Thomas Gold Keeps It Professional [Interview]
Thomas Gold is no stranger to the electronic music scene. Since he started making music at 15, this guy has gone to the Moog and back. During that time he’s come to truly understand each intricacy of the industry. We caught up with this Berliner at Chicago’s The Mid club right as his 2016 tour kicked into high gear.
To be honest, how do you really feel about Meet & Greets?
I’m good with them, yeah. It’s always nice to meet some fans and have a little chat with them. Sometimes I meet them twice or three times. It’s funny, because they follow me to shows every day. For example in Miami I have a bunch of people who always come to my shows so I can at least give something back and if I can invite them backstage and have a little chat…
You’ve got a big following in Miami?
Yeah, it seems Miami is one of my strongest pockets.
Why do you think that is?
I don’t know. I’ve been there for a while. I’ve played a lot of shows and clubs there, especially during Miami Music Week I play a lot of shows so it just happened.
Do you prefer to play a club setting, a festival setting, or your radio show?
Well the radio show is something completely different because I do that in the studio, in the hotel room so there’s no crowd there’s no club vibe. It’s just putting together a bunch of tracks and also the selection of tracks is totally different than when I have my shows. For fanfare I just want to show people what’s new, what’s coming up next, what’s the newest in the market. Talking about festivals and clubs, I actually love both and both have their own good things. Festivals you play a big stage to a huge crowd and it’s all about the vibe and the lights and all the stuff that’s going on.
In the club you can get very intimate with people, you’re very close to them like here [the Mid] I’m actually quite close to everybody. It’s a close venue, the feedback and the vibe you get from everyone is much more intense and in a festival you don’t really have that. That’s a thing I can get in the clubs and it’s great to test out a new track in the club because the reaction is more intense and you can tell if they like it easier. In a festival people just have their hands up because the drop is big but it doesn’t really tell you if the track is working or not. Sometimes it’s cool to be in a little room with a smaller crowd and feel the connections with people and you can’t really get that at a festival because you’re like 30 meters away from people with all the barricades and stuff.
What inspired you to start making music at such a young age?
I remember when I was 7 my mom took me to this concert and the guy was playing an electronic organ and I thought, “Oh wow, I want to do that.” I really liked it and she got me lessons and so I learned to play the keyboards and then I got this sort of passion for electronic music when I was 14 or 15 and I listened to all this music and I thought that I wanted to do something like that and do this kind of club and house music so I got my first synthesizer when I was 15. It was a very small and crappy thing but that was how it all started. I’ve always had this vision to create or make my own music which could be played in clubs.
You still love it?
Yes! You can always evolve and develop your own skills, change your style. I mean I’ve changed my style a lot; if you look back a couple of years and what I did last year and the year before and I’m doing it again right now and it’s something new and at the end for me it’s all about the music. Music never gets old, and music and emotions, melodies and sounds, there’s always something new to discover. I could spend months just playing the piano for instance. It’s the same sound but I just love the music, I think that’s the point.
What has been your favorite “genre” to mix?
I’m a typical house guy, but it’s not limited to the genre. I love that kind of tempo — 128 and I’m slowing a little bit now for my next productions, I’m going 120 – 126, but I also like a lot of other stuff. The more chill stuff I like, Disclosure and music like that, and Flume, the very slow stuff, very groovy. I actually like all types of music, I’m very spread out.
Is there any artist you want to work with because they’re so different from you?
There are a bunch of guys and a bunch of tracks that I really like. I wouldn’t point out that one artist at any moment, but there are a couple I would like to, I think it would be an interesting track but I couldn’t say one particular one right now.
You’re pretty early in your tour, what are you most excited to do during this tour?
I’m most excited about my new track “On Fire” which premiered two days ago and it was awesome. I was so happy about the feedback and I played it last night, I’m playing it tonight. But it’s really about how many shows I’m doing. Twenty-five shows in two months and it’s awesome, I can travel to all the states, see a lot of places. Miami Music Week is coming up next week and I play a lot of stuff there. January and February I was in the studio a bunch, I didn’t tour that much. I think there were only two shows in January and two more in February, and it was all about new music for my album which comes out at the end of the year by the way.
When at the end of the year?
We’re aiming for November/December, maybe January it really depends on how it turns out at the end, but at the moment it’s going very well because I have a lot of tracks. We just narrowed down the selection to 17 tracks or so which are already candidates for the album so I’m really happy about that and I spent most of January in L.A. for writing sessions and I’m going back in April for that. It’s quite exciting but apart from that it’s all about touring and the tour but after that it’s back to the studio for a lot of time for production.
What festival are you most excited for?
EDC Las Vegas.
Really? How so?
I’ve been there like three times now and it’s always crazy, the vibe. And when you get there, the whole setup and how big everything is, how much love and detail they put into everything, how the stages are set up, it’s super cool. I love EDC.
What really stands out to you as a huge difference between the German/Berlin music scene and the U.S. scene?
[Laughs] You can’t really compare that!
Which one do you like more?
I can’t say. It’s so different. You know Berlin is all about minimal, underground tech house. It’s a very organic scene, it’s been there for years and it’s really all about the music. For example, some clubs when you get there, they’re packed but they don’t even sell you a bottle, they don’t have bottle service, they don’t have tables, nothing. You can get a glass of whatever you want but there’s no bottles. They just want to keep it as it is and keep it very clubby. It’s something very special, and even in Germany it’s unique the scene in Berlin, it sets itself apart from everything else in Germany. If you compare it to festivals, you cannot compare an underground scene to a festival so it’s totally different. You have to love both of them.
When you take away the bottle service, VIP, and tables it becomes more genuine, wouldn’t you think?
It is! Because it’s all about the music. It’s not about how posh you are or how many bottles you can buy or whatever, it’s about the music. It’s not about how close you are to the DJ, no one is looking at the DJ as a big star, they’re not even looking at who is playing. They’re having fun, hanging there for almost 8 hours just getting into the vibe. Not all of the Berlin clubs are like this because we also have the VIP clubs but the signature clubs are like that.
It would be nice to see that.
You should go there.
Is it safe to assume you would be playing somewhere more underground if you go back to Berlin?
I would do both. In the beginning I had to adjust myself a little bit to the VIP. That whole thing is big in America and it’s part of the club culture. The clubs they manage to have both the club crowd and the VIP and sometimes they don’t mix it and some places you can’t – there’s the club, then the VIP, but they manage it very well. In Germany and in Europe we don’t have that big VIP culture yet, it’s coming but sometimes people who want to go clubbing, they don’t want to go to a club with VIP tables and visa versa. The club owners always have a problem with that because you might make a little money with the VIPs and then you can invest in DJs and the sound system and LED screens. So, you get the money to invest in the club and you have a club crowd who is there to just have fun. In America, they have managed to combine both worlds and in Europe it’s still separate from each other. It has its positive and negative sides but you get used to it and it’s ok.
Where do you see the club and festival scene 5 years from now?
I don’t know.
Do you think it will be just as big, or do you think some will consider it a phase?
I think the club scene is going to stay as it is. And I think everything is just moving on to the next let’s say big thing – which is not EDM. I mean, maybe some other stuff is coming back. Urban or hip-hop or vocal house or funky house or disco house or whatever, but the club scene is going to stay there but it’ll evolve of course. With festivals…maybe some festivals will disappear and some are going to last but it depends on how the festivals organize themselves and what they make of them and how they see the trends going. You can see that there is a lot of stuff coming and going and with the EDM scene blowing up that much in the past five years a lot of festivals came, but I think a lot of festivals are going to be gone in five years. But maybe there’s something new coming up, because people want to go out they want to have fun and it’s just about what they’re going to do. At the moment a lot of festivals are booking deep house and tech artists, and they’re going back to old school house and that’s the trend for 2016 I think. Next year? I don’t know. I’ve been talking to a lot of people about this and everyone has an opinion and their own point of view, how they see and think. It’s going to be interesting to see where the music is going to go.
Do you think TomorrowWorld will come back in 2017?
Yes, I think so. I had fun last year. [Laughs]
During Gold’s set it was very clear that he was a veteran to the decks. The entire venue lit up – both literally and figuratively once he took over the table. He had a way of taking the energy from the crowd and mixing in the perfect song to fit the vibe, a talent that only a small handful of those in the trade can pull off successfully. Too often do artists get selfish on stage and choose the music for the crowd rather than letting the crowd create the music, Thomas Gold knows the difference well.
One could easily tell the difference between the clubbers and the VIPs at the Mid, but this is nothing new. As Gold had mentioned previously, the Mid has a way of making the two integrated. The Mid consistently brings amazing talent to Chicago, and we’re excited to continue to catch the great artists that come through.