Backstage with DJ Ride
So, tell us who you are, where you’re from etc?
My name is Tomás, I live in the beautiful city of Lisbon, in Portugal. I’ve been producing Hip Hop and electronic music for more than 10 years. I also spent many years participating in DJ battles – turntablism is one of my passions!
What’s on your playlist at the moment?
I listen to a lot of different stuff from Noisia, to Flying Lotus, James Brown, Max Richter, Burial, Jon Hopkins, etc…
Has Music always been a part of your life? Was Music a big part of your childhood? What did you listen to back then?
Yes, I had some music classes when I was 11 years old; I was really bad at it (haha) but at the time I was already getting into urban music, I just didn’t have the tools to produce it. When I was a teenager Hip Hop was the soundtrack to my life. I always had a strong connection with music – I was always that kid with headphones on.
What inspires you musically?
Fresh stuff, different unpredictable production details, good melodies, bangers! I love to be influenced by young producers who aren’t afraid of pushing things forward.
Which came first, Turntablism or Music Production?
Music production came first because it was easy to get some software – on the other hand, getting a good turntable and mixer 15 years ago was really complicated, and expensive! I bought my first turntable when I was 17 and it changed my life.
Do you feel your DJ’ing influences your production and visa versa?
Yes definitely! I know exactly how the crowd reacts to certain frequencies and rhythms, I know what works and what doesn’t, so DJ’ing helps me a lot on my production and the other way around too!
You are obviously a turntable master, do you play any other instruments? Are any techniques transferrable?
Thank you! I play really bad keys, but I guess the classes I had when I was younger somehow helped me with the basic music theory stuff. Turntablism definitely helps you with sampling, chopping loops, and opens up your mind to crazy ideas.
…Turntablism definitely helps you with sampling, chopping loops, and opens up your mind to crazy ideas….
You have an extensive collaboration list, including some heavy hitters like Coldfinger. Did any collaboration stand out as a career highlight?
Yes there’s some collaborations that for me stand out: some Portuguese rappers and singers that when I was youngI looked up to, and in the international scene, I did some stuff with DJ CRAZE – he’s one of my biggest inspirations. We also remixed Machinedrum and Holly, both of which are some of my favourite artists – that was my first release on the label “Vision”.
As a DJ I guess you are at home on the road – what was it like being in lockdown and what did you use this time for?
Yes, it was hard for everyone I guess; I tried (and still try) to be busy, to keep working on new stuff. I’m blessed that I can make music in my living room, so that was a big escape for me. I’m not the most productive person out there but I made my record ENRO and some other music that will be released soon. No gigs yet but at least I’m releasing on amazing labels, and that inspires me to keep going.
Who are your biggest influences on your production?
From J Dilla, to Flying Lotus, to Stereossauro, Holly, Noisia, to all the new kids on Soundcloud – I have a really wide range of different producers from different genres that inspire me.
How does a track start for you – what is the spark that kicks off the rest of your production?
Most of the time it’s a sample, or a loop I recorded from jamming around with my synths and my machines; other times I start with the drums and then play / mess around with different melodies or loops. My process is really random, it’s always changing!
Do you ever suffer creative blocks? What is your coping mechanism?
I don’t call it creative blocks; sometimes I can be tired or not inspired to make music, but I try to do stuff everyday – I see music as a full time job, even if I only do a rough sketch of a track, that could be important in the future. Also sampling and Splice helps a lot when you are stuck on some ideas.
How does technology impact your creative process?
Technology and new machines is what helps me achieve the sounds I have in my head. It would be impossible to explore and do the music I’m doing now without my gear. Even on the DJ side, Serato opened up lots of possibilities: I have an audio visual live act where I can scratch the videos with my timecode vinyl – that would have been impossible to do a few years ago.
What has your experience of the industry been like thus far and what advice would you give to anyone just starting out?
Full of ups and downs – but luckily more ups! It’s hard to go full time with music, I started as scratch DJ/turntablist and soon I understood that I needed to play club gigs – that opened up lots of doors. Eventually I started focusing more on production to get some air play and to be able to play bigger stages. Without a doubt,a turning point was winning the IDA world championship and releasing on important labels. It’s always difficult to give advice as I don’t want to sound cliche, but it’s really important to do what you love, to work everyday on your craft and never doubt yourself – you can do this!
What is your production setup at the moment? Is it fixed or do you switch things up regularly?
I just moved to a new place so the workflow is different but way better. I can have everything plugged into my UAD Apollo; I have a NEVE preamp, an EventideH8000, lots of synths and my DJ setup. My favourite DAW is Ableton live.
What are you working on at the moment?
I just released a new album on Noisia’s label VISION: it’s a mix between my Hip Hop background and the love i have for electronic music and Drum & Bass. I also have an EP coming up after the summer and some beats for portuguese rappers that I’m working on at the moment.
So we hear you have a ARGON in the studio at the moment – what’s your impressions on this?
I love the ARGON, it sounds great and it’s really versatile. The integration with MODALapp is awesome. I use it all the time. I also have lots of fun with the step sequencer. You’re definitely going to hear the ARGON in my next tracks 🙂