The Belgian techno master brings the world his incredible debut solo album – ‘Missing Touch’
Interview : Dan Prince
Belgian waffles. Belgian chocolate. Tom Hades. Some things don’t need much of an explanation. Such is the case with the Belgian Techno maestro, whose career is moving him towards legendary status. Covering all flavours within the techno and tech house genres with his productions released on respected labels such as Adam Beyer’s Drumcode, John Digweed’s Bedrock, Umek’s 1605, and long-time collaborator Marco Bailey’s MB Elektronics, it’s obvious that Tom Hades can tackle all dimensions of the sound with unparalleled ease. Never one to shy away from globetrotting, Tom Hades’ DJing and live shows have taken him around the world a multitude of times. From Fabric in London to Fabrik in Madrid, and from Awakenings to I Love Techno, his work ethic demonstrates a literal tour de force. Tom Hades started to discover and experiment with electronic music when listening to the likes of DAF, Kraftwerk and Front 242 in his formative years. At the age of 15, he bought his first keyboard, the famous Casio CZ-101, transformed his Amiga 500 into a digital audio workstation, and started creating music. Having met Marco Bailey in 2000, they made the huge anthem “I Love Techno” in 2001, a global phenomenon that led to Tom starting to do live performances and playing all over the world. In 2004 they launched the successful Rhythm Convert label, which was re-launched in 2010 as Rhythm Converted, a solo project run by Tom alone. Having already attracted many big artists, the label is moving ever upwards in the global techno scene. Having released his debut artist album, “Rude Boy”, in collaboration with Marco Bailey in 2004, they followed up with “E=mc2” in 2009 on MB Elektronics. Both albums were critically acclaimed around the world, and were stepping stones towards “The Missing Touch”, the first solo album from Tom Hades .DMC gets stuck in with another exclusive…
Tom welcome to DMCWORLD, where in the world are you right now?
“At this moment I’m at my place getting ready for a big week at ADE ! I’m launching my album there so I’m very happy & stressed at the same time !”
14 stunning tracks make up your wonderful new album – ‘Missing Touch’ – please can you give us a few words on each of your babies…!
01. Morning Rise
”As every day starts this is a track that gives me the impression of starting the day slowly but with enough energy to get things going!”
“The track is named because of the descending use of filters instead of the usual build up filters used heavily in tracks nowadays. Every descend stops with a small melody which cuts in and introduces the next chapter.”
“This track is more up-tempo but without the need for heavy hi-hats and percussion. Just let the sounds and bass line do their thing and follow the flow!”
04. Full Stop
“To give a good full stop and get the attention back from the people to the more emotional part, this track is done with nothing more then a good full stop towards the next chapter in my album.”
05. Substantial Madness
“The use of a lot of hi-hats and percussion tracks that have a very sequential feeling makes this track a perfect blend between a good standalone track and a usable tool for everyone’s DJ set”
06. Holy Shit
“Holy Shit is the main vocal hook used in this track that is built up completely to function with the vocals. Every vocal is placed in a way that it is a question/answer system between the sounds and the vocals. It’s like a big conversation.”
“By refusing to accept all rules written on how to write a traditional track, Revolt is doing its own thing with a sound that starts off slowly and builds more and more until it literally explodes. It only builds once and that is all the track needs, not over doing it…”
08. Velvet Radio
“The track is build from different small pieces of existing loops which in the end create a whole new groove. This groove is the base of the track where the “Radio” part is chosen because the filters in the breakdowns are based on an old school radio sound.”
In music, different styles can give you a good feeling. Depending on the mood of the day these styles can differ. Silence is something that will always work as a part of life where a human being will stand still and think about things in a more concentrated way. Silently is a musical way to express how to slowly start thinking and eventually get more & more brain activity.
10. The Missing Touch
The title track or the track where it all started: I was building this track and it had been on my hard drive for a long time with so many version all with different melody hooks, but nothing worked like I wanted it to, until I found “The Missing Touch”. The string section is actually this missing touch.
11. A Sensitive Alternative To Painting
A bit in the same vein as The Missing Touch, this track is a kind of perfect use of techno based percussion and loops and with string sections that are normally not really intended to be part of a techno track. It takes you on a journey where you can discover always something more in the track if you listen closely.
“Aether in Greek mythology means the upper sky or space or heaven. It was the air breathed by the Olympians so it is actually one of the unknown elements besides water, fire and earth. It has something mystical around it and in the vocal version of the track you can listen to the lyrics that represent the mystical part of a guy who is far from and at the same time close to the love of his life.”
“Maybe MIDI is a bit of a lost technology nowadays, but when I started the only way to exchange data between different instruments was with the use of midi-dump files in a Simmons SDX system format. I think we sometimes forget our roots and forget how creative we could be at that moment.”
14. Final Call
“How to explain…this track is my view on maybe my last call on earth one day. I hope it doesn’t happen soon, but if one day it happens (and it will eventually) it would be a perfect end for me, if people should remember me, why not this way?”
How long did the album take to create?
“It took me about 18 months to complete all the tracks. Sometimes it was going really good, but for some tracks I think I made maybe 50 different versions. And at the end, the tracks that made it to the album are still a selection out of about 60 different tracks. So it was still a difficult task to get things done.”
Trying to work towards perfection is always a key issue for every artist, especially the ones with such a huge passion for their art – are you 100% happy with the album?
“At this point I’m really happy with the album. I’ve listened to it a thousand times already and somehow it never ever bores me at all. I have the impression that it has all the elements on the correct spot and I really think a lot of people will be surprised about the result. I’ve been known for my whole career of doing strong techno tracks but on the album the more down tempo tracks are an expression of a big passion of mine: doing experimental melodic stuff and playing around with techno elements on top of it.”
What are your plans for ADE?
“During ADE I have a lot of meetings, interviews, gigs etc. but the most important thing will be my album launch on Sunday 20th of October in Odeon Club. It is a small club but I wanted to have a family atmosphere with people around me who have been supporting me over all these years! So a big thanks to all of them out there”
How do you overcome writer’s block, I know of one producer who listens to Country & Western music really loud, he says after 30 minutes of listening to that awful music, making techno is easy!!
“The best way for me to overcome writer’s block is to do something completely different and not get involved at all with music. I tend to do some cooking or some jobs in my house that I probably wouldn’t do if I didn’t have this writer block. It doesn’t happen much though, so I still have a lot of things I need to do besides sitting in the studio!”
What is your favourite festival story of 2013?
“My favourite festival in 2013 must have been the one in Rhodes. I never expected such a big crowd and such a big atmosphere over there, I was literally surprised in a positive way because I never expected that a mix of different tourists and ages could make a techno set so enjoyable for everyone. Even today I get messages on Facebook from new people who apparently were there and loved it. Especially there was one on Twitter I remember: a father told me that I “brainwashed” their children and that at this moment they are completely in love with techno! For me that’s: job done!”
A quote from a famous DJ this month… “It was different when I started out back in the day, there was no glamour side of travelling around the world, getting paid fortunes for gigs, it was all about the music. I think people get into it for all the wrong reasons today.” What are your thoughts on that…?
“It is true. Like I said before, I think sometimes we forget where we came from. I think for everyone who is involved with music starts from a kind of a passion for the music. If you forget about this during the growth of your career I think you are in the music for the wrong reasons. Don’t misunderstand me, I understand if you have to make a living from music it becomes more and more difficult, but it should never be THE reason why you start doing this in the first place.”
You have a great working relationship with Marco Bailey – how do you two compliment each other in the studio, I read somewhere you called it “technical vs musical knowledge!”?
“It’s true that we are complementary in the studio: Marco is the more musical guy who has such a long career behind him already and he has a lot of music experience in all kinds of styles. As for me, I’m more the technical guy who loves new “toys” (in terms of software, hardware or whatever it might be) and I love to experiment with those things to get to the point that I can achieve what is in Marco’s head music-wise.”
What is the current top 10 you are spinning?
1. Tom Hades – Velvet Radio
2. Marco Bailey & Redhead – Chrome Bullet
3. Gary Beck – Big Smoke
4. Harvey Mckay – Lost
5. Lowkey & Kardinal – Bells Angel
6. Slam – Astrolabe
7. Ovi M – Brain Damage
8. Hans Bouffmyhre – Pulsing
9. Axel Karakasis – Hush
10. Tom Hades – Revolt
I interviewed Kaz James this week, something he said was kind of interesting…”I don’t think it’s necessary these days to actually be a good DJ like it was 15 years ago at the start of my career. These days you can get away with pressing play on a laptop.” Discuss?
“I don’t think it is worth another discussion, I think the only thing you need to be able to do is to give people a good time, whether it is now by pressing a button or spinning a record. Of course, spinning a record is always more interesting for everyone to see as well as to hear in comparison to only pressing a button! But still, let the music speak and let the people judge. But a small remark to the people: don’t forget why you go out, have fun and listen and be open to some new music! This is the way you will be more satisfied after a party…”
Okay let’s find something out about you musically…
The song you wish you had created?
“I wish I could have been the creator of ‘Crispy Bacon’ from Laurent Garnier. It was and still is my favourite song, which is probably one of the reasons why I got really, really interested in techno.”
The song that you made that you are most proud of?
“I guess that must be the collaboration with Marco on Bedrock called Stars & Shines. When I was in Argentina earlier this year the promoter asked me to play this song at the end, I normally don’t do “jukebox requests” but I did this because it was right for the moment. And as soon as I started the song the crowd started singing along to the track! That gave me goosebumps!”
The song that makes you cry?
“I think that must be Music Is Math from Boards Of Canada – still one of my favourite songs with a lot of emotion inside. Listen to it and you will agree! But I have a second one which comes really close and which is also from a Belgian producer: Stromae. The track is Formidable – what a song! Simple but so effective!”
A cheesy song you secretly sing-a-long to in the car?
“I think the track One from Swedish House Mafia must have been one of those cheesy songs that still takes me into some kind of “sing-a-long” mood. But don’t worry, I’m not playing it out!”
And finally, what is coming out next from you studio wise?
“At the moment I’m concentrating on the album, but next up will be a new collaboration with Petter B on his label Bond with some straightforward techno tracks. Already supported by Adam Beyer in his sets this seems to be a big one coming up!”
Tom Hades – The Missing Touch (Rhythm Converted) is released 28/10/13
Digital (+2 Bonus Tracks) & 2×12” Vinyl (+1 Bonus Track)
You can download an exclusive free album teaser mix here:
View exclusive Album Videos here: www.tomhades.com
Rhythm Converted ADE Party: https://www.facebook.com/events/257208047737482/?ref=ts&fref=ts
Sunday 20th October from 14:00 – 22:00
Tom Hades Facebook: http://on.fb.me/olpTkf