DJ are humans, behind ever successful release, every facebook page with 50,000+ likes and behind every Soundcloud account there is a person that dedicated thousands of hours to crafting electronic music and hopefully playing it for the club goers all over the world.
We pulled up a chair recently with the talented Ramon Tapia as he told us why parents should be encouraging, what he would work with if he wouldn’t become a DJ and Producer, about his new EP on his own Say What? imprint, his plans for 2014, and why he’s hoping Chile don’t play Holland at the upcoming World Cup…
HMWL I believe you were almost close to giving up on electronic music at one stage…
Ramon: Yeah, there were many personal reasons, but it was actually my mom who encouraged me not to give up on something I loved doing. So that boost really helped me put things back on track. But yeah, I was close to giving it all up, and for obvious reasons I’m glad I didn’t!
HMWL What would you have done if you hadn’t stuck it out? You’re very interested in jewelry, right?
Ramon: Yeah, I studied as a jeweler and diamond cutter. I probably would have continued with my craft and repaired jewelry, but I always loved doing that too so if my DJ career was to end oen day then that’s what I’d get back into. To be honest, I think just being creative makes me happy. Seeing something creative grow out of nothing makes me happy, it’s almost therapeutic, hehe!
HMWL Your folks were cool with it all then?
Ramon: Well, in the beginning my folks hated it, but they just said, if this is your choice stick with it and try to be the best you can with it. So they didn’t always agree, but they definitely supported me along the way. Now they’re delighted with how it’s worked out, but still, it’s hard work to keep up!
HMWL Did you first move to Antwerp as a student then?
Ramon: Yea i started studying in Antwerp at an age of 15, so that’s a while ago now. To be honest, music was never a major motivation in that regard back then; everything just evolved from that step of my life really. Three years after I started studying I made my first EP…
HMWL Was Belgium a sort of melting pot of cultures and sounds back then in a similar way to how Berlin is nowadays?
Ramon: Yes it was! There were so many things that were hot here …but mostly the music that came from Belgium was really highly respected worldwide. Belgium still is a melting pot of cultures and sounds, but not that hot and steamy as back in the day. But who knows? Maybe this will come back with the big stream of new Belgian artists popping up everywhere.
HMWL Are the hometown gigs still your favourite?
Ramon: Yea they are. Playing a home match is always cool and fun. No stress, no hassle, just music, drinks and friends – which mostly ends up with a huge hangover the day after!
HMWL So who will you be cheering on in the World Cup in 2014? Holland or Belgium? Or Chile?!
Ramon: Hahaha good one! Chile and Holland of course! It would be amazing to have a final with Chile and Holland. My parent’s house would be too small for that match and my dad’s yelling at the TV though!
HMWL Loyalties aside, the past few months have been really great for you. Musically, what’s been the highlight?
Ramon: I think one of the big ones this year was being asked by Carl Cox to play for his Revolution Recruits night in Ibiza. What a huge honor that was. Also, the energy he spreads is just awesome – ‘nuff said!
HMWL Are you at a stage where you think you’ve achieved nearly all of your wildest dreams where electronic music is concerned? Or are these still a host of other things you’d like to do?
Ramon: The sky is the limit. There are always new things to achieve; I mean it would be lame to say I did it all because in my eyes I’ve just scratched the surface. So there is way much more to learn and a lot of work to do yet.
HMWL Going back to the start, why electronic music in particular? What was it about the genre that so interested you?
Ramon: It was all pretty organic, but if I had to pinpoint something, it’d be the rawness and freedom you have when making electronic music. You can go anywhere with it and there are no real rules at all. Some off-tune things often sound amazing for example. Anything is possible with it, which is why I LOVE IT!
HMWL Was there one DJ/rave etc that really blew you away when you were younger?
Ramon: Yeah, Dave Clarke at I Love Techno in 1998. This one went straight down memory lane, it was an amazing night that instantly made me want to make my own music. The intense feeling I had on that night is almost impossible to describe. Now, 16 years later, the dude is still rocking it hard! Lots of respect for him.
HMWL Who taught you how to produce then? Or are you entirely self-taught?
Ramon:I learned it all by watching others work. In the beginning it was just like sitting in the studio observing the guys work and trying things out when I got home. Trial and error are the best ways to learn anything, and to be really honest, I loved that time everyday where there was so much info to process I didn’t know where to start.
HMWL You’ve worked on everything from minimal techno to house to electro-inclined stuff. Do you actively seek out new sounds? Or do you just go to the studio and see what happens?
Ramon: I make music because I love it. So if what comes out is a bit techier or whatever you want to call it, it’s fine with me. I just love the pleasure of creating something new and seeing this grow from scratch. Searching for new sounds is always a part of making new things, so ideas can come from anywhere…TV, YouTube, radio, other genre’s of music etc.
HMWL You’ve a new EP out now on Say What? actually. How often do you feel the need to produce on the label? And what’s the most satisfying thing about running your own label?
Ramon: It depends on the mood. As every producer knows, some days just suck in the studio and it’s like you never made a beat in your life. Other days are like heaven and you make 2 tracks a day, so release wise I would say I try to release 1 EP every 1 to 2 months.
The most satisfying thing is that it’s like a baby and you can see it grow under your eyes, and you have everything in your own hands from production to promotion to end product.
HMWL You tend to release only your own tracks on the label, with remixes by other similarly minded producers. Have you any plans to allow other producers to come on board for solo EPs?
Ramon: Yes, I’m going to sign new artists in 2014. The last year was great to build the label and get it out there so now slowly I can use my platform to sign other artists – but also of course still Ramon Tapia tracks too!
HMWL You’re obviously a busy guy, but what’s the next chapter in the Ramon Tapia story?
Ramon: A new release on Sneak’s label, I’m A house Gangster, a new Say What? Record. Lots of touring and some secret stuff I can’t mention yet. But you guys will be the first ones to hear the good news!