off the possibility of making music for movies or video games. Scoring them, but my way, obviously. I imagine in 10 years I will be making music which is very healing to the human body, mind and soul. Whether it’s scoring, Trance and Psy, or meditation music, it will never stop, but it will evolve as we do.
TM: Speaking of time, 11 years have passed since the first episode of your show, Chronicles, so congratulations! What has kept you motivated to continue the show?
TD: Many thanks! Wow! It’s been quite a long time, hasn’t it? Speaking of… episode 135 just aired on DI, right before doing this interview.
I don’t know man… There were couple of times where I just couldn’t be bothered doing an episode, so ETN would have to replay a previous month’s show. That was a long time ago of course, now I am way more motivated and find it very important to keep each month going. Doing Chronicles has always pretty much been for myself. I figured that if it found an audience, that’s great, if not, that’s also whatever. I didn’t care so much. All the tracks on the show were there because I liked them, not because they had to be played, or because I was doing someone a favor, or anything political. It’s still like that, though the show has evolved a lot since the early years.
The way I see it now, is that I put these tracks together into a mix, so that I can listen to them on the go. New music I don’t otherwise get to listen to, or test out at gigs, but I can listen to them on my phone when travelling to the city, or in the car when driving somewhere. That way I get to know these new tracks each month, and truly see which ones I fall in love with, and which I only put in to fill the time. It is also an expression of myself, kind of like when creating music. These are the tracks that speak to me on a vibrational level, and if I am on a specific frequency when making the show, when choosing the tracks, then that frequency gets translated to the overall episode, and the listener will share that with me. In essence, sharing my soul with the audience. Don’t get me wrong though, I am very happy that the show has an audience. Even if it may be a small one, the fans are very passionate about it because they understand the show, they understand the music, and they understand me and my vibration. I am most grateful to everyone that takes the time each month, to listen to what I have put together.
On a side note, it takes me 3 days to put this show together, so it can be quite tiring… but I do take the time and effort to craft it as perfectly as I can, every single month. If you want to know, one day goes on listening to promos and finding new music. Another day to actually put the tracks together into a journey of a set, and then the last day to do voiceovers and jingles, as well as creating all the podcast information and shit like that.
TM: We know you are a fan of Mirror’s Edge (as are we). Outside of DJing / Producing, do you have time to game or enjoy other forms of entertainment?
TD: Oh yea, for sure! Though I haven’t been gaming as much lately, there happen to be times where I forget about life and do a couple of hours a day playing something new. I do like movies (Marvel especially), and TV shows, but I don’t watch them as much as I used to. Meditating, Yoga, Tai Chi, and Qi Gong are my thing now. Going outside in nature as well, a most necessary and healing experience, especially since I am growing into an energy healer. These abilities have been manifesting themselves for the last couple of months, and I know what they are, but need more practice with it all. Simply put, I can channel energy, absorb or create and send, with my hands. It’s pretty damn awesome! Kind of like Reiki.
TM: You have stated previously that you’re not a huge fan of collabs, so we won’t ask about that. What we’re curious though is what’s in the pipeline in terms of solo productions, compilations, etc.?
TD: Magnus and I revisit the idea once in a while, of doing something together again. Time flies though, so who knows when we will actually try something new. But yea, that’s def on the horizon, especially now that I am going more towards the psychedelic sounds, could be very interesting.
As I mentioned earlier, it takes me a long time to make music now. The Psychonaut, for instance, took me around 3 months to make. Infinity Loop may have taken longer, mostly because I had to put it on the side to focus on other projects. It was giving me grief and I couldn’t figure out how to move forward with the track. Taking a break was most beneficial.
A few months ago I started yet another track, well more like continued something I did earlier this year. Unfortunately, even though I spent a couple of weeks on it, I decided it just wasn’t something I was happy with, so I stopped. After that, I moved on to what I figured would be a proper follow up to Prana Flow. That too is taking me a long ass time because half the time I don’t know what I’m doing haha. Time is flying by and I feel like I’m stuck in second gear, ya know? I changed this follow up, probably like 2 or 3 times now. It just wasn’t sounding like a good new track, but more like a cheap imitation. So again, time was just flying by while I was digging deep into my soul, trying to figure out how to make something as good if not better. Happy to say it’s finally on the right track, after 3 months of work.
I can’t really look past this track right now, as I tend to only focus on one thing at a time, until it’s as close to perfect as I can make it. Definitely need to jump back on that 80s sound I love so much, and of course continue the evolution of Datt Psy sound.
TM: Any upcoming gigs we could catch you at?
TD: Nothing that’s concrete. Australian tour is being worked on, but that will be around the time when I actually move there. Colombia is also in the works, and perhaps a going away party or two in the States, before I move for good. Who knows, really?
TM: Is there a track in history you wish you would’ve written, or have been there to witness it being made?
TD: You know, as interesting and deep as this question is, I can’t really find an answer for it. Perhaps, as it’s the first thing that popped into my mind, Tears For Fears – Shout. I was listening to that in the crib, and jumping around. One of my earliest of memories.
TM: Silly question, but do you have a pet? If not, what would your ideal pet be (you can even go with an imaginary one, if it’s more interesting)?
TD: At the moment, I do not. I’ve had many throughout my life, cats, dogs, hamsters, etc. If you’re keeping it simple in regard to cats and dogs, I’m not so sure which one I would choose at this time in my life. Dogs are unconditional love, and show us what we should always strive to be as human beings. Cats on the other hand are Zen masters, which also have much to teach. A plus that they take themselves to the shitter.
A dragon would be the ideal choice. Wouldn’t call it a pet though, more like a companion, on equal footing.
TM: Any last words for our readers and your fans?
TD: Your thoughts are manifested as your reality, so be sure to focus on the good, not bad. The more you stress out and focus on negativity, the more you will attract it into your life. In essence it will be a constant loop of shit. Don’t be play the role of a victim in your own life. Rather than focusing on that, reprogram your mind and body, to think and feel love, and to be grateful for the smallest of things in your life. The more you love and are grateful, the more amazing experiences will come into your life. Love, not fear. Enjoy this very special time in human history, as the vibration of the planet is raised, as well as our own. Try not to sleep through this great awakening of consciousness. Separation is an illusion. We are one. Much love.
Thank you so much for talking to us, Thomas. Best of luck with the new endeavors, and hope to catch up again some time.
If you haven’t already, be sure to also check out Thomas’ guest mix for TranceMag Sessions. 🙂
Images courtesy of Thomas Datt.