Home Interviews Thomas Datt [Interview]

Thomas Datt [Interview]

77 min read

As a favourite of Ferry Corsten, Paul Van Dyk and Tiesto, along with releases via A State of Trance, Vandit and Anjunabeats, Thomas Datt has enjoyed a much lauded two decade career. But where has he been of late? Now on the cusp of his first production in three years, we catch up with the well travelled trance favourite as he drops a new remix via Landscapes Music. Enjoy!

Hello Thomas, thanks for joining us. What is your current mood and what was the last piece of music you listened to?

Hi! Thank you so much for having me. I’m always happy to dive deep and share a bit of myself with the world, I mean that’s what we do with music right?

Current mood is very chilled and relaxed. I’m listening to Ancient Ganesha Mantras. Beautiful meditative music with a pulsing synthy bass, with a lovely female vocal singing Indian mantras. Touches the heart and soul.

How’s your year so far? And what are your plans for the coming week?

My year has been going really well, especially since I finally get to see the hard work I’ve been putting into myself paying off. Having new music coming out is very exciting!

With that said, there are always ups and downs to life, but it really depends on what kind of energy and mindset you take into each and every single experience that comes your way. A shitty experience might not be that bad if you come from a balanced state of being. The last thing you want to do is become a slave to a bad experience and let it control your moods for days or even weeks.

I’m at a place where it’s a lot easier for me to come back into balance and the present moment, so that I can tackle any potential challenges in life.

My week is most likely going to consist of further promotional content on my socials relating to my first release in 3 years, and of course teaching my students how to create high vibrational music that comes from the heart and soul. The kind of stuff that has been missing from the trance world for quite some time now.

Can you name five tracks that were important in your musical development and why they are so significant for you?

Wow that’s a very deep question, might really have to think about this one…

1. Trinity Sight – Three Mile Highland
I heard this for the very first time on a radio station based in Staten Island NY, all the way back in the 90s. The journey of the track really grabbed me, along with the vocal chops and a kick ass acid line. This was the first vinyl I ever bought, and it was also an introduction to Deepsky who I adored back then.

2. Front 242 – Happiness (Underworld Remix)
This I heard for the very first time on MTV’s Amped, I think that’s what it was called. If I remember correctly it only aired very late at night, and I think on the weekends as well. They played a lot of cool music videos from electronic artists, and Happiness really stuck inside of my head. The video had really cool CG visuals to go along with the music. They were pretty cool for their time; it was the 90s after all.

3. Transa – Prophase (X-Cabs Remix One)
Just the thought of the intro and the melody within it gives me shivers! What a kick ass piece of music from the 90s. I didn’t even realize this was on Perfecto Fluoro, which is awesome considering that I had many releases with Fluoro some years ago. For a long time I couldn’t find the name of this track but always knew the melody. Happy to say that I have it on vinyl back in NY.

4. Cosmic Dancer – Cosmic Dancer
This was actually Deepsky, for those that might not know. The vocal sample here is great! But it’s the energy, the synths, and most importantly the acid line that really got me hooked! I always loved 303 acid lines in my trance, of course it has to be done well not just tacked on for no apparent reason. Try not to mistake this version for the one that came out on their album… Unfortunately, the album version lost a lot of the magic from the original.

5. Salt Tank – Eugina
This was huge for me, had it on repeat quite a lot. Was never a fan of the Michael Woods remix though, but all the others really did it for me, especially the Tiesto one. With that said, the groove and feeling of Progressive Summer Mix would always make me smile and bop my head.

Do you consider yourself a DJ or producer first? And which do you enjoy more and why?

100% producer first! Making music is a beautiful thing. It literally is a reflection of who you are on the inside. You are your music, and your music is you. No ifs or buts. If you’re not conscious of your thoughts, feelings, or traumas, then all those things will go into the music you are making. Have you ever tried making a happy uplifting track when in the back of your mind you’re stressing about something, or you’re actually angry? It’s not going to be a very feel good piece of music, I will tell you that much. There will be a confusion of energies and emotions, without the artist knowing why.

Anyone can be a DJ, it’s not that hard to push a few buttons on the CDJ to mix 2 tracks together. Now learning music, that’s an art form that can take a lifetime to master, and for me it took about 20 years to get to where I am right now. I can honestly say that I am writing the best music of my entire life because I know who I am. Knowing who I am deep within allows me to tap into frequencies that most struggle with. Not many are able to achieve this, but I know how, and this is what I teach my students as well. Basically how to connect to their hearts. It’s not easy, but the results will speak for themselves time and time again.

You were born in Poland and re-located to the USA in 1992, how did residing in either country affect your musical taste growing up? And would you say moving to the USA shifted your taste and career path in any way?

In Poland I was a huge fan of 80s music, as that’s what I grew up on, but the biggest band for me was Roxette. A really good childhood friend of mine that came to visit each summer from another city, introduced me to the band and I instantly fell in love. To this day I still love their music and will sometimes jam out in the car.

Moving to the States made things a lot more channeling because their taste in music and what was popular was not what I liked. I went back to Poland 2 summer in a row and spent most of that time in front of the TV watching VIVA. I was introduced to electronic music in the form of Euro Dance, which was basically trance to me back then. I loved it and I knew I was going to make something like that.

As a teen things changed a lot more because trance was becoming more popular and I was getting a real taste of it as well. I did attend many raves in my younger days, and was always a lot snobbier with my taste in trance music than anyone else I knew. Growing up on the kind of music that I found suitable to my ears, allowed me to easily tap into those feelings and sounds when I was learning to make music. I had a lot of good music to be inspired from.

What are some of your best memories from first going to clubs in the USA? Were there specific nights or sets that really made you feel you wanted to pursue electronic music?

It wasn’t the clubs or festivals that sold me on it. I was already sold on it. My soul was sold on it long before I was partying. I knew what I had to do. What I wanted to do. It was just a matter of time and the means of achieving this.

One of the greatest nights was Paul van Dyk at the Roxy in NYC. The music was sooooo good! I don’t think any other night ever lived up to that one. I met a lot of amazing people from Trance Addict that night, and we partied all night long. Actually come to think of it, most of the PVD nights in NY around that time were some of my favorite clubbing experiences.

You’re currently in Australia is that correct? What prompted the move there and how do you like it?

Yes, I am living in Sydney with my amazing and beautiful wife Alicia. I’ve been here for about 5 years I want to say? I’m not sure, time flies so quickly and most of the days just blur together for me.

At the time I was under the impression that something better was waiting for me on the other side of the world. Part of me thought it was a better music career, though obviously this is probably one of the worst places you can be to have a trance career as flying around the world from here is ridiculously long and expensive.

The main reason for it was my gut feeling. I knew that my twin flame (twin soul) was here. I had to find her, reconnect, and be as one. Huge spiritual growth has happened for me here, that wouldn’t have happened anywhere else. I wouldn’t be who I am right now, speaking to you, and I wouldn’t be writing the kind of music I am today, if I never came here. It was one of the greatest decisions I have ever made, but of course it was a very difficult one as well. Leaving friends and family behind was tough, but I needed a change of scenery and I guess you can say a fresh start as well.

What have been some of your favourite venues to play over the years and why?

Being able to play with Paul Oakenfold at Ministy Of Sound in London was one of the best experiences of my life. I always wanted to have that experience, especially since I spent many years listening to live sets from clubs around the world. The Gallery and MOS had some of the best recorded sets, from some of my favorite DJs.

Foundation in Seattle was super fun too! I had those guys in the palm of my hands, and it was a very beautiful experience being able to share that with everyone there.

San Francisco was huge for me as well, as it was a favorite city of mine to visit time and time again. They always showed me a lot of love and support in that city. I think it was the Civic Center that I played at that really blew my mind. It was my first huge event… it might have been too soon for me because I was nervous AF the whole time.

If you could set up an event with a line-up of five artists of your choice, who would you book and what set times would you ascribe to the artists?

Very interesting question. Part of my mission and vision in life is to do healing events. These events would have energy healing as a big part of the experience, but also the music would be from artists that understand how to tap into their hearts and souls, that can make high vibrational experiences that take you on a ride, but also heal you with powerful frequencies within.

Apart from myself, as I am a certified energy healer and practitioner, that honor would most definitely go to my students. I am currently teaching all my secrets and methods to connecting to the heart space and healing trauma, that allows an artist to make music that’s simply out of this world and definitely healing to the mind, body, and spirit. So I wouldn’t really trust anyone else to be part of this vision, except that of my students.

Timeslots would depend on the event, or specifically what kind of healing we are trying to achieve, and who is best at what is needed in order to achieve a higher state of consciousness in a gentle way, from start to finish.

This isn’t just a party night. This is a full on healing night/day. There will be massive shifts in energy. People will know exactly what they are getting into, and it will be like an experience like no other. There will be tears!

You’ve had immense success over the course of your career, which now spans two decades. All the greats such as Ferry Corsten, Paul Van Dyk and Tiesto have supported your work along the way, looking back on it what were some of the key tracks which spearheaded your rise in trance music?

It’s probably safe to say that it was 2v2, but most of you guys know that I don’t have a great relationship with that track. I hardly consider it anything close to my best work, but I respect that it holds a special place in your hearts. Just not mine.

if you guys want to know how I really feel about that track, then I highly recommend you watching my Live Review here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRG-oomlUt0

After that we had Alone, which had a very different feel and energy to 2v2, and already showcased that my music isn’t just the same sounds with different melodies. This is what PVD fell in love with for his compilation, which I was very proud of.

The next one was Evaporate, and this is the actual order of those releases. The original version wasn’t what I envisioned it to be. Mostly due to the fact that I couldn’t quite nail the sounds that I was going for, nor the energy. I suppose we can attribute it to technical shortcomings. The remix however, was featured on many compilations which really helped get my name out there some more. My love for this track would be incomplete until my album Picking Up The Pieces, where I was finally able to give it the energy, feeling, and technical skill that I couldn’t achieve years before.

At the time I was only making 1 single per year, which is pretty shocking all things considered, and yet even with that, it really helped my career. I didn’t really hit my stride until many years later with all the Perfecto remixes, as well as originals such as Prana Flow and The Psychonaut.

How has the genre changed from where it was then to now and do you think trance music is in a healthy place currently?

I have absolutely no problem sharing my full honesty with my take on the industry and the current state of trance music. Since late last year when I launched my music program Walking The Path, I’ve been very vocal on social media about my thoughts and feelings on the matter.

I’m not sure why everyone is so afraid to talk about this openly. The fans know it. They talk about it. But what about the artists? Why is everyone pretending everything is okay? It’s not! The music has lost its soul. There’s no heart in trance anymore. It’s all just ticking boxes, copy and pasting template music. Rinse and repeat. Put out one sound a like track after another, like it’s going to change your life, the world, or make your career in some way or another. Hoping that someday you will be the next super star even though the music is generic AF.

Where are the stories? Where’s the emotional resonance in music? Don’t you wish to be taken on a journey?

A lot of music these days is just dead to me. Everyone is chasing the dragon. Trying to cater to a DJ. Cater to a label… Most artists don’t know who they are, as they are merely copying each other. If you don’t know who you are, how is your music supposed to stand out?

Music is an ancient and sacred art form, and it’s meant for healing, not just bopping your head until you pass out from drinking too much or partying too hard. Good music can take you on a multidimensional journey, make you feel things you didn’t know you could feel, and definitely give you actual goosebumps on your skin. Good music can be felt coursing through your body, as those frequencies bounce around inside of you like electric bolts of lightning, or moving spheres of energy.

It’s honestly really exhausting trying to even connect to new music these days because that’s the kind of energy that the artists are putting into their creations. There’s no love there anymore. There’s a lot of stress, anxiety, frustration, anger… none of those things are things I want to connect to when I listen to music. Why would I want to feel those things? Been there, done that.

For trance to have another renaissance, it is of utmost importance that every single producer out there takes a huge look at themselves. I don’t mean in the mirror, though it is a really good exercise to look yourself in the eyes and say “I LOVE YOU” 20 times, and actually mean it. How many of you guys can do that? Does it feel uncomfortable? Do you actually mean it? Do you love yourself? It’s not until you are completely honest with yourself, know yourself, can be completely naked and vulnerable with the world, that you will be making amazing music once more. Forget the money, forget the fame, forget the DJs, forget the labels. Go back to the basics. Love yourself and reflect it back in the music. When you can do that, your music will change in so many beautiful ways… it’s amazing! But most artists are stuck in their heads, in their egos, so they will just keep doing the same thing over and over again. Chasing the dragon. Thinking their shit doesn’t stink. Thinking they are the best at what they do. While secretly having very little love for themselves. Every negative and lower vibration and emotion that you hold in your body and mind, will come out in the music, no matter what you are trying to create with your head. Everything that’s subconscious, will come out in the music without you even knowing it.

Get out of your heads! Reconnect back to your hearts! Watch your music change! Watch the world change!

And if you don’t know how to reconnect to your heart, then go ahead and reach out! My wife and I have created an amazing 5-month music program that focuses on energy healing, mindset work, reconnecting to the heart, and the fundamental basics of what it means to feel music from the heart, and how to navigate that space to create something that is missing in this world at this time. We teach you how to feel and be a human being once more.

Join us as we build a community of conscious producers!

You have a new remix of Dark Matter out this week via Landscapes Music, tell us a bit about how you approached the remix and how it showcases your sound.

Couldn’t be more excited about this release!

When I first heard this track I immediately tapped into the energy of the frequencies that were present, along with the story that was being told, and the feelings that were being expressed. I’ve felt those before, and I’ve been there before, but I also have a very different perspective on that energy. On that story.

I used the parts that resonated with me the most, and then I put my heart and soul into the process to build a new soundscape around that which was already there. My perspective from a higher vibrational state of being.

You described this remix, which is your first production in three years, a ‘personal masterpiece’. Tell what you mean by that and why it is such a significant production for you.

The way I approach all music these days is based on a very simple principle of connecting to my heart, to my soul, to my higher self, to the universe and endless creativity within. I do this through a meditative practice where I allow myself to come into stillness, calmness, and balance. This means every single time I sit down in front of the music I am working on, I am tapping into the same energy and emotional resonance every single time. That means each time I work on it is an amazing experience, rather than it always being different. There’s no more forcing anything. There’s no more stress or frustrations. There’s no more resistance. That doesn’t happen anymore. There’s no more creative blocks. I am fully in control of my creativity and the flow state. I can literally turn on the flow, the magical thing all musicians want, whenever I choose to.

Then as an energy healer, I decided to incorporate an intention of creating an activation for the physical and energy bodies for everyone that ends up listening to the music. This is magical stuff, and I understand it will go over the heads of many people that don’t understand what I am talking about. Know this, the activations themselves work on everyone in various ways. It really depends on the level of consciousness each individual listening to the music is at. You could have a massive experience with the activation, or you could have a very slight one. A slight one could be something like having a little vision, or memory, or a feeling. The stronger stuff is going to tickle your forehead and body in many wonderful ways.

This energy comes from love and it is here to help everyone on their spiritual journey in life, no matter where they are.

I was also tapping into the Bismuth crystal the whole time I was creating it, so you have that energy present in this music as well.

It is a personal masterpiece because I have never in my life been at peace with myself the way I am now. I have never in my life known myself the way I know myself now. I am my music. My music is me. Music is energy. I channel energy for myself and my clients all the time. It’s like magic.

Landscapes Music is a label you’ve not released with previously, what makes the label a good home for your music?

I had a really love chat with the owner of the label and we shared some stories about our lives and views on the current state of the trance music industry. It was as simple as connecting to another human on a personal level. We understood one another, and we are heading in a similar direction with music and our overall beliefs on what needs to change.

In regards to future Thomas Datt originals, I will not be signing my music away to lables anymore. It’s not something I will do ever again, as I intend to own the rights to my music, unlike most of my career where you know… let’s just say labels like to take advantage of their artists, don’t like to pay their royalties, and try to take their music for life if you’re not being careful. My future music will be released by myself, as I strongly feel that is the best course of action going forward.

What do you look for in a track when considering taking on a remix project?

How it makes me feel. I need to have an emotional connection to the original piece of music. There has to be something that stands out that makes me excited at the possibilities ahead. It’s as simple as that. Of course, there will always be passion projects that have nothing to do with an actual release but something I want to do for myself. Like my Britney Spears and CHVRCHES remixes, to name a few.

What does your set-up like? Do you favor physical gear over digital? And what studio tools featured heavily in the writing of this remix?

I have a big screen on my left, a much smaller screen attached to my gaming laptop in the middle, and another big screen to the right of the laptop. To my right I have a midi keyboard that I love to play with because I can feel the vibrations coursing through my body each time I push a key. It’s simply amazing! You really have to clear your energy body in order to be able to feel something like this, which is something we teach you at my music academy as well.

I have a Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 sitting under my laptop stand. 2 white Yamaha speakers, which unfortunately are currently sitting behind my 2 screens. That’s alright though as most of my music production actually happens on headphones anyway.

FL Studio is the best DAW in my opinion. I’ve been using it for 20 years I will never change to anything else. I am still learning new and amazing tricks, which I pass on to my students as well. It’s a fantastic program, looks amazing, and feels great to work with.

I’d like to say the most heavily used VSTs were Spire and Omnisphere. Ozone is amazing for the mastering process, highly recommend it.

Generally speaking, do you find it more difficult to come up with original tracks than remixing a track from another artist?

I actually prefer to write original material over remixes. But at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter. A good remix is one that incorporates the feeling of the original, but has a completely different take and perspective.

How many times have you heard a remix that was just a rehash of the original, where it actually sounded worse because the production values were lower, and the sounds that were used were cheaper, and the emotional resonance just wasn’t there? That’s actually happened a lot to my tracks… there’s a very small amount of remixes that I actually like of my music, and that’s probably because no one could really tap into my frequency.

Doing remixes is not something I’m going to be doing a lot of like I used to. There’s no real desire or pull for me to get lost in that again. I feel like I spent a lot of my career doing that, and things need to change this time around. I have a lot more to offer the world through original material than just remixes. The future is going to be very exciting!

To actually answer the question though… haha… Anything that comes from my soul is easier than tapping into someone else’s. Every single time I sit down to write, it’s an adventure. Every single aspect of the creative process is an amazing time, very fun, very mind blowing, where I just get lost in the flow and see what happens. There’s nothing better than that!

What’s a piece of gear or software that always gets used when you’re writing a track?

That would be FL Studio of course! Omnisphere and Spire are also my favorites.

What’s the task you enjoy the most when producing and what is something you’d rather have taken care of by somebody else?

I enjoy every single aspect of creating music. That’s also part of the problem that is causing the trance scene to be so stale these days. Everyone is rushing through the production process. For instance, working on an intro before the bass comes in, is just as fun and amazing and exciting as any other part of the process. If you’re not having fun then you’re doing it wrong, and if you’re doing it this way then it will show. Your intro will be bland, boring, generic, and I will most likely skip it.

My favorite parts will be the melodies. I love that stuff, and of course pads as well! My first student, Jordan, before he signed on, I joked around with him not to fuck up my pads because I’m quite well known for pads. I told him if he messed them up, I will kick him out! Of course it was a joke and we had a great laugh, especially when the pads lessons came around. I’m very happy and proud to say that my students can write beautiful pads as well.

Pads and melodies come directly from your heart. To make the best of them you have to know how to connect to that most vulnerable place. If you can’t, then you gotta ask yourself why.

How much road testing or friend feedback is done before you’re ready to say a track is finished? And who is someone you share your new music with first for feedback?

The only testing I really do is in the car. When I was mastering this track I kept running up and down to the car park multiple times in the day just to get it right. Of course I didn’t realize that I was making it a lot harder on myself because I was stuck in my head. Once I came back into balance and stillness, and felt the mastering process rather than thought and listened, then everything fell into place in a very short amount of time. When I felt it in my body I knew it was done, as I had a huge grin on my face.

I will usually share my new music with close friends. They’ve been with me through a lot so it’s the least I can do.

To be fair though, my student Jordan pointed out that there was too much tension in the climax section of the track. Suggested I do another key change, which really changed the way the track felt and how it opened up. So I’m very grateful he was able to give me that kind of feedback, even though for a moment my ego was butt hurt to hear what he had to say. At the end of the day it was the right thing to do. You gotta get out of your head!

What would be a musical extravagance for your studio you would pay for, if you were very wealthy?

I don’t really need much to be honest. I’ve been doing alright for 20 years with a very small setup. I honestly never really felt I had a studio. That’s the truth. I had a setup in a room. No sound proofing on my walls or anything like that. Headphones, speakers, computer, software, and that was it. The acoustics were never in my favor, but I made it work anyway.

It would be nice to have a dedicated studio space just for music. Some hard synths as well, that would be cool. It’s not something that keeps me up at night.

Kids out there trying to make music, let me tell you something. YOU DON’T NEED AN EXPENSIVE STUDIO TO MAKE AMAZING MUSIC. You just need to know how to connect to your heart.

What’s a book you’ve read or film you watched that has left an impact on you, and why?

The only kind of books that I read are in regards to spiritual growth and practice. The last one was called Star Magic, and it showed me some new ways of doing energy healing and tapping into higher frequencies that I was unable to do until that point in time. I’m very grateful to have read that book. I use that knowledge every time I do a healing session or every time I teach music. It’s all connected!

The new Matrix movie blew me away, as well as my wife. It was fucking brilliant! We’ve seen it 5 times now, and each time we saw something new. Mind blowing as to how much information they crammed into that movie. Of course it’s not for everyone. Much like all the spiritual talk I am sharing with you guys today. Many will think it’s bullshit, and that’s fine because I was once there myself. I was an atheist if you don’t remember. I also had a massive ego, if you recall.  Now I tap into other dimensions, do past life healings, reprogram belief systems, shift trauma, channel multidimensional beings, and all that other fun stuff.

If you could travel anywhere for one day, all laws and limitations void, where would it be?

I’d like to go back to Atlantis and see what that was like. I have a very strong connection to that timeline and reality, and also work with those energies during my healing sessions. I’ve been there before, but I’d like to go there now with this new life and consciousness.

In your opinion, what’s the biggest risk you’ve taken and what made you do it?

Moving to Sydney was a big risk. But it all worked out in the most amazing ways! I didn’t think it would at one point, especially since I did actually end up going back to the States because I couldn’t make it work on a tourist visa.

I think the main one is basically being authentic and true to myself. That means that I will talk about who I am, what I do, how I do it, my lifestyle, my abilities, my beliefs, and share them with the world, live on camera on social media. It’s a blessing to be able to step out of that comfort zone, to get out of that of being judged by someone that doesn’t understand. Being seen is as the real me. That took courage and a lot of work.

What is your current favourite place to eat and what do you generally order there?

This question made me laugh! Thank you for that moment! Everything was pretty serious and then boom, out of nowhere we are talking about food. Now I’m hungry… and will probably be thinking about this place.

The Colonial Restaurant is an Indian joint with lots of vegan options. So yea, we love Indian food and that place is mouthwatering. We usually get Indian as a way to celebrate something, it could be just a celebration of life and happiness.

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

I love the beach, the sun, swimming in the ocean, laying on the sand, listening to the sounds of the waves crashing and people playing. We didn’t get much of a summer this year. No joke, it basically rained the whole summer! I may have been at the beach 2 or 3 times.

I love my wife! She makes me happy! So of course a beach day with her is the best thing ever.

What does the remainder of 2022 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

Currently we are mostly focusing on growing and expanding the music academy, and eventually releasing all the music I am making with my students on my soon to be record label. Now my label going to be focusing on high vibrational music, and only myself and my students will be able to release on that label.

Down the line I’d like to start getting into events as well.

Oh yes, there’s a potential and most amazing and beautiful collab I have been working on with someone the trance world loves very much right now. He’s been a huge fan of my work for a very long time and is always supporting the new stuff even now, long before anyone else gets their hands on it. The problem for me has been time. I’m juggling a lot and it can be very draining and exhausting at times, but these are the beginning stages of something huge and something beautiful that I cannot wait to see grow and thrive.

Dark Matter - Dragons Tear (Thomas Datt Third Eye Activation Remix) is out now via Landscapes Music: https://bit.ly/378NACz

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