In an increasingly youth dominated EDM demographic, it seems the culture of dance music is losing respect for its younger years. That's a large part of why we are on the edge of our seats for Daft Punk’s upcoming productions. But there is another duo that does not get enough credit in the American EDM: Chocolate Puma.
Maybe Chocolate Puma doesn’t need to be recognized by all for mass consumption. But Rene and Gaston from Holland are true OG’s of the electronic music world. If you are true to dance music, perhaps you know them. If not, get acquainted. Under one of their first stage names, The GoodMen, they released a dance music classic "Give It Up," which epitomized everything about Rene and Gaston's sound: fun, interesting, organic dance music.
These two have been traveling and conquering the world for over 25 years. But they aren’t fading out anytime soon.
INTO THE AM: Thank you so much for doing this! If you could introduce yourselves as well as tell us how you like your coffee we would appreciate it.
Rene: Hi I’m Rene, and I don’t drink coffee. I’m a tea person.
Gaston: I’m Gaston and I do drink coffee. I stick to one espresso a day.
ITAM: You guys came out with ‘Give it Up’ as The GoodMen a while back and it had great success. What made you decide to change gears and work under the name Chocolate Puma?
Gaston: Back in the days we had lots of names and alias’s we used. In the 90’s it was cool to be a bit anonymous and have lots of projects going on. We have had the Chocolate Puma name for a little while and it felt good so we have stuck with it since. Times have changes since the days when we had multiple projects going on at once. Now it is important to stick with one project to profile yourself with things like Twitter and Facebook so your listeners can find you. Before these social media sites we didn’t have to worry about this sort of pressure to be so accessible to people and it was cool to release obscure records with weird names. It was different times back then.
ITAM: What have you done to adapt to the constantly changing electronic music scene and managed to stay very prominent for all these years?
Rene: You have to keep your ears and your eyes open. We have a lot of young friends and producers who we’ve collaborated with who we feed off of sometimes. More importantly though we do what we like music wise.
Gaston: And you are also talking about the music industry. I think we don’t think a lot about the industry itself, we always think in terms of music. We feel it is the right music for us to make. We follow our gut.
ITAM: Will you come to the states soon? If so, when?
Gaston: Actually in March we are returning to America. We’ll be attending Miami Music Week playing two really cool parties and maybe a third one.
ITAM: How would you compare the Holland dance music scene to that of America?
Gaston: In America, all the music we have experienced here [Holland] is compressed into just one year really. It’s totally exploded in the U.S.! I think you have to respect the way you guys in America take it and go all the way with it in terms of productions. I mean look at all the American festivals and parties. It’s really cool. Then again, we are quite spoiled with festivals and parties. We have big organizations such as IDT who does Sensation, Mysteryland and Tomorrowland. It has been good to see America finally catch on in that way.
ITAM: Festivals are definitely on the rise all over the world. With that being said, a lot of these festivals have so many artists that your set times may be limited to only an hour. How would you compare a set time like that to say the freedom to play for two or three hours? Are there benefits on both ends?
Renee: Well in Holland you also see that the sets became shorter to accommodate more artists. For us DJ’s and also for the listeners, giving all you have in one hour can be a good experience. However on the other hand, because of the pressure to showcase your best in only a one hour set, everyone ends up playing the same stuff. Sometimes we have to do that one hour slot for a festival. I think it hinders creativity.
Gaston: Then again if we have one hour at a festival we try to give people something new and refreshing. We want to keep the energy level very high just like all the other DJ’s but we don’t necessarily play the hits, we try to keep the crowd moving with interesting music. I think you can put blame on many DJ’s for being lazy and just dropping the hits.
ITAM: What was the inspiration behind the cartoons? And the Lamborghinis?
Renee: We like Lamborghinis a lot. Especially the old ones. But we do not own any since they would probably break down on the way to the studio.
Gaston: Breakdown then catch fire probably!
Renee: We had a conversation with this illustrator who has done our record sleeves. We talked about everything we liked from cars, to architecture and so on.
Gaston: So yeah we had this brainstorm conversation with this illustrator who came up with all of our visuals. It’s almost like a Chocolate Puma City because all of the cartoons are a reflection of us and what we find to be cool and interesting.
Renee: And we don’t need to pose for photo-shoots!
ITAM: So I’ve heard your studio set up is actually relatively simple. Can you describe it and explain the reasoning behind being minimalists when producing?
Renee: Well our studio space is big enough to put all kinds of stuff like mixing decks and synthesizers since you needed all those different forms of equipment back then. But now all of these things that used to have to be present in the studio you can now buy as a piece of software. So we threw out all of our old stuff and work mainly on our computers. We have more time to do the producing rather than the meticulous things you used to have to do.
Gaston: This way we can also work faster, we are more flexible. When we travel we are essentially taking our studio with us. Not to mention there are endless possibilities in all of these producing software’s. For example, our remix for The Trumpeter we did on the plane to Morocco and played it the same night.
ITAM: Do you guys have anything strange on your rider?
Gaston: We require 15 bottles of water. Still water especially since sparking water would be disastrous in DJ booth.
Rene: And it’s never there! We have all the alcohol we need but not enough water. Sometimes the promoters think we are joking but we are not.
ITAM: What has been the most exciting moment in your careers?
Rene: I think a moment that was both the best and worst moment of our careers happened in São Paulo. We had 40,000 people there which was so exciting. But at the end of the set I fell off the stage because they didn’t make a fence behind us.
Gaston: I think it was like 8 feet that you fell. And then we had a 30 hour flight back home after the show.
Rene: I’m still here though!
ITAM: With dance music on the exponential rise in America, the demographic of fans is very young. As a veteran to this world, if you could sit down with the young listener of America, what would you say to them to explain the vast history of dance music?
Gaston: I guess we wouldn’t tell them anything really. We would just take them to a good nightclub and put them in front of our DJ booth and play a four hour set.
Rene: If we started explaining it just by talking about it without music we would be here for hours! There is so much to tell and feel. Nowadays very young kids have laptops and can make music. But they have never been to a club or any environment like that. So they make music that reflects what they find on the radio or Youtube or whatever.
Gaston: Well that’s how I got started making music when I was young and it was exciting. In fact a kid that I don’t think is any older than 8 sent us a demo on soundcloud and it was quite alright!
Rene: Also if you are that old you are quite a quick learner.
ITAM: What is next for Chocolate Puma?
Gaston: Really just to continue our urge to make interesting music. A lot of the regular EDM stuff you here is not very interesting to us. There is so much more stuff out there that gets us inspired and we will continue to just produce and play what it is we like.
If I haven't convinced you to follow Chocolate Puma by now - then I give up.