Chocolate Puma Press Photo

Interview

Chocolate Puma: “It’s Been One Hell Of A Ride”

Chocolate Puma are celebrating a massive 25 years on the dance music circuit.

| by | Features, Interviews

25 years on the dance music circuit is a rather long time but for Rene and Gaston, or as you may know them, Chocolate Puma, it’s been a whirlwind ride. The scene has changed drastically over the years in which they have operated, with young stars being thrown into the limelight in what could be a matter of hours or days, while in previous years, it would take years to make such a reputation. So to see their reaction on how the last 25 years has been was rather sweet indeed.

It’s been one hell of a ride” claimed Gaston who was sitting with a massive smile on his face. “We’ve been very busy with the twenty-five year celebrations, releasing some of our old vinyls onto digital formats, and we have taken some old gear from twenty five years ago back to the studio, which we demonstrated during ADE so there’s a lot changed, in terms of our equipment, music and our hair-cuts of course.” These were the words of Rene who was still processing the twenty five year anniversary.

Throughout the dance music scene, there has been a major change in terms of the music which people listen to, the way in which they listen to it, the sounds and different genres. It’s an industry which is constantly evolving and bringing through new ideas, new talents, new sounds and innovation. Chocolate Puma have witnessed a lot of this change over the years and for them, it has been a rapidly evolving world.

It’s so much more professional these days” states Gaston. “Back in the day no one had a clue what to do. We were kind of inventing everything in a way, the way which we would release records and stuff like that. But also with promoters and clubs, it was so much more wild west, we had to chase our money, we didn’t have a booking agent or a manager. It’s just so much more professional now. Young kids now that want to DJ and produce now, they see it as a career, and it wasn’t a career back then. For us it wasn’t a career, we DJ’d, we made music, and we had success with it and realised we could make money off it. Now it is considered to be a career, which is really a big change for us.”

In terms of the dance music scene as whole, you could very easily have time to adjust to the fame, begin to work how it is and how to manage success. With plenty of rising stars, many of them young and with little experience, they are thrust into the limelight very quickly at a very young age. So Chocolate Puma offered their insight into how they felt about this, especially as they played at Oliver Heldens’ Heldeep Records night during ADE. It was Rene that stepped up to the plate for this one.

They have to grasp the industry very quickly. Within a couple of days, you need a tour manager, a management team, the day after that you need a booking agent and a whole team. You don’t have time to think about it or play around. When you’re younger, you are taking all of the information in easier, they are learning quicker. They also play a lot so their experience is growing so fast.”

Gaston also offered his insight adding that “they are building on what already is there.” “For the older generation we had to figure it out, it’s a different way of getting into the scene. It’s not better or worse, it’s different, and if you’re young now, you can look back at what happened before and say I want to start here, or go down this lane or niche. Back then it was just us guys fooling around and doing stuff and then all of a sudden there was thing called House or Techno or whatever.

And the technology which DJs now use in the DJ booth has changed rapidly in the twenty five years that Chocolate Puma have been operating. Rene added “when we started DJing we played on vinyl which is the first big difference.” “You had to carry around the records, mix your records, you don’t have loop buttons or stuff like that. But on the other hand, we still mix a little bit like we did in the old days, we are counting and we use some cue-points, and this is what younger DJs do a lot more. But for us, we get into a flow, we start a record at the beginning of a beat and mix it into the record, but this is for me.

This was the first instance where I had seen a difference in opinion between Rene and Gaston, as Gaston stated that his way of DJing was completely different. “I use the cue-points a lot, the loops, and that is the big difference between using an SD card with the CDJ 2000’s and then playing on vinyl with the Technics 1200’s. But the way which we interact with the audience and the crowd, and build our sets, it’s kind of the same.

It’s all about picking the right tracks for the moment, seeing what the crowd want, reacting to that, DJing, and that’s one thing which I sometimes see with other DJs. They have their playlist, they play their one hour set of their own tracks and not really DJing. I know if you are playing mainstage Tomorrowland, you have to prepare, not take any risks. But that isn’t the case for us. The fun of DJing is going on stage, and just saying let’s do it. I mark my first record, depending on what the DJ before us played, or the energy, and then we improvise.

Following up on all of this, Rene shared his experience about how they played eleven shows in Miami Music Week two years ago, and their booking agent joined them for each of their eleven shows. To which he was slightly shocked.

We did eleven shows in Miami two years ago and our booking agent was with us for each of the shows and he was surprised that not one show was the same. The atmosphere was different, the crowds were different, some shows were day or night, and that’s the way a DJ should be.“ Gaston followed up on this with “it’s kind of crazy that we have to talk about this”. “It was so obvious back in the day that DJing is about selecting your tracks, interacting with your crowd, and setting the mood or whatever, but for some DJs it’s different.

Which brought us onto the conversation of the so called ‘extended sets’. For a DJ twenty years ago, it would be normal to play for four, five or six hours. Now sets don’t usually last much longer than sixty or ninety minutes. Rene used to play “from ten until five, three nights a week”. Rene followed up by confirming that he doesn’t agree with the “extended sets” and should be classed just as a normal set.

Gaston opened up about a number of gigs they performed and how different they were when playing at each of the shows. “Again, we usually have one hour at Mysteryland, Tomorrowland or EDC and that is also fun. The energy is insane, your pumping out tracks, a totally different way of DJing but super fun. We also like the likes of EDC Orlando, huge stage, twenty thousand people, but on the same night we done Mixmag Smirnoff House to around one hundred people and it was just as fun. The same night we done a club show in an underground club, totally different again, but all three gigs were super fun.

This led us to the future plans of Chocolate Puma and looking towards the next twenty five years (or just the next year, whatever suits) with Rene confirming that “we aren’t stopping”.

This year we didn’t have so much studio time because we were touring a lot, busy with the twenty-five shows, and bringing our vinyl catalogue through onto digital platforms. We have a new track coming with Tommie Sunshine and the reaction at the Heldeep party, it went really well. So lots of new music coming through, the back catalogue coming through and plenty of others things hopefully planned in.”

Rounding off an interview, it was time to see what their pieces of advice would be for a rising DJ or producer, both Rene and Gaston added their pieces of advice into the fold. “It’s a bit boring to say but be yourself, make music which you like and don’t try to imitate someone else. And also, protect your ears”. That was the words of Rene. Gaston followed this up with “it’s not something I’ve experienced because I come from a home with music, and my parent’s understood what a career in music could be, but some of my friends who wanted to DJ and produce, their parents told them to get a ‘real job’. But if you find your passion, you’re talented and you really want to do it, then you should chase that passion and dream.

A very positive way to finish off the interview with Chocolate Puma. Both guys offer a wealth of experience and I could very easily have sat for another twenty-five minutes with the guys talking vinyl, music and more, but the life of a DJ is very busy. Keep an eye out on their social media channels for their new music and what they have planned for the next twenty-five years.

For more information on Chocolate Puma:
https://www.facebook.com/ChocolatePumaOfficial/
https://twitter.com/ChocolatePuma
https://soundcloud.com/chocolate-puma

Chocolate Puma Press Photo

Chocolate Puma.

25 years on the dance music circuit is a rather long time but for Rene and Gaston, or as you may know them, Chocolate Puma, it’s been a whirlwind ride. The scene has changed drastically over the years in which they have operated, with young stars being thrown into the limelight in what could be a matter of hours or days, while in previous years, it would take years to make such a reputation. So to see their reaction on how the last 25 years has been was rather sweet indeed.

It’s been one hell of a ride” claimed Gaston who was sitting with a massive smile on his face. “We’ve been very busy with the twenty-five year celebrations, releasing some of our old vinyls onto digital formats, and we have taken some old gear from twenty five years ago back to the studio, which we demonstrated during ADE so there’s a lot changed, in terms of our equipment, music and our hair-cuts of course.” These were the words of Rene who was still processing the twenty five year anniversary.

Throughout the dance music scene, there has been a major change in terms of the music which people listen to, the way in which they listen to it, the sounds and different genres. It’s an industry which is constantly evolving and bringing through new ideas, new talents, new sounds and innovation. Chocolate Puma have witnessed a lot of this change over the years and for them, it has been a rapidly evolving world.

Chocolate Puma.

It’s so much more professional these days” states Gaston. “Back in the day no one had a clue what to do. We were kind of inventing everything in a way, the way which we would release records and stuff like that. But also with promoters and clubs, it was so much more wild west, we had to chase our money, we didn’t have a booking agent or a manager. It’s just so much more professional now. Young kids now that want to DJ and produce now, they see it as a career, and it wasn’t a career back then. For us it wasn’t a career, we DJ’d, we made music, and we had success with it and realised we could make money off it. Now it is considered to be a career, which is really a big change for us.”

In terms of the dance music scene as whole, you could very easily have time to adjust to the fame, begin to work how it is and how to manage success. With plenty of rising stars, many of them young and with little experience, they are thrust into the limelight very quickly at a very young age. So Chocolate Puma offered their insight into how they felt about this, especially as they played at Oliver Heldens’ Heldeep Records night during ADE. It was Rene that stepped up to the plate for this one.

Chocolate Puma.

They have to grasp the industry very quickly. Within a couple of days, you need a tour manager, a management team, the day after that you need a booking agent and a whole team. You don’t have time to think about it or play around. When you’re younger, you are taking all of the information in easier, they are learning quicker. They also play a lot so their experience is growing so fast.”

Gaston also offered his insight adding that “they are building on what already is there.” “For the older generation we had to figure it out, it’s a different way of getting into the scene. It’s not better or worse, it’s different, and if you’re young now, you can look back at what happened before and say I want to start here, or go down this lane or niche. Back then it was just us guys fooling around and doing stuff and then all of a sudden there was thing called House or Techno or whatever.

Chocolate Puma.

And the technology which DJs now use in the DJ booth has changed rapidly in the twenty five years that Chocolate Puma have been operating. Rene added “when we started DJing we played on vinyl which is the first big difference.” “You had to carry around the records, mix your records, you don’t have loop buttons or stuff like that. But on the other hand, we still mix a little bit like we did in the old days, we are counting and we use some cue-points, and this is what younger DJs do a lot more. But for us, we get into a flow, we start a record at the beginning of a beat and mix it into the record, but this is for me.

This was the first instance where I had seen a difference in opinion between Rene and Gaston, as Gaston stated that his way of DJing was completely different. “I use the cue-points a lot, the loops, and that is the big difference between using an SD card with the CDJ 2000’s and then playing on vinyl with the Technics 1200’s. But the way which we interact with the audience and the crowd, and build our sets, it’s kind of the same.

Chocolate Puma.

It’s all about picking the right tracks for the moment, seeing what the crowd want, reacting to that, DJing, and that’s one thing which I sometimes see with other DJs. They have their playlist, they play their one hour set of their own tracks and not really DJing. I know if you are playing mainstage Tomorrowland, you have to prepare, not take any risks. But that isn’t the case for us. The fun of DJing is going on stage, and just saying let’s do it. I mark my first record, depending on what the DJ before us played, or the energy, and then we improvise.

Following up on all of this, Rene shared his experience about how they played eleven shows in Miami Music Week two years ago, and their booking agent joined them for each of their eleven shows. To which he was slightly shocked.

We did eleven shows in Miami two years ago and our booking agent was with us for each of the shows and he was surprised that not one show was the same. The atmosphere was different, the crowds were different, some shows were day or night, and that’s the way a DJ should be.“ Gaston followed up on this with “it’s kind of crazy that we have to talk about this”. “It was so obvious back in the day that DJing is about selecting your tracks, interacting with your crowd, and setting the mood or whatever, but for some DJs it’s different.

Chocolate Puma.

Which brought us onto the conversation of the so called ‘extended sets’. For a DJ twenty years ago, it would be normal to play for four, five or six hours. Now sets don’t usually last much longer than sixty or ninety minutes. Rene used to play “from ten until five, three nights a week”. Rene followed up by confirming that he doesn’t agree with the “extended sets” and should be classed just as a normal set.

Gaston opened up about a number of gigs they performed and how different they were when playing at each of the shows. “Again, we usually have one hour at Mysteryland, Tomorrowland or EDC and that is also fun. The energy is insane, your pumping out tracks, a totally different way of DJing but super fun. We also like the likes of EDC Orlando, huge stage, twenty thousand people, but on the same night we done Mixmag Smirnoff House to around one hundred people and it was just as fun. The same night we done a club show in an underground club, totally different again, but all three gigs were super fun.

Chocolate Puma.

This led us to the future plans of Chocolate Puma and looking towards the next twenty five years (or just the next year, whatever suits) with Rene confirming that “we aren’t stopping”.

This year we didn’t have so much studio time because we were touring a lot, busy with the twenty-five shows, and bringing our vinyl catalogue through onto digital platforms. We have a new track coming with Tommie Sunshine and the reaction at the Heldeep party, it went really well. So lots of new music coming through, the back catalogue coming through and plenty of others things hopefully planned in.”

Chocolate Puma.

Rounding off an interview, it was time to see what their pieces of advice would be for a rising DJ or producer, both Rene and Gaston added their pieces of advice into the fold. “It’s a bit boring to say but be yourself, make music which you like and don’t try to imitate someone else. And also, protect your ears”. That was the words of Rene. Gaston followed this up with “it’s not something I’ve experienced because I come from a home with music, and my parent’s understood what a career in music could be, but some of my friends who wanted to DJ and produce, their parents told them to get a ‘real job’. But if you find your passion, you’re talented and you really want to do it, then you should chase that passion and dream.

A very positive way to finish off the interview with Chocolate Puma. Both guys offer a wealth of experience and I could very easily have sat for another twenty-five minutes with the guys talking vinyl, music and more, but the life of a DJ is very busy. Keep an eye out on their social media channels for their new music and what they have planned for the next twenty-five years.

For more information on Chocolate Puma:
https://www.facebook.com/ChocolatePumaOfficial/
https://twitter.com/ChocolatePuma
https://soundcloud.com/chocolate-puma

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