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Go BackTOM STEPHAN - “Superchumbo” likes it dark and dirty! ++ Incl Live Mix

Posted: 4/11/05 11:46

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  While he relishes the opportunity to infuse his own productions with what’s become his twisted signature on house music, he confesses that not everything necessarily warrants the Superchumbo treatment:
“I’ve always only remixed tracks that I liked or that I thought would work after getting the Superchumbo makeover,” he explains. “I recently was asked to do a remix of the Eurythmics and I was really excited about it. Then I heard the track and I just didn’t feel that making it dark and dirty – which is what I do – would work. So, I had to say no.”

While he turned down the lucrative remix opportunity, high-profile remix projects haven’t been elusive for Stephan. He’s lent production polishes to tracks by the likes of more mainstream acts like Missy Elliot, Kylie Minogue and Depeche Mode, and his dance contemporaries in Peace Division, Armand Van Helden and Erick Morillo. Of course, Stephan owes a lot of his success to “Revolution,” his 2001 hit that found ubiquity in DJ play lists around the world.

While Stephan acknowledges that “Revolution” has been instrumental to his ongoing success, he stresses the importance of being recognized for his body of work, not just one tune.
“’Revolution’ was certainly the track that kicked things off for me,” he says. “But no, I wouldn’t say it’s only about that track now. I get just as many requests for ‘Dirtyfilthy’ and ‘This Beat Is’ as ‘Revolution.’”

Good though Stephan’s studio skills may be, it’s been DJing that’s helped cement his international reputation as one of the world’s most in-demand and well-travelled DJs. Stephan says maintaining a strong connection to dance floors and understanding what sets crowds off was the inspiration for his debut album, Wowie Zowie, released on Twisted Records this summer.

Named for the sense of wonderment Stephan always felt in hitting clubs like New York’s Sound Factory (and hearing the likes of the legendary Junior Vasquez), Wowie Zowie helps embody his life’s philosophy: “Life sucks - let’s dance!”

“Basically I had a lot of ideas and I couldn’t get them out fast enough. Also, having put together the album, Leadhead – The Sound of Superchumbo (a mixed collection of Stephan’s original productions and remixes out on Loaded) by assembling a bunch of previously released tracks and trying to make them work together, I wanted to find out what it would be like the other way around. I started thinking about the sequence of Wowie Zowie as I was writing the songs. In retrospect, I think most of the music works best on the dance floor.”

NYC’s dance floors may bespeak Stephan’s roots, but he’s called London home for several years now. Still, the flavour of New York’s tribal house still pervades his music, certainly influenced by the likes of DJs like Vasquez and Danny Tenaglia. And definitely couched in what was very much a gay dance scene once upon a time.
“It’s true that house music was born in gay clubs - gay and black actually. When I first started clubbing in the early ‘90s, the gay clubs were playing the newest and best music. Then the rest of the world caught on.”

“Now I don’t think gay or straight necessarily means good or bad. You can hear terrible music in either if you pick the wrong club!”

“I think that as a DJ and a producer, your personality comes out through your music. And that music speaks to some people and not others.”

When music speaks to Stephan, he says supporting it is easy – read: making a purchase and not an illegal download. With his status, Stephan is certainly privy to his share of free music, but he’ll gladly lay down dollars for music he believes in.

“As a producer, I know how much time and effort goes into making a record. I just bought Nic Fanciulli’s mix CD. I just bought the Depeche Mode album. If I respect an artist, then I feel good about doing the right thing and buying the CD.”

Likewise, Stephan undoubtedly hopes he can count on industry and fan support for his latest endeavours: a new label, Chumbomundo, and a new mix CD, Afterdark, with Stephan handling one disc and Roger Sanchez the other. Afterdark is being released on Sanchez’s Stealth Records imprint.
“Roger was planning to do the Afterdark series to showcase his darker side and he said he thought I was the ‘perfect partner’ to start the series with. How could I say no to a compliment like that? My mix is made up of my biggest tracks this year – new and old.
“The most exciting thing for me is (the single) “
Here I Come,” which features Katherine Ellis (of “Salty” fame) on vocals and will be the first release on Chumbomundo. I’m going back to the good old 12” for a while.”

Words by Yuri Wuensch