Photo by Lars Borges
In many ways Thomas Koch is living the techno pundit’s dream. After nearly a decade developing a following as DJ T., the Frankfurt-based jock founded Groove magazine, a vastly influential voice in techno/house journalism, in 1989. Serving as its publisher (as he still does today), Koch also found time to operate the Monza club in Frankfurt, launch the eventually massive Get Physical Music (with Booka Shade and M.A.N.D.Y.), and begin releasing his own tracks. As Koch reveals below, these accomplishments were long in coming and seem developed with the same audience-attuned approach informing his sought after mixes. T was kind enough to provide us with more than a morsel of his signature, light and groovy tech-house blends for our exclusive 27th podcast. Don’t miss this one if you’re craving summer spirits.
LWE Podcast 27: DJ T. (90:11)
01. Madioko ‘N’ Rafika, “Ellielli” (Kalabrese remix) [Innervisions]
02. Brooks, “Iwanchu” [Aus Music]
03. Ekkohaus ft. Robert Würz, “Not Trying To” [Brut!]
04. Soul Minority, “Plough Hand” [Kolour Recordings]
05. Varoslav, “Party Boy” [Composite Records]
06. Jayson Brothers, “Monster Box” [MCDE]
07. DJ T., “Bateria” (Thomas Schumacher remix) [Get Physical]
08. Thomas Schumacher, “NYC” [Get Physical]
09. Tiger Stripes, “Me & I” [Get Digital]
10. Rampa, “Wife” [Keinemusik]
11. Loko, “Scarlet House” [Soulman Music]
12. Leon, “In Da Factory” [Viva Music]
13. Buraka Som Sistema, “IC 19” (James Talk remix) [Fabric]
14. Art Of Tones, “Call The Shots” (MCDE remix) [unreleased]
15. Rodriguez Jr., “Kids Of Hula” [Leena Music]
16. Glimpse & Alex Jones, “Cambria” [Kindisch]
When/where did you make the mix? Is there any concept involved?
DJ T.: I did the mix a couple weeks ago. To deliver really fresh and unheard stuff to your followers, I only used recently released or even unreleased tracks that I got via digi-promo or directly from some DJ/producer-companions. Even if it’s only 90 minutes, I wanted to try to tell a little story instead of giving the listener the impression this mix is just a cutout from a standard club mix.
When DJing, what’s the balance between playing what you want love/want to hear vs. what you think the crowd wants to hear? How important is it to play to the crowd’s demands (‘play Jamie Jones ‘Summertime”!’ or similar even when you don’t want to) compared with what you think they might like?
I come from the old school of DJing. Most DJs who started in the 80’s had to learn how to really please crowds with a certain selection of music. Over the past 20 years the relation between “pleasing” and “teaching” was more and more changing in the whole DJ culture, which is generally a good development. The only problem is this: Many DJs, who think they have the skills to teach and guide a crowd, just overrate themselves and these sets can get really boring because they are just playing for themselves. When I spin, I always try to feel the vibe of the crowd, of the venue, of the moment, and then I have a spontaneous feeling what is the right sound for the moment. If I discover that I am wrong I make some compromises, but only in a limited range. To answer your last question, I would never play a track just because its requested, but if I think it suits, I’m always doing this favor. In the end you have to make the people dance, that’s your job and the people and the promoters paid their money for it.
A lot of DJs have made the switch to Serato-like setups rather than transport their vinyl. Do you think the debate on vinyl vs. mp3 DJing is drawing to a close? Why or why not?
I think the analogue vs digital-debate is definitely coming to an end by next year, yes. Simply because almost nobody will be spinning with vinyl anymore; I know many hardcore-vinyl-lovers who changed this year after a long fight with themselves. Some of them, though — and me too — will still digitize vinyl as long as long as there are good vinyl-only-releases, and respectively as long they think it has the better sound. Instead the debate bill be between “CD vs. laptop” and “only laptop vs. laptop + vinyl or cd-player.”
Reading the credits on your records, you’ve collaborated with a lot of great producers like Prosumer, Thomas Schaumacher, Ian Pooley, Sasse. How do you choose your collaborators, and why have you favored collaboration over working solo?
Simply because I never found the time to really get into the techniques; to be honest, I don’t have a good relationship to computers. Instead I’d rather spend my time on listening to shitloads of fresh music of many different styles to stay inspired and focused on what I want to make and expanding my sound-archives with samples from my 20,000 piece viny collection and many other sources.
Do all techno journalists end up producing?
I only know one other except myself and that’s Gavin Herlihy [Phil Sherburne comes to mind -nb], so I guess the answer is “no.” But I would rather ask the question, “Do all DJs end up becoming producers?” I’ve been DJing for 23 years now, years before I founded the Groove Magazine. I always wanted more than just playing the music; in the late 80’s I was already dreaming of my own label and productions. But I had to wait a long time till I felt the time was right for it.
Download: LWE Podcast 27: DJ T. (90:11)