Faithless and Satoshi Tomiie kicked off the series – now Renaissance turn to the Jedi of the decks to deliver the latest installment of 3D…

Some people are born to get away with it. Tom Middleton is one of them. How many DJs could release compilation albums devoted to odd – and often cheesy – cover versions and still keep their integrity? How many could get on the mic while they’re playing out and still maintain their credibility? Probably not many – but Tom Middleton does it all and is still one of the most exciting DJs and producers around.

Now he’s mixing up the latest Renaissance 3D album, three discs devoted to home, club and studio sounds. And the good news is that his healthy ‘don’t give a shit’ attitude is all over all three discs. Faithless might be a bigger name, but Tom’s follow-up to their 3D mix is a bigger package. EQ caught up with the former Jedi Knight to find out more…

Tell us about your Renaissance 3D album?
I’ve been itching to do a Sound Of The Cosmos part II triple CD for a few years now so I was very excited when Renaissance approached me to do the next installment in their 3D series. On disc one, Club, I’m blending timeless, warm, deep and sensual house grooves. There’s no room for any hits or obvious noisy bangers I’m afraid. On the Home disc, I’ve dug up some textbook Middleton tribal monsters and super-deep dubs from the vaults plus some fresh unreleased nuggets too.

There’s also a Studio CD which has a few exclusives on there. Who did you enjoy remixing the most?
Kerri Chandler’s classic Bar A Thym was initially a daunting task as it’s such a classic. It’s almost unremixable, but therein lay the challenge and I was very happy with the result. I even had Andy Cato from Groove Armada on the phone keen to learn about my beats and production for it. I think the most satisfying was Ulrich Schnauss’s In All The Wrong Places. It’s one of my favourites from his awesome repertoire. It wasn’t commissioned, I just had to give it a dancefloor context with its U2-like epic and optimistic harmonies.

Do you think there is a limit on how much you can interfere with someone else’s music?
Good question. My belief is that you should isolate the message in the original, simplify it, select some key motifs to embellish the emotional content and then apply your own distinct rhythmic and generic flavour. The bottom line for me is to be sympathetic to the original, not to distract too much from it (if it’s an unremixable anthem) but give it a solid dancefloor context.

Who would you like to remix your work?
Easy – a Brian Eno treatment, Ulrich Schnauss, Jon Hopkins and then the likes of Jimpster, Shur-I-kan, Funk D’Void and Josh Wink. The kings of emotions in sound and in JW’s case, the original master of minimal funky grooves. However, I’d trust any one of the artists on my compilations as they all have something special to offer in terms of emotional content.

Who do you think is going to blow us away this year?
Apart from Jon Hopkins whose music took my breath away last year (check Second Sense on my Home CD – stunning) no-one else blew me away last year. Shur-I-kan is definitely rising exponentially and owns the deep house sound for me. Without sounding too cynical, I’m hearing far too much dull and derivative middle-of-the-road, tech-elec-maxi-mini-schmall at the moment.

Do you have a specific concept in mind when you are doing an album?
Always. I’m quite scientific in my approach. There are months, even years of research, as well as very meticulous auditioning and selecting of tracks. Then there are the precisions, harmonic and digital tempo mixing. Every album has a flow to it and a narrative. The Home disc on 3D is a prime example – it starts with energy and drama, travels through various moods and eventually starts decelerating into pure blissed-out chilled grooves and ambience.

As an artist you are extremely diverse – do you think that hinders you as a DJ?
It could be said that had I focused on just one musical direction and genre I’d be in a different league now, but it would be too easy. I prefer to continually explore new territory. There are plenty of exceptional style masters, but only a few Jedi really exploring the ever expanding and perpetually fascinating world of music.

What makes you groove?
Top question! Apart from degustation with matching wines at top restaurants or err… skydiving. Then it would be loose and naturally gifted freestyle dancers and breakers who inspire me to get on the dancefloor and bust a move or two. Nothing better than to watch someone flowing with the music. I was a B-boy before getting into acid house, techno and house, so I’ve always had both feet on and off the dancefloor. It’s all about funky rhythms that I’ve never heard before to inspire new movement. By funk I mean it should have a natural feeling, a swing, shuffle or unmechanised, non-hard-quantised groove. Check Mood II Swing’s track Passing Time on the Club disc. Frack me if that isn’t one of the most rump-shaking shuffles I’ve heard in ages.

Have you ever had to take a massive risk musically?
Every set! I’m never one to play by the rules. I like to bring the energy of a festival into a club and make the room bounce and sing along. I’ve been dropping rock, drum and bass and hip hop into house sets for years and as long as you have the balls to go for it, it’ll work every time. This was my advice to Ryan Shaw before his final DJ face off on the Joy Of Decks TV show. He walked it by playing the drum and bass Hype remix of Fugees, and Jet’s Are You Gonna Be My Girl at the end. The club went nuts.

What piece of kit can you not live without?
Beard trimmer and a universal plug adaptor.

Would you ever shave your trademark beard off?
I stand proud with all my hirsute brothers defiant in the chant: “Life’s just weird without a beard.” Besides that, I can’t be doing with a horrid shaving rash: itchy, scratchy, blotchy – tres non bon…

Renaissance 3D is out January 28. Visit, and

“I’ve dug up some textbook Middleton tribal monsters and super-deep dubs plus some fresh unreleased nuggets too”