Tolga Katas 2006 Interview

Before, you begin reading interview, I wanted to express to the entire Freestyle Nation for those of you who do not know Tolga that he is truly a curtious, down to earth, easy going type of person! We want to thank him in giving us this insight and knowledge on a little piece of Freestyle History. Thank You for sharing with us!Ok Tolga, Its to our understanding you come from a Turkish descent? What is your background and where were you born?


Yes, I’m originally from Turkey. I was born in Istanbul in 1966.
At what age did you realize you wanted to be a singer/producer & how did you get involved in singing? Did someone specifically inspire you to do music?
I was around 12 yrs. old playing air guitar to KISS!! 80′s were amazing! You could say I was inspired by almost everything that was on the radio from Dance to Rock. I started as a rock guitarist then played bass for several bands in Florida. At that time, the clubs really didn’t let bands play all original tunes! I felt that it really was a dead end, so I decided to record my own record! It was the 1st record I ever recorded. On the 12″ one side is Dance and other side was Rock….. from there, I sold 700 copies of that record and it really changed my life. Everyone told me, you are crazy you can’t compete with big record companies… I was just a music lover lol… I didn’t know anything about competing with other labels. I was so amazed that it sold 700 copies…
How Did You Get into the record biz? I assume the road was a tough one……tell us about that experience?
Oh boy! This part fill a whole book so i’ll try to keep it short.
I was recording anything and everything, i really didn’t even know there was a business.. I was young and addicted music. I really couldn’t find anyone to produce my stuff. So I would save up money and record any and every chance i got. I remember the first time I saw a mixing board, i was like “I can never figure this out!”, “Look at all the buttons!”. I started recording night and day. I started to buy gear and keep recording. I bought one of the first samplers ever! Emulator and Emax… it was like $7,000 or something. I was the second guy in florida to have a digital sampler. The tools gave me the edge! next thing you know, I started doing mixes at a local station with a friend. Power-96 in Miami (Phil Jones). Everyone at the station went nuts over the Emulator and wanted to use it on commercials they were doing. At Power 96 I met Bo Griifin, she was the #1 DJ in Florida and she wanted to do a record with her sister. So I wrote and produced and released the record on my label. The song was called “Action Reaction.” It was filled with tons of samples, and the 12″ had every kind of mix that you can imagine. Bassapella, Percapella, Acapella… The DJ’s loved it. She started to take-off. Major chains started to carry the record. It was exciting. That is where I really decided that I want to be a record label. It was a great time with great people, the dj’s, record pools, producers, promoters all working together. It was a new world for me and I loved it.
 
 

 


Take us back to your first single and concert performance and first record deal?
“Leave it all behind” originally released on my label with Stevie B. (Midtown) then got a deal with Cutting Records in NYC. Stevie loved Leave it all behind, midtown was on a roll, we just got Stevie with LMR, and my self with Cutting!. The next weekend, i was doing shows in NYC, L’amours East , Studio 54, and The Fun House. I met Little Louie Vega, a legendary DJ, just hearing him mix my record in the club was a mind blowing experience. I was like “Is that leave it all behind?” Holy moly! I couldn’t believe that people actually showed up to my show! I had an amazing time just watching people dance to my record.
You are world reknown as a Freestyle Legend with hits like Sending All My Love, Loving Fool, Leave It All Behind, and the list goes on and on…Out of all of your songs which would you consider to be your favorite and why?
Party your body! (Stevie B) it started it all! We sold like 35,000 copies in a matter of weeks, out of our small label.
Not only have you had a string of hits as an artist but also as producer behind the scenes for many artists such as Stevie B, Linear, GT, Daize, Angelina, Ray Guell, Tony Marino & Nez to name a few, How did you end up working with all of those artists, especially hooking up with Stevie B?
I went to record pool in Florida to deliver the “Action Reaction” record. Couple of guys were there outside hanging out, They asked if I could give them a copy of my new 12″ single, and one of the guys said he had a studio and asked for my number. I gave it to him, by the time i got home there was a message on my answering machine, saying… “Ohh my god!! where in the world did you get that snare sound? How did you make the kick drum sound so phat, call me rightaway” I called him back, he was amazed by my sounds, and he had a mind blowing studio! It really was magical! That was Stevie B. we started working rightaway and became partners. All i can remember is working! hehehe.. we worked night and day on songs in our studio. It was really magic! and street! we had 2 18″ speakers and were blasting bass and edits like 100,000 watts! Stevie had an amazing ear! and was in tune to the streets. Within weeks we had so much material people were coming out of everywhere saying “Wow, that’s some bass!” I credit all the bass to the 808! and our home made 2 18″ bass cabinets.. we were the only people mixing records on club cabinets, Other studios were laughing at us…lol
Being in the music business as long as you have, you have had different labels such as Futura & Summit Entertainment, tell us about those and how those came to be?
All of my labels happened really because labels were not interested in my music. There was nowhere else to go! I remember Luke Skywalker and my self sitting in offices of many different labels… people just didnt’ know how to classify it? Where do we put this? What is the genre? Is it latin? Is it R&B? What the hell is this?
That inspired me to just put the records out yourself and see what people think. This was the best lesson for me. When you release your record all bullshit stops….. they either buy it or don’t.. which is great to know because if you’re selling like crazy in New York, you can concentrate in that market and support it with promotion. The other part of having your own label is that you never have to stop promoting! Futura was very successful, it actually started in my bedroom and went to 29 employees. I made a lot of money as a label. That is where I learned, hmmmm this is a business.

With that being said, it seems as if though through the years you have acquired a talent for being an entreprenuer in the software/video effects business. Currently you have En2go.com and served as founder of “DayInverstor.com” & “LongerLiving.com” Also, it was rumored you were the mastermind behind TFK media, tell us about that.
I n early 90′s, I bought the Amiga Video Toaster! and 3/4 inch decks and got in to the video business. I was successful in music and saw the video trend coming in with MTV and others. Music business is always slow to react to new technologies that promote music. I remember people were saying it’s crazy to spend $10,000 on a music video, now people are spending $1,000,000, same goes for the internet. Most labels did not want to spend for their Artists websites, now they’re getting it and starting to spend at online promotions etc… TFKmedia was my company where i developed lots of amazing software!! that you will see in the very near future, that combines Entertainment/Technology and Communications. En2go.com is my new company that i’m very excited about, because i get to test all of the software and musical tools that we developed for artists. My first artist is Kandice Melonakos, I’m doing some amazing stuff with her and technology. Lot’s of green screen, VFX and software applications. She is the world’s first artist that has her own Phone Company… people can download her software and talk to others around the world for free. You are going to hear a lot about this girl.

Not throughout the history of freestyle has this industry ever dared to put out any type of documentary of its music and then, “Kings & Queens Of Freestyle” emerged. How was it making those documentaries and how did they came to be? Stevie B has mentioned of putting out a “Freestyle Movie,” are you involved in that or can comment on it?
Yes, We are doing everything we can to produce and capture the amazing world of Freestyle. If you have stories, pictures and info, you can contact me. We just finished Stevie B’s Dance Party for Television, Stevie actually has an amazing book that he did not publish yet, it really should be a movie. I’m sure there are so many artists out there with similar stories like ours, we played stadiums in Puerto Rico to amazing crowds and no one really is doing new products for this market.

 


Ok, I am going to jump back a bit to your “singing” days, Did any of your songs have any special meaning to you such as “Loving Fool,” “Prove Your Love,” or “Without You?” Or any song in that matter. Johnny O wrote Fantasy Girl on the trains of NYC because of a love he had who died due to an illness and Noel along with Paul Robb wrote, “Silent Morning” because of a relationship he was dealing with at the time. Was it the same in your case?
Well, every song has a meaning and is special, even the ones that don’t come out so good! hehe.
Through out your career, you have achieved many heights….can you share with some of your billboard successes for our readers? Its to our understanding you won the BMI song of the year award and are listed in the Songwriters Hall of Fame, how does it feel?
Receiving an award is an amazing experience, just to touch on the BMI Award, I never expected it, because there are so many great producers, writers, and artists, but definately amazing receiving “Most Played Song” of 1990….. I got two awards that night and Janet Jackson had one! Go figure! lol.
So jumping a bit again, you worked with Stevie B with Spring Love, Party Your Body, etc…how was it making that historic album? Further more, how was it to score yet another Top 40 hit with “Dreaming About You” on what many dubbed as Stevie’s comeback album in 94, “Funky Melody?”
Making “Party your body” was definately fast!! hehe.. we did it in two weeks start to finish. It really was magic! For some reason what ever I do with Stevie just works perfect!.. He has an incredible tone! very inspiring, what ever he sings it sounds great. We actually fight about this alot, he thinks i’m just blowing smoke! I’m like, really dude, that is perfect! don’t change it! lolol… also he’ll say the same thing back to me, i wanted to work on spring love more, he is like, DON’T TOUCH IT! It’s perfect.. so our musical fights are really funny! I want to produce more and he wants to sing more. He likes everything I do, and I like everything he does. It’s crazy!

Most recently, you partnered with him again on a few tracks on Stevie’s lates release. How would you classify your friendship with Stevie? What is the winning formula you two share?
We are great friends, we are like kids, he’ll call me at 4am asking me if I checked out the Burn Lounge! or hey “They’re selling spring love on eBay for $100 bucks”.. I am one of the few..that you can call at 4 a.m. lol… i’m always up and working on something. The formula with Stevie is let him sing! He just sounds great with monster bass on the bottom. He has so many smashes! There is a ballad that he has, no question i would BET THE FARM! hehee. i’m trying to convince him to release it. May be with your support, we can get him to release it.
 
 

 


With that also being said, you worked with many others specifically with GT. How was that partnership and do you know what he is upto these days? Was it you or GT who produced the hit, “Destiny” by Rocco? Give us an insight on the “florida” freestyle boom you were a part of.
Yes, GT (Gary Tutalo) is a close friend. He is like real estate mogul right now, he’ll call me and say, hey dude just made another score! sold 2 buildings yada yada.. He is another amazing talent, i would love to see him do more records. Yes, He produced Rocco, I helped here and there, Cherokee we did together, and MC Herc. Freestyle boom, to me it never went away, I get so many letters from around the world, Australia, Brasil, Germany, Netherlands, South Africa, Canada. I think it is 10 times bigger than it ever was, i just went to three Stevie B shows sold out. Orleans Arena, Vegas 9,000 sellout, Palmsprings, CA 8,000 sellout, Anaheim, CA 11,000 sellout.. I can tell you that young kids are discovering it and in my opinion not many labels ever took this seriously, but let me tell you, there is a HUGE base out there globally, so if you are a freestyle artist, you’re in luck! it’s your time!
So now its 2006, Tell us what is new in the world of TOLGA KATAS? We see you are producing new music with a certain new artist. Tell us about her and the plans?
What’s new? I just locked up funding for my new company! I’m excited about it. My new artist is Kandice. She’s only 18 but she’s been songwriting since elementary school, so she’s quite a prodigy. Kandice is multi-talented so we are developing her for a full stage show with dance and entertainment. Interestingly, she introduced me to MySpace and has attracted a fan base of software programmers and technology guys (among others), so we are launching her as a “technology artist.” This means her music career will be launched through software in an revolutionary way. Kandice is a fun, smart artist–you guys should meet her.

What musical direction are you headed into in the upcoming year and in the next few years? Can we expect a hard hitting freestyle track for the fans or can we expect another side of TOLGA?
I’m a dance head! and a rock head! I love great dance records. Yes, I will have some hard hitting freestyle coming’ old school!

For the past 3 years specifically, freestyle artists like Stevie B, Johnny O, Noel, TKA, Lisa Lisa, George Lamond, Coro, TKA, etc have teamed up doing shows throughout the country….can we ever expect TOLGA to be added to those line ups and possibly doing some live performances?
I got some great offers for shows, but I really am so busy behind the scenes, and actually love it! May be I’ll do spot dates here and there! in the future..

Looking back, what is your best memory as a Freestyle singer? Is there something that stands out?? I say freestyle singer because that is what most have dubbed your music along with many songs during that time frame. I know we have talked to many artists that have told us that back then it was not called freestyle but Club/POP music. Do you consider yourself a freestyle artist or do you consider yourself something else?
Yes I consider my self freestyle! cause that’s what people named it. It’s a form of dance music.
I’m constantly producing, music to tv to software. I love producing!

Many people have termed “Freestyle” as dead. Johnny O & Stevie B specifically have stated publicly that its not and evident in their committment in putting out new music threw the years. Do you think its a dead genre? Will it ever be what it once was? Or will it be an underground movement that will forever live in its former listeners? Give us your take?
I don’t think it’s dead at all! I think it’s growing at enormous speeds. Keep in mind, labels have not realized this because they’re always slow to react anyways. I think you will see more and more freestyle. Janet Jackson recorded “Look out weekend”, J-Lo, Nelly Furtado, everyone is going to jump on it very shortly. Freestyle is here to stay, and it did not die. Freestyle is Freestyle! It’s melodies, great beats!, Hip-hop!


Many have said that if it weren’t for the internet, Freestyle would of been “truly” dead years ago, do you agree?
No! However, the Internet certainly is helping fuel the growth of Freestyle.


Do you keep up with new school artists like Nick Colon of DOS records, Caleb B from TransMin Entertainment, Angelino from MixMasterProductions, Alex of Latin Nation, Willie Valentin of Artistik Records, the resurgence of Mic Mac Records, etc…..? Do you like what you are hearing in the “New” school music? What direction do you think they should take?
I’ve been so busy, i’m not keeping up as much as i should, but i definately started to devote time into it now. Stevie just turned me on to Nina Martinez record, I like it. Yes there are lot’s of room for great music in Freestyle. I love all freestyle! You can say I’m a Freestyle head! lol!


This question is related to a prior question I asked but I have asked this to some of my past interviewees and am curious on what you have to say. What is your definition of freestyle or What do you think Freestyle should be?
Great dance music! Kickin’ beats! nice melodies!
Ok, Tolga…don’t want to keep you on forever..I have a few more quick/basic but yet important questions that I think all of your fans want to know!
If I were to go into your car, what CDs would I find?
My own tracks! I listen to some of my tracks for the mix and right now I have Kaci Brown and Don Phillip CD in my car.
 
 
 

 


Who are your influences musically and non musically?
Ahmet Ertegun!, founder of Atlantic Records
Man there are so many on the music side, I’ll just say Paul McCartney!
What is your favorite movie?
The Matrix
What are your hobbies?
Developing software, flying remote control airplanes.
Married, Kids, are you dating?
I’m in a relationship! I have four step kids!
Do you find yourself singing your songs or artists songs in the shower?
lol, sometimes, I sing my own stuff. I am like a parrot, i’ll sing any hook! lol.
Do you still get butterflies when you hear your song on the radio when you are driving?
It’s always nice to hear your own songs! Spring love we did in late 80′s gets more airplay and are on more stations still than some of the biggest artists. It’s you guys who really keeps it there!.. The songs always sound better on the radio! the compression or something they use to transmit.

Favorite Food?
Gyro!

Beer or Liquor – what is your vice….. and what kind?
Mountain Dew

What kind of equipment do you use to make your music?
Protools, Cubase, Reason, and some of my own software.

Do you visit the freestyle boards on the net?
Yes! there are amazing sites and boards out there, thank you guys so much for putting it together. It’s great to hear from other freestyle lovers.

What do you think of Cali Freestyle? They have many new acts like Mari P from Unique Elementz making some noise out there.
Love them. Great stuff!

Do you have an email address or website where your fans can reach you? I know we bumped into each other on Myspace! :)

http://www.myspace.com/tolgakatas

http://www.en2go.com

tolga@en2go.com

Well, Tolga, Is there a message or anything you would like to tell your fans or express? Anything to add that we did not cover?
Thanks to everyone for supporting our music. This is an amazing time for artists and fans to connect!

Well, Tolga!! Its been a pleasure talking with you today and just like everybody else am excited to see you back in the public eye. I want to thank you for taking your time out for this interview. If there is anything FreestyleMania.com can do, we are here my friend!

Thanks so much to FreestyleMania.com for the interview. You are an amazing site with tons of great content. You contribute so much to the dance music community — you guys deserve an award. I’ll be pushing this site to everyone I know.

Mario – FM Media 2006

 

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