Ramon Tapia is an artist who goes about doing what he loves in a very unassuming way. With career that stretches back to the early 00’s, Tapia is an experienced servant of the global scene and a highly important cog in the local Dutch and Belgium scenes. Whether you are after a rolling techno set or an ice-breaker house set, Ramon Tapia is your man. The Dutchman’s booking schedule is prove of how popular he his with performances in the past week alone including countries like Egypt, Dubai, Beirut and Switzerland. One look at his discography reveals a producer who is very busy, and with over 130 remixes to his name, a producer who is very much in-demand. He has released a diverse selection of tracks on an equally diverse selection of labels stretching from Bedrock to Suara to house mainstay Strictly Rhythm and more. (In 2010 he also mixed a compilation for the New York-based Strictly Rhythm). Of late, his Say What? imprint has been a dependable vehicle for his own productions, his latest being a collaboration EP with Rik Watts.
Balance Selections 42 is filled with main room igniters from artists like Steve Lawler, Jesse Perez, Sean Collier and Daniel Steinberg. Also included are two unreleased tracks from the man himself scheduled to drop later this year, plus music from new artists to look out for: ‘One artist who you should watch out for is Gallya, she really makes cool dark stuff and is featuring a lot in my record collection right now.’ No doubt you will enjoy this one…
Balance Selections Q+A
Ramon Tapia, Amari
Labels affiliated with:
Knee Deep In Sound, Say What ?, Bedrock
My last 3 releases:
What music did you listen too as a child?
When I was really young, it was mostly Latin music that my dad played in the house, from artists like Julio Iglesias and bands like The VIP’s from Chile. My mum was more into pop music, so it was one big mix of all those combined. My dad did play some guitar also, but it has been ages since I have seen him on it nowadays. I have two older sisters too, and they started to go out to the clubs when I was still too young, and would bring back all the tapes to play around the house, and it was all electronic music. I enjoyed listening to all types of music back then, I didn’t have a preference and think looking back that it gave me a good musical spectrum that I still have now.
When was the first time that you realized that you liked electronic music?
My sisters were the instigators here for sure. Those tapes they bought back from the clubs were played in their rooms at full blast for most of my teenage years. I had to share a room with my older sister and she didn’t care, she played what she wanted and when she wanted, whether I liked it or not. In those days they went to clubs like IT in Amsterdam and Boccacio in Belgium and came back with the tapes of artists playing on the night, or demos being passed out. It started off mainly all new beat stuff, and then evolved into house over the years. One of the stand out tracks of that period for me was The Hypnotist ‘The House Is Mine’. Actually, that’s a track which I still love now, and think it works when played in some clubs. It’s amazing how some music has the ability to remain relevant after all these years. I should actually ask my sister for some of those tapes, as I bet there are some real gems on there I’ve yet to discover…
When was the first time you saw a DJ in a club?
I think the first time was at a camping site called ‘Schooneveld’ where my family stayed for a vacation, when I was about 10 or 11 years old. My sisters took me to the disco night on the grounds. They dressed me up and everything. Don’t get confused, this wasn’t a big club or anything, but it was my first experience of going out to a music venue, so to me the place looked massive. The first record I heard there was MC Miker G & DJ Sven ‘Holiday’. I just listened to that record again and wow, its bad! I am kind of feeling really old now after saying that, but it still gives me sweet memories, it was really raving at all, but I felt like a boss at the time.
Which producers/artists/acts inspire you?
There are so many, as I am sure anyone would say the same. I am a hip hop fan, so Pharell for instance is sure in my top 5 of inspiring producers and artists. He always comes with something even fresher than before. He’s an absolute boss. Martin Buttrich for instance is also a real hero of mine, especially the work he did with Timo Maas, it was mind-blowing. DJ Sneak, has been a big influence since the Daft Punk days with his Chicago house, and Stephan Bodzin with his production of the highly acclaimed Rekorder Series – the first time I hear 001, I was like WTF is this?! Lots of years later he still kills it everywhere he plays.
What is your current production and DJ set up like?
In my studio I mostly do everything in the box, I use Cubase as DAW and use lots of samples. I love sampling, but the cool part is to make something new with it. Recycling is just as fun to do, that always creating something totally new. I have a Virus TI, Eventide H3000 SE, SPL Vitalizer and an old Microverb from Allesis which I bought for like €20, which sounds sweet, but also gives some dirt. I also have an old Allesis Compressor just for sidechaning, it’s the one Daft Punk used so that’s why I bought it! Ha.
Plug-In wise, I am a huge fan of the Universal audio plugins and if you are becoming a little bit more pro when making music, I would say this is a must have item, even though the plugins are fairly expensive, as they vary from €90-200 – the quality is awesome. I always use the Manley Passive EQ, which sounds crisp and is really clear in response towards low ends too. Beast of an EQ right there.
Another is the Studer Plugin from them too, which is an emulation of the old Studer A800 tape machine. It gives extra colour to a record as it provides this analogue grain to it, but you can also do this with other tape machines of course, however personally this is my favourite. For real in depth EQ’ing, I use the Fabfitter EQ. You can set endless EQ’ing points and work really precisely. No hassle just EG and go! It does have a great feature if you cant really find your spot to EQ, if you keep your curser on the moving graph, then it will stop, showing you which peak you want to EQ grab it, and then pull up or down. Its genius!
Compression-wise, there are a couple of plugins I love, the main one is Brainworx Vertigo – VSC 2 Compressor. It sounds so sweet and slick, great for kicks and hats. To give a groove that typical roll, I use the Softube – Tube Tech CL 1B, also a great emulation and sound big and has balls.
My Speakers are from Genelec, they’re the 1030A’s to be exact. I love these, as they are small but powerful speakers.
My DJ set up is kinda easy, mostly I’ll ask for a Pioneer DJM 900nx2 mixer but any mixer will do to be honest, as long as it’s not a toy and sounds like a cardboard box when sound it goes through it. I prefer to use 3 x CDJ’s 2000 Nexus in the booth, more than that isn’t needed, but on some occasions I’ll still play vinyl. I love playing vinyl so much, but it’s such a hassle carrying them all around with you, so thank god they invented the MP3. It’s also essential that the booth has some awesome monitors, nothing worse than when you can’t hear what your playing and how it sounds in the club.
What releases do you have on the horizon?
It’s been a busy year so far for me, I have just had an EP out on Knee Deep In Sound called ‘Karma‘ which was my debut on the label. It has a couple of killers remixes from Tiger Stripes and Re:You. This EP is the start of more to come, as I have another one planned on the label later this year, during the summer.
My Amari alias was launched back in January on Bedrock, and since I have been working on some remixes under that moniker, including two tracks which I signed together with Lost Desert. One is to be released on Lee Burridge’s imprint All Day I Dream, where Lee will also be featured on the release and the other one is for Tale And Tone.
My own label Say What? Is going to have a lot of new talents on this, we are getting some amazing new productions from emerging artists as well as those already established. It’s nice to mix it up a little, and bring new artists into the limelight. I have just had my second collaboration with Rik Watts out in May with our ‘Surrender’ EP, which was a little tech-house monster! You can expect more from me later this year on the label too. Also my remix schedule has been cracking, with upcoming projects with Sharam Jey and another for Kevin Saunderson’s Innercity.
Where can we hear you perform?
Summer is here, and so it’s the schedule. Things are looking busy for the next few months, this weekend I am off to Cairo in Egypt, Dubai, then to Beirut and Switzerland. in June, I have my debut Australian tour, where we will be heading to Sydney and Melbourne, as well as jumping over to Auckland in New Zealand – really excited to be heading over there for a tour. I also have a few festivals in Belgium in July, they have some really amazing new venues over there, so that’s going to be a lot of fun, combined with a few stops in the Netherlands! I run my own monthly Say What? Records radio show, which has my own podcasts and guest mixes from the labels artists, which we are growing this year, so keep your ears peeled for some really interesting artists.
Tell us more about the podcast you made for Balance?
I made this mix in my studio with 2 CDJ’s and an Allen & Heath Xone mixer. It’s a selection of some of the tunes that really work for me on the floor. With great tracks and remixes from Jesse Perez, Sean Collier, Gallya, Jamie Trench and Daniel Steinberg. I also included also 2 unreleased tracks from myself called G5 and Hexagon which will be released later this year. My last release on Knee Deep In Sound is also in the mix, which was a big release for me this year. One artist who you should watch out for is Gallya, she really makes cool dark stuff and is featuring a lot on my record collection right now.
The top track in my DJ wallet currently is:
Harry Romero – “Poison” [Bambossa Records]: What a beat of a record that is! I love the dirty grain on the track and the rolling groove.
If I could recommend only one of my tracks for you to listen to it would be:
Ramon Tapia – “Karma” [Knee Deep in Sound] I am really proud of this track and how it sounds. Its proved to be a killer on the dancefloor!
My favourite Balance compilation is: Balance N° 16 from Agoria. It was an amazing selection of tunes. I really love the eclectic vibe to it, but of course there are other good ones too. Joris Voorn and SOS, but yeah Agoria was the one that topped it for me. This one has been in the car for a while – that’s for sure!
The last movie I watched that I really liked: John Wick (Chapter 2) I am a fool for action movies like this one. Keanu Reeves really reinvented himself with this one, which was kind of hard after his Matrix series. A must see if you are into some action, explosions and all that stuff. It also features the rapper Common, didn’t know he was going for an acting career, but he didn’t do too shabby!
My favourite TV show: In all honesty, I actually do not watch that much TV, so I don’t have a favourite show. If I do ever have the TV on, it would be watching a documentary, especially the BBC or Vice productions, they are so interesting. I don’t like series, unless its South Park or something like that!
If I could choose anyone to compile a Balance comp it would be: Hmmm tough question, so I am going to go with myself here (or both versions of me anyway). I think it would be a double CD, the first one with an Amari Day Mix, with a more melodic, deep selection of tracks, and then the 2nd CD would be a Ramon Tapia Night Mix, featuring tracks ranging from house to techno. Both CD’s would stand very much in their own style but work together well. I would be nervous as hell producing those!
1. Steve Lawler – Show The Way [VIVA] 2. Stefano Noferini – The Place (Jesse Perez Remix) [Deeperfect] 3. Daniel Steinberg – Director’s Cut (Original Mix) [Arms & Legs] 4. Prok & Fitch – Got Drums [Stereo Productions] 5. Ramon Tapia – G5 [Unreleased] 6. Ramon Tapia – Move One [Toolroom Trax] 7. Ramon Tapia – Hexagon [Unreleased] 8. Harry Romero – Poison [Bambossa] 9. Gallya – Maschines [Set About] 10. Ron Costa – Hourncase [Tronic] 11. Ramon Tapia – Karma [Knee Deep in Sound] 12. Sidney Charles – I Need You [Truesoul] 13. Francisco Allendes – Tacedillo [Desolat] 14. Martin Dawson & Glimpse – Run Away [20/20 Vision] 15. Sean Collier – Sour Diesel [Transmit] 16. Jamie Trench – It Never Stops (Chris Carrier Remix) [Roush]