Named Breakthrough DJ/Producer of 2010 by Axwell and Rising Star 2010 by Beatport, Thomas Gold exploded onto the scene last year with impeccable production and the mixing skills of a seasoned veteran. The German producer’s wildly successful career has produced multiple chart-topping tracks that can be heard every night in clubs around the world. Incorporating bassy drumrolls with anthemic vocals and progressive beats, Thomas Gold has created a unique signature sound that sets him worlds apart from the rest of the over-saturated EDM market.
We had a chance to chat with him before his show in Tallahassee, Florida last week about his meteoric rise to fame, his remixing techniques, and how it felt to be chosen as this summer’s face of the Axtone label.
JS: You played a wicked set in Tallahassee back in January and after a career-changing summer you’ve returned for another performance. How does it feel to be back?
Thomas Gold: It feels amazing. It was an amazing night, a great experience, one of the craziest shows I’ve ever had. It was so hot and sweaty and the energy was incredible. The Tallahassee crowd I must say is a great crowd. I’m happy to to be back. I saw the venue when we did the soundcheck and it’s a really nice one. It’s not a club but it’s a very cool venue. A unique feel.
JS: Your music is very percussion-driven with your signature drum-rolls and bass sprinkled throughout your tracks. Tell me about how you’ve developed such a distinct sound and your techniques on always keeping your music inventive.
Thomas Gold: I just love the drum sound and rhythmic structures of percussions. I kind of specialized in these kinds of sounds, I collect them. You can buy sample libraries where they sample marching bands and drum groups, and I’m really crazy about that. I buy everything I can get and try to incorporate them into my tracks. Sometimes I start with just a drum group like I did for "The Wave" or "Marsch Marsch" for example. I think it works well with this kind of music because it’s very energetic and different than everything else. I just really like it and as I find out that people are reacting positively to it I continue it.
It gave me the chance to get a drum line on stage (at his show at Governors Island this summer) and for myself that was an amazing experience. These guys from Brooklyn and The Bronx, meeting them, having rehearsals with them and then having them on stage was just so fun. We’re going to definitely do it again.
JS: You mentioned your remix of Miike Snow’s “The Wave.” I love the spin you put on it, why did you decide to remix that track?
Thomas Gold: When I get a remix request I have to feel it. If I don’t feel anything after two listens I skip it. I pause it and say “Sorry this is not my thing,” and when I heard “The Wave” from the first 30 seconds I was like “Wow wow wow wow what the f**k I have to do this.” The vocals are so unique and all the sounds in the song are so unusual, I just found it quite a challenge to remix it and I was keen to do it from the first second I heard it.
JS: You seem to be constantly on tour, like this summer when you traveled the country playing shows. How do you manage to produce new material and put out your podcasts on the road?
Thomas Gold: It’s not always easy. As you said, I’m always on the plane, between hotels, gigs, shows, airports. I have my laptop with me which is my studio and I do my podcasts on planes and in airports. I do the voice recordings in my hotel rooms because I need a little privacy.
Production-wise I try to get my stuff done but there are certain things you can’t do on the road. For example, I just flew in from New York today and I rented a studio three days so that was when I did my production and mixing. This month I have 10 days of studio booked and when I get back to Europe I’ll be in the studio for three weeks so breaks give me a chance to work on my tracks.
JS: In June you were chosen to produce Axtone’s 2012 compilation and it was absolutely fantastic. Tell me a little about how it felt to serve as the face of the label and what went into producing the 33-song double disk compilation.
Thomas Gold: It’s a huge honor for me. Axwell picked me to join him on his label and then my management (which is the same management as Axwell’s) asked me “Would you be up to do this compilation? We’d love to have you do it.” And of course I wanted to do it. They gave me total freedom, they didn’t give me a list of 40 tracks and make me pick. They told me “Do your thing and if you want put your own stuff in.”
So I included my mashups, my edits, and they managed to get the Lady Gaga remix and the Adele remix on there which isn’t easy because of licensing. They made everything happen and for me this is more of a Thomas Gold album or a Thomas Gold story rather than just a compilation. I included some of my very old tracks from when I first started out and I included my favorite edits and bootlegs as well.
It’s just an honor, I’m still getting so much nice feedback from people about it. This whole summer I was touring for this album and it’s just amazing to see that fans really appreciate it. It means a lot to me and I’m really proud of it. When I have the CD in my hands and I show it to my friends and family I’m just so proud.
JS: You’ve produced quite a few tracks with Dirty South like “Eyes Wide Open” and “Alive” that have become huge club bangers. How was it working together in the studio and do you have any plans for more collaborations?
Thomas Gold: So much fun. He’s a really nice guy and when we met the first time he started talking like “Hey man, let’s do something together.” And I was up for the idea so we started exchanging ideas and we just got into the studio together and made “Alive” within four days and it was a big success. Everyone played it and we got a lot of support.
At the moment we’re still talking and nothing’s planned out but you never know, these things can happen so quickly. For example, if we have a festival we play together and we might start talking about having a studio session. You don’t always plan it long-term, it just happens. Dragan and I have both been traveling so much for the last month, we missed each other in Ibiza even though we were both there at the same time. We’ve been talking on Skype and email but it’s not always easy to connect. Let’s see what happens next.
JS: The new Pioneer CDJ-2000 Nexus has stirred up a lot of controversy in the EDM world as DJs have both praised its innovative controls yet criticized its beat syncing feature. What are your feelings on the CDJ and the argument that DJs are becoming simple “button-pushers?”
Thomas Gold: I don’t really understand this whole discussion because so many DJs have a laptop with Traktor or Abelton and the sync function is already included. So why are they discussing now that a CDJ has this function which laptops already integrate. It’s up to you whether to use it or not. I think today it’s not all about putting tracks into sync, it’s also about what tracks you’re going to play, how you mix them, how you blend them, how you feel the crowd.
I mix my stuff myself, I don’t do the sync thing, but even if a DJ has everything synced it’s still a challenge to please a crowd, to challenge a crowd, to make a crowd go crazy. We have a lot of technical support now and you can literally do anything with CDJs. With the new ones you can just put your iPhone next to it and stream the tracks from your iPhone to the CDJ. You don’t even need a USB with that. I would never use my iPhone because I would be afraid to exit the stage and forget it and have someone else take it with all of my material on there.
There’s so many freaky things you can do with computers and technology but I think it’s still about the music. I’m not against using it, I’m using a lot of technology as well in my productions and for preparing my set. And I’m happy to have USBs now because I don’t want to carry a bag of CDs or even vinyls so it’s great to have this technical progress but it’s still up to you what you create out of it. In the end all that counts is that the crowd is having fun.