TF Archives

Tom Stephan- As a DJ He is Exceptional and it Irritates Me

Author: Skrufff
Friday, September 28, 2001
Despite being a long-term protege of Danny Tenaglia, US born tribal house DJ Tom Stephan has first made his mark in the UK rather than the US. Acclaimed as a remixer through his Chumbowumbo persona (recent beneficiaries include Missy Elliot and Kylie Minogue) he's also just launched a monthly at Turnmills' Gallery after years maintaining a weekly residency at Vauxhall gay club Crash. Turned onto house music by one night of Junior Vasquez, he initially began recording as Sharon & Tracy, releasing his first record Filthy Hetero on Paul Con's Flesh Label. Next making his DJing debut at the Ministry Of Sound (where he opened for Danny Tenaglia) he made friends with the NY jock, which led to the duo collaborating closely. 5 years on, he's one of the most tipped producers and DJs in the UK and releases his debut mix CD shortly, via South East Recordings (Soundworx: Session Two).

Laughing as he disses Danny Tenaglia, Tom Stephan clearly appreciates the value of being a protege and friend of one of the world's most acclaimed DJs. Attracting increasing media attention himself, whether through his own DJing or remixes as Superchumbo, he's also aware however, that luck plays just a small part in Tenaglia's global reputation. "If you gave somebody else his box of records it wouldn't sound the same," he told Skrufff's Jonty Adderley. "I guess it's his 25 years of experience."

Skrufff: Your name and photo is suddenly all over the British dance media, what's happened to suddenly bring you into the limelight-

Tom Stephan: "It's been a surprise to me too, although making music and DJing is what I've been doing seriously for five years now. It is quite sudden that everything slotted into place, I'd say it's down to my track Revolution and the attention it started to get. And that was due to Danny Tenaglia who really supported it. Pete Tong took over here in the UK and started playing it a lot on his Radio 1 show. Having that connection with Pete Tong then helped because I'd done the Missy Elliot remix and was able to send it to him. He then started playing that and everything blew up around that mix."

Skrufff; 5 years ago when you started taking DJing seriously, was the goal to become a world famous star DJ-

Tom Stephan: "I don't think so, I was quite happy with what I was doing. But I remember playing at a gay club called Crash in Vauxhall and had just finished my first year as a resident, playing four hour sets every Saturday night. I thought I'd achieved something there, but I felt a little limited only playing on the gay scene and felt it was time to move on. So I left there with the intention of moving into different scenes, and also the style of music I played started to become more popular, here in the UK."

Skrufff: I understand you were a Trade regular (punter) at some stage, who were the main residents when you were going there-

Tom Stephan: "The DJs I remember are Daz Saund, Trevor Rockliffe and Malcolm Duffy. I remember you could hear tracks like Mentasm next to CC Peniston, the music was really mixed up at that point. I particularly remember hearing Finally on the dancefloor late one Sunday morning. That was in 1992."

Skrufff: Your biog also suggests New York's Sound Factory (as Twilo was previously known) was better than Trade, what made it better-

Tom Stephan: "The music was better and one of the big reasons for that was that DJs in the UK always played much faster than in the US. 135bpm (beats per minute) and upwards, whereas everybody in New York always seems to play slower. I never properly lived in New York City, anyway, I grew up in Upstate New York in Buffalo. It was quite difficult for me for a while DJing in the UK, because I'd always be whacking (reducing) the pitch down every time I came on after another DJ."

Skrufff: I understand Junior Vasquez changed your life, how did it happen-

Tom Stephan: "It was the first time I went back to New York after moving to England. A friend was always te