Choo-Choo To The Toolroom – An Interview w/ House Music Legend Harry Romero

*written by A’Damaged Pro for Electronica Life


When an artist sits down in front of their gear and decides to make a track, initially they are doing it simply because they want to create something new and exciting. They find that baseline that will be the anchor for their new endeavor and press forward. Very rarely, in my mind, are they moved by the image of that song being rocked in the future. As music is always evolving, it’s something truly special when a track stands the test of time. House Music legend, Harry Romero, is responsible for one of those timeless tracks, specifically “Tania.” It can still be heard blaring through the speakers at clubs in Ibiza and festivals around the world. I caught up with Harry and we talked about the evolution of his musical experience and his feelings about the Toolroom remix packages of his beloved “Tania.”253218_595075820525686_967869957_n
A’Damaged Pro – What type of music did you grow up listening to?

Harry Romero – I grew up listening to pretty much everything. There was always some kind of music going on in my house as a child. We would listen to all kinds of latin music like: salsa, cumbia, merengue, vallenato, and baladas. My dad was also really into different kinds of jazz and classical music. Growing up in the 70′s disco was always in the background as well. When I was a bit older I discovered reggae, rock, punk, funk, new wave, hip hop, latin freestyle, and finally house music.

A’Damaged Pro – When did you make the personal choice to explore electronic music and how did you begin your journey?

Harry Romero – I don’t know if I can say it was a choice to explore electronic music because it was just what we listened to. Kraftwerk were a big influence for me and also artists like Soul Sonic Force played a huge role for me in the foundation of my taste in electronic music. I wish I could put it into words but it was just so new and innovative at the time. I felt like I was a part of something special. Growing up in the 70′s and 80′s was really amazing because there was so much going on musically, and it became electronic. I had a cousin that lived in Miami in the late 80′s and he had a SP1200 sampler. I will never forget the first time I saw this machine in action. It totally blew my mind. For me it was like witnessing magic. I suppose that’s when I really began my exploration into electronic music.

A’Damaged Pro – Did you have anyone to guide you through the process?

Harry Romero – To be honest I am pretty much self taught. I spent many many hours sitting in front of my first sampler/sequencer and not really having a clue as to what I was doing at first, but in time it just clicked. It was like a certain chamber in my brain that was closed was opened for the first time. I have always been a good listener. I spent lots of time just listening and absorbing different people like Todd Terry, Kenny Dope, Louie Vega, Lil Louis, Larry Heard, etc etc etc. I guess they were my guides. And still to this day I look to them for guidance. In my mind I’m a new jack.

A’Damaged Pro – Where did you draw your inspiration for “Tania?” Is there any significance behind the name?

Harry Romero – For Tania I was just doing what I always did. I’d go to a couple vinyl spots in my area and pick up a stack of old records. I did this weekly for years. I would take them home and see what I could pull out of them. It just so happens that in that particular stack of vinyl there was this little one bar sample that would change my life, really. I knew it when I heard it. I immediately called a couple friends and played it to them over the phone. God only knows what it sounded like on the other end but they got from my enthusiasm that I was excited. It took me only three or so hours to start and complete that track. The rest is history.

A’Damaged Pro – Are there any key distinctions you notice between house music now and when “Tania” originally was released?

Harry Romero – Some of the key distinctions I notice is the sound quality that you get now. I mean you can really make things sound super fat with all the plugins, etc. What hasn’t changed is the vibe factor. The tracks still have to have that vibe that grab you and don’t let go. That’s how you know you have a winner. I don’t care what DAW or speakers or whatever….it has to have a vibe first. Without that you’re just trying to make an ugly girl pretty by adding accessories (efx).

A’Damaged Pro – How have you evolved your craft over the last decade?

Harry Romero – My craft is constantly evolving. I feel it’s important to really step out of your comfort zone to really grow as an artist. Otherwise, the process becomes too easy and that’s when the art begins to become less creative. I have never been a quantity guy although as of late my output has been quite high. That’s because sometimes creativity flows like a wave and you have to ride it as long as possible until the next wave shows itself. And in the process you experiment and try new and different things. That’s what makes it fun.

A’Damaged Pro – What was your reaction when you were told about these remix package projects?

Harry Romero – My first thought about the rerelease of Tania was like, ‘You know what? Let’s just leave that track alone’. And after some long thinking, I said to myself there’s a whole generation that really never got to experience this track. It put so many smiles on people’s faces back in the day that I thought it was the right time to give it another go. Toolroom approached me with the idea and a list of possible remixers and I said OK. Let’s do this. We really cherry-picked the people we wanted involved. We wanted relevant people that understood the history of the track and could really bring it to 2014.

A’Damaged Pro – “Tania” is considered an Ibiza anthem to this day. How does it make you feel to know that you have created something timeless?

Harry Romero – When I stop and think about Tania being an Ibiza anthem it truly humbles me because I know that not everyone can say they have done that. I never set out to do such and it happened organically from this first generation Colombian kid plugging away in his parents’ basement. This was before ‘LIKES’ and ‘FOLLOWERS’ and the advent of social media. For that alone, I am super proud. It still puts a smile on my face when I play it or hear it out. It truly was a special time in House Music.

A’Damaged Pro – If you had to choose another genre of music to produce, outside of EDM, where would you feel the most at home?

Harry Romero – If I could produce in another genre I guess it would be scoring music for movies. I have a lot left in me for house music but when I want to retire I will do so scoring movies. It’s a dream of mine. SO STAY TUNED!!!

A’Damaged Pro’s final words…

When an authority, and living legend, tells you that they are humbled that others would like to revisit their work and present it for a new generation, it means something. It reminds us that the purity of the music and the initial intended message was the driving force behind its creation. Alterations to a classic do not undermine the hard work and methodology that went into producing them in the first place. They are an attempt to make them more available to new ears. The memories and the joy from the original are just as real, but in the spirit of evolution, growth must take place in one form or another. Keep your ears open for history in the making.

Connect with Harry Romero: Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud