From Madchester to Moroder – The David Tort Interview
Jumping between his hectic Summer touring and studio schedule, we locked down Spanish DJ/Producer and Record Label owner, David Tort to discuss musical inspirations, studio sessions, record label and gig life.
Firstly David, welcome to the #PrimeTribe – tell us please, what’s happening and buzzing right now in your Studio and DJ life?
Lots of new music coming up soon, and some more signings on Doorn Records. I’m so happy to be on the label – this year I had 4 releases with them already, can I ask for more? I’ve also just finished my new single ‘I Forgot To Live’ which sounds very different from what I’ve done all my life. I wanted to have a synth pop sounding track forever and I finally made it with an upcoming band that I’m producing. I’m really excited for this project. I’ve been doing, let’s call it techno tracks lately, which always from my point of view is in between worlds – not too underground and not too mainstream, just DJ and crowd friendly, and this summer I’m going a little bit housier and acid, which are my roots. It’s been 30 years since the rise of acid house and I guess everything is going in cycles, as are my mind and inspiration.
Your productions are recognised as not following musical fashion or trends – what do you feel is the right balance between keeping an ear on musical trends or forging your own path disregarding them?
I think I’m known for having my own signature sound. As I said I’m in between worlds and that’s where I feel most comfortable. Never staying in a comfort zone, it’s just what comes out when I’m in the studio. Honestly I’m always looking for something new and I just let it flow, but I can’t sound like anybody else and I’ve never wanted that. I don’t follow any trends and that’s what makes me able to play some of my tracks from 10 years ago and they still sound up to date. But I do try to make music as it sounds today so I’m not totally out of the scene, that would be crazy. I’m just always following my own foundation which is a fat bassline and a kick, and the the rest just comes together. This is going to be my 30th year in the dj booth. I guess I’ve lived through so many stages in electronic music and I’ve played so many genres that everything together is what makes me sound like I do.
What and who were your musical influences and inspirations that helped forge today’s David Tort sound?
I started djiing in 1988 when acid house exploded, and then I went to new beat and then techno, but suddenly I discovered the sound of Manchester (Madchester) and all the 80’s pop bands, from The Cure to The Sisters Of Mercy, Joy Division, Peter Murphy, and many more. By the time I was playing that music together with Belgian and German techno drums in the background, it was super underground and made me a local name in the darker club scene. At the same time though I was booked as a resident for the first Pacha in the world which was in a town next to mine, Sitges. We called that the little Ibiza. So I started to play house music and that was totally the opposite. Funky drums and basslines, pianos and house divas. So I’ve been never stuck in a genre, and that allowed me to have a very wide musical spectrum.
Studio sessions or DJ gigs – which drives your passion more?
I love doing both and I really need both. If I wasn’t playing I wouldn’t know what the crowd wants. I think it’s impossible to be an electronic music producer if you don’t do shows, because then the only chance would be copying what’s already out there, and that would kill me. I love being in the studio during week. I built it in the basement at home so to me it’s just one more room in my house, but I take it as going to the office every day. I leave Mia at school at 9 am and them I roll to the studio for the whole day more or less till 7pm when I’m a normal person again and I cook for the family and watch tv like every single person. It’s a very chill life and I like it here in my town because it’s so easy. Everything is walking distance and I love the lifestyle. Then when I’m going on tour it’s the other side of my life, completely different. I’m alone in planes and hotels and the madness of the shows. I call it madness cause today it still gives me a lot of anxiety, I don’t know why but before the show is the worst moment ever every time, until I jump on stage and I’m the happiest man on earth. Not sleeping flights, eating whatever you find on the road, getting sick alone in a hotel in the middle of nowhere – it’s simply amazing and it inspires me so much. I really need the calm before the storm, and then back at it again. Being home with the family and then jumping on the road. That’s my life.
The HoTL remix of ‘Dirt Filthy’ is one of our favourite David Tort tracks – how long did that remix take?
That one was very easy to do. Sometimes it just happens. I’ve worked with Tom Stephan recently on our collab “Music’s In Me” that did well on the dancefloors and digital stores, and working with Tom was so easy and fun, so my partner in crime at HoTL, Markem told said why not ask Tom to give us the chance to remix that one of his many classics. We just did it and he liked it, and it was amazing to make it for our own label. We wanted it to sound like the old tribal house from the 2000’s with a new touch, and we got it really fast. I think it was 3 days to do it, and then road testing it for few weeks, then back on the mix again to tweak some things and boom!
The re-release of 2015’s ‘Lost in Acid’ track helped kick off your HoTL Records imprint – how is the label progressing with new Artist talent you’re nurturing?
Ever since we started HoTL I had that in mind, to re-release Lost In Acid, because to me it’s ‘the track’ that put me on the scene, and there’s so many dj’s that I meet on the road and they tell me they’re still playing the original. But I wanted to have a couple new remixes and it was a great idea because we had some amazing ones. There was a time in between 2012 and 2015 that I found myself not belonging to any scene, which is good and that’s me, but that was a big and long gap where everyone was too mainstream or too underground and then some of us found ourselves going nowhere. The labels were asking only for techno or let’s say EDM sound, so I wanted to open HoTL to release my own sound, whatever happens. One friend told me “You’re David Tort and you gotta keep being that guy whether they like it or not” and I was like, ok let’s do it! Our focus is to release music for dj’s and to be played, it does not matter the style or genre, whether it’s house or techno, it just has to fit in my sets and have good mixing and music. Just good music to be played out. There is a lot of talent out there that I know have trouble being heard and signed, so I wanted to help the new talent because once the big guys stopped for a second and payed attention to me. Everyone needs help to start but nothing is for free. I mean, the most important thing is to make good music made with love, not for the money or success, just to please the crowd which is what we are born for.
Having had success with remixes for the likes of Tiësto, Carl Cox, Bob Sinclar and David Guetta, what is your first line of approach when thinking creatively to remix another Artist’s track?
When I get the parts for a remix I put them in Logic and then I think about it as if it was my own track. In some way it is, but the vocal or melodies are already done from another guy that usually is a big star, and I never let that scare me. But yeah it puts a bit of pressure on you being honest. At the end the song is going to have my name also on it, so it has to be my vision of that song from another artist. I think if they’ve asked me to remix them it’s because they might think that their song could sound good with my touch, so that’s what I do. Sometimes it’s a nightmare but others it’s super easy and it comes together fast. But I’m that guy that needs to open the project a million times, so I’m never happy with the result till there’s nothing else to do on it. Everything has to be perfect to my ears.
We hear elements of Giorgio Moroder in your pulsating tech house track, ‘Tatiana’ – what were the inspirations and influences for this minimal monster?
Glad you like the track! There’s no single inspiration in Giorgio’s music for that song but Moroder’s sound is the soundtrack of my life. I was a kid when he had the big hits and we were hearing them on the radio all day long, so we’re always going to sound like the guys that made it before us in some way. Tatiana was something that came to my mind one day having breakfast with her. It was something that hit me, a melody, and that usually does not happen that easy. I’m living with her for almost my whole life and I’ve always wanted to write her a song, but that’s something that even though I’ve tried many times I was never happy with the result because it wasn’t really telling the story that I wanted to tell. Finally it hapened. I have to say that she inspired many songs, but naming one after her was something very special. I was playing on the keyboard with some notes and I wrote the arpeggio step by step, then it took me like 3 weeks to have the whole melody because I wanted something that was growing and never ending. So when you think the progression is done already and is going to start again, it takes you to another place and it keeps going in a very long buildup, and then it drops together with the melody. I think it’s one of my best songs even if I know it’s very special and not everyone can play it, but there’s always a moment in a night when it fits perfect.
As the first Spanish DJ to play at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion, you must have some memories of a great party there?
I was so nervous that I didn’t even pay attention to what was going on outside the dj booth. It was the very elite of Los Angeles all together there – chefs, musicians, business men, and a lot of playmates of course. The party was by the pool and everything was perfect, decoration and lighting. The thing that surprised me the most were the security guys wearing a polo with the bunny logo. I’m like, damn, I want one of those! And also when entering the mansion there was a display saying something like “Welcome to the Playboy Manison, feel free to do whatever you want, but be aware that everything is going to be filmed”. Wow.
What was it about the Denon DJ Prime Series DJ gear that inspired you to #ChangeYourRider?
Because it’s really good stuff! I would never do a big change like this if it wasn’t. It’s my performance gear as the Fender Stratocaster is to a rock star you know. Denon approached me a few days before my show at Sander Van Doorn’s Miami party, which was my highlight this Miami Music Week because I was also warming up for him, the boss you know… So I went to the Denon showcase to test them out and the tech guys helped me make the switch so easy. The hardware is really well manufactured and it feels very organic. I love the response and the materials. I did the show with Denon and I never wanted to go back to anything else.
So our readers can catch you playing live, what summer festivals and residencies will be receiving the David Tort DJ sets in 2018?
Everything is being announced on my Socials, I’m playing a lot in the US and South America, also China soon and lately a lot in Barcelona which hasn’t happened in the last 15 years. Since I left my residency here I never wanted to come back ’til I did, and I’m super happy about it. Hope to see you guys soon in one of my shows!