Get to Know: Tom Breu – Sound Nightclub’s Newest Resident
Though Tom Breu didn’t have much access to Germany’s infamously good underground scene where he grew up, he ended up with a life that any electronic music lover would admire.
Tom became acquainted with house music over satellite radio in his teens. In the Bavarian countryside two hours outside of Munich there wasn’t much to do, so he decided to stay in on the weekends, absorbing the sounds broadcasted into his bedroom.
After graduating from school, Tom spent a summer in Ibiza, a place he had never been, but where all the DJs from his favorite radio shows used to go and play. This is where his connection to house music would become even stronger – where he would become a DJ himself.
From there, Tom worked for a slew of well-known European music entities. He started as a music programmer for MTV Europe, later moving on to the exact radio station that was his biggest childhood influence: Radio WDR L1VE, one of Europe’s best known and most successful youth radios. There, he had honor of taking over and hosting the famous Saturday evening dance music show that he listened to as a teenager.
After almost a decade as editor and producer at that station and hosting several other radio and TV shows in Germany, Tom decided to move to New York in 2014. Still keeping his engagements in Europe, he established himself in the local scene, hosting parties with at venues such as Output in Brooklyn.
Now Breu has decided to try L.A. on for size. Though he is understated- not your typical L.A. personality- he has already garnered attention from various sources. After a gig at Sound Nighclub, he has been awarded a monthly residency that starts Saturday, January 14, when he plays with German duo Super Flu. We sat down with Tom to discuss some of his amazing experiences and plans for the City of Angels.
OTB: What is your best memory from that first summer at 19-years-old in Ibiza?
Tom Breu: The most memorable experience was also what made me dedicate my life to music in the end. There was this one song that was frequently played in my favorite hangout beach café, at Cala Jondal. It was still early in the season when I asked the bartender about that song, he referred me to a guy sitting on a table close by. Turned out he was from Germany too, working for a music promotion company. We went to his car, his trunk was full of vinyl – including that record I liked so much.
He offered to let me come on his nightly tours through the clubs of the island. We walked into every venue through the backdoor, hung out backstage and I passed along that record to the DJs playing there. That’s how I met a lot of my old-school heroes like Frankie Knuckles or Little Louie Vega, saw them spin from a very close distance and tried to pick up whatever skills I could!
We went to legendary after-parties at the Manumission Motel or to some private Fincàs, I was just blown away by all those great experiences! I started to buy more and more vinyl myself, and played my first few gigs on the island. That song I liked so much got more and more popular on the island over the summer, almost everybody was playing it at that point. And when the season was over and I went back home to Germany, it reached number one in the sales charts and was played all over Europe on the radio. That’s when I knew for sure, I wanted to work in music! I applied for a job at MTV’s music department, I got it and that’s where my professional career started.
OTB: How did you balance your professional career in the electronic music industry with the party lifestyle, especially at a young age?
TB: Well, that’s easy to answer! Apart from music, the other big passion in my life was always sports. Actually, that might also have been my path in a professional way, if I wouldn’t have suffered from a severe injury at the age of 16. An active and healthy lifestyle always remained though, nowadays yoga is my balance to touring on the weekends.
OTB: Who has been your favorite house music figure that you’ve spent time with?
TB: I guess I am lucky to say I can call quite a few guys in the scene my friends. Hard to name a favorite. A really nice thing for sure was when Justice showed up to play a surprise set at my birthday party in 2007. I knew they were in town but I was too shy to invite them to the party, and I wouldn’t have dreamt about asking them to spin some tunes there along with me. They showed up after all. What a great night.
OTB: What is it like to start all over from scratch when you relocated to the U.S.?
TB: It was really hard but also kind of refreshing. Back in Germany, I was well-known because of my radio show. But as a downside, I also always was labeled as “that guy from the radio station”. Some promoters didn’t really care what exactly I was doing there and what sound I was showcasing in my show, they just wanted to put that reference on their flyers when booking me! I mean, I never complained and my repertoire was always wide enough to please all kinds of crowds, but now I really enjoy just being me and being able to redefine myself without that label!
Tom Breu – L.A. Vibes III Mix
OTB: What plans do you have for conquering L.A.?
TB: Hmm, what’s a good way to put this…I never was the guy putting myself out there too much, that’s just not me. Even I know this Hollywood scene might require a different approach, with all the people running around telling everybody how great they are. I think I will try to set a counterpoint to that, with understatement. I will play good music, hope people will like it and come back next time with their friends!
Thanks to Sound Nightclub for giving me that opportunity now on a regular basis.
And thanks to you for the interview and the feature, I really appreciate it!
OTB: Thanks, Tom!
Connect with Tom Breu
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