To celebrate the five year anniversary of HOLIC TRAX, we spoke with the main man himself, Tomoki Tamura. Originally hailing from Japan where he started his journey into dance music, Tomoki moved to London in 2004, bringing with him his infamous HOLIC parties, earning him spots DJing at top London venues including Fabric, Ministry of Sound and Plastic People. In 2007 his rapidly growing reputation earned him residency at the infamous London club, The End, until its closure two years later.
Almost a decade after HOLIC’s establishment, the launch of the label HOLIC TRAX came naturally in 2012 with a release from none other than Mr. G. The label’s unique raw take on house music has earned enormous praise from underground music lovers. With releases from Tuccillo, Rick Wade, Chris Carrier, Ekkohaus & Rufus, Kate Simko, and Robert Dietz, the label has proven to follow its own taste without compromise
The label is celebrating its fifth birthday in style with three EP releases from Tomoki Tamura, Mr. G, and a collaboration from Satoshi Tomiie and Tuccillo. Edition 1 and Edition 2 are already in shops now with Tomoki Tamura's Edition 3 to hit shelves later this month.
So you’ve made it to five years with Holic Trax – you must be pleased with the achievement. Are there any particular highlights for you?
I was delighted when I finally got the 10 inch EP for the first release of the label by Mr. G. It took a long time to get everything prepared and everything kicked on from there.
Do you have any favourite releases on HT?
All the releases are my favourite. I think that should always be the case, I don’t release tunes on the label that don’t fit into that category.
What made you decide to launch HT five years ago?
I had been hosting my HOLIC parties for a long time in London and Japan, and I wanted to launch a label in order to deliver our style of house music to more people.
Did you have a clear vision in mind when you started the label? And has this changed over the years or is it very much the same?
I know the music I like, so it was clear what I wanted to develop, however, I did not understand much about the various aspects of label management and gradually learned that over time.
Although musical trends are always changing, the style of my label does not necessarily follow those trends. I want to evolve with my own style, but I think it can be said that the label has not changed too much.
So what can we expect from the next five years of HT?
Recently, it feels like time has been moving very quickly. I think that there will be many developments in the five years but I can’t anticipate exactly what will happen. I’ll just keep doing what we do and trust that this will get results.
More immediately, do you have releases planned for the rest of the year?
I'm concentrating on 5iVE YEARS HOLIC TRAX which is out at the end of the month and after that I will think about other releases.
How did you get into electronic music?
My childhood friend was a hip hop DJ and I started following him which got me into the music. I saw various DJs mixing hip hop with acid jazz and disco, and then gradually from there I progressed to house music.
When did you start producing electronic music?
I had been DJing for a long time and did not really focus that much on production but probably in the last five years is when I have really started to get into it
What does your setup include for when you produce?
I wake up around 8AM and then eat breakfast, stretch and check my emails before setting off to studio around midday where I stay until the evening. I have few machines like an MPC3000, TR 909, TB 303, MC 202, Moog Voyger etc I record all of my sounds onto Logic. I always dig out some interesting music on vinyl and then put it onto my MPC3000.
Do you have a particular process for when you’re making tracks?
I always start by jamming with some samples on the MPC and then add some other drums and sounds using additional machines after.
Your tracks tend to have a fairly moody and raw feel to them – do you aim for a particular sound when you’re producing or do you just sit down to produce and see what happens?
It feels that way because it is that way. I’m not entirely sure when and where my ideas and inspiration come from but when that wonderful idea comes out, it is important not to miss it and express it properly in your own way.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
There’s too many to choose from and I wouldn’t want to name anyone in particular. I’m still always discovering new and fresh music by digging through vinyl in shops or on the internet. It’s a great feeling when I find amazing fresh sounds from old or new tracks and I think it is the best way to bring a vibe to the studio.
So as someone who’s lived in Japan, London and now Berlin, how do the different scenes compare?
I think that London and Berlin are truly cities where people are maturing with club music. Japan may have more development to come, but there are many unique party atmospheres that you only find in Japan. Whenever I go to Japan I really love it for this reason
So you used to be a resident at The End; as someone who grew up in London and started listening to electronic music through nights at the End, that club felt special to me and a lot of people I know – do you miss it?
Yes I miss it a lot, The End was a special space for me too. I still remember getting a call from the manager telling me that it was going to close and I was so shocked. My last party there was “Holic at AKA” and that was one of the best parties of my life. I played from start to finish and the club was fully packed right until the end with an amazing crowd of lovely people.
You’ve got a bit of a reputation as a crate digger when it comes to DJing, how do you source all of your music? Do you spend a lot of time shopping for music?
Finding a balance between time spent in the studio and taking the time to dig records is very difficult. Starting the studio work inevitably takes time away for finding records, but I think that digging for records is actually beneficial for music production as well. In the studio you listen to your own music over and over and after time your ability to judge whether it’s good or bad weakens. When digging for tunes I feel refreshed and I can discern new ideas again.
I find music in various places, though most often in record stores, Discogs and Youtube. I think a good record shop is the most efficient way of finding good records because the shop owner can pick out good records for you to save you time.
What are five of your faovurite tracks from the last year or so?
So I picked 5 solid old deep house records which sound still fresh for these days and I play for my set.
Braxton Holmes - 12 Inches Of Pleasure (The Climax) – Clubhouse Records
Microman - Probably the best tech-house tune ever- Ahab
Todd Bodine - Engage - Rampe D
Neon Phusion - Blue Tektra (Restless Soul mix) - Laws of motion
HERBERT - Butt-Head - Phono