Beyond that, my first experience witnessing
a DJ work in a nightclub in 1998 was the
beginning. Unbeknownst to myself, I was
hooked, not because I thought it was cool,
but because it seemed so difficult and
technical. I was obsessed with the idea of
creating music from records which were
unchangeable, by layering, looping and
tricks like that. Hearing amazing DJ’s like
Junior Vasquez, Victor Calderone, Chad
Jack and James Andersen play records like
a musical instrument was completely awe
inspiring. To this day, I work as hard as I
can to be that good.
- What was it about the music & beats that
It’s pretty simple, the emotion and power a
microscopic needle could bring to literally
thousands of people.
- Describe your sound, how it is different
from others, and how it has developed.
My sound is very eclectic. I hate having to
stick to any sort of pattern or genre. My sets
always include different types of music. I
love to intertwine deep
house with tribal to give the
crowd a kind of up and down
experience. Yes, I play some
commercial music, but I also
dig around for unknown
www.ambiente.us MAY | MAYO 2011
DJ Scotty Thomson | Sailboats, Spinning & Skin
by Herb Sosa
photos by Marco Ovando & Bruno Rand
In the middle of the delicious madness that has become Miami Beach Gay Pride
week - all the parties, bodies & beats - in to town came an unassuming and
gentle blond boy. He could easily blend into the crowd of surfers, hot & tanned
bodies clubgoers that make up the daily South Beach magic - that is until he
starts to spin and takes you for a whirlwind ride on the dance floor. Now you are
in DJ Scott Thomson's World, so let your self go, bounce about and take your
shirts off if you dare!
Coming from a well bread upbringing in New York, Scott has spent much of his
time as a competitive sailboat racer & an uptown corporate job - Gucci suits and
all - to now burning up the turntables in New York City and now the world, reflects
a bit for AMBIENTE.
It’s quite a long story…looking back, I was always obsessed with music. Even
while racing sailboats, music was something which brought me motivation. To
keep focused and ignore the shear exhaustion and pain of sailing. The funny
thing about it all is that I see sailing and DJ’ing as very similar activities. Both
require extreme concentration and awareness of your surroundings and
environments…a kind of “sixth sense” which cannot be described. Knowing what
people are doing and thinking without actually seeing. While racing, music,
especially house tracks, brought me into a place where I was more focused.
These days, I find that my best nights as a DJ happen when I’m in the same
mindset as when leading races in a national or world championship.
tracks…things other DJ’s might not even find, especially in the gay arena. You
will always hear a few classics from me…especially stuff from the early 90’s.
High energy or deep funky house, I am constantly experimenting with my sampler,
layering subtle sounds and “working” as a DJ should. I believe the “art of Dj’ing”
has been lost. Many DJ’s are just juke boxes and that is sad to me. What sets
me apart, is that I manage to bridge the gap between old skool sounds and
current commercial vocals in a seamless way.
I am very close to my family. If I don’t speak to all of them
at least a few times a week, I definitely get lots of flack from
them. If I don’t see them a few times a month, it’s as if I
hadn’t seen them in years. I also have two nieces and a
nephew, who I see as my surrogate children. They kinda see
me as their “fun dad”. I love being a part of their lives,
although my travels as a DJ keeps me from seeing them as
much as I’d like.
When I first started DJ’ing, none of them took it seriously.
Only in the last couple of years have they taken notice that
this is something good. I guess the fact that it’s taken me all
over the world has finally set in.
- You seem to work a lot in the gay community and gay-related events. Is this
by chance or choice?
I think a little of both. I never set out to only play in gay-related events. I honestly
don’t care who is down on the dance floor…as long as they are into house and
open to different sounds, I will deliver. To be honest, mixed crowds are my
The fact that I started playing in gay clubs was incidental. If a straight promoter
had “discovered” me, things might have been different. I think my music is
appealing to everyone.
- Has being openly gay affected you professionally in any way?
Directly, I would say no. Indirectly, there are many factors which I believe have helped
and hurt me. I love to be open and flamboyant. I love to take my shirt off and be myself.
DJ’ing or not, I never want to be restricted by the status quo. One thing which pissed
me off constantly, is when people judge me for my suggestive promotional images.
For some reason, the industry thinks you can’t act or look a certain way to be taken
serious. I can’t tell you how many times people have said to me, “Scotty, you can’t do
that, you’re a DJ”. My answer to that is, F—k off. It really sucks that it’s not ok to take
your shirt off, but it is acceptable to be a meth addict. Which is less professional, a
person who can’t DJ without taking his shirt off or a person who can’t DJ without
busting out a pocket full of substances.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not on an anti-drug crusade. Yet, I am against the extreme
level of double standards of which the music industry has been plagued.
How has it helped me??? I take my shirt off in the DJ booth ;-)
- What has been your biggest mistake in business? Biggest success/best decision?
Relying on the fact that being a successful DJ in NYC would be enough to succeed
I made an early decision to invest in a website. I spent all of my “day job” pay checks
on promoting my name, hiring a publicist because I realized that marketing myself was
almost as important as my music…ALMOST. Along with that, I have stuck to my guns
about never losing myself and my creativity with growing success.
The guy I met is self confident, a bit shy and very focused on his work. The Scotty I met
would prefer to be at the gym and beach than out clubbing, but make no mistake, when
hes working, he owns the club, often taking off his shirt and enjoying himself along with
his adoring followers. This free expression has been dismissed or misunderstood by
some, and used to criticise Thomson for over exposure or not having the musical
substance and falling back on his obvious good looks & physique. All it takes is to see
& hear him at work to know he is the real deal and a true professional.
- Talk to me about the whole Speedo thing. How did that come about?
I knew that was coming…well, it all started when I was born naked. I stayed that
way…I never wanted to have clothes on. More recently, when I started going to
gay clubs, I would show up in a Speedo. It felt liberating…A few years later, I
started DJ’ing. In my mind, there is no difference between being on the dance
floor in a Speedo and in the DJ booth. After playing a few pool parties in my
Speedo, people took notice. Soon after I was sponsored by a well known
underwear brand, Andrew Christian. It was a cross promotional tour, so we did
some photo shoots of me in their stuff behind the decks. From there on…it stuck.
- Anyone you haven't worked with that you really want to?
I’ve been producing my own tracks for a few years now, but I’m ready for the next
step. I am currently in school to get my degree in Audio Engineering. I have a
very hard time relying on someone else to translate my ideas into music. I find it
sad that most DJ’s call themselves “producers” when they can only steal other
people’s work or never actually get their hands on their own remix.
I also see myself producing for movies and TV. My connection to music is quite
visual. Therefore, I feel like I have a good sense of matching music to images.
My aspirations are not to only produce house music since I love all types of
sound. I honestly see myself getting a Grammy, not for Best Remixer, but for
Best Soundtrack. Either would be welcome though -haha.
As for behind the mic…absolutely not. I hate my own voice. I’m actually quite shy
in so many ways. I LOVE making people move with my sounds, but I don’t like
being the center of attention while in the DJ booth.
- Having worked in all three, tell me about the music scenes in New York,
Montreal and Miami... What do you personally get from each City?
New York…it’s my home…the birthplace of modern day clubbing. Unfortunately,
the scene has changed. NYC used to be all about
underground house. The cutting edge. The DJ as an artist was paramount.
These days it has gone the opposite direction. Most clubs, people don’t care if a
DJ is playing vinyl or just playing from iTunes. Regardless, I still love playing in
NYC because I know what to play and whom to play it for. There still is a vibrant
“house crowd”, it’s just smaller.
Montreal…WOW...it’s my home away from home. My favorite city to play in the
world. The crowd is educated, they dance like crazy, but they are discerning and
hard to impress. My hardest and most enjoyable nights all at the same time
happen in Montreal. I don’t find myself forced to play as commercial as in the
rest of the hemisphere. I find myself playing from my heart like I used to in NYC
at Limelight. I don’t have to worry about how many GaGa or Brit songs I’ve
played, and that comes through in my sets.
Miami…always a blast. South Beach has a heavy Latin influence, and I love
playing Latin influenced tracks. I always have, so again, I definitely find myself
falling into a comfort zone which lets me play my heart out. I also love playing
funky beach house…and there are many places in Miami which are perfect for
that style. The best of both worlds for me…One day after-hours, driving
house…the next, happy beats in the warm weather.
- What is next for you professionally? Personally?
Professionally, you’ll start seeing more and more original productions actually
released to the public. I believe I have made a name for myself as a great DJ
without relying on the notoriety for producing a hit song. To me, this is the way to
prove your ability as a DJ. I’m not here for fame, I’m here for my passion, and
that means I’m gonna be here for a long time.
- What do you listen to when you are not working?
Myself…HAHA…Honestly, I do. Not for narcissistic reasons, but for growth.
I record most of my sets and will obsessively listen to them for mistakes, strokes
of genius…just general criticism. I see it as part of my job to learn and evolve.
The only true judgment is to rewind. It’s easy to have someone tell you
something sounded good or bad, but to go back and hear it more as an
audience is immensely helpful.
“It’s funny, I grew up doing
championship sailboat racing I
ended up a DJ. From
surroundings to the
Scott has risen from from novice, self-
trained DJ to resident DJ at XL, Limelight
& Spirit in NYC. Quickly thereafter
additional residencies in Chicago, Los
Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Sao
Paulo, Rio DeJaneiro, Brasilia, Buenos
Aires & Montreal came along. The last
year has seen Scotty headlining some of
the biggest parties and clubs in the world
including Unity Montreal, the JockBall at
the 2009 “Black and Blue Festival” &
Jeffrey Sanker’s famed “White Party –
Palm Springs”. Most recently, Scotty has
added more “super clubs” to his list of
residencies including Krave Las Vegas,
Unity Montreal, Ibiza Wilmington and Fly
Toronto. He has also become a resident
DJ with Bad Boy Club Montreal (BBCM),
the organizing association behind the
Black & Blue Festival.
“It was like, Dr. Jekyll and Mr.
Hyde,” recalls Scott of the split
personality he adopted just a
few short years ago, when he
was trying to balance his
demanding, corporate day job
with long night shifts as an in-
demand DJ at New York City’s
“I’d be at the office in my Gucci
suit then suddenly,
I was at a nightclub with a
Mohawk,” laughs Scott. People
would say, “Oh, but you
seemed like such a nice boy; a
Beyond that, a DJ’s job never stops. If I’m not
listening to my own music, I’m searching for new
music, listening to other DJ’s podcasts, etc…It
never leaves me.
- How would a young aspiring DJ get into the
business today? Is it any different from when
you started? How? Advice?
My first advice is to tell them that they have to be
in the business for the right reasons. Fame and
fortune are NOT reasons to want to be a DJ.
There are millions lf “DJs”. If you want to stand
out, you have to offer something unique which
can be sustained.
These days, there are many huge DJ’s, but they
all make less money than even just ten years
ago. Gone are the days of a handful of mega-dj’s
who make tens of thousands of dollars per
night. Yes, there is great money to be made, but
there is also a LOT more competition in a
growing market. I equate it to wanting to be a
professional baseball player.
For more on DJ Scotty Thomson, visit:
CLICK HERE for more Herb Sosa
Copyright 2011 © AMBIENTE MAGAZINE.
Do not reproduce without citing this source
Miami | Healthy
New York | Energetic
Sailboat | Life
Image | Emotion
Fame |Not important
Favorite thing to wear | Bathing suit
Favorite food | Japanese
Favorite type of man | Abercrombie
Most important thing in my life | family
When I die, I want to be remembered as…|
A great artist with a huge heart
|DJ Scotty Thomson |Fly Toronto March 6, 2010