In conversation with Drivetrain

In conversation with Drivetrain

Derrick Thompson is founder of Soiree Records International, Detroit’s underground music launchpad. Later establishing the techno label, Xplor Music, Thompson expanded his growing influence in electronic music. Creating an endless repertoire of quality, groud-breaking tracks ranging from house and techno to downtempo and experimental, has brought about a continuous demand for Thompson’s music from labels, major and independent, around the globe. Behind the decks, Derrick Thompson has electrified dance floors around the planet for more than a decade. His dynamic, energetic mixing technique along with his undeniably impeccable track selection has ignited crowds at the world’s most highly acclaimed clubs and venues. Derrick Thompson has validated himself internationally as a musical powerhouse.


  1. It would be nice to start by telling us your 3 most important achievements or goals fulfilled in your career so far that you very are proud of?


1) Soiree Records International;

– Founding the label

– Securing worldwide distribution; vinyl, digital and streaming

– Maintaining the label since the 1990’s

– Remaining relevant through the years

– Having over 100 artists releasing music on the label

2) Touring as a DJ in many different countries

3) Learning to play several musical instruments and performing with bands on many stages.


  1. Why and under which circumstances did you took the decision to start DJing or producing electronic dance music?


As a musician I’ve come to appreciate many different styles of music. I took a special interest in electronic music because I love technology, I love the concept of producing a composition alone and I’m very intrigued by the endless possibilities of sounds and arrangements. I started DJ’ing because I love the exchange of energy between myself and the crowd. I like to introduce people to music and sound that they are not familiar with. It’s an art to do this in a way that keeps the crowd interested and energized.


  1. It would be fantastic to talk about your latest release. Please tell us how this (these in case of EP) track(s) came about and what was the idea behind it (them)?


My track, “The Moonlight” was actually written over 20 years ago. I originally wrote it as a jazz composition. It was a bit slower than the updated version, but it had the same spirit. I’d planned to release it on a jazz album, but the album was never released. I’ve loved the track all of these years and one day I thought, why not redo the track and release it as house composition. Also, as a fan of drum and bass, I produced the remix called “Moonlight and You.” These tracks are very important to me. And by coincidence (not planned), G-Prod from France was interested in releasing their track called, “Moonlight” on Soiree Records. Their track had a very similar feel to my tracks and when a remix by David Duriez was offered, it was the perfect fit to complete the EP.


  1. How long it took you to produce it and can u describe the production process in simple steps?


I never rush to produce tracks. Years ago, I would create an entire track in one night. But I don’t like creating that way anymore. I prefer to stretch out the process. This allows me to grow the track. If I spread the process over a period of time, each time I approach the track, I have fresh ears and fresh ideas. The finished product usually has more depth and emotion.


  1. Which music composition software or hardware you prefer and why? What is your opinion of the latest movement to produce music with more analogue equipment and with less or without any digital software?


Currently I’m using the Cubase DAW. I’ve used it for over 20 years. I’m very familiar with how it works and its potential. I love its versatility and the workflow. As for using analogue equipment, I still use outboard gear with Cubase. I think it’s great to be able to incorporate both digital and analogue in your workflow as both have so much to offer.


  1. Do you prefer vocal or instrumental tracks? If there are vocals on the track, we discuss about tell us about the singer you work with?


I like both vocal and instrumental tracks. Most of my tracks contain some vocal element whether it’s a spoken word, singing or a vocal sample. I do most of the singing and vocal work myself. Occasionally if I need a female voice, I have several options of people to work with.


  1. Do you believe that artwork on your latest track is good and do you believe that artwork can attract listeners or record buyers? Can you mention the best artwork of a track ever released?


Label art is absolutely important. Many times, vinyl record buyers will not bother to listen to a record if the label art does not appear to represent the type of sound that they are looking for. I am very conscious of this when preparing label art for releases on Soiree Records.


  1. Do you have your own record label? if yes tell us when did you set it up, the reasons behind this decision and your top 3 releases on the label so far plus 2 or 3 releases that we should look after from your label.


I founded Soiree Records International in 1990 as a means to expose my music and that of other artists with similar music styles. The top selling releases were: Lockstep EP and Deep Animation EP. Many recent releases are compilations featuring 3 or 4 different artists. I would recommend checking out our latest release, Celestial EP. It features 4 tracks; 2 deep house, 1 drum and bass and 1 acid track. So, there’s something for everyone.


  1. How much time do you spend promoting yourself in your social media and you see this as essential tool for self-promotion and getting bookings too? Which social media is the one that seems to work better for you?


Having a presence on social media is essential for success in today’s market. I spend a considerable amount of time promoting on social media. I have a particular strategy that allows me to get it done efficiently and timely. The primary platforms I use are Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.


  1. Do you have any gigs/festival performances confirmed so far for 2024 in which ones are you most excited to perform and why?


I’ve just returned from a short tour in the UK and Europe. I normally tour 2-3 times per year overseas. I’ve got many US gigs upcoming thru the summer and I’ll be back on tour in autumn.


  1. Are you happy about the quality of the tracks released in your preferred music genres? Please justify your answer with your opinion about it!


There are many very good tracks being produced today. The problem is there are many more not-so-good tracks available. So, this makes it challenging to find the good tracks. Time and patience are required.


  1. If you expect to have a steady income from your music productions, are you satisfied with the way that royalties system works particularly regarding streaming revenue? Do you believe that artists get what they deserve from streaming providers/DJs playing your tracks in gigs/radio and selling music in physical formats like CDs/Vinyl or digitally.


Since the digital revolution, the value of music has been lost. Digital music can be obtained for very little money or even for free. Streaming platforms pay very little and seems almost impossible to collect any money at all from them. Collecting money from performing arts companies is also non-profitable. In the music industry today, an artists will have a better possibility of making money by performing and/or DJ’ing. There’s no money in selling music. However, it can get you exposure and the gratification of having your music heard and enjoyed by people around the world.


  1. Please note for all the new talents that read this interview to get some inspiration from you any technical tips in relation to your DJing or music productions. Also, any piece of personal or music business’ advice that has helped you to progress even further and is worth telling to the new upcoming talents.


My advice is to follow your heart when creating music. Make music that inspires you. Do not make music to try to please someone else. Find your niche and control your own destiny.


  1. Is there a club classic that you would like to remix or rework in 2023? Do you attempt often to do your own bootlegs of classics?


I remix tracks a lot. Sometimes I’ll hear a track that I really like, but then there’s a part the completely ruins the track for me. So, I’ll rework the track to my liking and use that version when I play out. Of course, I do not share or sell these remixes.


  1. How much do you care if your fans or followers like your productions? Do you struggle with the audience reception of your tracks and is this thought adds extra pressure on you and discourage you too?


My productions are written from my soul. I try to produce music that I will play when I DJ. When I can achieve that, I know that other music lovers will also want to play the tracks. There is never any struggle regarding whether or not people will like the tracks. If the track passes my own personal test, it’s good enough for release.


  1. Can you describe your music as certain music genre such as trance, house, techno or your music exempts these categorizations? What is your opinion about hybrid styles and artists who are attempting to mix influences from various genres in their tracks?


I produce music of many genres including house, techno, drum and bass, downtempo, electro, etc. Artists who try to mix influences should understand the the media will label it as they see fit. So, it’s better not to focus on genres and labels and just make music that moves you.


  1. Do you believe that audience should be banned from constantly taking photos or videos during DJ sets or are you happy with these activities?


It does not bother me if people want to take photos or videos as long as they are also dancing. I would be more concerned if they were not moving when they are shooting photos.


  1. Do you prefer small clubs or huge festivals to perform? in which festivals or clubs you aspire to play in the future?


I enjoy the thrill of playing at a large festival and interacting with a sea of people. But sometimes, it can be a very inspiring experience to exchange energy with a small crowd in an intimate room or club. Both can be exhilarating.


“Celestial” compilation is out – Buy here




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