In-Depth Interview With Thomas Datt!
Thomas Datt is a legendary trance artist who has made waves in the scene with his lengthy career.
For the trance connoisseur, Thomas Datt needs no introduction. He’s been around since the early 2000s. His discography is filled with quality releases and a surprising number of remixes, including many songs that, in their original form, fall outside the trance genre. However, for many fans, Thomas popped up on their radar after his brilliant performance at Dreamstate SoCal this past November. After our review of his set, we reached out to Thomas for an in-depth interview to give you all a better insight into one of the most talented artists we have in our scene. Sit back, listen to the music, and enjoy the story!
Hi, Thomas. Thank you for taking some of your time to talk with EDM Identity. I hope things are going well for you.
Always a pleasure answering a couple of questions, even if it takes me a long time to do so. It’s like writing a new tune or preparing for a show. I need to be in the right state of mind to jump in and share myself with everyone.
I’d like to start things off by giving our readers an introduction. Who is Thomas Datt? What type of person were you growing up?
In some respect, the same, while in many, completely different. Always much for escapism from this reality. Meaning movies, video games, music. Something for me to latch onto as a means of leaving this reality and being part of another. That hasn’t changed much.
An introverted, shy kid that didn’t have too many friends, but just enough of the right ones. An empath unaware of what it was, until a much later stage in life. I would always absorb the emotions of others, without even realizing it. Which is why I was never much for big crowds, especially of individuals I didn’t know. Then, of course, the ego filled, childlike, immature behavior, which would have lasted until my late early 30s. You know the kind, right? Nothing ever being your fault. Always blaming others for everything. Not taking responsibility for anything. Easily angered or upset at the slightest hint of anything upsetting my ego.
Thank goodness we don’t know that individual anymore. I think most people tend to be like that. Playing the victim role. Sure, even now (sometimes) I have a difficult time silencing the ego, and for a small moment revert to the old thinking and conditioning… It’s always been a growing experience, as it will continue to be so.
Who am I now? A spiritual being that understands its place in this holographic reality we call “life on Earth.” I am the love frequency, as is everyone else, but I know how to activate it and beam it outwards. Many have forgotten who they really are. I have manifested the ability to channel energy at will, no matter what the source is. Remember, everything is made of energy. Therefore everything can be tapped into. I meditate, have crystals, bless food and nature’s medicine, give and show love, feel gratitude, do full moon rituals, among many other things. This is who Thomas Datt is now.
You relocated to the US at an early age from Europe. How have your musical tastes been influenced given the difference in music between the two continents in the 90’s?
The 80s had me dancing around with my mother, as she had all the newest and coolest tunes from that era. So from very early on, I was imprinted with some sort of electronic music, which just happened to be 80s pop. However, my true love was actually Roxette. My best friend (at the time), and I were both quite obsessed with the group. Eventually, we found the same obsession in 2Unlimited.
It wasn’t until my return for a summer vacation when I learned of this new sound that was Euro Dance. Of course to me, at the time, it was Techno. Cheesy vocals, cheesy and catchy melodies, and the beginning sounds of Trance. I was so in love with it that I knew then and there it was going to be something I do with my life. Now I can reflect back and see that it all happened the way it was meant to, bringing me closer to my destiny as an energy healer, both via music and chi/prana.
Upon my return to the States, I noticed the massive difference in music. It bummed me out, as I was constantly searching for stores with imported CDs, with the kind of music I wanted to hear. But that wasn’t exactly easy without the internet, as it is now, since buying a cd didn’t guarantee good music. There was no sampling of it; you had to guess and hope for the best. This also lead me to delve into ambient, hardcore, and happy hardcore genres. The latter two were quite short as far as phases are concerned. Had a massive Goa phase as well, but that was also pretty short before sticking to uplifting trance.
What sparked your interest in producing music? What were some of the artists that inspired you early on?
The classics now were at one point new creations. I was lucky enough to be able to live through that era, where so many classics were coming out. Some of the earliest tracks that I can remember were: Sasha’s Remember remix, Mercury & Solace, The Truth by Qattara, Seven Cities, Temptation Fly Like an Angel, Eugina, Netherworld, Universal Nation, Tyrantanic, Saltwater, among others.
You could say I was shaped by Paul Van Dyk, Tiesto, Sasha, Digweed, Way Out West, Underworld, Ferry Corsten, Airwave, Oliver Lieb, Evolution, Breeder, Sunday Club, Chicane, etc.
Your first track “2V2” came out in 2004. Could you tell us how the idea for the track came about and what were some of the challenges faced with releasing a song for the first time?
That it did but was written sometime in 2003. It’s not a secret that I don’t really like that track. Too much baggage attached to it over the years, especially the original release. I do not wish to shit on anyone’s memories, or feelings of nostalgia, as they are rightfully theirs. Truly, it was something special at that time, but I have happily moved on since. Still, I would be keen on revisiting one final remix of my own, but it would have to be when I get the rights back to this track (few more years).
I can’t remember how it came to be, not fully. The melody was laying around in another file; I’m not sure what it was for. Perhaps it was for Marco V – I Feel You, but I just didn’t realize until I made 2v2, and then put it into I Feel You. I was also a big fan of Ronski Speed at that time, as many of us were. So there was some influence from him in 2v2.
There were plenty of challenges I have met over the years, but that was with previous tracks as an amateur getting better and better with each new production. Lots of no’s, ignoring, or being asked to change something or everything. At the time the ego wouldn’t allow such a thing to happen. NO! I made it this way, so it must be this way! Even if it sucks!
2v2’s first home was going to be Euphonic, which I was a huge fan of at that time. Being on that label would have been an honor, and would have shaped my career much differently I feel. At one point it was so close to signing, that Ralph would call me to talk about the track. Kyau and Albert were going to do the remix. However, from my understanding, they showed it around to some people, and the reactions were mixed, so they passed on it.
The second go was Lost Language. Ben Lost was very keen on signing it, but I can’t for the life of me tell you what happened that we didn’t move forward. Again, probably a different career moving forth. Ben and I had a talk about this a few years ago, and he also doesn’t remember why he didn’t take it. In any case, the story ends with me sending a promo cd to John Askew, as he was reaching out to fans on the internet, for demos… something about starting a new label. You know the rest.
Regarding production, how would you describe your music? What is the most important element you try to convey through your tracks?
I can say that easily now, but I’m not sure if it was always the case. Never mind. Looking back at the discography, I can see it to be mostly true. The main ingredient, of course, is that of emotion. I wasn’t necessarily sure of what I was doing back then, at least not in the sense that I do now. But you know, tapping into the soul self, and translating its current state into a physical form, well sort of. Music isn’t exactly physical, but you know what I mean. Trance is what emotions sound like… right? But that’s true for all music. Maybe not EDM, that’s just a corporate cash grab, which is very calculated.
Currently though, as with my new track (which is going to take some time to release), I consciously create music with the intention of including healing energy within it. More specifically, the love frequency. As you have witnessed yourself, and as many have come forth and told me since then, the Dreamstate set and experience were pretty much that of healing.
Over the years, you have remixed tracks from Britney Spears, CHVRCHES, and Lisa Miskosvky among others. How do you pick what song to remix? How do you transform a song that’s not within the realms of the trance genre while keeping the original intent of the artist?
First, the song has to have serious meaning to me, or perhaps I simply have to adore it. One of the first ones I did, was School Of Seven Bells. I was new to the band, as I saw them for the very first time when they opened up for The Temper Trap (which I also remixed, and was the first one of this kind). I had no idea who they were, but hearing the first song, I instantly fell in love with their sound, especially with Alley (the vocalist). Soon after, I went through their back catalog, but the song that stood out the most as something I can remix was of course “Reappear”. Not only is it a beautiful song, but what made it easy for me to work with, is that it’s a chill out track with no percussion. Layering my work over that was fairly easy, with enough given time to make it all sound just right. We got close to an actual release of Reappear, with the band backing it. Sadly, though, this was around the time Benjamin got cancer, so this faded away as more pressing matters were at hand.
For about 50% of these “pop” remixes, I had no studio acapella to work with. CHVRCHES “Afterglow”, is another example of a chilled piece without any percussion, much like “Reappear”. So again, layering my stuff over it wasn’t so hard, but it is quite limiting. I always imagined in “Afterglow” I would throw in some vocal parts during the climatic melody part. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the vocals to work with that way, even though I reached out to them many times, and got ignored.
I got lucky with “Still Alive”, as I had no idea there was an actual remix pack floating around since 2008, was it? I don’t remember when the song and game came out. The game, of course, being Mirror’s Edge. In any case, I always loved the song, and always wanted to do a remix, but it’s a good thing these stars aligned now, as my sound is much better than it used to be. I couldn’t imagine this remix being any better than it is, from my point of view.
So I either love the track and find an acapella… or a track is stripped enough for me to make it into something else. With that said, my current take on another CHVRCHES remix is quite interesting, as you can hear the original bits under the vocal. It’s not quite an acapella, but I am working hard to make it all fit naturally with my own percussion and melodic bits. Stay tuned…
Picking Up The Pieces and Inside The Glacier are two of my favorite albums, yet they display two distinct sounds. What made you dabble into chillout? Can we expect more Chilled Datt mixes in the future?
Very happy to hear you say that, especially about Glacier. I put a lot of myself into both albums, but the lack of bigger “success” with the second album, has made me feel a bit down, at that time. So much so, that it turned me off from working on another album, even to this day. But I will be honest, the itch is faint, but it’s there. Perhaps when my overall career picks up more momentum, I will feel comfortable enough to write another journey.
Even as an amateur I always loved ambient music. There are a few pieces that come to mind that I wrote in the very early 00s, before any signing. It feels like a much more natural state of being for me than having to create something with a formula for the clubs and such. Stripped down music, is just pure emotion, and I can do with it whatever I want, without having to worry about a DJ or a label picking it up. The last thing I did in this style, was, of course, the awesome classic by Chicane, Offshore. He has become a massive fan of my ambient pieces, and reached out to have one done for him, which c’mon, how could I refuse?
I think whenever I revisit that more intimate state of being, it would be something written and shared on Amplifyd. And the best thing about these type of tracks is that they don’t take all that long to write.
Switching things up for a bit, 2017 is a year of change for you. You’ve recently relocated to Sydney. What motivated you into moving to Australia?
Massive changes all around, but being honest, the more things change, the more they stay the same. I recently noticed that it’s pretty much the same, as back in NY. It’s just a different setting, with different people (some not that different at all). Which I find to be a very interesting experience and some sort of massive lesson. Why am I creating the same scenarios for myself? Why am I manifesting this into my reality? The reason is simple enough, even though it may be difficult to understand fully. Basically, I haven’t learned what I was meant to learn from these experiences yet.
I was getting tired of my life in NY, so the feeling of moving (which I’ve had many times, and postponed just as much) was growing. It didn’t occur to me that my “destiny,” as it may, was to go all the way around the world. It was a very strong vibration, a very strong gut feeling… that intuition, a guiding from the higher self that said I have to go to Australia. It didn’t take me long to make that decision, probably within a day or two I knew, and felt it was the right thing to do. Then all these synchronicities started to happen, like finding out my Twin Flame lives there as well, or things having to do with spirit guides and my energy healing abilities. It was all connected, and I couldn’t ignore it.
But starting from scratch in a new country, so far away from my previous home, with not that many people to count on (mostly can rely on my family of course), has proven to be a lot more difficult than I could have ever imagined. There are times I feel like going back to the States, as some days I feel a bit more disappointed than others… but at the same time, I have this nagging feeling that this is all part of the process, which I have to endure, and not simply run away because it’s easy. However, I am not exactly sure where things are headed, but the option to return is always there. I’m hoping for the stars and planets to align, but don’t be surprised if I’m back in the States at some point. It’s not something I want.
I did meet many beautiful and wonderful souls here, and my healing has taken steps further as well. So in that sense, why I’m here has made itself clear.
You do not shy away from the raving community. Compared to NY, how does the scene in Australia fare?
From experience, which I don’t have much in OZ, it’s somewhat similar. You got your loving and spiritual psy crowd, which I am very drawn to, and then you got your club going crowd. Sometimes they mix and match. DOOFs, on the other hand, are a pretty crazy experience. Mind you, I’ve only had one, but it was a blistering weekend, probably hottest all year, and all we kept trying to do was survive. We had this DOOF mantra that we kept repeating every hour or so lol. “Try not to die. One breath at a time”.
Speaking of raves, you’re also an energy healer. How did you first discover it? How has it changed your approach to life?
The very beginning of this journey, well that probably goes back to being born, eh? Seriously though, that would be about three years ago, maybe a little bit more, when I got talked into taking LSD for the first time. Now mind you, I was very uneducated on the topic, much like the rest of society, being brainwashed that psychedelics are bad, and what they will do to you, etc. So I went into this experience scared, talked into, but scared. Of course, it was the best thing to ever happen to me, as it was the beginning of a massive spiritual doorway waiting to be opened for all my life.
It was until the third LSD experience, that I finally “woke up.” I came out of the bathroom, after having an eye gazing session with myself in the mirror, I met my soul and came out with a completely new understanding of who I was, and the universe itself. Shortly after that, I started channeling energy, which was music and moving it through my body. The rest of the night had me learning, or rather remembering, and experimenting with energy. Collecting it, creating it, making it stronger, sending it outwards, giving it to someone else, all kinds of amazing shit. There was also this universal knowledge that I didn’t question things. I just knew what they were as I was doing them.
That was the first lesson in channeling energy, which over the next couple of years would grow and improve. Consider this. At the start, I was only able to channel energy while on some sort of psychedelic. Fast forward a few years, and I can do the same thing without the need for psychedelics. However, what I can do while in a state of higher consciousness now, is so fucking advanced, that I only hope to be able to do it someday, without the need for any substance. Which is the goal, and I believe I will be able to do it. It’s all in baby steps.
Currently, I am capable of feeling out someone’s aura and scanning their chakra points to see which have blockages. Then, I can clear out those blockages, by pulling out that negative energy which is stored within. This takes time and is quite taxing on me, as it puts my body and energetic field through some serious shit. Just imagine, I’m absorbing your negativity, to transform it back into something good, and that is pure love. I end up transmuting this energy, into what I call “love sprinkles,” and then give it back to the individual, or give some to myself as well, as unconditional love feels quite amazing. It is a draining experience, which is why I now understand why such healers charge so much money for a session. For now, I am doing it for free, as a way to learn and gain experience, and of course be of service to others. It is truly something I very much love doing, regardless of what it does to my body.
This, of course, was an example of what I can do without the need for any substances, but even on something magical as the medicinal plant that is marihuana, my abilities get amplified tenfold, and I can do even more amazing things. They also become a lot easier, as currently, it takes me time and concentration to get things done.
My goal is to become like the dude from Evolving Humans. You should check out that page on FB if you’re interested in the kind of energy healing I do. The guy in the videos is amazing, and I very much aspire to have his abilities, which I do, but not as good … yet! What he does “sober,” I can do the same on psychedelics.
On the production side of things, you have joined Amplifyd, the brand new platform from Neptune Project. Can you give us some details about the platform?
Amplifyd is a new music platform, where the artist and fans are directly connected, skipping the labels and stores. You pay a subscription fee for the year, with varied prices and perks, depending on what you’re looking for. So, in essence, the fans directly support the artists, and the artists can directly interact with the fans while giving them exclusive new material. More or less.
It hasn’t been too easy with my launch, as I haven’t had much to offer yet. It all happened around the time of my move, so anything Amplifyd related took a serious hit. I haven’t been able to make music up until now, and finding the right artist for a t-shirt design, also took a long time. It had to be just right, just perfect, and given that you’ve seen the design already, I feel you might agree that it is the perfect representation of who I am.
Currently, as I’m getting my music life back on track, we are looking for a printing service to get these shirts going. So anyone that subscribed to the package which includes the shirts will finally be getting one. Though I’m not sure when that will happen yet, it definitely will, in divine timing.
What are some of the benefits that, both you as an artist, and your fans, will be able to enjoy?
As far as my packages go, some of the benefits include early access to my Chronicles radio show, about a week before it airs. Though granted, I haven’t been very good at delivering it on time, since the move has been so difficult for me. T-shirts are also coming, and I’m very much looking forward to sharing the design with the general public. At the moment, only members of my private FB group have seen the design. This group is also a perk. It’s a place where I share some unreleased material, and where we can have Q&A’s, as well as cam2cam, where we touch tips (but not really?). Guest list spots, as well as meet and greets, are also on there.
One such perk was listening to your Chronicles yearmix in advance, and this time around it comes at an impressive 12 hours! How do you keep track of which songs are worthy of the mix? How long did it take you to complete?
Yes, it’s quite the massive show, isn’t it? I figure it took about a week, on and off. It was a bit tedious sitting in front of it, for too many hours at a time. Finding the perfect tracks wasn’t hard, just time consuming, just like the whole thing was. I went and listened to all 12 Chronicles episodes from 2016, and picked my favorite tunes. The previous years, always had me cutting out tracks just to make it a certain length of time. This time I wanted to see what would happen if I put all my favorite tracks into the mix, and it was all the shows cut by half.
Where can people catch some of the signature Muy Lit sounds in the coming months?
As we have this chat, my next show is in Sydney with Coming Soon… but that’s tomorrow! So when this is posted online, it would have already passed. Is there a point in me including that? Haha!
I can’t say where I will be playing next. From recent experience, I found that there’s just too many “maybes.” I end up being told that this may happen, or that may happen, and at the end of the day, they don’t. So until something is actually set in stone, it’s best not to talk about it. Datt career isn’t like those of my colleagues, but it will change in due time. There are shows coming, and when confirmed, I will post about them.
To close out this interview, what message do you have for your fans?
I am very grateful to the fans for having patience with me. For waiting so long before I can deliver any new material. For many months now, all I had to offer, to give, was a monthly Chronicles journey. I hope that it was enough for the time being, as like with anything else I create, I put a lot of time and energy into it.
Before moving to Australia, I did manage to finish what I feel is the proper follow-up to Prana Flow. It’s been done for months, but I cannot say when it will be released. Still waiting for the paperwork to be finalized, and that is taking a lot longer than I imagined it would (surprisingly). I can’t wait for you all to hear it.