Tom Swoon Interview [FNT Exclusive] + “Asura” Edit

Posted by on August 19, 2013

Tom SwoonPolish producer / DJ, Dorian Tomasiak or Tom Swoon, formerly Pixel Cheese, has been on a meteoric rise in the past year or two, with his brand of melodic big-room house that has seen strong support from the likes of Avicii, Nervo, Paul Oakenfold and others. Just two years out of high school, he still can’t believe that 3 years ago he was making bootlegs and remixes as Pixel Cheese and here he is now headlining his own shows and playing main stage at some of the biggest festivals in Europe. He has had a busy summer, touring the globe playing in Ibiza, the European festival circuit, some shows here in the US, with an upcoming gig at Creamfields. Last week he was in New York for a show at Lavo and we had the chance to ask him about a variety of topics from his DJing style, advice for new producers (Digidoric was his very first producer name) and what he has coming up. Read the full interview after the jump and check out his free edit with NYC duo, Filtercrush of their impressive track with Jack & Jordan “Asura”. If you don’t like the “Clarity” vocals on top, the instrumental mix will be coming soon.

FNT: Was it tough to be in school, a technical high school, while trying to be a producer / DJ?

Tom Swoon: It was really tough at times. It eventually ended up with me skipping the homeworks and learning exams at the last minute. I think it was a cool experience the way I did it because when I finished high school, the level I was at as a producer, I had no time off or holiday. So the moment I finished my last exam, I started touring and producing full-time. I think that was cool; hectic, but cool.

FNT: Did it impact your grades?

Tom Swoon: Not really. I think that I could have done better on exams, but I am not disappointed with the final grades.

FNT: How did your parents feel about you skipping university to pursue your DJ career?

Tom Swoon: Well, they were really skeptical, even a bit negative, saying, “get a part-time job”, “go to university”. But when I brought them to the biggest edm festival in Poland [Sunrise Festival], 2 or 3 weeks ago, they finally had a chance to see me live and see how it is all going on with my management and stuff. Eventually this made them think 100% this is the stuff I have to do, and I can’t do anything else in my life.

FNT: How important were your remakes and remixes of unreleased songs to your career?

Tom Swoon: That was the kick-start of the Pixel Cheese thing. I really want to continue it as much as my time allows me to do it, because I am really busy with single material, and remixes and collaborations, but I do have something coming on maybe coming out this month as a free download, a free edit from Tom Swoon of someone, I can’t reveal yet, not to jinx (It came out 4 days after the interview). It’s really cool how things worked out since Pixel Cheese because of the free remixes and bootlegs. I am really surprised and still trying to figure out how it all worked out and happened. I think it is something I won’t get the answer to until I die.

It’s really, really cool how things worked out and I don’t want to go totally into selling music, making stuff that is only eventually going to go on Beatport. I want to continue doing this Pixel Cheese thing as Tom Swoon, because this is how I got a lot of true fans who have been following me since the Pixel Cheese days and they first found me from soundcloud or free download, so I want to continue that thing to show my appreciated for these people.

FNT: On Facebook you have your “Tom Swoon Meets” Series, do they recognize you and do you get star struck?

Tom Swoon: Well, It works both ways. When I meet with some DJs for the first time, we sometimes hook up on twitter before and then we eventually meet and take a picture and have some sort of chat, exchange contact info, share emails and music. It always ends up with some sort of relationship. I think there are some exceptions, like when I met with Steve Aoki when we were touring together in India and with Nervo as well, because they discovered me on their own when I was Pixel Cheese back in the day, because I did a free remix for them. They shared the acapella for free on the internet and I did a remix and posted it to Facebook and they eventually got to me with their request to hook up on skype, so that is how we met. We are really keeping in touch now, so we eventually got a picture during the dinner.

Tom Swoon & Avicii

I think I am going to continue this series because even one or two years ago I was thinking “C’mon meeting Avicii, no way, really. Meeting Avicii: maybe staring at the Youtube screen as a meeting”, but normally right now it is pretty unreal sometimes because I met with Tim twice and we played at the same events twice, so it is really crazy how the things evolved during these two years. Also this is the kind of proof to everybody if you really dream big and work hard it’s possible.

FNT: Quote, “Genres are gonna fuck up or break”, can you elaborate?

Tom Swoon: One note bass lines with hardstyle kick (insert epic mashleg), this eventually is going to die out, I hope. It is a big trend now, but I think that because I follow a lot of stuff from Madeon, Porter Robinson and Arty, they are doing something big, especially Porter Robinson. I think his album, which is finishing right now and is going to be out next year, is going to change the game, definitely. Also I did not fall for this trend and I have a lot of melodic stuff going on right now and eventually going to come out this year, hopefully. This is going to be a huge hit of melodic, emotional stuff in the 128 bpm range. I am thinking how things are going to change, because normally you don’t know how the trends are the trends shift. It was actually pretty fun because with how this hardstyle kick thing exploded out from nowhere and then 80% of Beatport Top 10 was this. Because it became oversaturated, now some people, me included, are fed with up with this and it is going back to how it was before with something with a bit of new, fresh sound, but still in this melodic formula in the big-room, progressive house, call it what you want.

FNT: What is the Tom Swoon way of DJing?

Tom Swoon: It is a really hard question because I don’t know how to describe myself behind the DJ booth. Some people ask me if I am on something when I am playing. I don’t know how because of the contact with the crowd, especially when I am playing at a packed, intimate club then at the big festivals, these tow types of gigs, I am getting pretty lost behind the booth. I am totally unable to control myself, my moves and stuff. I think this is a pretty cool thing because I am a different person for this wild hour or more and it’s pretty crazy and I am going out all sweaty, heart attack stuff. It’s really nice because I like to interact with the crowd. I don’t want to stay there for 6 minutes, every time make some movements with the faders, push some buttons and just stare at the CDJs. I want to interact with the crowd, trying to read the crowd, seeing what they want to hear. Are they more into this artist’s song, or they don’t like it, so lets change the game up. I am not preparing my set 100%, from A to Z, I want to experiment during my set, throw in something new, or I change my mind, I don’t want to play this. Also I am pretty fast with songs, I avoid playing songs for more than 2-3 minutes straight, so I am pretty quick into mixing. I don’t know if you had the chance to listen to my set from Ministry Of Sound for example (it is below), it was like 40 tracks in an hour and a half because I am getting bored. Some DJs are playing the full length of songs, the intro, the full song and then the outro, transition, 6 minutes, transition, 6 minutes, transition. I am getting bored behind the booth. I don’t know what to do with that.

FNT: What advice would Tom Swoon give to Digidoric?

Tom Swoon: Haha, that’s actually the first interview that has come up with that so far in my career. Actually the main advice would be patience. Some of the guys when they are sending promos, for example I check my promos when I am bored at the airport, when I have one hour of free time before I board the plane, or maybe when I preparing the podcast. So it is 2-3 times a month when I check the promo mail and I go through all of them from the oldest one to the newest one. Sometimes it is like a hundred emails to go through. Some of the guys I see, they send a promo and after they send a reminder, then 2-3 days later, the same link with some introduction of themselves because they think I am ignoring them. I remember I was impatient as fuck actually. This is actually the type of advice every aspiring producer should take. People like Laidback Luke, personally he is a great guy and he has this forum where producers can send their demos and eventually when he likes some stuff from someone he is asking them to send him more stuff and he will sign something on his label. He is the main influence for me when it comes to contact with aspiring producers. He has the time to check the promo email and he gets a ridiculous amount of songs and he replies after 4 or 5 months. In the meantime this producer thinks Luke is ignoring him, or he doesn’t like is his stuff, he is not replying on my Twitter, Facebook and all types of spam. Replying with a lot of reminders and harassing on twitter is actually making things worse because you sound really desperate.

The best advice is when you send the promo, be patient and maybe send a reminder after 2 or 3 weeks. But when someone is going to come back with some feedback or when they ask for more stuff, you want to make sure you have more stuff already done. You cannot send a track and sit down in the corner looking at the clock, waiting for him to reply. Send a track and immediately go on to another one. When I see someone is getting constant with the songs, like “this I don’t like, this I don’t like, this I like it a bit more, but not yet there, this is great, I will take it to my sets”. This is how it works because eventually when someone is producing a lot, he is eventually getting a more skill and technique. Even if you don’t finish the song, just keep on producing on a daily basis, one-two hours, try new things, keep experimenting with EQs, compressors or whatever, to better your technique. When you come up with idea for a full song, you will have the skills already.

FNT: What do you have coming up?

Tom Swoon: The next remix on the plate is a remix for Paul Oakenfold. Actually the one for Dune is something different and not really Tom Swoon type of sound. It was something I really wanted to do for a long time. It is downtempo 95pm house and I am really curious about the response from my fans what they will think about it because it is something different, something I really enjoyed doing. I really hope they don’t think “what the hell is this, why don’t you do big-room”. To this point, it is the only track like it from me, but when the people are going to eventually like it, I will definitely be up to making a follow-up. I am now waiting a release date, so I am really hoping it will be out this year.

Apart from that, I have collaborations going on. This month is a track called roller coaster with Josef Belani from Spain, really talented dude. He is doing a lot of different stuff, making some tech house songs, some big-room stuff. We hooked up because I was really supporting his tune called “Love For You”, which came out a couple of weeks ago on Cr2 Records and I love his stuff. We finally decided to do something together. It is different then what he does, then what I do. It is a sort of electro-house tune with some melodic breakdowns. Maybe you will like it, maybe you wont, but it is something different and I like to experiment as Tom Swoon. I don’t want to have this Avicii follow-up label put on me. It’s all about changing the styles, changing the sounds and I am really hoping I am going to find my own sound soon and then I am going to develop it. I have another collaboration with a big name from Sweden I cannot reveal yet, not to jinx. I am just awaiting the vocals right now, then we are going to tweak it a little to finish the song, maybe get it done by the end of August. I am really, really excited about this one. I think it is one of my best tunes, so far. I am such a tease haha.

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