From spinning trance in Berlin’s underground to racing to the top of the EDM scene, Thomas Gold’s got the midas touch – and he isn’t afraid to admit it.
While the Netherlands might be the birthplace of multiple EDM behemoths, its neighbour also boasts an impressive collection. When Nicky Romero was just getting used to his turntables, German Thomas Gold was becoming an established progressive house producer. Although he tells us he never lusted after commercial DJ status, the EDM megastar shone too brightly to stay in the shadow of Berlin’s underground scene. He began his career as a trance DJ, seeking pleasure in the genre’s intensive, transcendent sounds. Though as his reputation began to build, his sights began to change.
A remix of Adele’s ’Set Fire to the Rain’ in 2012 earned him millions of YouTube hits, putting him well and truly in the spotlight for the first time. “I think I made one of the biggest steps in my career when I remixed Adele. It gave me a boost into the most commercial side of dance music.” He adds, “Not that I had the wish to be seen as a commercial artist, but it’s always a great feeling to get feedback on this kind of scale.”
In 2012 he released his debut compilation on Axwell’s label, Axtone Recordings, a period of his career that he also thanks for his success. “Another big step was joining the Axtone family, which helped me work on my sound even more – Axwell only accepts stuff that’s 100%. It helped me see different aspects of my music differently.” His track ‘Sing2Me”, released under Axtone, brought the label to the top of the charts. His anthemic style became clear in his next release, ‘Remember’, which earned him spots on the main stages of the world’s biggest festivals.
Gold stands proudly behind his production process. “I’m very picky when it comes to my productions. When others call it a day, I’ll continue tweaking and pushing knobs and faders to take the track to the next step.” When asked how long it takes him to create nowadays, he says, “It all depends on the structure of the track. Are there vocals? Is it a collaboration? All these aspects can considerably add to the length of the production time.”
Despite the need for proficient production skills, Gold highlights that in fact, to create a great EDM track, there are other skills involved. “I think the most important element is good songwriting. It all starts from there. Then you need a good idea of how to put the songwriting down into music that meets the vibe. From there it’s all about the production and arrangement and how you get it sounding in the end.”
But the creation of an EDM track doesn’t necessarily involve adding a vocal track, Gold points out. “Vocals don’t necessarily boost a track. There are tracks that would work better without vocals. But it’s true that, in general, a feeling or emotion that you want delivered with your music can be greatly enhanced with a good vocal telling of the story, supported by the instruments and the overall feel of the track.”
Gold harks back to some of the great producers, but not names that you might expect from the lips of an EDM producer. “I think there are a couple of stand-out producers in history, who have made it clear that they were far ahead of everyone else in their time. One perfect example is Michael Jackson. His music still sounds absolutely fantastic today, which is amazing since some of it was produced 20 years ago. It makes you think what a genius this guy must have been.” An unanticipated answer, but for a producer, Gold says it’s important to listen to a wide range of genres. “All music producers can learn from one another. It helps making arrangements more exciting and original.”
Despite having achieved high recognition as an established producer, Gold never stops creating new ideas and sounds. “I have my favourite sounds I like to use, but I’m always open to new stuff.” He tells us about a house music soundset he created for the Spire synthesiser with established sound design company Alonso Sound. “That influenced me a lot. I love the Spire Synth and the soundset was a whole new approach. It was also a new way of getting into new sounds and finding stuff that I might have never used in my tracks.” In the studio, Gold swears by the Dangerous Music Monitor controller.
On the subject of live performance, Gold lights up. “I get so excited playing shows. As a music producer, it’s always exciting to play new stuff for the crowds. And this excitement is something I can transfer to the crowds, which is a great thing. I can get them addicted to the way I feel when playing music, so I can take them on a journey.” With a new track ’Take Me Home’ freshly released on the legendary Armada Music, it seems Gold’s own journey is long from being over.