Artist Spotlight – Rhys Thomas
Balancing the duties of work and a personal life is a struggle for many
Trying to break through the scene to become an international DJ and those lines can blur even more, especially with many now shifting their work to their living rooms. Rhys Thomas is figuring out the balance of work, DJ and personal life while continuing to push forward in his career and remaining humble from his roots and giving back to those in need. Rhys is an all-around guy you want to call ‘mate’ and see behind the DJ booth because he will have you rocking on the dance floor the entire time.
Thank you for taking the time for this interview. In the past 4 months, the entire scene has come to a halt. How has the Coronavirus pandemic affected you personally? When would you feel safe to go back to performing live events?
I suppose as for everybody, it has had a huge impact on nearly every aspect of my life. My day job (not DJ’ing – I wish lol) is now working from my kitchen table with kids running around my feet while my wife who I have huge respect for is going out to work on the frontline for the health service everyday.
I miss my friends, I miss my family, I miss being able to travel, I miss my colleagues, dare I say it I miss going in to the office! I’d be lying as well if I said it hasn’t had some effect on my mental health, luckily not severely but some days I have really struggled to find the motivation to do anything, musically or otherwise. Quite frankly I cannot wait for normal service to resume!
As far as live shows go… It’s hard to say, for a DJ it would probably be quite easy to adhere to guidelines and enter and exit the club and booth without too much risk but that’s no good without a crowd to play to and until I think until we can guarantee the safety of the people on the dance floor then shows should remain on hold. My only hope is we don’t lose too many venues, brands, promoters, artists and anyone else because of the economic difficulties they are facing due to not being able to put shows on.
You have your weekly show SLAMM’D! Tell us more about it and how you came up with the title? What is your process for track selection? Since the lockdowns, have you changed your process?
So SLAMM’D! started I think in roughly 2010. It began as just a mix series the first being “SLAMM!” then “SLAMM’D!” and from those it evolved into a radio show for a short period of time before becoming a podcast. Believe it or not the title evolved from some total nonsense conversation at an after-party about how you like your eggs in the morning? To which a good friend of mine replied, “SLAMMED!” and the original mixes were a bit of a joke following on from that but it just stuck!
Putting the show together will vary some are I suppose, what you would call ‘studio mixes’ some are recordings of live sets and through lockdown the audio from live streams. I am very open (or at least I think I am) with my track selection. I like to wander through genres, mainly trance, tech trance, psy, techno and pretty much anything else I hear that I like and think I can make-work! I remember learning to mix from watching a DVD called serious mixing staring JFK, Anne Savage and a few others and remember hearing the words “rules of mixing” but in my eyes there are no rules, if you like it and it sounds good, role with it. I try to keep the listeners guessing what might be coming next but in honestly keep myself entertained by pushing myself to see what I can get away with mixing wise.
As far as lockdown goes the two main changes I would say is having the time to put out more mixes than I normally would and I suppose tying in with this spending a bit more time scouring my hard drive for older tracks, whereas pre lockdown, I may have stuck with more fresh material.
You are really involved with a charity called Teddy Rocks. Please tell us more about this charity and how did you get involved with it? What type of impact has the trance community had in helping this charity in particular?
So Teddy Raves & Teddy Rocks are both arms or the Teddy20 charity which supports children with cancer, feel free to check out their website teddy20.org or their socials to see some of the great work they do! I think I was first asked to play for them by one of their founders, a true gent and now a good friend of mine, Andy Mayne, on boxing day 2016 in a small venue called Tiff’s in Blanford. I have been back a few times since and its been great to watch the brand grow and grow! I am very much looking forward to playing the main festival that has been rescheduled until next year due to COVID.
I think as far as the trance community and this particular charity goes, I know the core idea behind it is to use the club nights to raise money. To help fund the multi genre festival which I think is fantastic to see not only the trance community helping to raise money and awareness for a great cause. But the cooperation across genres for a common goal as we see so much division and negativity between genres, and even within genres sometimes, that its refreshing to see them working in harmony towards something positive.
Given that you do have a platform, what are your thoughts when it comes to DJs using it to bring awareness to a cause? Do you feel there are any limits? Why or why not?
That is an interesting question; I suppose it is the same as anyone in the public eye really. I think we all have our values, beliefs, opinions whether religious, political, economic etc. And to an extent we should use the fortunate situation we have to make people aware of causes we feel strongly about but there is a line between raising awareness and pushing your beliefs on to others which I do not think should be crossed and sometimes I can imagine it is easy for people who feel so strongly about an issue to lose sight of where that line sits.
Live streaming has become the new frontier during the past few months. What are your thoughts on live streaming? What do you like and dislike about it? What similarities are there to live performances?
So live streaming, 6 months ago probably something most club DJs would have looked down their noses at a little and mainly been associated with the ‘bedroom DJ’. Now possibly the biggest and best way for an artist to connect with their fan base.
Personally I think its great, more music online to listen to, well now and watch, what could be the downside to that? I think its given a lot of lesser known names the chance to really showcase their talents. Getting club gigs isn’t an easy process so this has allowed them to be heard on a global scale. I just hope that people take this time to listen to DJs streams they may not normally pay for a ticket to a club to see and get a feel for what they are really about. So when this is over those underrated, overlooked DJs might find their way on to some juicy club lines ups and hopefully give them the recognition they deserve.
You made a recent post about an Ibiza memory. I love Ibiza, so I know exactly what you mean. What makes the ‘White isle’ special to you? What is your history with the island?
So where to start! If I started listing off clubbing stories and parties even from what I can remember, we would be here all day! But anyone who has visited the island will surely have felt its magic!
The first year, I went for the ‘Ibiza Trance Event’ now known more commonly as trance week and played for a brand called Hindsight. My first morning there playing at Kanya looking out into the ocean surrounded by people all feeling the same buzz, it’s definitely a moment of my life I will never ever forget!
I’ve not been fortunate to land a ‘big’ Ibiza gig yet so any one reading take note! But I have had the pleasure of playing for the Driftwood guys and their pre-parties, the infamous Bar Tropi and plenty of other smaller parties over the years, which have been unreal!
I think the island has so much more to offer than just the clubbing scene which its natural beauty by the bucket load, some of the most amazing beaches you can imagine, its local cuisine and culture. I will admit it did take me a few visits before I ventured outside the clubbing bubble and sampled this myself!
I would urge anyone who hasn’t been to put it on ‘your’ to do list! I am currently looking with my wife to plan a trip next year and try out staying on yet another one of the islands amazing resorts.
Finally, if you could only live by one motto, what would it be?
Now that is a tricky one and to narrow it down to almost like asking me to pick my favorite trance classic, impossible!
But I do have a few go too
Around DJ’ing in particular I always stand by “The day I feel no nerves is the day I will hang up my headphones”. To me the nerves show my passion for what I do and the day that passion goes out is the day my DJ’ing journey will end… Although I don’t think that will ever happen, I think age will get me first!
One I acquired from my wife is “Take the risk or lose the chance” think that one is fairly self explanatory, use it or lose it!
And finally my excuse for a party “We are here for a good time, not a long time!”
Anyway thank you so much for talking to me today, it’s been an absolute pleasure and I hope your readers enjoy! Much love!