Introducing : Tom Trago
One of the leaders of the “Amsterdam new school”, Tom Trago has built on the success of his ‘Primary Roots’ 12” from last year by completing his debut album, ‘Voyage Direct’.
Introducing : Tom Trago
Bodytonic spoke to the 26-year-old about learning the ropes on his mother’s piano, combining disco and Detroit and what it means to be releasing his record on Rush Hour…
How long were you working on ‘Voyage Direct’?
All the work was done between October 2007 and December 2008. It was never meant as being an album - it started out as some new tracks for a 12” - but the list got longer and longer, so we decided to put it all together and make it one project.
The two main influences on the album are disco and Detroit house…
Yes, definitely. I also make a lot of other music that can be categorised in other genres. So for this project we put these tracks together because they all have this disco and Detroit feel. I love disco - it is the mother of (everything). And I love the Detroit stuff - especially Theo Parrish and Moodymann. Of course also Carl Craig, Steve Poindexter etc - the list goes on and on and on…
It’s still quite a techno/house record too…
When it comes to genres, I don’t know how to describe music. It is definitely an album with a lot of inspiration drawn from techno and house. I just make music and this is what comes out. I think most off all it has its roots in dance music.
The keys on ‘Lost In The Streets…’ sound great – did you play them?
Yes, I played them on my mother’s old piano. She bought it when she was pregnant with me and gave it to me when I turned 18. It is now in my studio. I recorded it after my friends, Mr Wix and Kid Sublime, heard me play a bit over a beat I did on the MPC. They freaked out and told me to record it. So I did.
Your single with Yuro, ‘Primary Roots’, is a great record – and so is the Redshape remix. Did you feel his remix overshadowed your original?
Not at all. For me they are two really different tracks for two different occasions. I play them both but at other moments of the night. I am happy that it turned out as this. I love 12“s with two bangers! And I love Redshape’s work.
You are described as being part of the ‘new school of Amsterdam producers’ – who else do you rate?
San Proper, Melon, Je Davu, Yuro, Marco and Orpheo, Dekmantel, Kid Sublime, Steven De Peven, INT, Aardvarck…
Amsterdam has a strong history of Detroit-influenced techno. Was this sound an influence on you growing up?
No, not at all. I was born in 1983 so around that time I was about 10 years old and was not really into house and techno. I was more into soul and hip-hop back in the day. I witnessed house for the first time around 2000 when I was 17. But Amsterdam has a rich DJ culture - a lot of different parties with loads of DJs playing old and new stuff. I am inspired by the whole Amsterdam/Detroit vibe here, but was never really influenced by Dutch producers before 2000.
The Italo scene is strong in Holland, thanks to I-F and Clone. Has the Rotterdam sound been an influence?
I really like the stuff on the Clone label and in a way it maybe inspired me. Lately, I’ve been listening more to Italo stuff - but that was after I finished the ‘Voyage Direct’ project. Rotterdam is different then Amsterdam - especially when it comes to the Italo scene.
As a label and record distributor, Rush Hour plays an important role in the Dutch electronic music scene. How did you get involved with them?
It was a really natural development. I got to know (bosses) Christiaan and Antal through Amsterdam’s nightlife, as I was playing a lot in the clubs and I was heavily influenced by them as DJs. At that time (around 2003) I got to know Kid Sublime and we would hang out for long nights in his studio. He showed me how to work on a MPC and SP1200. As he was already releasing records through Rushhour (as Rednose Distrikt), it was quite logical for me to drop my demo tape at their office.
Is it a big deal for you to be releasing on their label? It’s like the Submerge of Europe in a way…
I am very proud that it is an Amsterdam-based label. It couldn’t be better because I love to promote Amsterdam and the cool scene of people here. And that’s also what Rush Hour does. I also love the other stuff they release(d). It is an honour to stand between the other artists.
'Voyage Direct' is released on March 19th.