Tom Hades is a man that does not need much of an introduction. His releases cover all flavours of techno and tech house genres with his productions being released on labels such as Drumcode, Bedrock, 1605, MB Elektronics, and of course his own label Rhythm Converted.
Tom’s DJing and live shows have taken him around the globe and have seen him grace the decks of the likes of Fabric in London, Fabrik in Madrid, Awakenings Festival in Amsterdam and I Love Techno in Ghent, Belgium.
Marco Bailey and Tom met in 2000, and they made the rather huge ‘I Love Techno’ in 2001 which led to Tom beginning to tour across the globe. In 2004 the pair launched their successful Rhythm Convert label, which was later re-launched by Tom as a solo project in 2010 under the name Rhythm Converted.
With a string of releases under his belt in 2014 including ‘Rolly EP’, ‘Backdoors’ and his latest release ‘Love You EP’, Tom’s success looks set to continue. We caught up with Tom during his busy schedule to chat about his music, his studio and what he has planned for 2014.
Hi Tom, many thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to us today. What have you been up to of late?
I have been doing some touring in Japan which was really a nice experience, again! Japan never disappoints, it is for me my number 1 all time!
You were born and raised in Tienen, Belgium. Can you tell us a little about your home town and your first experiences of electronic music?
My home town is known for his sugar factory so all people are sweet! Hahaha! Actually a lot of producers in the techno scene are from the same home town, Redhead, Marco Bailey, Danny Casseau, so I guess the town has some kind of techno feel over it which influences us all to get those pounding tracks out there. My first experiences were actually going out on new wave parties where music from the likes as DAF was played out. This kind of started for me my electronic music impulse.
Who were some of your biggest musical influences whilst growing up?
Like I said before, a lot of stuff coming from the new wave period, evolving to the underground New Beat were my big influences. Off course when talking about the techno which came a bit later on I guess people like CJ Bolland, The Advent, Jeff Mills, influenced me the most.
Belgium has produced some very strong artists over the past few years including Marco Bailey, Aeroplane, Pole Folder and Ramon Tapia. Why do you think Belgium has produced some of the finest exports in terms electronic music?
I have actually no idea why. Maybe there is something in our French fries that makes us do this a bit more easier?!
You met Marco Bailey in 2000 and produced the track ‘I Love Techno’ together in 2001. How did you meet, and how did the co-production come about?
I met Marco through to a common friend Redhead. Redhead was my old school buddy since we have been the age of 12 years old so I know him for many years. At that period he was already producing tracks with Marco and an opportunity arrived when Marco needed to have some urgent studio time to finish off a release, and since Redhead wasn’t able at that moment I jumped in. I was doing some studio stuff already at my place so it was not really new to me, except then working with a guy who has been in the scene a lot longer than me.
If you could work with any producer who would you choose to work with and why?
I think I would love to work once with Gary Beck or Slam. Both are my favourite producers at the moment and I must say that I’m curious how their workflow is looking like. As a producer you are always interested in finding new things and methods which might be helpful on the next projects.
In terms of music production do you begin the production of a track with a solid idea? What are some of the first elements you lay down in the studio?
Actually I never start with an idea. I just started with some synthesis and/or sampling things which leads me to the main idea. From that point on everything flows out. If it doesn’t for me in the time period of 1 hour I’m sure the idea will not work. I literally throw it away then so it will not get into my creativity process.
What do you feel are the most important elements to a techno and tech house track, and how do you go about constructing them in the studio?
I guess everyone knows that a good kick and bass line is the foundation of every track in tech house and techno. If those fit together perfectly the base is there and all the rest can be added gradually. I always start with finding a bassline on top of the synthesis I’ve been experimenting with. Once this is there I start fiddling around with multiple layers of kicks to get the perfect high, mid and low end on it.
Can you talk us through your home studio, and what hardware/software you go to first when producing a track?
My home studio exists of some hardware which I actually don’t use anymore. Sometimes I start fiddling around a bit with an old synth but basically I always do most of my stuff on my laptop. Later on I go in the studio to do the final mixing and tweaking the last details. Software based I recently moved to Reason 7 which for me gives me back the best emulated feeling of a hardware studio. When I started with this a long time ago there were no real computers and the only software that existed was either tracker software either midi sequencers, so everything else was hardware and much more limited then nowadays. But it also created much more creativity in the studio since you had to do everything with only some stuff which you had at your disposal. So to get back this feeling Reason is for me the best choice. Don’t get me wrong, every piece of software out there has good and bad things. Ableton is still my preferred choice for quick ideas. The latter one feels like the jamming tool for the electronic musician. A bit like a guitar player would take his guitar, a drummer would get behind his drum etc.
Where do you find your sounds when working on a track? Do you record them yourself or do you use pre pre-recorded sounds?
I always try fiddle with basic synths and make my own sounds. Sometimes I layer some additional samples on top or below the main sound to get that extra body in the sound. It is important for me to get something unique so synthesis is the way to go.
In 2010 you decided to launch your label Rhythm Converted. How come Rhythm Convert was brought to an end, and what made you decide to go solo with your own label?
The end was a decision I took together with Marco because we had in 2 years’ time 3 distribution companies that went bankrupt, and so we had to invest so much own money to pay the artists. We lost a lot of money at the same time so we were literally fed up with everything. But after a couple of years I felt like it was time to get it back on track. Since Marco was already doing 3 other labels at that moent I decided to go on my own. So here we are.
Do you have any plans to start a sister label that would focus on the sounds you would not get to release on Rhythm Converted, such as tracks like ‘SDX’ which was featured on your album, ‘The Missing Touch’?
I’ve been thinking about doing some kind of sub label based on colours which will be identifying which kind of track you can expect. So pure electronica and ambient stuff has always interested me. Well actually, I just love music in the global way. I can listen to a lot of stuff, only EDM is not really my cup of tea.
As a DJ that travels all over the globe can you tell us about some of your favourite places to DJ and which crowds do you feel give you the best response?
For me my all time number one will be Japan. I love the atmosphere and the crowd is always so willing to have a good time so it is the perfect 2 way interaction between the crowd and the DJ. It lifts the night up to another level. On the second place a lot of South American countries will be sharing the spot : Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, they all have their own character.
You used to only play live sets but now you DJ as well. Can you tell us about the hardware/software you use for both?
As for the live sets, it has been a while since I did one so I’m still searching for a good blend between software and hardware. But I will get there, I’m sure! As for my DJ sets I use Pioneer CDJ’s with USB and I started recently to add the Pioneer RMX 1000 in my sets as an addition to get that extra touch.
Is there any one track that you simply never leave home without?
I guess almost every track from Gary Beck, is for me, a must have in my sets. They can be used in so many ways; pure pounding techno sets as well as some cool tech house summer vibe set. Gary for president!!!
There has been much talk of late about how heavy touring schedules can really take its toll on a person. Has there ever been a period in your career when you have felt that the touring is too much, and you just need to get back home and take a break?
Not really actually. It is indeed heavy. You can only notice that your body and mind is getting adapted to a way of living when you take somebody with you on tour who is not used to it. Then you see how “normal” people need more sleep and need more time to recover. Due to the heavy touring your own bio rhythm is getting completely lost so I guess that is the only downfall for me. As an advice : if you love to sleep long and well see this as a blessing because for me personally sleeping more then 3-4 hours a day is a difficult thing.
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring young DJ, what would it be and why?
Believe in yourself and your own mixes. Try them out, even if you don’t play out yet in clubs play them for your friends. Listen to your preferred DJs and try to figure out why they have such a good feeling in their sets because this is probably what makes them stand out. And if possible try to get a resident spot in a club. Opening a club is the most difficult set of the night so if you are getting better and better at this you will become a good mood catcher and crowd pleaser.
What do you do to relax when away from the fast paced world of an international DJ and producer?
I love to cook some stuff, the more exotic, the better. It gives me some kind of relaxed feeling because of the slow process I guess. We are living a rushed society so everything that gets the pace down is a good thing!
What are your current top 10 tracks?
1. Gary Beck feat Debra Debs – Power
2. Tom Hades – Atmosphera
3. Adam Beyer – Teach Me
4. Pig & Dan – Sandstorm
5. Slam – Pattern A3 (Charles Fenckler Remix)
6. Sound Associates – Boombox (Len Faki)
7. Roy El Kei – Falbe
8. The Welderz – Perfect Ending
9. Sam Paganini – Cosmo
10. Tom Hades – Beerkes
Finally, what else do you have planned for the remainder of 2014?
I’m going to do some more touring of the album and then I’m going to lay back a bit and start working in the studio on my next album. I want to have some time off and do some studio stuff before heading back on the next flights.
01. Alan Fitzpatrick – Memories Of A Time Past But Long Forgotten
02. Tom Hades – Tikkie
03. Tom Hades – Evolution
04. Uto Karem feat Eddie Amador – Music In Speakers
05. Tom Hades – Tubular
06. Skober – Does Not Matter
07. Marco Resmann – Basic Motion
08. Roy El Kei – Falbe
09. Radio Slave – I Don’t Need A Cure For This (Kenny Larkin Remix)
10. Sam Paganini – Dusty
11. Johannes Heil – Transition Six
12. The Welderz – Perfect Ending
13. Traumer – Hoodlum
14. Adam Beyer – Teach Me