Thomas Koch aka DJ T. has been a vital part of electronic music and club culture for over 20 years. Uniquely accomplished in both influence and scope, he has excelled in every one of his incarnations: DJ, label owner, producer, club operator, publisher and journalist. Having recently closed one chapter of his working life – behind the scenes of Get Physical Music management – DJ T. is now primed to conquer 2011 purely as an artist, with his highly-anticipated third LP Pleasure Principle.
As disco reached its shimmering apex in the late 1970s, young Dusseldorf-born Thomas relocated to Frankfurt with his family. His parents plied him with vinyl compilations, and as a nine-year-old he succumbed to disco’s seductive charms, beginning a lifelong commitment to crate digging and vinyl collection. Thomas’ budding obsession moved through disco and hi-nrg, to the burgeoning sounds of early American rap & hiphop music, and finally to electro-funk, the beloved genre that has left an indelible imprint on all of DJ T.’s own productions. It was love at first listen, and driven by the sounds of seminal protagonists like Afrika Bambaataa, Planet Patrol, Newcleus and Mantronix, Thomas took up breakdancing, compelled to move by the genre’s urgent funk and infectious beats.
Donning a new pseudonym – DJ T. – his career behind the decks began in earnest at private parties, soon leading to his first professional gig in Frankfurt. After playing for a range of clubs around the city, T. soon found himself swept away by the powerful current of acid house that had engulfed Frankfurt with the opening of Sven Väth’s Omen in 1988. T. gravitated toward early house, EBM and techno, and secured his first DJ residency at legendary spot Music Hall. Throughout the 1990s, he was booked at all of the city’s essential clubs, including long lasting residencies at Plastik, Dorian Gray and The Box; by the end of that decade, Frankfurt, one of Europe’s epicentres of electronic dance music, had become indelibly linked with the name ‘DJ T.’
In 1989, T. founded the influential German-language magazine Groove. T.’s intention, in his own words, was to “create a magazine that would meet my own needs. I assumed there were many others with similar needs out there.” He was right. To this day, it remains as one of Germany’s most important publications for electronic music, and in addition to serving as Groove’s publisher and editor for fifteen years, T. also contributed to anthologies on club music, such as Localiser 1.0 and Techno.
At the end of the millennium, after years spent coordinating events and club nights, T. felt impelled to bring his own club vision to life. In 1999, T. and his friend Patrik Dechent opened Monza, an intimate club situated in Frankfurt’s city centre. In his capacity as resident DJ and musical director, T. played a decisive role in shaping the profile of the Frankfurt hotspot and its Ibizan satellite, before parting ways with Monza five years after its inception.
In 2002, T. and five of his friends started their own label, Get Physical Music. Within ten single releases, the label had forged an international reputation that took in far beyond its German base; it reached #4 in the annual Groove reader’s poll of 2004, and claimed the coveted ‘label of the year 2005’ award from British clubbing bible DJ Mag. Established by six seasoned veterans of electronic music and club culture, the label collective included DJ and production team Patrick Bodmer and Philipp Jung (M.A.N.D.Y.), producers Walter Merziger and Arno Kammermeier (Booka Shade) and studio owner Peter Hayo. Focusing his attention on A&R responsibilities, T. tirelessly scoured the scene for new talent and mentored label signees, all the while developing as an artist in his own right. Four years after inking Get Physical, its sister label Kindisch was founded. Dedicated to deepness, Kindisch was T.’s playground and he played accordingly, driving its dancefloor identity, and honing in on what he labelled the ‘minimal booty house’ sound.
T.’s production debut, Monsterbaze, with Steve Bug, graced the latter’s Pokerflat imprint in 2000, and since that time he has notched up releases on Moodmusic, 20:20 Vision, Kindisch, plus twenty 12’’ singles for Get Physical. In 2005 T. unleashed his first album Boogie Playground, a reverential collection that paid homage to T.’s past, and the strands of early club music that shaped his future. In 2009 his sophomore longplayer The Inner Jukebox was rapturously received; a co-production with Thomas Schumacher, his second longplayer is an assured work, and a singular, accomplished statement that reflects T.’s ongoing interest in rigorously re-inventing classic sounds for modern ears and dancefloors. Koch’s additional talents as a remixer have not gone unnoticed. His reworks of acts for labels like ArtofDisco, Yellow, 20:20 Vision, Simple and Naked Music have moved critics and crowds alike.
In 2006, Berlin daily TAZ remarked of T.’s first commercially available DJ mix, Body Language Vol. 2: “Koch combines tracks from the most varied of genres…triggering the most disparate of euphoria-soaked locations, he touches on the different waveforms of twenty years of party bliss.” T.’s famed selector skills took him to even loftier heights in 2010 with fabric 51, his celebrated instalment for the venerated British mix series, and a fantastically diverse and intricate mix full of sharp twists and unexpected turns, otherworldly soundscapes and deep elegance.
Whether DJing in his hometown of 5 years, Berlin, gigging internationally, T.’s sets are invariably stirring and extraordinarily varied. T. is no style fascist, nor is he a slave to trends; he is a bass- and groove-addicted club historian, with a firm grasp of the contemporary. His sets turn 25 years of electronic music history into one finely rendered journey, transforming the links between genres and ages into a truly physical experience, whether he’s capturing the peaktime party spirit, or sending early morning crowds into veritable delirium with one of his famed marathon excursions. T. embarked on an exhaustive 9-month world tour in the summer of 2009 with The Inner Jukebox, and drew on his journalistic background to document the experience, writing a weekly tour diary for online electronic music magazine Beatportal. Invigorated and inspired by his extensive travels, T. channelled that kinetic energy straight back into creativity, undertaking an intensive period of writing and production in early 2010. With new production partner Stefan Eichinger aka LOPAZZ, DJ T. devoted the greater part of the year to Eichinger’s Heidelberg studio, and the resulting album Pleasure Principle – due for release in spring 2011 – is T.’s most accomplished work yet.