Tom Colontonio American Idol: The States’ Trance Star Is On The Rise

If you fancy yourself as a Trance fan and you’re not familiar with the name Tom Colontonio, then you need to get a little more serious about it all. Period. With releases on PVD’s hallowed Vandit label, plays in every major international Trance stars’ sets, and a string of explosive remixes for a myriad of the emotion-wielding genre’s biggest names; Tom Colontonio is, in the words of P-Frunk’s fron tman, George Clinton “standing on the verge of getting it on”. 100% caught up with America’s rising star to have chat about his Melbourne debut gig at Slinky this weekend, his mum’s Neil Diamond obsession and what it feels like to be the producer of Vandit Digital’s first ever track: 001 …

What sort of music/musician did your parents play around the house when you were growing up? Strangely no one in my family was into music much. My mom was huge Neil Diamond fan and I remember listening to her listening to him a lot when I was very little. I was really the first in my family to get into music.

As a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? I guess when I wanted to be this or that when I was little and when I started playing guitar I wanted to be a rock star. I was in various bands and did some studio musicians work for my many years starting at age 14.

When, where and what was your first dance music experience? It was a club called the Troc in Philadelphia. A friend of mine took me there for a rave and I remember seeing glow sticks and going HO*Y SH*T! I think I was around 17.

How, when and why did you first start producing your own tunes? Well I was DJing for almost 7 years. I remember sitting there watching TV – I think Discovery channel about giant penguins or some sh*t like that. I said to myself “Man I need to do something with my free time, I want to learn how to make some trance music”. I got off the couch went to the Guitar center which is a good music store in the USA and bought monitors, a keyboard, Logic version 4 and an apple computer. Absolutely maxed a credit card. I brought it all home and said “He*l yeah now i’m gonna’ make some serious Trance music”. I couldn’t even get the stuff to work. I had to pay a guy from the store to come over and get it all working. I still have my first song. Me and Tyas have a laugh about it once in a while. I’ll send it over and tell him its some amazing track I got in my inbox.

How did you get your first tune signed? Ehhh man it took FOREVER! I was always sending tracks to labels. I can imagine the horror some of the A&R guys faces when they heard some of the stuff I sent them. I had worked on some collaborations with a local guy which was signed to a label based out of Chicago but when I went solo the first track was signed to Trance4m8 I think – in Belgium? They were a good bunch of guys. I signed a few other things to some labels till I caught the attention of JOC and Askew which led me to be signed to Discover Records as well as doing a collaboration with Activa for Conspiracy. That all happened around the same time. I guess I finally got good!

‘Oxidize’ really kicked things off for you nicely a couple of years back – were you surprised by its success; and did you feel under pressure to follow it up? When I heard Oxidize on ASOT as tune of the week I was literally speechless. I remember my MSN was going nuts all of the sudden and I was watching some dumb video on Youtube of some guy fighting a Kangaroo or something. Everywhere was like congrats man – I was like for what? It was a great track for me and I always feel it was a starting point in my career too. I felt some pressure to follow it up but I worked hard and I think I pulled it off …

On top of your own tunes, you’ve completed a bunch of remixes in the last few years – what do you enjoy most about remixing? Does it still challenge you? I used to love remixing and now I’m touch and go with it. Sometimes they come out great and sometimes not. I get a lot of offers and don’t take many at all because I enjoy making originals at this point. My Affirmation remix was huge for me – Activa had made a great original so it was challenging to make something of the same caliber. Same with Seven weeks: Tyas’s original was so fawki*g good. I remember waking up one morning and hearing that main melody and was like man I love this track! Tyas asked me to remix it a few days later so I was really excited. I struggled with it until it just happened one day … BOOM! it was done.

How does a good Trance record make you feel? Describe the feeling … Man, I freak sometimes when I hear stuff. I really love Andy Blueman. I was out one night partying for like 14 hours or something in Atlantic City, NJ where there are 24 hour liquor licenses. I came home and was browsing Myspace and heard Andy’s new album (Sea Tides EP). It was some great Trance music. It gave me a surreal feeling. I harassed him to give it to me. Sometimes I’ll admit when Im spinning some tracks you can catch a tear in my eye … no joke! My wife calls me a Girl Scout but I can’t help it!

Tough one, I know, but … what ‘elements’ make a great Trance record in 2009? I love a gritty bassline and just a great melody. I’m not personally into super complex Trance with a million things going on. If the kick and bassline work great to create a groove it will catch my attention. I get a lot of music from people asking me to critique their stuff. I always try and find the time to do every track, but a lot of it is just missing that groove!

PVD is one your idols – it myst be amazing to not only be signed to his Vandit imprint, but to have him play your tunes, too? Getting on Vandit was a big step for me. I was honored to be ‘Vandit Digi 001′. I was always a PVD fan and being on his label and getting the chance to remix his track last year was a great feeling for me!

What’s the very best advice that you can give a young DJ/producers who are just starting out? I would say practice your DJing and get that on point. As for producing DON”T settle for mediocrity! Get your tracks straight before you send them to DJs and labels. Just work hard at it and it will happen for you.

What are you looking forward to most about your pending trip to Australia for Slinky? Just meeting people I have been talking to for a few years online. I’m in Melbourne right now and it’s a beautiful place. The people are so nice here!

What’s your favorite big room tune at the moment? I’m still loving JOC’s “Broken” track and Neal Scarboroughs “Wiretap” those 2 tracks kill it for me at the moment!


By Simon Traspier