Exclusive interview with Free House Music label boss, Tom Caruso.

Producer and Label Boss Tom Caruso has cemented his place among the industry’s nobility.

With a remarkable discography boasting releases on esteemed labels like Glasgow Underground, Midnight Riot, and Skint, Belfast-based DJ, Producer and Label Boss Tom Caruso has cemented his place among the industry’s nobility. His productions consistently soar to the top 10 on Beatport and Traxsource, earning acclaim from industry tastemakers such as Danny Howard and Carl Cox.

Formerly serving as Glasgow Underground A&R, Caruso’s keen eye for talent has led to the discovery of rising stars like Earth N Days and Fhaken. His diverse productions, spanning from House to Disco, are distinguished by his passion for vocals and are instantly recognizable. As a skilled DJ, Caruso navigates between genres, infusing his sets with infectious energy and feel-good vibes.

In 2023, he further solidified his legacy by founding FREE HOUSE MUSIC, a label dedicated to Original Vocal House. Notable achievements include remixing Fatboy Slim’s ‘Talking bout my baby’, and his track ‘FREAK LIKE ME’, which has amassed over 600k streams on Spotify. With the release of his latest record, a captivating collaboration with UK-based Singer/Songwriter Lara George titled ‘Someone To Love‘ on his FREE HOUSE MUSIC imprint, we dive into the world of Tom Caruso in this exploratory conversation:

Can you tell us about your journey into electronic music production and what inspired you to pursue it as a career?

My journey into electronic music production began during my teenage years when I discovered dance music, turntables and nightclubs. Learning to DJ, honing my skills, and gathering a massive record collection along the way, all while gigging at every chance I had, got me hooked.

I started in my 20s experimenting with basic music production software and equipment, learning through online tutorials and trial-and-error. I soon found my way to something sounding semi-decent and, from there, just kept learning.

It’s always been a hobby for me, but I managed to get a job as an A&R for Glasgow Underground in 2019. Finding hidden gems for the label was like digging for records again. I knew then that working at a label was something for me. I have learnt a lot about A&R, running a label, and the industry, and I have immersed myself in the music scene even more since then.

As a producer, what is your creative process like? How do you typically approach starting a new track or project?

It really depends. It can go two ways.

My creative process is a blend of intuition, experimentation, and structured workflow. I start by making the groove. Kick, bass, and drums are my foundation. Usually, I will aim to create or find an instrumental hook/ vocal hook that works with the groove.

Once I have this initial idea as a sixteen bar loop, I can start then start to add more layers. Gradually adding elements until I have something solid that feels like the track is in full flow.

Sometimes, I may already have a vocal and build a new groove around it. Or I will write an instrumental that is a few minutes in length and send it out to some vocalists so they can try to catch a vibe on it.

Each time is different!

Could you describe your signature sound or style? How does it set you apart from other electronic music producers?

My sound is very much based around Deep House. Vocals are always an essential element to all my productions, while the bass occasionally veers into funky territories, adding an extra layer of groove and personality.

I feel like my tracks are instantly recognizable as they all revolve around solid grooves and killer vocals.

Tell us about your latest release. How did it come about, and were there any standout moments throughout the creative experience for you?

This one was actually a vocal that was written for another track due to be released on my label, Free House Music. It actually worked really well over the original track but the producer wasn’t feeling it. I asked the vocalists and writers if I could do something with it. Luckily, they were more than happy with me giving it a go. It came together really easily, which is always a good sign. I think I wrote the whole Instrumental in a few days.

Then, over the next few weeks, the other collaborators refined it, tweaked it and finished it off. All this was done with the power of the internet. It’s amazing how well we are connected these days. We can collaborate from all around the world.

Exclusive interview with Free House Music label boss, Tom Caruso.

What challenges do you face in managing a record label in the electronic music industry, and how do you overcome them?

I think, for now, it’s just about finding the right tracks for the label. I’ve decided I’m only releasing original vocal tracks. It’s not an easy task. It’s something I’m passionate about, though, so I’m making it work. I want to team producers and vocalists up for 50/50 collabs, no featuring, etc.

It’s a label where everyone is equal. This means that everyone is invested equally in each track, so the music will reap the benefits. So, my challenge for now is finding the right people who want to be involved and the right music for the label. I’m sure we will have challenges to overcome as we grow in the future.

How do you see the role of technology evolving in electronic music production and distribution, and how does your label adapt to these changes?

Technology is ever-evolving. Every week, it continues to offer increasingly powerful and accessible tools for music production. AI is pretty scary to what it can do. I do hope it doesn’t become a means for people to abuse and write music with just a command. We could see full AI songs in the charts in the future, which is something I don’t think it should be used for.

I do think, however, that as most production tools become more advanced and user-friendly, they empower artists to explore new creative possibilities and push the boundaries of their sound.

Everyone now has the ability to self-release. The rise in digital distribution platforms has transformed the way music is consumed and distributed. I think the main selling point for using a label is being part of something.

We aim to have something different, offering a project to connect with other artists. Labels will always exist as self-distribution is not for everyone. You just gotta release good music, and that will always attract new artists to get involved.

Can you discuss any memorable or significant moments in your career as a producer and a label manager?

When I was producing music as TomCole, I was booked to warm up for Fat Boyslim. I decided to remix one of his tracks, especially for the gig. I did a remix of ‘Talkin Bout My Baby’, but I didn’t want to play it unless Norman gave me his blessing.

I reached out, and a few weeks before the gig, he replied personally that he loved it and was happy for me to play it. In the end, he liked it so much that it became an official remix and was released on the legendary label SKINT.

It’s early days in my label manager career but I am proud to have already signed some amazing producers and vocalists to the label with some amazing original tracks. Watch this space.

Collaboration is often integral in the music industry. Can you share your experiences collaborating with other artists or labels and how it has influenced your work?

I think collaborating is essential in learning. You get the opportunity to see how other artists work and create. It’s a really nice process and allows you to evolve as an artist yourself. In the past, my most successful tracks have been collaboration projects with other artists.

My label is all about the collaboration of a producer and a vocalist.

Exclusive interview with Free House Music label boss, Tom Caruso.

How do you stay relevant and innovative in your productions and label releases in such a diverse and constantly evolving genre as electronic music?

I think always aiming to be original and not following the trend will allow you to stand out from the crowd. We are aiming to be a little different with the label by only releasing original vocal house music. It means I’m missing out on signing some amazing tracks with sample vocals, but overall, we hope our music will stand the test of time.

What advice would you give aspiring electronic music producers or individuals looking to start their record labels in today’s industry landscape?

Clearly define your vision and mission for the label, including the type of music you want to release, your target audience, and your long-term goals. Having a clear vision will guide your decision-making and help you stay focused on your objectives.

Tom Caruso & Lara George’s ‘Someone To Love’


Connect with Tom Caruso

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Exclusive interview with Free House Music label boss, Tom Caruso.

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