Thomas Koch better known as DJ T. has a track record for starting big things in electronic music. As a DJ he held residencies in some of Frankfurts classic clubs such as Dorian Gray and The Box, before branching out with friends to establish the highly regarded club Monza. He also founded and ran Germany’s excellent Groove magazine for over a decade, and six years ago he established Get Physical, a label boasting other German superstars M.A.N.D.Y. and Booka Shade. And the dude can breakdance!
As far as I can see you are a Sonar virgin (playing on the official program for the first time), what are you expecting from this year's festival?
As a visitor, this will be my sixth Sonar in a row now. Worldwide it was always the festival for me, which had the most ambitioned approach to show a wide range of music, and important new influences in all styles of modern electronic dance and other music.
To combine three things: a visit in Barcelona, to get in to see so many music performances, and to meet and greet business partners and friends of the whole world, its the best you can get. I’ve learned to love the city of Barcelona more and more over these years. It’s definetely my favourite city in Europe.
I chose the release date for my first album deliberately to be one week before Sonar. With this whole background, you can imagine, to be invited to the play at the festival for the first time, has a very special meaning to me. I hope, that the range of music, especially of the huge universe of 4/4-beats, will be as varied and sophisticated as in the years before, because, to be honest, from my perspective this was a bit missing in the last year for the first time in Sonar history. I hope, the festival will go on for ever. It is always the climax of the whole year for musical inspiration and party.
Sonar is a truly international event – how is the scene different in other cities to that of Berlin?
I don’t want to hype it in a superficial way – but for electronic music Berlin is in fact becoming the major capital in Europe at the moment. And not only because more and more labels, DJs, producers and other important key persons and institutions are still moving from all over the world to here.
It’s a certain kind of energy and creativity in the city and – what is the most important – an intense and very respectfully creative exchange between all the activists. Of course London and Paris are still big and influencing, but all in all I think Berlin deserves to be called the freshest. This applies also to the clubscene of Berlin. In my eyes it never was more varied and energetic like today.
What is your favourite festival memory?
I had so many crazy moments there, It’s hard to point out a single one. The most intense musical live experience (probably of my whole life) I had after I had lost all my friends in the big halls of Sonar by night, stumbling in a concert of Sigur Ros with 12 people on stage. I was hypnotized and falling in a kind of trance over this concert, because of the effect of the head voice of the singer in combination with this wall of sound psycho rock. Another was to get robbed coming from an after after hours at Sonar 2002 by a professional gang – and not to care about it so much – while I was kissing a lovely girl from Barcelona in the park.
How do you change your style when playing to festivals rather than nightclubs?
It’s always the same: if you play at a big event, you mostly have not more than two hours playtime. In the club sometimes you play more than four hours in a row. You pack your case different. If you play at a festival or big event, you are seduced to play on a very high energy level. If you play in a club, you can play in curves, up and down, up and down. To play a long club set is of course the king discipline, because it needs higher skills to be good at this. Sonar I think is kind of an exception from other festivals. Although it is a big festival, you can play more experimental, because you know, that the people really come for the music in the first place and are interested in getting surprised.
The Sonar programme includes features on art, multimedia and technology. How do you think advances in these areas affect the music industry and the music you play?
It would take too much time to name all the changes in the music industry of today, caused by these and other aspects. I don’t care about this so much. My music isn’t influenced by this as much, least my technical way of spinning, except maybe the very fast availability of new productions of producers I am connected too and the fact, that the percentage of tracks I play from CD (because of using MP3 data instead of viny) is growing more and more.
Sonar has a reputation for pushing new frontiers – What are you looking forward to catching at this year's festival?
M.I.A., after there was such a buzz about her, I have to see, whether she is worth it. LCD Soundsystem, Matthew Herbert, Laurent Garnier and the Gomma Showcase
How will you be spending your time in Barcelona when not playing?
I will live this week like always. Let off all mental and physical handbrakes, go to as many parties as I can, get fat by tapas and San Miguel and forget all my stupid German sorrows for one week.
Finally, will you be launching any new music at Sonar this year? Can you give RA a heads-up on anything to keep an ear out for, or anything else on the horizon for you and Get Physical in 2005?
A fantastic album from Chelonis R. Jones is coming up. Tiga is currently remixing the first single. Chelonis´ first singles on GPM “One & One” and “I don´t know” did very well, and on his album he shows even more aspects of his multiple personality. He´ll do some live gigs in fall, I´m sure it´ll be a very dramatic show of one big drama queen.
There is coming a 12” by Booka Shade with 3 bombs going off at once. Be prepared for major damage on the dancefloor. Another explosive from a new artist named Willzoid is coming later in the year and I really look forward to the remixes for the 12”-releases of my album “Boogie Playground”, that are coming from Joakim, Manhead, Putsch 79 and Adonis.
DJ. T’s new album ’Boogie Playground’ is released today (6 June 2005) on Get Physical.
DJ. T plays Sonar by Day on 16 June, and if you can’t wait that long, you can catch him at The End on Saturday 11 June.
This interview is part of RA’s exclusive 2005 Sonar Prologue interview series - check out the others below;
2005 Sonar Prologue with Jeff Mills
2005 Sonar Prologue with Richie Hawtin
2005 Sonar Prologue with Miss Kittin
2005 Sonar Prologue with Headman
2005 Sonar Prologue with Booka Shade
2005 Sonar Prologue with DJ Yoda
2005 Sonar Prologue with Ellen Allien
2005 Sonar Prologue with Basteroid
2005 Sonar Prologue with Ada
2005 Sonar Prologue with Damain Lazarus
2005 Sonar Prologue with Mu
2005 Sonar Prologue with James Murphy