Thomas Koch aka DJ T. / Biografie
Thomas Koch aka DJ T. has been a vital part of music and club culture for more than 20 years, during which time he has built up a reputation in a range of different capacities: DJ, label owner, producer, event organiser, club operator, publisher and journalist. In 2005, he relocated to Berlin, where he's been living and working ever since.
Blame it all on the disco ball. Born in 1969 in the city of Dusseldorf, at the tender age of nine Koch succumbed to the seductive charms of black wax. By this time, his family had moved to Frankfurt, and disco had reached its zenith; Koch's parents plied him with early vinyl compilations, triggering what would become a serious and lifelong collecting streak. T.'s burgeoning obsession went beyond disco and hi N-R-G - Village People, Donna Summer and Evelyn Thomas were soon followed by early rap music (via Grandmaster Flash) and finally - from 1983 - electro funk and its seminal protagonists Afrika Bambaataa, Planet Patrol, Newcleus and Mantronix. Their tracks had everything Koch craved: glam, funk, beats and bass. They were the soundtrack to a new dance culture. For Koch, this was love at first sight and he decided to take up breakdancing. Until this day, many of DJ T.'s own productions preserve the musical spirit of this period. Some loves do last forever.
Koch's career on the decks began with trial stints at private parties back in 1986, which were soon to be followed by his first professional gigs at his own nights in Frankfurt club Nouvelle a year later. He adopted the pseudonym DJ T. - a moniker he retains to this day. Early fare on his turntables: black music in all its variants. Spinning at a range of different clubs in and around Frankfurt, T. soon found himself swept away by the powerful acid house wave that hit the city with the opening of Sven Väth's Omen in 1988. Koch switched to straight beats to move the crowds with early house, EBM and techno tracks, followed by his first residency at Frankfurt's seminal Music Hall. Throughout the 90s, he played almost all of the city's essential clubs, including extended stopovers at Plastik, Dorian Gray and The Box. By now, Frankfurt, one of Europe's foremost epicentres of electronic dance music, has become indelibly linked with the name DJ T.
Towards the end of the millennium, after a decade of experience organising major events and club nights, Koch felt the urge to make his own vision of a club come true. In 1999, he, Patrik Dechent and others opened their own venue Monza, an intimate and cosy little club situated right in Frankfurt's city centre. In his capacity as DJ and the one in charge of the club's overall musical direction, Koch played a decisive part in shaping the profile of this hot-spot as well as that of its Ibizan satellite events for the next five years. Impressive names like Steve Bug, DJ Hell, Ricardo Villalobos and Tiefschwarz were among the venue's welcome and frequent guests. Run without Koch since 2004, Monza continues to claim its place among Germany's foremost clubbing locations; operating from its Ibizan offshoot, his former partner Dechent strives to extend the club's sphere of influence all over the globe.
Moving back in time: In 1989, Koch founded the influential German-language magazine Groove. To this day, it remains Germany's most important and high-quality publication for the electronic aspects of life, alongside De:Bug. According to Koch, it was all about "creating a magazine that would meet my own needs. I assumed there were many others with similar needs out there." And history proved him right. Besides serving as Groove's publisher and editor for fifteen years, he has also contributed to anthologies on club music, among others Localiser 1.0 and Techno.
In 2002, Koch and friends decided to start their own label, Get Physical Music. Within ten single releases the label had gained a worldwide reputation, its popularity and fame spreading well beyond its Berlin base - reaching #4 in the annual Groove reader's poll of their favourite labels in 2004, Get Physical also claimed the coveted 'label of the year 2005' award from British clubbing bible DJ Mag. Ever since, one would be hard-pressed to find a single techno/ house DJ around the world who does not reach for at least one Get Physical track when things get hot.
Featuring six seasoned veterans of electronic music and club culture, the label collective also includes DJ and production team Patrick Bodmer and Philipp Jung (otherwise known as M.A.N.D.Y.) as well as producers and studio owners Booka Shade (Walter Merziger, Arno Kammermeier, Peter Hayo). Focussing on A&R, among other responsibilities, Koch tirelessly scours the scene for new talent and takes care of those already signed and their current productions. And yet, besides all these other activities, Koch still finds the time to pursue his own artistic endeavours.
2000 saw the release of his first production with 'Monsterbaze', a Steve Bug co-production on the latter's Pokerflat label. To this day, in addition to releases on Moodmusic, 20:20 Vision, Pokerflat and Kindisch, Koch has put out a total of sixteen 12'' singles on Get Physical. In 2005 he unleashed his first album Boogie Playground, a reverential and reference-laden piece of music paying homage to T.'s own past and all those strands of early club music that had shaped his future path. Conjuring the moods that gave classic funk and electro as well as disco, italo and acid house records their good name, Boogie Playground wrapped them all up in contemporary sound design.
In addition, Koch's talents as a remixer have not gone unnoticed. His interpretations of acts like Spektrum, Mylor or Newcleus plus remixes for labels like ArtofDisco/ Yellow, 20:20 Vision, Simple and Naked Music have moved critics and crowds alike. In 2006, Berlin daily TAZ commented on his 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". Whether somewhere in Europe or on one of his extensive tours of North and South America, Australia or Asia, T.'s sets are invariably stirring and extraordinarily varied. Koch is most certainly no 'style fascist', but rather something like 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 fine, homogenous blend, reminiscent of expansive narratives that transform the significant links between genres and ages into a truly physical experience. Yet despite all this inherent party spirit, Koch also knows how to send 6am crowds into veritable danceathons - as anyone who's heard him play at Watergate, Panorama Bar and Bar25 will attest.
Spring 2009: four years after his debut Boogie Playground, DJ T. returns with his much-anticipated second studio album, The Inner Jukebox, a singular and accomplished set that reflects its maker's ongoing interest in rigorously re-inventing classic sounds for modern ears and dancefloors.
A co-production with Thomas Schumacher, who used to helm Elektrochemie and now produces acclaimed solo material for Get Physical, The Inner Jukebox is an assuredly mature work, but is notable also for its youthful exuberance and confidence. The Inner Jukebox is not just a mere succession of club tracks, but it is again alive with narrative structures that tell a story, showing a deep respect for the history of electronic dance music and what has gone before.
While Boogie Playground was an exploration of T.'s 70s and 80s influences, The Inner Jukebox draws inspiration from the 90s and is a more focussed adventure. So much house around right now is really just glorified minimal techno, vibe-killing in its meticulousness; by contrast, the tracks which comprise The Inner Jukebox are bold, vivid, expressive. They're cerebral and carefully crafted, yes, but more importantly they have a bounce and a sexiness to them - also not exactly a hallmark of current house music. T. has always sought to make proper, no-nonsense dance music with real groove at its heart - and The Inner Jukebox finds him fully realizing that ambition. This is no concept album - it's about quality dance music that will sound great in the club, the car, the home, wherever. So put another dime in the jukebox baby...
Newest tracks: http://www.myspace.com/deejaytea