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Tom Stephan- Clubs, Drugs & Samatha Fox- She's a Pro

Author: Benedetta Skrufff
Monday, June 6, 2005
New Yorker-in-London Tom Stephan recently finished his debut artist album Wowie Zowie and chatted to Skrufff this week about the record and some of his star collaborators. As well as disco icon Celeda and his old friend Neil Tennant from the Pet Shop Boys, the record features the vocals of one time page three icon turned evangelical Christian (and gay icon) Samantha Fox, not that that's why he chose her, he insists.

"Her page three past is more of a British thing and concerning her religion, I didn't know this," he admits, "She didn't come across as a born-again Christian when she did the vocals either." She did come across, however, as a consummate professional, singing on the album's standout track Sugar.

"From the start I thought she was perfect," Tom continues, "She came into the studio and she was a real pro. She knew exactly what to do and she did it, no fussing about."

She also indirectly led to Neil Tennant getting involved on the record's oddest track Tranquilizer.

"I was telling Neil how excited I was in having Samantha Fox singing on my track and he said: "Oh, aren't you going to ask me-' and I thought, "absolutely'," he explains.

"As soon as we started working on the track I suggested he should do a spoken rap thing and sent him the track and right away he said he knew what to do with it. We then got together in the studio but then he threw me (surprised me- slang Ed.) completely because he came up with something completely different to what I had in mind, which, however, ended up being the best of the two options. At the same time, I don't think it sounds anything like the Pet Shop Boys, it really feels like a collaboration and I'm really happy with it."

The album itself is a hybrid of the tough tribal house sound he's generally known for, coupled with dashes of electro, melodies and accessible vocals. Released under his usual brand name Superchumbo, the record comes out on Danny Tenaglia's label Twisted; "he's a huge influence', Tom admits.

Skrufff (Benedetta Skrufff): Wowie Zowie's your first artist album, where did you start-

Tom Stephan: "Well, it all started because I had a lot more ideas than time to make records, so I thought this would be one way of putting together a lot more music at once. I also felt I wanted to expand on a particular sound and making an album was a more logical way to go about it."

Skrufff: How much time do you spend in New York these days: has your focus shifted from London and the UK significantly-

Tom Stephan: "I live in London, and I think the club scene in Europe is much stronger than anywhere in the US. Of course, I still feel particularly attached to New York simply because that's where I first discovered house music and clubbing, so it will always be my first spiritual house "home'. Having said that, talhough the scene in New York is picking up, it certainly isn't where it was when I lived there, longer than ten years ago. But I have been DJing long enough to see that this seems to be the way it works; different countries, different cities and different clubs suddenly seem to take off and you get a really big buzz going. To me, Italy is where the biggest and best parties are right now."

Skrufff: What makes you say that-

Tom Stephan: "The clubs there are just blowing my mind and I've felt like this in the last year. I'm out in Italy playing at least once a month at the moment and I have a residency this summer at Cocorico, my favourite club in the world right now. I think clubs in Naples are also amazing, I've played recently in Milan, not in Rome yet, but good clubs are scattered pretty much all over, in places like in Bergamo, for example. They're are full of energy and so fashionable. No matter what I wear over there, I always feel under dressed."

Skrufff: Is there a plan to perform these songs live-

Tom Stephan: "It's something I thought I was going to concentrate more on with this album, but I'm still on