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WRITTEN BY DAN CARTERDan Carter is a British journalist and professional writer to the Dance music industry.
As one of Germany’s most prolific House assets to date, Roman Böer has established himself as a true workhorse within European Dance music. Despite juggling the chaotic realms of producer, promoter, DJ & label boss, a consistent output of groundbreaking club hits has seen Tocadisco flaunt between the supposedly opposing realms of the Electronic underground and high profile collaborations alongside the likes of David Guetta & Afrojack. Now positively inveigled by this sense of tirelessly-deserved musical freedom, this month will see ‘FR33’, his darkest offering to date, released as a free download in a bid to show his gratitude to those who have remained loyal to his heartfelt musical journey over the years.
The ongoing dispute between that of the ‘pariah fans’, now branded illegal downloaders and artists themselves, has continued to draw a wealth of arguments among the industry, to the sum of few new opinions and fewer rational solutions. Among his years on the scene, which have tallied an impressive selection of belters and an ongoing discography of remixes for the German producer, Böer’s thought accumulated in the decision to take the leap and join the ranks of Radiohead, whose ‘In Rainbows’ record saw increased financial success following its short-term free release back in 2007.
The decision, however, is yet to give the renowned House producer any sleepless nights. ‘I have had a lot discussions with artists and professionals over the years as to whether music should be free or not and have come to the conclusion that it should unless the artist wants it that way,’ explained Böer.‘ I am very lucky to have the life I am currently living, but it would not be possible without the support of all the DJs and fans out there so this album was a free gift for them to show that it isn’t all about profit.’
The gesture of goodwill to the multitude of fans that Böer’s Tocadisco moniker has accumulated, however, circles a genuine issue that has continued to plague and baffle the global music industry. With ‘FR33’, a far darker and Tech induced offering than his previous albums which has hinted a slight return to his underground roots, Böer hopes that the unconventional means of distribution may earn him some good industry karma in the long run given the endless problem facing every artist of the day.
‘Music piracy is a real problem for this industry and even more worrying is that it shows no signs of being resolved,’ he explained. ‘Just being a producer alone doesn’t pay the bills anymore. I am working harder than ever before in my life and while I enjoy the work, I find it difficult to understand how millions of people just don’t care about the artists that spend their lives creating music for them as a career.’
Though caked in industry animosity and worry, Roman’s rise into the dual role of label boss has been yet another notch of freedom for the renowned German House artist. His own imprint, TOCA45, signalled the closing of an unwelcome contract and the beginning of his own musical legacy, which would come to encompass the positive home grown vibes that he once sought as a novice before the storm. ‘It was always a dream of mine to have my own record label, but being tied down elsewhere had always prevented me from chasing that dream. Now that my old contract is finished the opportunities are endless and it has been a great rush to finally do it!’
Channelling the likes of industry peers Zoo Brazil and Moguai into the labels sound scope, his own presence on the label remained somewhat subtle until more recently, appearing only on-board for remixes as the young label established itself on the digital market. ‘In the first few months I felt like I couldn’t release my own records, so most of the releases were coming from good friends who wanted to support TOCA45,’ admitted Böer.
‘From here onwards the focus is on music for DJs rather than for the radio, but no boundaries as far as sound is concerned.’
The game into which he entered, once one of youthful energy, underground brownie points and a genuine sense of technical and creative perseverance, has well and truly changed since he first walked through the doors of international Dance music. With his musical roots budding at 10-years old, Roman was barely 17 when the fanatical devotion to Dance music that would inevitably lead to his earlier musical productions finally kicked in. Reflecting on his earlier entry into the industry, Böer explained: ‘A friend of mine knew Philip Jung from M.A.N.D.Y, who worked at Jive Records, who were stationed here in Cologne. I did my first remixes for the label, which led to them pushing my debut solo production “Nobody Likes The Records That I Play”. After this my remix for Mylo’s “In my arms” opened the doors internationally and I started to remix a lot of different artists.”
Nadia Ali, Afrojack & David Guetta are among the contributors that have solidly established Tocadisco’s ongoing relevance within every avenue of his craft. Having furthered his international credibility by taking the reigns for a very special extension of the ‘Toolroom Knights’ compilation series last year alongside Chris Lake, the transition between his rich underground integrity and authentically tailored mass appeal has not been so much of a battle as a mutal union that has proven invaluable to the wrath of Tocadisco.
As a true jetsetter between the globes finest clubs, Böer remains a fond figure among and devoted admirer to the diverse German scene within which he cut his teeth. ‘The German scene is definitely an exciting one and I am very proud to still be a part of it after so many years,’ he explained.
More important than his hometown’s internal developments, however, have been the ones that took the whole world by storm. This, in turn, is an aspect that continues to fascinate Böer. ‘About ten years ago everybody was playing soulful House and disco tunes. Out of nowhere, the international scene became a lot harder with Electro and Minimal Techno popping up everywhere. That is what continues to excite me about music; it just keeps on changing and progressing.’