Prosperity: Prins Thomas Talks
Success is open to interpretation, one man may choose fame, another fortune. Then there is the man whom chooses neither, takes a detour and discovers something else entirely along the way. In this case Thomas Moen Hermansen is the third man, the mysterious wanderer who stumbled upon a world of opportunity and wonder in which he found himself a great prince.
Norway is perplexing, this might seem an absurd statement to some and yet apt to others. From a stereotypical perspective it is not a country which should necessarily have as high an output within the world of electronic music as it does. This creatively ecclectic and diverse scene is made up of some of the most charismatic figures in dance music: this was recently showcased in a full length feature film which explored the roots of the genre within the country.
It was during the early noughties when Thomas first began to dabble and experiment with electronic music, however he had been collecting records for decades before. Thomas recalls the isolation of youth and inspiration from foreign lands.
"My introduction to dj'ing was around 1984 when I saw some documentaries on hip hop culture and got my first tapes. My step-father used to buy all these English magazines like Blues & Soul and Melody Maker when they were still cool and relevant. That was my introduction into dj'ing. At the time those were pre internet days and the town which I grew up in wasn't really a hotbed of new urban sounds. You basically took what you had, whatever was in the charts at the time. There weren't any parties to go to it was more about hearing and seeing this music, watching Beat Street and learning how it should be done. I was a ten year old kid playing once a week at the youth club, nobody was interested."
The influence of such mainstream influences is deemed to have almost certainly played a role in the formation of the stereotypical Nowegian sound. It's only logical to draw upon the sphere within which you orbit and in the case of Thomas, this was pop, disco, soul and funk. It was only later that Thomas went on to discover house, techno and electro. This came some ten years after he had begun first playing records for people in empty youth clubs.
"The second birth for me was in 93' when I got a residency in one of the first house and techno clubs in my old hometown. This was when I started dj'ing and actually had a proper audience. The parties were pretty wild. In Norway it used to mainly be about drinking but there were less rules. You played for a mixture of people and that's where we all started."
He expands upon the licensing within Norwegian towns.
"We also had very few hours, just like in Glasgow. The curfew is usually 03:15 and it makes for a short and energy packed session every night."
It is remarkable to track the career which Thomas has formed across the years which have followed since. From appearances around the globe to remixes for the likes of Bryan Ferry, Lana Del Rey and Metronomy he has amassed a reputation as a key player in a sound built from external influence and the Saturday night soundtrack. However, some of the most interesting and intriguing work from his career has come in the form of collaborative projects. Thomas reflects on the nature of the Norwegian electronic music community whilst paying homage to those who taught him a trick or two along the way.
"I started all by myself, I wasn't really aware of anybody else doing anything like this. I thought I was the only one in my hometwon, if not Norway. I felt like the loneliest kid ever. Then I met Dj Strangefruit…"
"He became my mentor, he was a few years older than me and took me under his wing. He gave me some advice and more importantly recorded some tapes for me. I was in my bedroom with two belt driven turntables trying to work out how I could put these two records on top of each other whilst he told other people to book me."
Nowadays Thomas has little difficulty attracting bookings. This summer will see him play at Sonar Festival in Barcelona alongside an array of other appearances across Europe and beyond. Times have changed since the lonely days of youth club turntablism. However, the drive and sense of self firmly remains.
"Fundamentally i'm the same. I'm still looking for stuff that excites me, I might look differently now from how I used to but what I hope that people can hear that. You don't want to stay the same DJ for twenty or thirty years, you want to evolve in some kind of way. Even if the music doesn't"