Crowds of fans in tank tops and cut offs packed into the Governor’s Island ferry last week, simply unwilling to accept that summer festival programming is coming to an end. Or at least determined to send it off with a bang. Despite the onset of September, the air in downtown Manhattan was pleasantly warm. The dusk ferry to the island was a classy affair and attendees leaned against the railing to take snaps of the New York skyline swathed in pastel pink and orange. Off in the distance, Lady Liberty seemed to be smiling, saying “Party On, Wayne” or something like that.
The island itself was arranged in festival style with a large tent and food and drink vendors clustered at the back. The occasion? Thomas Gold’s fourth* Governor’s Island appearance, courtesy of RPM’s summer events series. We’ve covered RPM events before, and this one dazzled just like the rest. Support for the show—and the afterparty at Pacha—included Dubvision, a dj set and live performance from Bright Lights, and MOGUAI.
As expected Thomas’ performance was solid and as high-energy as any in recent memory. His set featured a smattering of EDM favorites including “Outside,” “Habits,” “Runaway,” and Empire of the Sun’s “Alive” in addition to some alternative material (Red Hot Chili Peppers??? Nirvana?????)
We caught up with Thomas just before his euphoric set to figure out how he got his start and just what he’s been up to. Hint: he’s busy as hell. Read all that and more below.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: So, right up here in bold at the top of my list is ‘Do you ever stop touring???’
[Laughs] sometimes I do. For example, in January and February I wanted to get some studio time, some proper studio time. Sometimes I have to step back a little bit from touring and lock myself in the studio. In September as well. I mean I still have three shows in September, but the rest is going to be just studio.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: And when you’re in the studio are you doing production for yourself or for other artists?
For myself, all the time. When I was in the studio in January and February, I did a lot of stuff. I have five releases lined up for this year already and I’m working on a sixth one. It’s really exciting for me.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Do the tracks have vocal elements?
Yeah. We just put out a remix for Dash Berlin. Next week I have a track coming out that’s an instrumental, but the next one will be another vocal track on Protocol [Recordings]. In November I’ll put out another instrumental and maybe, in December, I’ll put out another vocal. So, I’ve got a lot of stuff going on.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Something that really stands out about you, Thomas, is your work ethic. With your Fanfare shows and your show at the Roseland ballroom, for example, the lengths you will go to make sure things are done well are admirable. Is that something that’s always been the case with you, or does that just come with doing something you really love?
I just really love what I do. I’ve been passionate about music since I was a kid. I love music. I love making music. This is my life. I used to work at a normal job, but I didn’t really like...
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: What did you do?
I was in distribution and marketing department of a company that did consumer stuff. It was okay. I mean I loved the team, I loved the people and we hung out a lot even on the weekends and stuff. But still, the job was just not my thing. I did a lot of music after work and I spent many weekends doing that. But in the end, I found out that you have to do it full time.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Was it just a breaking point where you felt like you had to put everything into it or else you’d never get what you wanted to get out of it?
Yes. I had that moment. I felt like I had to do it 100% or it just wasn’t going to work out. You kind of get frustrated because you try stuff and you never get it done because you just don’t have the time. So you have to really be 100% into it.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Was it scary to take that leap?
Yeah. I mean I had to leave my job with a monthly salary. In the beginning I had a very low income from music. I really had to fight for my shows and for my remix jobs, but in the end it really paid off. I would never do it differently. I would always do the same. It was worth it. That’s what I always tell people when they ask me. Be patient. You have to put a lot of work into your stuff and you have to be patient. Sometimes it takes a while, but in the end it will work out if you really have a vision and you follow that vision. I think sometimes people can get confused by some of these superstar DJs who just arrive on the scene at 19 and just primed and ready to go onstage at these huge festivals. That’s one way, but it doesn’t work for all of us. It’s maybe only within the past 3-4 years that this has been working for people, but it won’t last even another few years.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: I think another troublesome aspect is that, when you start in these clubs, you learn about the actual art of being a working DJ. You learn how to read the energy of a club and an audience and respond to that and that really does not work in reverse.
Absolutely. I had to learn from scratch. In the beginning I had quite a few bad experiences because I didn’t perform as the crowd wanted me to perform. So, I had to go back home and learn new things and think about my set and what kind of music I would play and how to produce. It was a process. I gained a lot of good experiences and I had a lot of bad experiences as well. I think those are what make you better and what really bring you closer to your goals. I’m really lucky. I almost always have a really good crowd who are really into the music and they accept the music. Sometimes, of course, you have people who don’t like what you play, but that’s normal. There are these clubs that put more production and more LED screens but sometimes you just don’t need that. You just need good music and a good crowd.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Do you have certain cities and venues you like to play?
Yeah I mean, New York is one of my favorite cities. If not the favorite. I love playing Miami. I love Los Angeles. Barcelona. Asia is a great place. I played in Bangkok a couple of weeks ago. It was amazing. People are crazy there in a very positive way. I played Berlin, which was also really crazy. In a very small club. I’m from Berlin, you know.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Which club?
It’s called Sky Club. They have a long tradition. It’s more of a simple club. No production at all but people don’t give a fuck about that, they just want to party. I mean, even the light guy was on stage with me and standing up on the speakers. Everyone was going crazy.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Have you been to any of the clubs like that here?
No, I want to go. Verboten, yeah? and Output.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Yes, it’s not quite the same, but a similar vibe.
Yes, you copy Berlin clubs here. But I really want to go there because I’ve heard so many good things about it. I just haven’t been yet.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: You’ve played so many big festivals this year. What’s been your summer anthem?
Probably my track “Believe” with Heather and Bright Lights.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Well that’s a really good one. What kind of music do you listen to personally?
I mean I listen to so much music because of my job, so sometimes I just don’t listen to music at all. When I’m back home I listen to the radio actually. The local radio. Just to hear people talking about commercial radio stuff, because when I listen to the kind of stuff I’m doing, I just always end up analyzing it. Who is this guy? How is this done? How did they process the vocals? I listen to a radio track or just some chill out music it gives me a break.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: When you listen to music in other genres, do you still think that way about the production.
Sometimes, yeah. It’s always good to see beyond what you do yourself and open up your perspective. I guess I do that alot. How they’ve mixed the guitars in a rock song, for example. Or on chill out music, how they created the atmosphere. What’s the vibe of the track and how did they create it?
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Is that how you find music for your own show? Radio? Submissions?
Not from the radio, I mean I get a lot of promo stuff and I have a lot of djs sending me stuff. Also young producers. I play that all on my Fanfare show. There’s no special recipe.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Do you listen to a lot of the submissions you get?
Not all of them, because it just became too many. I get maybe 80 promos a day so I just have to pick and choose them, because otherwise I could never get through them.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: So to get something in front of your eyes someone needs a really catchy subject line?
No. The catchier the line.... If people send me an email with the subject “This is the bomb,” I actually don’t even listen to it. Those tracks, I know, are mostly not good. People who try to sell stuff like that: “You’re gonna love this one” and you see in the cc they’ve sent it to like 50 people it’s just...ugh. But I have a bunch of guys... I know their names and stuff and they are very nice and very humble. They just send it to me and say “Hey, Thomas, could you check this out?” and I do that. Whenever I have time, I do. You just have to pick your stuff wisely. These people who talk a lot about their tracks.... I’d say 99% of the time this is just not the kind of stuff I like.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Well I think that’s all the time we have, so I’ll let you go, but thanks so much! Looking forward to the new tracks.
Oh it was my pleasure. Enjoy the night, okay?
Check out Thomas’ tour dates for the fall below and head over to his Soundcloud to stream the latest release, a remix of Dash Berlin’s "World Falls Apart".
AUTHOR CREDIT: ALEXANDRA BLAIR ———
Although some marketing materials mistakenly indicated this was Gold’s fifth visit to the island, he sheepishly confided in me that it was actually only his fourth.