TMX is a man who wears many hats in electronic music, and certainly a man who’s repped the scene with distinction over the years. The Budapest native was one of his city’s most influential promoters for some time, running the Kolektiva party for over a decade in the Hungarian capital. Besides that, he’s also a wicked DJ, and although he admits it took him a while to get into the production side of things, the first few releases by the man himself would certainly suggest an auspicious start. And don’t just take our word for it: already supported by the likes of Demuir and Joss Moog, he seems destined for great things over the next while.
With his latest record, the Heater EP, about to drop on the similarly burgeoning HeadAhead Record, we thought it a good time to check in with the man himself to hear a bit more about what he’s been up to. A great conversationalist as well as a fantastic musician, we look forward to hearing what more he’s got coming up over the next while…
Hi Tamas, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Let’s chat a bit about your beginnings in electronic music. What was it about the sound that you first fell in love with?
Hi and thanks for having me. In the very beginning I was unintentionally listening to a lot of classic disco music as a small kid, but electronic music was really there all the time for me. Funny story but where i have grown up we had a family friend, the owner of a nearby hi-fi electronics store and the guy always imported all kinds of weird CDs to test all the stuff with the customers, so he let me copy those CDs, i remember one of them was simply named ‘techno’ and had gear wheels on it’s cover, was pretty defining for me. Also had a small synthesizer at home (my brother went to music school) and I was very interested in programming, so for me the two things, music and programming came together at one point by using tracker softwares as a kid, I was a huge nerd. But My first ever love was the Homework album by Daft Punk and also Les Rythmes Digitales – Darkdancer album and probably because of constantly digging Soulseek I ended up listening to electroclash and electro from that time, Gigolo Records stuff, early Miss Kittin, Christopher Just, Whirlpool Productions – From Disco To Disco, stuff like that, later i started following EdBanger from the very first release.
Budapest – at least internationally – seems to be better known for techno than it is house. Has there been a change recently do you think?
We had a fair amount of both house and techno parties in the past decade but Budapest is changing rapidly and it’s true that we shifted more to techno for a while now. Probably because of the rise and popularity of Romanian techno / rominimal, but the other factor is that lots of clubs have been closed in the city center and new places in peripheral regions always have more industrial vibes that fit better for techno.
With everything that’d going on it the world right now, do you think music and politics should mix?
I think music and politics always mix, simply because artists (almost) always have a liberal mindset and making music is a way of self expression. Artists always raise their voice through their art.Especially house producers have a history with political messages in their tracks. In a city like Budapest, where almost all the underground – in other words: liberal and forward looking – clubs (also theatres) were closed one by one by our government with various reasons, you get involved even if you don’t want to. With the situation in Ukraine right now, it’s impossible to not get involved on some level, for example I know some well known producers who are right now on the front line as soldiers. But it’s good to see the human part of it, that even clubs, labels, magazines are donating money and helping not just the artists but the refugees in various ways. I think it’s part of the music community and these are the things why you can really call it a big community.
Can you tell us a bit about your work with Kollektiva? Is it finished now? What did you learn most from the experience?
Kollektiva was a 10 year journey and it was intensive from the very first year. Our first ever party was in 2007 with 300 people, the second one, two months later went with 1200, you can imagine. I’m coming from the electroclash era, that was the time when my concept of (blending) music really started to define, followed by the big boom of ‘blog house’ and that was the point when I founded the series and started organising parties with two friends. The first two guest DJs were the yet-to-become-famous Kissy Sell Out and Lovely Jonjo, the co-resident DJ (with Erol Alkan) at Trash Club, London. It was a new concept of partying and basically went viral in the country in no time. It became one of the most successful party series here. But as every journey ends, this one did too, the end started with the close down of some clubs that were our residences and we had to move to a club that didn’t really match the vibe of the parties, we went from the sweaty dark clubs to a posh one with cocktails and having Kim Ann Foxman and Erol Alkan there, it just wasn’t the same. But during that ten years we booked over 200 international artists, including a lot of high profile names. What did I learn from it? Probably the international mindset and as I was involved in every segment of the music/club industry I gained a really comprehensive knowledge of how it works.
How has that role changed since you first became involved in it? Is it more difficult now do you think?
It certainly became difficult because of the close downs, (both governmental and because of the pandemic) imagine the same amount of promoters with way less clubs, it’s not a healthy situation for any of the involved.
But from a personal viewpoint, for me it was always about making something new. I started as a producer at a really young age, as i grew up i realized that not many people are playing the tracks I like so I learned dj-ing to do it myself, naively thinking I will have a spot somewhere to play, but I quickly realized I have to make a whole party to actually get a gig, haha. But I guess this is the life of oddballs, right? So in a few years I became a full time promoter and DJ.I At the peak I had 6-7 gigs every week as a DJ, constantly traveling while organizing the parties, 10 years in a row. Not giving enough time for myself to produce music was probably the biggest mistake I made, considering the fact that my music was championed on BBC Radio One, (I remember Annie Mac was playing my tracks too), Tommie Sunshine from the US reached out to me to produce for his label, so the doors were pretty much open on every level. What really changed is that I started to prioritize and finally being able to focus on producing music.
And tell us a bit about the NEU House Music parties. Who’s involved, who’s played etc?
This series was the outcome of that slowing down process, a smaller, fully house oriented party series at Lärm, hands down the best small techno/house venue in Budapest, with a guy called Mheloa who is a huge vinyl addict and collector, we had the same interest in both old school and new school house. The name of the series comes from the lyrics of the classic Eddie Amador song “Not Everyone Understand House Music”, shortened to NEU House Music, resembling where we are coming from and also the new line of house music (as Neu means ‘new’ in German). Sad thing is that Lärm also had to close their doors because of the pandemic.
You’ve been involved with production a lot more recently. What took you so long to get involved? Or was it more a case of waiting before you understood the sound better before you released anything?
As I mentioned earlier I actually started with producing before even DJing, at a really young age (my first ever release was a techno track in 2002.) I guess I had to calm down a bit and get more time for myself. There is a thing in Hungary that we don’t really have management and booking agencies, so every producer and DJ is self managing, I’m pretty sure this is a big problem here. You can do it to a level, locally you can do pretty well but at some point you run out of available time and need someone to take over the management, but because we don’t have any managers you end up stuck on your limits. I made more time for myself by turning to smaller clubs, like the NEU series with much less background work. But the big push came from Joss Moog (Paris, FR) (who is, in my opinion, one of the best forward looking house producers), I booked him for a party at the end of 2018 and it turned out we are very like minded. We were talking about creative ways of sampling and I showed him one of my tracks because I used samples from an 80’s french pop song, asked if he could recognize the original, so we were just playing “who recognizes what”. Turned out he really liked that track and a few days later after he called me from Paris and arranged the release at Ondulé Records. That was the kick for me to get back to producing and I was like okay, let’s send out some spare demos to some of my favorite labels, let’s see what happens. Fortunately everyone liked my tracks and I signed to 3 more labels (Moody House / Juiced / Cabbie Hat) pretty quickly.
Where does your latest record rank in terms of your previous ones? And can you tell us a bit about the record?
My latest release ‘Heater’ is a 3 track EP and right now all three tracks are in genre top100 for 2 weeks now on both Beatport and Traxsource (actually 2 of them is in top 30 while i write this), I started to feel that it can be potentially a strong release when Demuir wrote me a message that he really likes it. These tracks are the product of experimenting with old and new techniques. I was always heavily influenced by the 90’s / 2000’s French touch / filter house. What I try to achieve is a new type of filter house with the new tools available these days and also by kinda minimizing it. But I also produce some more classic jackin house tracks because that fits many labels more comfortably, I just had two singles like that at Ammo Rec (US) and Phunky Data (US). The Heater EP is special for me because it came out at my own label HeadAhead Records, let’s say it’s my personal playground where I can experiment with new ideas, and I can also help producers I like to get some attention.
You’ve already won support from a host of great labels and artists etc. What’s next for you in terms of achieving your musical goals? Are you as motivated as ever?
Probably getting a manager, haha. I’m very much motivated, this is why I started a label, and finally learned to properly master my tracks by myself. I’ll probably knock on the door of some bigger labels and see what happens, pretty excited about opening new doors. I have about twenty demos right now but instead of releasing them fast I’m more interested in giving the tracks some value.
Finally, can you tell us about any of the records / pieces of literature that you returned to over and over during the pandemic?
Well, I’m generally a sci-fi lover guy but during the pandemic I’ve spent almost all my time learning mastering so I read mainly sound engineering stuff, haha. Kinda hard to pick records because there are so many, but if I really need to pick one it’s a classic from 1996 that I use as a day starter sometimes, it’s St. Germain’s – “What’s New”, probably the best ever track for my morning coffee, and a masterpiece in general.