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If you had not heard the name Paul Thomas before 2009 then you could well be forgiven for. Emerging onto the national scene with huge support from Radio One and dropping his floor-filling Size Records debut ‘Waterfall’, hopes were high for the Brummie contender as he emerged from the shadows of the midlands. Whatever the expectations, 2010 has seen Thomas emerge as the essential British DJ and producer of the year, hitting new heights and dimensions with his remarkable blend of Tech and Progressive vibes that have seen his tracks bless the cream of the industry’s labels. Having torn apart parties across the globe including various Global Gathering dates and a recent trip to Argentina, Thomas is ready to bring 2010 to a close with his final offering ‘Ultravoilet’. And what a year it has been!
Whilst the 29-year-old producer stands firmly on top of the UK scene now, 2010 started slowly for Thomas. With little DJ work at his dispense, Paul bound himself to the studio in order to reinstate his name amongst the crowd. The results could not have been better. Thomas explained: I’ve had a fantastic year so far, probably my best yet producing wise. I had a real tough couple of month’s right at the beginning of the year with lack of gigs, which was a little demoralizing if I’m honest. However, I managed to turn it into a positive and knuckled down in the studio, which turned out to be the best thing I could have done.”
Since bounding himself to the studio, the demand and buzz for Paul’s sound could not be higher. For Thomas, 2010 has proven that a little hard work goes a long way and that with every low, a natural high is never far from those who can stomach the work. “Now I’m as busy DJing as I have ever been, it is really funny how things can turn around in a few months in this industry!”
Revisiting his recent discography is enough to ascertain that Thomas has earned his keep as 2010’s British champion.
Delving into his recent discography, it is easy to recognise why Thomas has championed the industry. With the landmark release of ‘Tomorrow’ alongside German peer Jerome-Isma-Ae for Toolroom Records, the duo triumphed the digital world and ADE with this unique Progressive offering, deterring all competition on both fronts. After three years on the cards, Thomas was thrilled to finally join forces to lay down this definitive lesson in House music. He explained: “I met Jerome in Brazil about 3 years ago when we were both playing at the same party. We got on really well and Jerome invited me to play at his night in Munich, and we got in the studio together. It took us around 2 years after that to finally get something final, and after a lot of back and forth over the internet, ‘Tomorrow’ was born.”
Neither Paul nor Jerome could doubt that the tune they had fashioned would set them at the top of their game. Thomas added: “If I’m honest I knew soon as I hit on the main chords that it was going to be a big track. It’s not every day I can go into the studio and make that happen, so you know when you are onto a big one. It has done really well across all genres and even Cosmic Gate were hammering it when we played together recently.”
As well as emerging with one of the most anticipated Toolroom offerings of the year, Thomas was thrilled to work alongside Jerome. “He’s an amazing producer and making amazing tracks seems to come so easily to him,” Thomas explained, adding: “collaborations with producers who are a step above you really gives you confidence in the music that you’re making, almost like a seal of approval if you like. Jerome is one of my favourite producers, so this was a real boost for me!”
With the standard set so high for his Toolroom treasure, Thomas unleashed ‘La Bombo’ on Funk Farm Records. With his close UK cohort Funkagenda on remix duties, Thomas found the platform to unleash his all-out House onslaught to bring together this productive stint for the Midlands producer. Whilst chuffed to see his original cut finally see the light of day, Paul was even more impressed with his good friends take on his offering. He explained: “I actually wrote this at the beginning of the year, hence the straight-up House vibe to it. It was the last track I wrote which had that sort of vibe before I fell into the channel that ‘Tomorrow’ went down.
“I don’t think I’ve actually played it out that much to be honest! Funkagenda’s mix is the one for me and that’s sits in my sets a lot better now than the original mix.”
Reviewing the years frantic work, there is no doubt that Paul’s champion track of 2010 remains the summer anthem ‘Brass!’, a unique collaboration of Thomas, Sonny Wharton and the rising Ant Brooks that saw the trio embrace the carnivalesque vibes of Latin America to triumph clubbers across the globe, as well as Steve Angello! With his epic debut Thomas explained: “The release of ‘Brass’ with Sonny & Ant was a major highlight for me this year and turning point for my career. Everything seemed to snowball from the success of that track and we really didn’t expect it to blow up like it did!”
Following up this epic offering with Sonny Wharton in October, ‘Painted Faces’ for Wharton’s signature outlet of Whartone Records underlines the duos unique flare in the studio. Discussing his relationship with the esteemed pioneer of UK Tech-House treasures, Thomas explained: “Sonny and Funkagenda are my closest friends within the scene. Sonny is one of life’s good guys and he is about as talented a person you will ever meet. We hit it off in the studio the very first time we worked together and we’ve just kept that going. We often pull in opposite directions in the studio which is a good thing because you end up trying a lot more ideas.”
For Paul Thomas, the cards are solidly placed and the prize is all for the taking. Having emerged from the studio twice the producer he was before, Thomas has never been more certain of the producer he is and the music that he makes. “I think I will always be a Progressive and Techno lad at heart and I have gone back to the music of my heart over the past 6 months or so, Thomas explained, adding: “The music I am making now is that which I was into when I first got into the scene: Techy and Progressive beats with a big focus on the melodies.”
Thomas admits that having followed the crowd for one last time, the quest from now on remains to produce those signature ‘PT’ tracks that are lighting the way for the future of UK Tech-House. He explained: “I kind of got wrapped up in the whole house movement like everyone else for a while, but I soon realised it’s not really me. It’s easy to fall into a trap of making music you think people want to hear rather than music you like or want to play.”
With label interest coming from all corners of the industry and the legacy of Thomas’s rising career signed to some truly special outlets, the only mission on Paul’s mind is the acceleration necessary to see the Birmingham based producer triumph again for 2011. “I feel so in my comfort zone at the moment it is unreal. I made a conscious effort to step my game up this year and I’m pleased to see that it is working. Now I need to step it up again in 2011!”
The stakes have never been higher, the tours have never been longer and the studio has never been more utilized, but the cause is a just one in Paul Thomas’s eyes. “I love it,” Thomas explained. “I could not imagine doing anything else. It does get tough when you are away from the kids for a couple of weeks. That’s the hardest thing for me. But I think you need to be on top of everything
24/7 and I get a bit anxious if I’m not busy all the time, so it all evens out and the hard work is made worthwhile!”
Tomorrow is another day, though no doubt Thomas will be ready with an arsenal of finely-tweaked Tech-House anthems to tear apart clubs across the globe in a whole-hearted bid to make his name as THE essential British export in House music.