- 31 Jul 2017
DJ Tominen talks to WKochi about how is life changed from a music producer to a DJ
When did you start DJing - and what or who were your early passions and influences?
I started DJing, in 2006. I got influenced after listening to mixtapes and singles made by some of the greatest artists in the Electronic Dance Music scene in the early 90s, such as Paul Van Dyk, Robert Miles, Schiller, Sasha, Talla 2XLC, ATB, Chicane, Prodigy.
What do you personally consider to be an incisive moment in your artistic career?
I am a producer turned DJ. Learning DJing was probably one of the best decisions I’ve made as an artist. It has helped me to become a better producer because I know how a track actually works in a live DJ set.
What are currently your main challenges as a DJ? What is it about DJing, compared to, say, producing your own music, that makes it interesting for you?
The main challenge for me as a DJ is to get venues where I can play my kind of music. Not many people in our state appreciate the kind of sounds I play. It’s difficult at the moment and I’m sure things will change as time goes by. But the interesting bits in DJing happens when you get to play your own music in front of a large number of people and you get to see how they react to it. It’s a good feeling to see people dance to the music that you make in your home studio.
How do you prepare for a set?
Preparing for a set is a tedious task. Some of the main criterion that I consider while preparing are, the location, set duration, time slot, and the artists who plays before and after me. I personally prefer doing closing sets because that’s when I can show my true skills.
How important is building a real relationship with the music you are playing for your own approach? There's so much music out there, it is even possible to build meaningful long-term relationships with a particular genre or style?
Your relationship with a particular style of music is what will define you as an artist. At least that’s what I believe. Now when people hear the name “Tominen”, they know they can expect a Trance single or a Trance set. That’s how I’ve portrayed myself as an artist. It is possible to have a long term, meaningful relation with a particular Genre of music. I’ve had it with Trance since the last two decades. I haven’t changed my style ever and I’ve stayed true to it. Yes, I play other styles of Electronic music too, but I always choose tracks that sound “trancy” or “Melodic” in my sets no matter when I play.
Does the fierce competition you face, demand a constant need for reinvention or could you afford to swim in your own style?
I really don’t think that there is a competition among DJs who love Music. Yes, there is a certain amount of competition to get gigs, but not in music. Every artist has their own style of music. For instance, my colleagues Greg Tomaz, Ashif Jamal, Kiran M Sajeev, Savio everyone has different sounds and we all help each other when it comes to music. I don’t see a competition there, only the love for Electronic Music counts.
Does music - in all forms - need to be culturally rooted? Or is it an expansive field that has no boundaries?
Music, as it is has no boundaries, but different people love different styles of music. Artists those I mentioned in the beginning never would have thought that the music they made from other countries would influence a little kid living here in Cochin back in the early 90s, especially when sources to listen to those styles were minimal. A lot of artists now a days are making music having sounds derived from their own cultures, but that doesn’t make Music rooted into one particular culture. Music as it is, has become different cultures.
What is one mistake you see a lot of up and coming DJs making? / What advice would you give to aspiring DJs?
The biggest mistake I think that new and senior DJs make off late is to term a particular genre of music as “EDM”. “EDM” stands for Electronic Dance Music, under which every Electronically made Dance Music comes under. What these people call “EDM” is actually either Big Room House or very noisy Progressive House. If you don’t really know what you’re doing, don’t do it, would be my advice to them.
When the going gets tough - fierce competition, not enough gigs, creative block, lack of inspiration, etc - what gets you going?
For me, I think not getting enough Gigs where I can play my own music would be toughest part. Yes, there are times when I struggle to get inspired every now and then, but that’s only temporary.
Could you market yourself with just your music alone? Your thoughts on the increasing need for personal branding? And what are some key methods you employ for marketing and publicity purposes - if any at all?
I don’t think that it is practical to market an artist just by his music. In this age, if an artist has to be successful he has to be good in self marketing and also with his skills in music. It’s not just about penetrating into the market as an artist, it’s also about making yourself visible and sustainable by consistently bringing out good music and interacting with your audience.
Now that monsoon has cleared, anything that you are looking forward to - music festivals, cultural programs, anything?
Oh yes, now that the rains are subsiding a lot of festivals are coming up. One festival to lookout for is The “God’s Own Music Festival” happening in Cochin soon.
Text: FWD Media Images: DJ Tominen