Thomas is a Marseille born DJ and producer with a deep passion for music. After 10 years on the underground Parisian club scene Thomas moved to London to set up Burnin Music Recordings. Created in 2017 the record label is home to his own PEGASVS productions which feature house and electronic dance music releases.Put this playlist on while you read our conversation with him to get a deeper look insider his process and inspiration.
Thomas, the Burnin Music story really started in Paris. How did that come about?
I started djing 2005 and started my own Parties 2007 because no one would book me as an unknown, it was in this cool underground venue La Java in Paris a monthly residency where I would book cool french acts, however I had to move through two more venues over the next couple of years as the parties grew too large for the initial venue.
I hosted these parties monthly which was stressful to manage and didn’t make much money so I thought about starting my own agency. It seemed to be the right time as I had built up contacts in the industry and the Burnin Music agency started in 2010. The name was inspired by the first Daft Punk L.P. which featured a track that was a homage to Chicago House titled “Burnin”. This LP was an essential influence for me and Chicago House was my vibe so it worked for me.
I ran the Agency for a couple of years and built the roster up to around a dozen DJ’s but it was hard work and not financially viable.Around this time I had just split up with my girlfriend and was already playing regularly in London at Sketch. With my ties to Paris breaking up I decided to move to London in 2014 where I worked my network and secured some regular slots at Shoreditch House and Soho House which gave me the security to stay and start a new life in London
At the time I had a flatmate who was a really cool guy, and also a DJ. We got on well and inspired each other. One day he said “why don’t you start a label?” and I said “why not”. With that I set about starting the label, I still liked the name Burnin and it was a logical growth from the parties, to agency, to label under the same brand.
How did your first release come about
I was away playing out in Lithuania where I was introduced to Alexander Pletnev aka Monty Python, we spent an afternoon in the Studio together before going on to play a club called Opium and we agreed to put out a record which became the first release, a four track E.P. on the label which came out in July 97 titled Black Magic.
Tell me about your journey into production.
I don’t come from a musician or production background, I started as a DJ and was hanging out, doing parties with the collective Colors fronted by Guilhem Monin and Stephane Ghenacia, and also Izaak Gray formerly of Earthboogie all of whom who inspired me to get into production.
I’m a very methodical person so wanted do things correctly, I’ve taken four years of piano lesson, I had an ear for music as a DJ although I did not know any music theory before this, when I started studying I let my tutor know I wanted to produce rather then be a musician and my training covered the basics of theory with my weekly lessons, I still wouldn’t consider myself a musician, but I now know enough to read a score, know keys,and understand chord progression which gives me the foundation to produce and put down the ideas in my head down in the studio.
Where did your artist name Pegasvs come from?
From a pair of trainers, from having no imagination from my Nike Pegasus which sound so stupid, you know it’s so hard man to find a name, I was going to use my own name Thomas Lesnier, but to me it just didn’t sound appealing. But the Pegasus name had an ancient Greek reference to it which made me think of Hercules and Love Affair and the Continental baths where Frankie and Larry fused house and disco. On discogs and social media a lot of artists were already using Pegasus so I replaced the u with a v like the cover on Hercules and Love affairs artwork on Blind.
Tell me a little about your musical inspiration?
I’m from Marseille which is a Hip Hop city so I would say I come from jazz as hip hop sampled jazz. For me electronic music has to contain a lot of melody. I’m really inspired by artists like Theo Parrish, Moodymann and in my early djing days I was obviously inspired by the unmistakable sound coming out of Paris at the time which can be quintessentially found on Roulé records founded by Thomas Bangalter.
The sound of the label so far although house is pretty mixed, what’s the reason for this and where are you going with the sound in the future?
That’s a great question, the initial discussion about the label I had with my first distributor was that the label would be putting out Chicago House but at the time I wasn’t clear with myself or them on how the label would evolve. At the beginning and as I met people in the industry whose electronic music I liked I didn’t stick to a particular flavour or genre on the label. As I’ve become a bit more experienced I now understand that I need to have some direction, the music doesn’t have to sound the same, but the releases still need to have some consistency. Looking back I’m really proud of all the music I have put out although if I had known what I know now I would have done things differently as I didn’t have that vision, that understanding and I was putting out records which were very different from the previous one and putting them all out on vinyl and I was paying for all of this. Releasing the five year compilation helped me realise the Burnin Music sound which is not so much dancefloor four to the floor. The music is a bit housey, a bit clubby although not only clubby it has some mutant house elements and even some downtempo tracks but they flow together. Even with the visual branding of the label, moving forward each cover will be the same template but with the colour scheme changed for each release which will be more consistent featuring the same design. It took me five years to get to this stage, to know I need to put out more music in a more consistent fashion.
What’s next for Burnin Music?
We have four releases lined up for 2023 all of which I have sent to the distributor. We have an open dialogue about how we are going to release these and what’s going to work. The goal is to achieve this same output as a minimum each year for the next three years and increase momentum as we go. I will also be doing more parties under the label brand in London and I have a new agent pushing my personal gigs as Pegasvs.
For the next scheduled release I stayed in touch with Ponty Mython who now produces under his real name Pletnev which he will be using on the first release of the year.
Interview by Sean Gorham