DJ, musician and producer Tomas Barfod began his career decades ago using an Atari computer, a vinyl record player and an Akai monosampler. “I started playing music working with very old technology . What you have on your iPhone now is much more complicated than what we had. Now I’ve narrowed it down to just my Apple computer and a program called Logic,” Barfod says.
Just a few years later Barfod had moved from his bedroom to filling up venues in cities across the world, from Tokyo to London. “I started by making music for fun. Half a year later I was touring with my band Filur, and within two years we were in Japan playing with Ken Hirai, who is really big over there.”
Since then he’s played across Europe and America, composing remixes for artists like Franz Ferdinand, Gorillaz and Shakira. Barfod also finds himself in high demand creating dance club hits for labels like Turbo, Kompakt and Gomma. “It’s a big part of my life listening to music, and my whole career has taken me everywhere. I always enjoyed doing experimental, underground music.
Experience has taught him that it’s the talent, not the tools. “I’ve seen musicians make bad muisic, and then a kid on a laptop in the suburbs makes something better.” Shiny programs and snazzy computers won’t cover up garbage. “In the world of music it’s the guy behind the technology.”
You can travel the planet, but if your career is music ending up in Los Angeles can be inevitable. “Now I’m back in L.A. making more commercial music.” Having worked the independent circuit, Barfod enjoys seeing street music perculate up to the mainstreatm.”When you hear a big hit, like a radio song, well, at least 65% of it is from the underground and the types of bands that really experiment with music."
In addition to working as a DJ and producing, he is also a drummer for the band WhoMadeWho. “I started playing drums when I was ten. I was in a lot of bands and at some point in my late teens I was earning money playing gigs, but I realized that I didn’t want to be a drummer, I wanted to be a DJ, so I got into electronic music.”
But after a few years behind the turntables, the talented Dane wanted back on the drums. “When 80’s, retro bands with old-skool electronic sounds got big again, I missed live music, including live guitars and playing live drums.”
He doesn't consider himself to be a sort of rock star, though. “I’ve tried both things. It’s nice to know both sides when I play the music. On the other hand, when you have the inside knowledge of being a DJ, you have a better understanding of what the crowd wants when you perform."
Like most successful artists, Barfod enjoys being close to the crowd, although he likes to keep the relationship mysterious. “I feel like I can take the audience anywhere when I perform,whether it is to sweet places or to evil places. I’m always going to prefer being a DJ and playing in a club instead of in front of thousands of people on the drums.”
“It’s always like you are starting a party when you are a DJ. You can just start a party anywhere, in the streets, anyplace. I can play thousands of songs as a DJ, but when you play live you are much more limited,” Barfod says.
He’s been working on a presently untitled solo album to be released this spring. “I’ve been making a lot of music under different monikers, but now I want to do an album in my own name.” After so much collaboration, Barfod is enjoying the freedom. “It’s really nice to have a project for myself. When you work with a band it’s a blessing because you get to work with other people, but sometimes your ideas have to go through compromises.”
Barfod is careful to point out that he has always enjoyed working with other musicians or as a member of a band, but for now he wants to see what he can create without external artistic influence.
“Now I can sit down and really make a song sound like I want. It’s really nice to have a project for myself.” Like most producers he usually has more than his fair share of work, so for now having just one is like a vacation. “I’ve realized that I need to cut down on a lot of my other projects and concentrate on just one.”
He promises that his new album is going to be worth listening to many times over, combining electro, pop and blues sounds, but with some tracks featuring unpredictable instruments like chimes and wind instruments to keep the listener guessing. “I love to create songs that are completely different than what you expect.”