DJ Tonka Talks "My House"

Growing up in a family of artists & Jazz musicians and being strongly influenced by the New Wave sound that dominated the 80s, it was the German Thomas-René Gerlach AKA DJ Tonka who threw the first internationally recognized House plates on the market. Currently residing in Munich, DJ TONKA’s legacy is one completely synonymous with quality (house) music. With his latest exclusive EP entitled “My House” out now and shooting up the charts on Traxsource, we just had to sit down with the artist to talk about his brand new imprint ‘TONKA TUNES’ and more in this exclusive interview.

The Interview

1) Hey Thomas, It’s an honor to chat with you, tell us where are you & how are you feeling?

In my studio working on six different ideas in one arrangement – jackin’, moody, disco house. New material for several labels who asked me to produce tunes for them and of course for my own new label Tonka Tunes ;)

2) Can’t wait to hear that! Tell us about your latest “My House” / “We don’t Play!” release which is currently rising shooting up the Traxsource charts!

“My House” also as “We don’t Play!” (Tonka Tunes 001) are both results of the idea of having more fun in the studio and thinking in a way of “what kind of tune would I like to drop on my next party?”. Old-school house and classic dance music vibes with a modern touch. Dirty and melodic at the same time.

3) Where does the ‘Tonka’ artist name emanate from?

When I was young my father gave me this Christmas present (…sorry kids it wasn’t Santa). It was a huge solid metal truck – a Tonka toy. And I always sat on it running down the hill in front of “My House” …OK our house ;)

In the mid 90s, after putting out tracks with my schoolmate Ian Pooley for several years, I was looking for a cool name for my solo project that starts with an “T” (you know Ian and my main project name was T’N‘I ). Plus I wanted it to sound short like that cool old school rap group Twin Hype so I came up with “DJ Tonka”.

4) What inspired you get back into the music considering all the major changes that have taken place? It’s obviously not the way it used to be…

I grew up in a artistic family surrounded by jazz and fine arts. Lot of concerts / parties and exhibitions. So this already was part of my life before I was “active” as an artist myself. A bit later at the age of nine I recorded and mixed my first tapes. To sum it up: If you’re passionate about something in life it will last. The business these days is different. The question is, will people get to hear your music. The scene back in the days was like “Hi Sneak, hi Mousse T, hi Daft Punk, hi Dave Lee…” because everybody followed what the other house related guy did. We all sat in the same boat and respected each other. A global but small scene. These days you kinda have to fight for attention as everybody want’s to take part. There’s good and bad but at the same time I’d say I love what I do and I’m happy If people are getting down to my sound and we all together can all have a good time.

5) How has your setup evolved over the years compared to when you used to produce tracks in the 90’s?

Well its the same story like with DJing. The “medium” or “format” to create and present your music changes constantly. The sound coming out the speakers counts! How to mix certain elements and tracks to get the, let’s call ‘it’ excitement or joy.

Chasing the tracks on vinyl, finding the right gear to produce a cool electronic tune was hard work and very expensive in the late 80s / early 90s. I have the feeling that many young producers after all this “dubstep and EDM drops mayhem” — now will soon go back to the original house formula: Reduce to the max.

6) You mentioned Ian Pooley as an old producer partner and collaborator — are there any future collaboration plans with him agian?

No, but I still have interesting material laying around we did some years ago.

7) Give us one production/remix you’re most proud of.

Artist wise I would say, besides doing mixes for Bootsy Collins, Salt’N‘Pepa or Lana Del Rey, remixing Jimmy Somerville. Because Bronski Beat had an huge influence on me in the mid 80s. The 12 Inch version of “Smalltown Boy” with that long intro. The synths are italo disco / high energy style sequencers and melodies – a masterpiece. As a kid I used to listen to that 10 times in a row and it still rocks the floors. I am proud also because Jimmy called me personally to say “thanks” for my remix of “Safe”.

8) Tell us about the current House Music scene in Germany?

Deep House… Some of the cities in Germany missed the train or never understood that the thing we celebrate is simply called house music. People keep limiting themselves to be “cool”. I never will get that and never liked that. Blending genres always was the key to bring music forward and to invent new styles.

9) We could not agree more. What gives you the inspiration to get in the studio & make music?

Good music, good times and the idea of presenting my newest track to others. There wouldn’t be art without feedback.

10) Any promotion & marketing advice to aspiring artists out there?

I’ve heard, doing that heart symbol with your hands while you’re DJing, can help!?? ..Hehe no, spreading your sounds on all the social media platforms we’ve got these days might help.

11) Good one… So how do YOU define success?

If you are happy with what you’re doing. Also maybe if other people are into what you’re doing… Isn’t that also the concept of a good party? :)

12) That definitely is… And lastly, what’s future products & releases do you have lined up? PLUG AWAY!

I just finished a vocal piano house track I did together with Polina Griffith (people might know her from her hit single “S.O.S.”, produced by Nic Fanciulli). I’m about to finalize a second tune with her soon – she’s got a great voice!

I already finished four tracks for my new album and I’m currently working on Tonka Tunes 004 & 005. As mentioned before, some of the new material might end up on other cool labels I currently like and play a lot. Sorry no namedropping at this point ; )

Follow DJ Tonka & check his latest releases on Traxsource.

DJ Tonka

Follow DJ Tonka’s label & check the latest releases on Traxsource.

Tonka Tunes

DJ Tonka’s latest Top10 Chart on Traxsource.