Way down to Mexico: a conversation with Tom & Collins

Amsterdam Dance Event is the place to be for electronic music, every year, we said that and read that many times. It is not just the place to make business, or to simply party, but also the chance to open your horizons. Too many times in Europe we are just focused on ourselves, thinking that we will always be the centre of the scene. This is true for music culture, but unfortunately can be applied to other fields.

Whether we know it or not, and whether we like it or not, there is a lot going on around the globe. Also for electronic music.

Take Latin America. This market is growing at an incredibly fast pace. Following the explosion of electronic music in the late 90s/early 00s that came after the EDM boom in the US, Latin America has grown in number, but also in quality. From Europe, sometimes we look at that market with some sort of snobbism, but today the reality is quite different. New artists, new scenes, have been emerging in the last couple of years.

During the last edition of ADE, we had the privilege to sit down with two protagonists of this new wave of electronic music from Latin America, which is trying to establish itself as a serious player in the global arena.

We had the chance to chat with Tom & Collins, probably one of the most influential duos in Latin America and one of the most important name in Mexico right now.

Tom & Collins are a duo composed by Juan Pablo Escudero and Jorge Corral. Their sound is full of vocals, difficult to be classified into simply house, deep house or tech house. It fits in different categories, but the deep touch of their production is very profound and classy. They prefer to be free in their production, with many remixes (one also for Madonna), but also with an extensive amount of releases created as tools for clubs and parties. Music to listen in the car, but also ready to be switched for a crazy night in a club.

Here our conversation.

  • Tom & Collins: let us start with ADE. I know that this is your second time at ADE, right? How do you find the atmosphere here?

Tom & Collins

Juan Pablo Escudero (JPE) – Last year it was our first ADE, and we were very lucky because we had the chance to talk about Mexico and Latin America in a conference, about our scene and about what was going on there. To be honest, I really like this event. The whole industry is here and the people attending ADE are normally working throughout the entire year in this sector. You can meet anyone, managers, producers, artists and so on and so on.. everyone is here! Also, the cultural level of people attending ADE is very high, top quality, I like that very much.

Jorge Corral (JC) – We were very excited last year, because we realized that the world was paying attention to what was happening in our Country and in Latin America. We spoke about us, being artists, and other people about the business side of our market. Being able to do this at ADE was a pleasure and an honour!

  • Have you been to the WMC in Miami as well? Do you find it very different?

Tom & Collins (together).

JC – I think the vibe at ADE is different. People are here first to meet with others in the scene, that is the approach. You can be at a party or in a business situation, but you just meet people, and talk, and discuss and share experiences. And those meetings will be the ones that will most probably shape your next year to come.

JPE – We also love the scene in Miami, but it is definitely different. Everything is a little bit more serious here, probably also because of the weather (laughs). Miami of course is also a big thing, many people are there every year, but I find WMC more like a party-oriented event.

JC – What I also find interesting about ADE, is that each label throws its own party. And those events are not just about the music, at the venue they also have to show the world who they are, everyone gives its best! ADE is the window to the world, the real deal in electronic music.

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  • So getting back to your name, we have heard that it comes from a cocktail, right?

Tom & Collins

JPE – Yes (laughs).. So the cocktail is gin, soda water and lime. We just used to drink this cocktail when we started, we didn’t even have a name back then. We were really into gin, we still are in some ways (laughs).. maybe we had too many… It kind of came naturally when we were looking for a name to use.

JC – We started as two friends playing at a club, we drank Tom Collins and it was easy for us to add an “&” and use this name.

  • You define your music as house, deep house, is that right? Do you think it is different what we mean in Europe with those genres and the sound that is associated with those words in Latin America?

JPE – Yeah there is definitely a much bigger cultural scene in Europe, much more established, but it is getting bigger and bigger in Latin America as well. I think most of it originated from the explosion of EDM, but that allowed the entire scene of electronic music to grow also in different directions, not just commercial stuff but also more underground music. Kids that started years ago to listen to EDM, they got to understand the electronic vibe and started to explore this world. Many of them have expanded their horizons and today listen to other genres of electronic music.

JC – The approach between Europe and Latin America is quite different, two different cultures in terms of electronic usic. But yes our scene is growing fast, lots of things are happening, the market is huge and it is really exciting to be part of this cultural process.

JPE – As of our sound, I would not define us as purely underground musicians or producers. We like a combination of vocals and melodies with the groove of techno and house, depending on the vibe and the situations we are playing in. We try to make music that people could listen to in a club or while driving the car, giving them the chance to enjoy an emotional trip. One of the most difficult thing, especially at the beginning, was to find our “sound”, but I guess now we found what we both like.

  • I would say that we are experiencing a coming back of melodic electronic music, being more techno or house. We have interviewed lately Finnebassen and Edu Imbernon, and they have both underlined this recent evolution of the scene. Is it true also for Latin America?

Tom & Collins

JPE – Yeah definitely! I think the only market that is somewhat different from the rest of Latin America is Brasil. They have developed their own scene with their own sound, a particular kind of deep house and g -house. I like that as well, but it has a specific “Brazilian” sound. In the rest of Latin America we have this big melodic house and techno scene, similar in some ways to the European one.

  • You play as a duo. What is it that makes you better as duo?

Tom & Collins

JPE – Honestly, we did not choose to be a duo, it just came that way. We started djing separately, then JC became partner in a club in Mexico City and he asked me to play with him, just as friends, nothing too serious at the time, just for fun. Story is, that it went sooo well that we did it again the next weekend, and the weekend after. That is basically how we started, it was not part of a plan to be a duo, but it came naturally.

JC – For me it’s different, because this guy (JPE) taught me how to dj and produce, and as he said it all went naturally. However, I feel that now we are better together. I know that each of us has some flaws, and we help each other out with that.  We also produce as a duo, four hands, which is the way I think we can be at our best!

  • How did you start to be passionate about electronic music, and when?

Tom & Collins

JPE – Obviously, I wasn’t djing when I was a kid (laughs), but I was into electronic music since a very young age. I think I started around the time of “In search of Sunrise” (Tiesto’s compilation of the late 90’s – editor’s note), when I was very young, and then I started to get addicted to this. I spent so much time searching for new music, and new tracks. It came then natural to start djing.

JC – I started by playing instruments, I had a band with my brother and we were into punk rock, I have always been surrounded by music. I was the guy who always tried to have the new music, the cool music.. at least I tried! I was probably the first guy who had Napster in Mexico! (laughs).

  • You have played alongside very different artists: Hot Since 82 and David Guetta, Roger Sanchez and Martin Garrix, just to name a few. How do you approach these different situations? You adapt to the different context or just stay focused on your sound?

Tom & Collins

JPE – We definitely keep our sound, but we adapt it a little bit depending on the type of event. If we play into a huge venue, or in a big festival, you can maybe use the same track and play it 2-3 bpms faster for example, and it feels more energetic. But no, we do not want to change our sound because finding it was one of the hardest thing for us. And people recognise us for that specific sound. The first big event that we opened was for David Guetta, and that was a big opportunity for us. At the same time, however, it was also a challenge: we started to be recognised as purely EDM artists, just because we opened for Guetta. I always say that there is no wrong or right in music, but this thing was kind of restrictive for us. That is why we try to keep us true to our sound, we want people to recognise us as Tom & Collins!

JC – If you play before Guetta, for example, you definitely go more vocal, usually with faster bpms and more energetic. That does not mean that we change our style, we try to be coherent with our productions and our sound.

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  • Which activity you enjoy the most, djing or producing?

Tom & Collins

JC – There are moments in both things, I think I would not be able to choose. Because when you produce something that you really like, that you enjoy listening, it gives me the same “high” that you have when you see people dancing, smiling, and having fun with the music that you are mixing. One thing is holding the hand of the other. Probably the best moment is when you play your track and people dance to it!

  • You are both quite young, so I guess you started djing when all the current software and digital mixers were available already. What is your stand in the debate around digital vs analog mixing?

Tom & Collins

JPE – I think.. no hate please! Whatever works for your music, and makes it sound better, then it is fine! You can go analog, with some instruments, for a part of the track and then produce the rest with digital tools.. I guess it depends on each different track.

JC – I think it mostly depend on taste, whatever works for you, whatever sounds great.

  • I always ask this to the artists I interview. We are called Clubber Confession, do you think being a clubber is necessary in order to be a good dj?

Tom & Collins

JC – Of course, big time!

JPE – Yeah! Maybe you don’t have to be a clubber per se, but you still need to feel the culture, the vibe of the dancefloor.

JC – .. and I think we still are clubbers.. when we go to a club we find ourselves dancing and having fun just like when we were on the other side of the booth.

  • Do you have a city, or a club where you did not play yet and you would to have a gig?

Tom & Collins

JPE – Ibizia!!

JC – And we want to play in Italy, we have seen some cool festival in the summer… how is it called that place again?

At that point, I started to name Italian cities, turns out it was Kappa Future Festival in Torino.

JPE – Kappa Future Festival looks amazing, we would love to play there one day!

  • At which moment did you feel like that you made the right choice in becoming an electronic music artist?

Tom & Collins answer:

JPE – I do not think we are there yet, and I don’t think you should ever think that you are there yet. You need to take one step at the time, and always work to get better and better. To do this, you really need to be motivated, and focused on what you do. There is still a long walk ahead of us.

JC – We try to keep on making music, and do our best, we did not have that moment yet! We live            day by day and we focus on the small steps of our productions and music careers.

We found very easygoing guys, curious people, ready to new challenges around the globe. You might not have heard of them before this interview in Europe, but be sure you will hear again about them soon. These guys are the real deal, and they will open up other opportunities internationally. We are very proud for the chance to spend some time with them!

Thanks a lot! See you soon, maybe in Torino!!!

You can find out more about Tom & Collins here:

Website
Soundcloud
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