BnB Interview: Ramon Tapia

2010 has been one of the best years for Ramon Tapia. The Belgian/Chilean artist has been releasing a slew of hotly tipped EPs plus the Sinka Sunka album, which can definitely be called a highlight in today’s house and techno scene. Tapia’s sound is a crossover of various electronic genres, with fierce (tech-)house rhythms and catchy melodies forming the basis for being beefy electronic mutations.   

After establishing himself as one of the prominent faces of the German Great Stuff imprint, Ramon went on to drop tunage on imprints such as We Play House, Abe Duque Records, Pocket, and more recently the revered Strictly Rhythm imprint, on which Tapia just released the next in the acclaimed Strictly Rhythms mix series.  “I was stunned that the Strictly guys asked me to do the compilation,” says Ramon. “I had the idea to use some of my all time favourites from Strictly Rhythm, like the never ending vibe of the Endangered Species’ ‘Ping Pong,’ Kenny Dope as The Untouchables, Kings of Tomorrow with their acid-vibed ‘Czar’, Photon Inc’s ‘Give A Little Love’—tracks which have been burned in my head for years.”

We recently had a chat with Ramon Tapia about his Strictly compilation, music production, the past year and much more…   

Hello Ramon, thanks for your time. How have you been lately?  

Doing my thing as usual :), but in general it’s been a great year with lots of highlights!  

Let’s talk about your Strictly Rhythm album which has just been released. Could you tell us how the idea was conceived?
This Strictly series gives producers access to the Strictly back catalogue to do what they like with it. I had the feeling that it could be cool to make some edits and remixes with producer friends but still maintaining the Tapia flavor. When I asked Kabale und Liebe, Anton Pieete, Delete aka Sergio Munoz and Dave Brody to do this they instantly all said yes! After I did some edits / remixes I slowly saw the compilation develop into what it is now, but yet also the doubt kicked in as I’m a bit of a perfectionist with music – I can keep changing things till the end hehe… So when the whole compilation was done, I felt satisfied and proud. I just sent the masters and that was it, no way back, no more changing. A few days later I listened to the compilation together with a friend and he told me that the flavour was perfect; it still sounded Strictly Rhythm but it had the Tapia vibe and that’s when I knew I had succeeded in my goal…

One the most important thing when you do a compilation is the track selection, can you tell us what criteria you used to select the tracks for Strictly Rhythm 6?

I did a lot of research and went through my old records to make the tracklisting and choose the tracks. I first wanted to see what I own from Strictly Rhythm and I instantly found some tracks I wanted to remix. Then of course I had access to the huge Strictly Rhythm back catalogue which provided me with more ideas. I just wanted to keep the original feel of the old Strictly sound; housey, groovy, sexy and techy, but with the Ramon Tapia cherry on top…

What equipment did you use to mix the album?   
I do everything in the box! So I used as my main sequencer -Cubase 5-, I used the Genelec’s 1030 A speakers (the old models) and lots of beer…

Earlier this year you released the Year 3000 EP on the Strictly Rhythm which became one of its most successful EPs. What do you think is the magic formula of that particular track?
Good question. I think the track just has a great feel to it and apparently a lot of people feel this too. I think the magic is in the vibe, yet every track is different and everybody likes another vibe :)  

How did you get in touch with Strictly Rhythm in the first place?
I was already familiar with the label for years but never thought I would release a track on it. Earlier this year I had the chance to release an EP on Strictly Rhythm, (“This Groove”) and it was one of the best selling Strictly Rhythms of the year. That’s why Strictly’s A&R, Seamus Haji, thought about asking me, and of course I took the chance with both hands when he did!

Speaking of your career, what made you get into electronic music?  
Well I moved to Antwerp to study to be a goldsmith and while I was studying I met people from Antwerp that were already DJing, so after a while I got the DJ virus hehe. But this was all still pure a hobby thing. The following years this hobby became bigger and bigger, and during that time I got in contact with people that recorded music and tried some stuff out with them. This lead to me buying an Akai Sampler and producing some hardcore gabba tracks with my friends. I didn’t really know the machines and how they worked at that point. When my studying days were over, I started to work in a jewellery repairing company, and occasionally played records at the weekend in a small bar in the centre of Antwerp. Soon I felt that my heart was with music and that I had to try to follow my dream to become a DJ/producer. My parents didn’t like this choice at all, but my Mom told me “go after your dreams now” before it’s too late but if you do it you go for it 1000%. So when a record shop owner asked me to work for them I didn’t have to think twice; I quit my job as a goldsmith and starting to work in the record shop and working intensively in the studio to try to make my own tracks.

Speaking of you studio, what’s your favorite piece of studio gear (hardware or software) and why?
My speakers, just because I love these babies. They have a clear sound and my ears are totally calibrated on them, I just can’t live without them!

We’ve heard this story about you producing music for your debut album Sunka Sanka in your bedroom studio, and then testing the tracks in Antwerp’s Café D’Anvers to hear if everything sounded okay. Is that a true story, and if so, are you still working this way?
Yes it’s a true story, but luckily now I live in a bigger apartment and my studio is now in a more appropriate room…. I sometimes still check my tracks in Cafe D’Anvers but I play a lot now so I have the chance to check my new tracks on lots of different sound systems!

Looking at the year almost behind us,  you must be very proud of what you have accomplished. Releasing your debut LP on Great Stuff, doing a collaboration with Secret Cinema, releasing two EP’s on Strictly Rhythm and now this compilation. How do you look back on 2010? Do you think this was year was your break through year on a global scale?  

For sure I’m proud and I think the last months were going really really good, which brought me thousands more fans worldwide! So I guess we are well on the way to breaking through! Let’s see how 2011 goes.

What can we expect in the near future? Any scoops?
I just finished a remix for Silicon Soul’s classic – Right On, which will be released on Soma Records. I also did a remix for Madskillz on the Format B label Fromatik. I just signed some new Ramon Tapia tracks to 100 % Pure and of course there is much more to come in 2011!

Is there anything else you want to say to our readers? Anything goes!   
Thank you all for supporting me and my music through the years ! :)  

Ramon Tapia ‘Year 3000’ EP and Strictly Rhythms Vol 6 mixed by Ramon Tapia are out now on Strictly Rhythm.