Tobtok is one of the leading names in the new wave of Swedish DJ / producers and my, he’s been busy since our last interview with him. His cover of ‘Fast Car’ went double-platinum in Australia, his Ministry signed tracked ‘Aber’ is approaching 6 million stream on Spotify, and he’s now turning heads with an edgier, darker side of production in latest track ‘As I Sleep’ (ft Charlee) with Adrian Lux – a track receiving heavy support from the likes of Pete Tong, Tiesto, Camelphat, Watermat, Disciples, TCTS and more. Before heading off on his second American tour and landing in Ibiza at Ushuaia with Kygo on 29th July, we caught up the young Swede to find out more. Here he chats about his new sound, secret weapons, and playing Battle Royale-themed shooting games with Oliver Nelson…
Tobias, welcome back to DMC. It was in 2014 that we last spoke when you’d just released Higher, dropped by Pete Tong & Zane Lowe. What are your top three career highlights from then until now?
Time flies by! It’s been a few interesting years since then with ups and downs, but I feel very happy with what I’ve achieved so far, and the music seems to be progressing in the right direction. I did a cover of “Fast Car” which sold double-platinum in Australia and opened a lot of doors for me, which I’m very grateful for. After that came “Aber” released on Ministry Of Sound which is a track I’m very proud of. Lastly, I would say that a definite highlight were my gigs at Ushuaïa where I got to share stage with dance-music’s finest Avicii, Martin Garrix, Zedd and more.
Massive congrats on the success of As I Sleep with Adrian Lux. It captures an edgier side to your production that we haven’t heard before. Is this a change in direction for you or just experimenting with new styles?
Thanks a lot! The direction I took with “As I Sleep” is actually something I’ve wanted to get into and explore for quite some time now but feel like I had to mature a bit musically before diggin’ into that sound properly. I love being across different genres and will never stick to just one sound but I definitely wanna explore this new side of Tobtok as it got praised amongst the fans who are usually used to a more disco and pop-influenced style from me.
How do you feel when you hear things like, Pete Tong’s played your record, or that you’ve hit 1 million streams on Spotify? Do you feel lucky / overwhelmed?
Most definitely overwhelmed! Pete Tong is a legend and being on his radar is a huge deal in the dance-world. I feel very blessed to be acknowledged by him. As I’m writing this, the streams are raking up to 1.5 million streams which is amazing for a club-oriented record. It’s always refreshing to see a track that’s not following the usual formula to make waves on streaming platforms!
You’ve got a tour of the states coming up, your first in 2 years. What’s the scene like over there? Does it differ from elsewhere in the world? Where are you most looking forward to playing?
Yes! Super-excited to be back in the states. It will be my first time ever performing in NY, Portland and LA, as well as coming back to one of my favourite places, San Francisco. The scene is great for sure, there’s a lot of dedicated fans over there and they love a good party, so I can’t wait! It’s actually very different from city to city what the vibe is so I can’t really tell yet how it will be. In terms of which gig I’m looking most forward to I’m a bit torn between the NY and LA gigs because I’ve been dreaming of going to both places for years now, but if I had to pick one I would probably have to say NY just because I recently binged Seinfeld again hehe.
And you’re returning to Ibiza this summer to play at Ushuaia, this time with Kygo on 29th July. What do you like to get up to on that magical island? Got anything special up your sleeve for your that set?
There’s a place I always talk about when Ibiza comes up, a little restaurant at the end of Talamanca beach called “Fish Shack”. I ate there 2 years ago and to date it’s hand down the best fish I’ve ever had. Sadly, I haven’t found the time to go back there but this time I’ll make sure to swing by! For the gig I have a few secret weapons that I’ve been collecting during this year that I will shoot off as well as some unreleased material. I really look forward to going back to Ushuaïa.
Speaking of a Tobtok DJ set – does it differ from your nu disco-style production?
Yes, it does actually! I generally tend to play a bit more underground usually, but it also varies from venue to venue and set times etc. I think where my heart lies the most when it comes to DJing is more classic disco and deep-house, but like my music I prefer to mix it up and be across different genres.
There’s a follow up to As I Sleep with your fellow Swede, Adrian Lux, in the making too, right?
We have a few ideas for a potential follow up but are yet to get started with it!
On the subject of Swedes, you’re still regularly producing with your long-time studio buddy, Oliver Nelson. What do the two of you get up to when you’re not working?
We do a lot of things together as we’re very close friends but recently we’ve been playing PUBG together between work. It’s a Battle Royale-themed shooting game which is very addictive and fun.
We spotted you at the Brighton Music Conference back in April. What did you make of that? Go to any interesting seminars or parties?
The funny thing about that is that I actually had no idea that it was going on at the time. I was there for a session with George Kwali and got to meet a few friends in the industry afterwards which was very fun. I’ve never been to Brighton before and only had a day there so couldn’t have had a better workday there. I only managed to visit one party which was the Data Transmission 10th Birthday before I had to head back to London.
You’re still only young, in your mid-twenties, yet you’ve achieved so much. What do you want to achieve by the time you’re 30?
Why thank you! I feel like I have so much more to give to the music-world and would like to do so until I’m old and grey. By the time I’m 30 I would love to have a cool residency somewhere as well as having my own studio in Stockholm. I feel like I’m blessed to be able to work with this full-time and I just want to keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully grow bigger and reach more corners of the world.
We asked you this last time, so we must ask again, what are the big 5 tunes in your box this weekend?
1. Neiked – Old School Love
2. Kungs & Stargate ft. GOLDN – Be Right Here
3. Simon Field ft. The Endorphines – Out Of The Blue
4. Just Kiddin – Body Talk
5. Ferdinand Weber – Nobody (Frank & Friedrich Remix)
Thanks Tobias, a pleasure as always.
Thanks for having me!
‘As I Sleep’ by Tobtok & Adrian Lux ft. Charlee is out now on Perfect Havoc Records