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Ramon Tapia: Home Is Where My Clock Ticks

Ramon Tapia press shot

“When I quit my job as a jeweller, my parents were like ‘what the fuck are you doing?’ and I told my Mom that I wanted to start following my dream of becoming a DJ / producer, which of course they didn’t like. But they told me to follow my dream anyway before it’s too late.”

 

15 years since he followed his parents’ advice, Ramon Tapia is firmly established as one of the most popular producers to have emerged in Europe’s post-minimal ‘deep’ house scene of the last five years releasing a slew of acclaimed releases via German labels Blu Fin and Great Stuff.

 

STRICTLY RHYTHM

More recently, he’s also being recognized in mainstream house circles, having just teamed up with legendary New York label Strictly Rhythm to present their ‘Strictly Rhythms Vol 6’ mix compilation, after producing their biggest selling release of the year ‘This Groove’.

 

Specialising in producing deceptively stripped yet energetic house, he’s applied his talents in full for the compilation, re-editing and updating classic tracks from the likes of Armand Van Helden, DJ Sneak and even Ultra Nate (her late 90s Balearic ballad Free).

 

Chatting to Skrufff today, he’s open and friendly, reflecting a childhood which saw him fleeing General Pinochet’s military dictatorship in Chile, before settling in Amsterdam then his current home in Antwerp, Belgium.

 

Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): Starting with the compilation, Strictly Rhythm was originally a New York house label which broke all sorts of nowadays mainstream DJS such as Erick Morillo, Roger Sanchez and David Morales, how much did you follow those New York DJs of the 90s back then, if at all?

 

Ramon Tapia: “Hmmm at that time I was just starting to DJ and it was mostly techno and hard stuff though I definitely bought a few records, such as George Morel’s Groove, Endangered Species etc so I knew about the DJ’s and the scene but wasn’t really looking for it.”

 

ON FLEEING CHILE

Skrufff: You were born in Chile and fled with your family to Europe when still very young, how much do you remember of Chile then?

 

Ramon Tapia: “I don’t remember that much about that period, but yet what I still know and what my parents told me was that my Dad had to leave the country as he stood up against the regime. That meant he was placed on the blacklist so it was not good for us to stay there as a family. My Mom and I were able to fly to Holland because my Mom is Dutch and I was on my Mom’s passport, but my Dad had to take a ship and sneakily leave the country to get to Holland this way. When he got there he asked for asylum as a political refugee. My Mom made sure once we were in Holland that me and my Dad got Dutch passports because maybe they could still have sent us back.”

 

Skrufff: How much do you share his political interests and ideals today?

 

Ramon Tapia: “I still share the same interest and ideals totally. Being free in what you say or do is not only important in Chile but worldwide…this is just essential.

 

Skrufff: Settling and growing up in Belgium: did you ever encounter any hostility or racism?

 

Ramon Tapia: “Not really, I was 16 when I came here I already knew it was easy to live and I knew the language as Flemish is just a Dutch dialect. What I didn’t know was that there was this big rivalry between Holland and Belgium. It’s the same as how the people of Berlin talk about Munich and vice versa (laughing). I never had any problems though, the only hostility I encountered was from the damn weather.”

 

AMAZING SPANISH FOOD

Skrufff: How much does Belgium feel like home? How much do you see yourself basing yourself there permanently?

 

Ramon Tapia: “Home is where my clock ticks. I’m not really bonded to Belgium though I have a lot of friends here and I love Antwerp as I’ve lived here for so long, but I would not be scared to move somewhere else. Somewhere else for me would be Spain, like somewhere in the South. It’s a warm climate so I can tan my ass all year long and the food is just amazing. I thought of Ibiza but then I’ll be stuck on an island and need to take several flights to get to my destination every week, so I deleted that from my book. So I think that one day, somewhere on the mainland with loads of sun would do me just fine.”

 

Skrufff: When you started DJing: how much were you more determined/ harder working/ focused than DJs around you?

 

Ramon Tapia: “I first started DJing when I was 16 purely for pleasure, until I started working in the record shop. After that I discovered the dream of becoming a professional DJ /producer and nobody could stop me from that moment on. So it took a lot of determination because I had a lot of friends that were also DJing and they all stopped after 2 years. I kept going on and on. I too had some times when I was like “Fuck this!! I’m just gonna sell everything and just quit, it will never happen as there are so many DJs”, but still I kept going on and 15 years later here we are.”

 

ROME WASN'T BUILT IN A DAY

Skrufff: How big a role has luck played in your career?

 

Ramon Tapia: “My first record on Craft Records started everything. It was my big break, because I got massive plays and support from Richie Hawtin and other DJs. It went straight to the top 10 and in that same year, I made my first album which gave it even more impact. I think you can create your own luck and destiny, as long as you believe in yourself and don’t give up. Don’t look back, just go forward as Rome wasn’t built in a day. I’m not particularly superstitious but having said that I will never walk under a ladder. I don’t use any lucky charms or anything else either. The only routine I have before playing is taking a beer to feel a little more chilled out.”

 

Skrufff: Your press release talks of your interest in Michael Jackson: what did you make of the scrutiny he was under in the last few years before he died?

 

Ramon Tapia: “I think people around him fucked him up. They only wanted more and more, getting money from him with scandals etc.”

 

Skrufff: How comfortable are you with public attention and being famous yourself, such as when people want photos and autographs?

 

Ramon Tapia: “I just try to stay myself in all situations. Of course, I think it’s cool, but it can be over before you know so I just enjoy and do what I like to do. If people want autographs and pictures then sure that’s fine, but I’m not seeking that attention.”

 

BILLBOARDS? EUHH.

Skrufff: What’s been the most surreal, ‘star’ type situation you’ve encountered so far? Have you been chased by any packs of screaming girls?

 

Ramon Tapia: “Driving through Colombia and seeing a 6 metre by 3 metre billboard with my face on gave me the star feeling but euhh, I’ve never had the screaming girls situation (laughing). Who knows, maybe in the future? A while back I finished a gig in Mexico and was escorted off stage by 5 bouncers to escape a signing and photo rampage after my set, that was surreal.”

 

Skrufff: Your latest EP is called ‘Year 3000′ EP’: how alarmed are you by forces such as global warming? The current economic crisis?

 

Ramon Tapia: “I think global warning sucks ass and the only ones that can do something about it are we the people. The governments are doing something but when it comes that they need to spend money they back off. And the economic crisis, I think it was bad for all of us, but also necessary. Now the rotten apples have been cleared out.”

 

Skrufff: In a recent interview with Beatsmedia; you thanked your friends and fans for sticking with you during the ‘bad times’: how bad did things get?

 

Ramon Tapia: “I had a horrible time after I quit working in the record shop. I had no job and was going for my music only, so there was no cash, no party, no gigs, only music and this brought me to some seriously hard tough times in my life. I lived in a friend’s house for a while until I got some money to get a new apartment. I did some small jobs here and there as I wanted to put all the time I had into trying to become better and better, so I was glad I had supportive friends and family. During this period I sent out a lot of tracks to labels but always got the same reply “IT’S GOOD BUT NOT FOR US” this never put me off, it only gave me strength to keep on going. Then after 15 years I signed a record on Yellow Tail (a sub-label of Blu Fin) and on Craft (a sub-Label of Great Stuff) and suddenly my career was on the way. It was at that point I had the feeling that the bad times were going to end.”

 

Ramon Tapia ‘Year 3000′ EP and ‘Strictly Rhythms Vol.6′ mixed by Ramon Tapia are out now on Strictly Rhythm.

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