Interview by Jeanette Stephen on 10/7/12
Berlin house and techno mainstay is on his way to Australia this month, touching down for sets in both Sydney and Melbourne. With this in mind and a new album Rooms set to drop later this year on his own Electric Ballroom imprint, Jeanette Stephen catches up with the man to talk about the upcoming LP, perfectionism, and his love of Australia.
Pulse: Hi Thomas, how many times have you been to our sunny shores? What impressions have previous visits left on you? Thomas Schumacher: The first time I came to Australia was in 1997 and since then you can’t keep me away. I actually met my Aussie wife in Melbourne in 2001 and proposed to her on Spring Street in 2004. She said yes thankfully so now I can even call myself Australian by marriage! There are so many things I love about Australia but number one is the people. I’ve done some amazing road trips along the coast between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, which makes me wish I had enough time for this trip. Next time I want to do a road trip to Wilson’s Prom or The Great Ocean Road.
What’s the name of your new album and the inspiration behind the name and the soundscape? The album Rooms is decidedly diverse, like a Japanese love hotel where every room has a distinct theme and feel but are all intrinsically a part of the same hotel.
How long has this new album been in the oven for? About 3 years.
How does Thomas the artist, as opposed to Thomas the man, know when an album has been completed to his satisfaction? Do you know when it’s time to say ‘enough’? How much of it is instinctive? It’s all instinctive. As soon as I start over thinking, I’m in trouble. When that happens I get up and go out for a walk or call someone for a chat; anything to clear out the cobwebs. Thomas the man and Thomas the artist are one and the same person. I do have a tendency towards perfectionism but I keep it in check by letting my instinct make all decisions.
Can you describe that moment when you know the task has been accomplished? This time it felt like stepping out of a beautiful but all consuming jungle that I didn’t even know I was in.
Do you think the world - particularly the music industry as a whole in its many diverse corners - is driven enough by the pursuit of perfection? Or should people be pushing the boundaries more? Different strokes for different folks. There are plenty of people around now who are pushing boundaries and achieving outstanding results just as there are a lot of people who are satisfied to dish out crap. That’s fine by me – something for everybody.
Where do you find inspiration for your work? Everywhere but mainly from music. I scour old record stores, of which there are blessedly many still around in Berlin and listen to all kinds of old music which I find very inspiring. I am also inspired when I come across a gem while listening to promos. This is how I discovered Clio who delivered a stunning remix of my latest single Vorfreude, which means pre-happiness or looking forward to in German.
How do you spend your spare time? Hanging out with my two favourite people, my wife and my daughter.
Do you remember the moment when you discovered this career had your name written all over it? When I had my first international release Ficken on Bush Records in 1996. By that time I had already been DJing for 7 years and I had also released on German labels, but back then Bush was probably the most prestigious techno label in the world so I felt I had really arrived.
When was the last time you were truly moved by the music? And what was the track? Burial – Untrue; the whole album but especially Archangel. I listen to this album from start to finish on the big speakers in my studio, lying on my back in the dark, my entire skin covered with goose pimples. What Burial does on this album is a whisper away from techno, especially the kind that is played at the Berghain in Berlin.
All the best for the upcoming tour. Dank für Ihre Zeit! Vielen Dank und bis bald!
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