"People that are just good at living I find endlessly inspiring"
Thomas Von Party creates music that works in all settings and transcends genres. We had a chance to talk to him, so enjoy your reading and check out his latest releases. Read our interview below to find out more about Von Party’s wide-spanning influences, creative environment and studio methods.
What was your first foray into the world of electronic music?
I started out because my brother and dad were both DJs. I used to record tapes off the radio, I bootlegged CDRs in the 90s, worked at a record store and started DJing at 16. I dabbled in production for years but it never was and still isn’t really the center of my ‘practice.’
In which creative discipline do you feel more comfortable?
Discipline isn’t really my strength. I like time-based performance and the accompanying sense of immersion. DJing is probably the thing I’m most comfortable doing apart from maybe cooking.
DJs and producers often mention their musical education came through their family’s record collection. Was this the case for you? Can you pick out any pivotal records from your upbringing that informed your musical journey?
Very much the case for me… My dad used to organize and play parties in Goa in the 80s, so I used to hear him going through records, recording tapes because that was the practical way to DJ back then… and by the early 90s my brother Tiga was in full flight as the ‘godfather’ of rave in Montreal, so that had a huge influence. In terms of pivotal records, there are too many to count. Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works is the one that probably sealed my fate.
What is your current most special record store or the one that significantly influenced you?
I like bizarro record store culture, the one that comes to mind is in Bogota. It’s in the back of a men’s shoe store. Upstairs there are more records and the owner’s bedroom. Amazing selection of Afro-Latin music but all kinds of stuff.
What is upcoming in the world of Von Party?
I’m getting into gardening. Who knows where this will all end up, but I’d like to DJ on farm-spas more than in clubs.
Which artists have your interest these days?
Still Aphex Twin! The tracks he released a few weeks ago came at a nice time and it felt great to listen to them at such an intense, emotional time.
Can you pinpoint any early inspirations for Multi Culti in terms of labels, artists, aesthetics or otherwise? Similarly, can you highlight any formative experiences that led you on the path to its inception?
There were a lot of crews doing things that we felt connected to and then the network kept growing. Comeme is one of my favourite labels and they were influential for me. Crews like Voodoohop that really had their identity but also had a home on Multi Culti, that type of collaboration is what built up our little underground network into something of a global scene. In terms of formative experiences, I think for Gus and I it was very much about bringing our histories to the table, all the music we knew, all the friends we’d made, and catalyzing a little community around some places and times. Hanging out in Goa, in Sydney, Montreal, I guess going to Burning Man… all those places are reflected in facets of the label.
What is your criteria for choosing artists, projects, releases…?
Vibe and vibe alone really. If we love the music, that’s good enough that almost nothing else will disqualify an artist.
Do you ever have any difficulties deciding which artist should belong to which label?
Since you started Multi Culti until now, how much has the concept of the label changed?
I don’t think it’s changed. It began with such an expansive concept, there was always room to breathe. I feel like we’ve barely touched on the ground we’d like to cover.
What’s the most satisfying and unsatisfying thing about running a label?
It’s satisfying when your music resonates with people in far off places, when it becomes the pretext for new friendships. The business side can be pretty unsatisfying.
What have been your personal highlights and lowlights?
Name a couple of albums that you like and come to mind with the Multi Culti label in mind.
What can you tell us about:
Golden Bug \ Almost nothing! He’s a cool producer. I still haven’t met him in real life. I think he runs a music licensing business.
Manfredas \ We’ve had tracks from him set for release for over two years. It’s been a long time coming, but if we don’t get an EP out of him in 2020, I’m going to sneak into his house and shave off his moustache in his sleep.
Dreems \ He’s one of a kind. He just got a dog and is taking up farming in the highlands. We just released a nice ambient EP of his.
What can you tell us about the last EP Hybridism with Nicola Cruz? What do you like the most about this album?
It’s a super interesting record. Lots of depth to it, really interesting elusive melodies and moments in there, rewarding to listen to over and over. Nicola is an incredible talent, he just keeps getting better.
In and out of the electronic music circle, who is an inspiration to you?
At the moment people that inspire me are in different fields completely. Off the top of my head - this urban gardener Ron Finley, I find cartoonists inspiring (Tomi Ungerer, Robert Crumb) for how immediately they translate an idea into a finished work, medical care workers, loving parents, anyone in a happy long term relationship. People that are just good at living I find endlessly inspiring.
What inspires you to produce your tracks?
This is a question I’m desperate to answer as I sit in lockdown wishing I could feel more motivated. I think feeling very happy or very sad tends to play a role. Great music, great art in general often finds it’s source in extremes of experience. That’s probably my problem right now, although I’m gradually getting depressed enough that it just might lead to a spurt in production.
How do you deal with C19 confinement with your work?
Has this situation influenced your creative perspective? What social and musical implications do you think this situation can lead to?
I love collaborating with vocalists, so it’s unfortunate to not be able to work with people. Overall, putting the breaks on public gathering, forcing this moment of reflection on the capitalist overdrive we’ve all been riding, it’s going to have a big and lasting effect on our industry. If there’s a vaccine and a clear victory over Covid – it could spark an incredible sense of elation, of coming together again, and that coupled with the deep recession could hopefully spurt communal action. I would love to see things shift away from alcohol-fueled profit-driven parties to something more psychedelic and free that is part of an overall lifestyle movement.
Can you tell us something about your current or future projects? Where can we continue to see and hear Von Party?
I have a ton of nearly finished or finished music that will come out in the next year or so. An album with Iñigo Vontier as Salsa Fingers. A bunch of releases under different pseudonyms on my label Party Central, some tracks for a compilation on Multi Culti. Oh, and I just did a remix for Bufi on Belly Dance Services that’s out now.
What makes you happy?
Seeing life flourish.