David Hohme moves into his prime ‘Without Doubt’ [Q+A]
Choosing to travel down the creative path requires both boldness and perseverance. It translates into the artist’s entire livelihood being hinged upon others resonating with their craft, and the road to success is fraught with uncertainty. That being said, there are no coincidences in the end, and those meant to be in the arts full time will ultimately push until their dreams come to fruition.
Music has always been in David Hohme‘s life cards. The classically-trained, New York-based DJ and producer grew up in a family where the art was held in high regard, beginning his journey at the age of four when his mother pushed him into piano classes. This love affair between Hohme and music continued to grow, and reached its peak simultaneously as he dabbled deeper in electronic music. As soon as he was able, Hohme set his sights on New York, and began worming his way into its underground. His goal was never to reach superstardom, but rather, to make a positive impact in the scene around him and watch as the thing he loved most catalyzed mass unity across sweaty warehouses and beyond. Nearly a decade after realizing that making and playing music full time was his life’s mission, he finally felt as though he’s settling in.
2016 brought along the foundation of his Where The Heart Is imprint, whose inaugural Fear Less EP caught Anjunadeep legend Jody Wisternoff’s attention and a subsequent remix for the release package. His career snowballed at an exponential rate from here, with Hohme later being brought fully into the Anjunadeep fold through his Soft Landing EP. Hohme’s pointed to this release as a sonic representation of him feeling more sure about the direction of his musical vision, and life path in general. Now comes his debut on Desert Hearts, Without Doubt. What started as a live improv inspired an entire song around it, wherein Hohme skillfully meshes together full-bodied textures, warm basslines, and dreamy melodies into one of the lushest releases on the label to date. His work was so powerful, in fact, that the single in which the EP gets its name received a cosign from none other than French icon Rodriguez Jr. “Without Doubt,” Hohme is ascending toward his peak, and there is no stopping this juggernaut now.
In honor of such a milestone release, we grabbed Hohme to talk about honing his craft, finding his way musically, and the transformational culture that brought him and the Desert Hearts brand together.
How did you get introduced to Burner/transformational culture? Has the scene played an influential role in your music, and how so?
My cousins had been going and telling me about Burning Man since I can remember, so I always knew I would end up going. They always stressed that I wait until the timing felt right, and when it finally did, wow did it change things up for me. I think among the countless life lessons I’ve learned, unlearned, or relearned there, the overarching open/accepting nature of the community has simply allowed a place for me to share the music I actually want to share…not what the promoter/the club owner/the bottle buyer/the money wants to hear. The musical freedom Burning Man offered me was so refreshing and honestly such a blessing at that point in my career, when I was vastly playing open-format sets with my value as a musician being based on how may bottles were sold that particular night.
On that note, you’re classically trained. Do you also feel like your affinity for lusher, melodic sounds stems from your time as a pianist?
Absolutely. Melody is at the core of what moves me as a musician…and it’s been the same my whole life. The sounds that inspire me, the sounds that give me chills 95% of time stem from the melody… and this is why I tend to write almost all my music around a melody, and not the drums or bass line like many other producers.
How did your love affair with electronica start, and what were the factors that led to you realizing you needed to be spreading music full time?
I always knew I wanted to do something in music… but if we’re talking about electronica specifically, I was probably around 15 years old… and it was with Da Rude’s “Before The Storm” album. I know, I know… but seriously, that album is incredible and it led me to Tiesto, Oakenfold, Paul van Dyk, and Above & Beyond. This was of course all as a listener, full time comes way later. It wasn’t until college when I noticed my natural propensity for creating playlists…I really enjoyed doing it…the process of filtering 1000’s of songs into only the best few got me excited. Also in college, going out in Hollywood, watching incredible open format DJs like AM, Stonerokk, and Graham Funky inspired me to buy my first set of Technic’s. From there on I taught myself and developed my technical skills through practice and Youtube tutorials. All the while, on the side, I had started a tech blog with a close friend of mine, we had signed an ad deal, and I could write from wherever I had an internet connection. This felt like the right timing to really give the DJ thing a go…and I figured if I could make it in New York City, I’d probably be pretty good elsewhere…so I moved across the country and haven’t looked back since.
Can you describe your sonic evolution?
No matter the genre, the music I play and have played all surrounds the melodies. Although I’ve made quite a shift since I started in open format, moved to big room EDM, and then landed here in melodic house & techno but I’ve always played uplifting and melodic music. The main force of my sonic evolution to the more esoteric and tactful sides of underground music, what I’m playing/making now, is in direct response to the serendipitous life timing that led me to some seminal sunrises at Robot Heart, or at the first season of All Day I Dream parties in Brooklyn.
You’ve described ‘Soft Landing’ as a moment where everything clicked with you musically. What’s the story behind “Without Doubt?” Is it a continuation of this certainty you’re feeling about your sound? How was the writing process?
This song makes me feel like I’m on the right path. That’s why I named it “Without Doubt”. I’ve been doing music full time for almost 10 years and to feel the support I’m feeling today and have a remix from an artist I’ve only dreamt about working with for the better part of my career is simply a dream come true. I hope this song conveys that feeling to others and inspires them to focus on doing what makes them happy, what gives them no doubts. As for writing, this started as an ambient improv that I was just making a fun video for…the response was so positive, that I decided to turn it into a song.
Tell us about how your relationship with the Desert Hearts crew. Did you meet at Burning Man? What made this song the right one for them to sign it?
Ha! Yes…it was my second year at Burning Man and I was playing one my first deep house sets ever at an incredible camp called Sacred Spaces, where their whole crew happened to be camping. They happened to be hanging out in their yurts during my set, heard my music, and were inspired to come dance! Since then I’ve had the pleasure of watching their growth from a small get together in the desert to the absolute power house Desert Hearts has become over the past 7 years.
How did Rodriguez Jr come on board as the remixer?
I asked him if he was available for remixes, he liked the song and said yes…that’s it! The same with the remixes from Jody Wisternoff. I find that the fear of the response holds people back from asking the question all together…and this applies to so many things in life. When your intentions are positive and you ask for what you want, amazing things can happen.
Who are your biggest musical inspirations/role models, and why?
I’ve been so lucky to have the remix support from two producers that have inspired me tremendously over the years. First is Jody Wisternoff…having him remix my first single “Fear Less” and then “Soft Landing” with James Grant is still pretty surreal for me. The second is of course “Without Doubt” with another top 5 of mine, Rodriguez Jr.. My biggest inspiration, though, has to be Joris Voorn. In my opinion and based on my personal taste, there isn’t a more consistent electronic music producer/performer in the industry. Also in my top tops for inspiration/potential future collaborations are Erlend Øye, Cubicolor/16bit, Lee Burridge, Olafur Arnalds, Andhim, and Eelke Kleijn. So many inspirational producers out there, hard to choose. I’m looking forward to working hard and hopefully that will lead to more great collaborations.
You’ve been riding a wave of success off your recent work and tour schedule. What about upcoming plans for your label, Where The Heart is?
Oh man, so much exciting stuff for WTHI…so much amazing music. I’m so humbled that these incredible producers are trusting me with their art. I’ll be honest though, since I run it 100% on my own, it’s been difficult staying on top of being consistent for the last few months. That all ends very soon as I’m in the process of bringing on a label manager. Coming up next, we have the first installment of the label’s mix series, “Where My Heart Is”, consisting of nearly all unreleased music from the label. This will be a Spotify exclusive mix. Shortly after that, consistent releases will begin as we currently have 10 EPs in various stages of development. The goal is to launch an international event series around the label/artists…when the timing is right.
What else do you have in store for the rest of the year? Any final thoughts before we let you go?
What’s in store for me is more great music…whether I’m playing it, releasing it, or making it. That’s my promise! Final thoughts…be nice, it goes a long way. Oh yea, and don’t eat animals.
Order a copy of ‘Without Doubt’ here
Photo credit: David Hohme’s team