Ramon Tapia was born and raised in Holland, with a Dutch mother and Chilean father – his upbringing had an eclectic mix of cultures which in turn developed and influences his decision to follow his father’s footsteps and become a musician. During his teenage years, he remembers the tales which sparked his imagination about dance music from his older sisters as they returned from a night out.
During this time, he was listening to the early pioneers of Detroit techno and legends such as Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Kraftwerk and Front 242. But his interest in techno soon developed after many nights out, and he later decided to move to Belgium’s capital, Antwerp – originally to study as a jewellery and diamond cutter but he had a part time job in a record store which eventually decided where he wanted to take his career. Self-taught, he slowly learnt how to produce tracks solo, where initially he mainly produced a tougher sounding techno. But he found his resurgence in the late 2000’s, where Ramon was signed to labels including Herzblut, Craft and Yellow Tail, forging a new school techno sound that blended the slower, sexier sounds of the contemporary vibe he has been schooled on over the last decade.
In 2010, he selected a number of tracks to be featured on New York’s legendary Strictly Rhythm label with the “Strictly Rhythms Vol 6” compilation. Featured a selection of artists including Ramon himself, this is where he really catapulted his name into the limelight and was the biggest turning point of his career. Soon thereafter the techno scene followed suit and his work was snapped up by 2000 And One’s label Remote Area, 100% Pure, Schinedoe’s Intacto, Secret Cinema’s label GEM Records and Tiga’s Turbo. This marked just the beginning of a long line of releases including a selection of EP’s and remixes to date on Toolroom, with his most recent EP “Yellow Submarine” smashing straight into the Beatport Top 10. His remixes and collaborations have come in the form of some amazingly talented and varied artists including Paul Weller, Armand Van Helden, Nic Fanciulli, Marc Romboy, Monika Kruse, Mauro Picotto, DJ Sneak and Umek.
With a nice collection of releases on some of the best labels, in 2012 Ramon decided to start his very own imprint with “Say, What” Recordings, as well as a collaboration label Aella Music which he runs together with Hermanez. We can expect to see Ramon releasing an EP his own label into 2017, as well as a new project for GEM Records and Plot Music after launching his exciting new project via Bedrock Records called AMARI. But first, his debut will be made on Hot Since 82’s label, Knee Deep. The EP will also feature two remixes from Ilario Alicante and Tiger Stripes, expect this one to be a huge hit, unleashing what will be a productive 2017!
What’s your favourite piece of gear – something you couldn’t live without?
Hmmm I think that would be Native Instruments Maschine. Since the day it came out it’s been my favourite, as it makes it easy to get a good rolling drum loop and more. I really use it for all my projects! In the past I always used Reason so this actually gives me a bit of that re-drum feel, but here you can also add the VST effects directly. All in all, I would say this is a must have a tool in your studio.
Which do you prefer – playing at enormous festivals or intimate clubs?
Both are of course cool because you can play totally different at each, but if I really have to choose, then it would be at an intimate club. You are closer to the crowd and that just gives a very sweet vibe.
Also, I think that's I start to play a little differently in that environment, maybe a little more deep than usual, yet I only know that once I start playing and see where the crowd and energy take me. Every set is still so different, and so are the crowds.
Which is the most mesmerising club that you’ve ever played at?
Fabrik in Madrid. Holy shit, that it a HUGE club! The first time I was there, they showed me the main room during the sound check and I was like “Damnnnnnn”. They told me I was playing in the small room, and I was expecting a tiny side room – but no! It looked like a normal sized club room in the majority of venues I have been.
I was totally shocked when I played the main room at Privilege but this club knocked my socks off! I think it can fit around 10,000 people or so, but I wasn't counting!
What is your best and worst experience at a gig and why?
The best experience was when I was playing in Barcelona actually, my agent came up to me and said “don’t turn around” – this was so that I wouldn't get nervous because I later found out that Richie, Dubfire and Dice were all dancing on the stage behind me. That was fun. My worst experience was when I had to play at a club in Colombia, just outside of the city of Medellin. The club got raided by police or some gang, I couldn't tell the difference as they were all wearing masks and had guns.
The promoter yelled at everyone to get out and I was escorted out the back of the club with a blanket over my head into a car and driven straight back to the hotel. I don't get scared about a lot of things, but this was really terrifying as I was in the middle of nowhere in South America. It happened all so fast, but I can still remember every minute of it. I got back home and kissed the ground – twice! Haha
Do you have any interests besides music?
Sounds bad but not a whole lot! I do love to go to the gym and stay fit... I love to be with my cat at home and watch movies. Being with friends and family is the most important thing, so I guess I am just like most other people, and how they like to unwind! But all this goes hand in hand with music, as I listen to it all the time – gym, at home, cooking…
Do you enjoy sunset or sunrise sets?
This one I have to say that I can’t choose! Sunsets and sunrise sets are both equally as beautiful as one another and very much in their own way. You’ll play completely different music. I feel sunrise is time to reflect and start fresh, where sunset can also be winding down the day or even getting ready for a massive night out...
What do you like and what do you hate about the music industry?
What I love most is the power of music. It brings so many people together no matter where you live, what language you speak, or religion or culture you follow. It’s really very powerful in that sense. What I really hate is all the new names we are making up it seems for genres. There are so many genres now……
I can’t keep up and also have no idea what some of them even mean or how we can categorise music into something so specific.
If you could pick any artist to do a b2b set, who would it be?
I think a B2B with Hot Since 82 would be great as we are both in the middle of house and techno, also he’s a great DJ. So yes, he’s my choice. It would be a lot of fun I think too.
What’s your biggest fear?
Becoming deaf and not being able to make music anymore, that would really my biggest fear and nightmare of all time. You only have one pair of ears, so you have to take care of them, but I have, to be honest, that I am guilty of not wearing earplugs as much as I should, especially when I play. I tried and I just can’t get the right vibe, so keeping the monitor that little bit lower is a must for me...
What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you on a gig?
Probably going back to that gig in Barcelona, when my agent told me to not turn around and see who was on the stage. Having all three of those guys dancing to your music on stage, that's quite nerve-racking and funny at the same time.
Mainly because I don't think I have seen any of them dancing that much before either! But of course, it made me really happy to know they were enjoying my set.
Could you pick one timeless track?
That would be “The Mod Wheel” which is on the album Spirit Catcher via Systematic Recordings. It's a classic drum track from Tom Middleton. Really simple but when that extra groove comes in boom! It’s absolutely magic when you play this record. There are so many other classic tracks that still do the job really well, so this is just a quick pick for me, as I could name at least another 50!
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Yes, there are a couple of things to let everyone know. My last release “Karma” which was my debut on Knee Deep in Sound is available now to buy via Beatport and I have my next Say What? Recordings release with Rik Watts due out on the 12th May.
I have also been working a lot with my releases as “Amari”, and have a remix on Mike Tohr’s label Atmosphere, as well as some material with Monika Kruse’s Terminal M in the near future! So things are going to be busy for me this summer!