Dave Leatherman a.k.a. TFX (NL): “Made plenty mistakes”

Dave Leatherman and Marceline at Thuishaven March 2020
Dutch DJ/producer Dave Leatherman a.k.a. TFX is a true house pioneer who started DJing in 1987! He speaks vividly about his first gig. “With trembling knees, I put my first record on.”

This post is also available in: Nederlands (Dutch)

Soon after we met we found out that our birthday is on the same day, July 1st. These days we often run into each other at festivals and parties. Dutch DJ/producer René van der Weijde a.k.a. Dave Leatherman a.k.a. TFX is a true house pioneer who started DJing in 1987! He speaks vividly about his first gig. “With trembling knees, I put my first record on."

“It’s 1987. For several years during my student days, my interest was aroused by the phenomenon of ‘mixing’. I was listening to Ben Liebrand’s radio show ‘In The Mix’ until late into the night and spent my hard-earned money from odd jobs on vinyl during the week.”

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Thousand guilders each

“To mix you also had to get hold of those coveted SL1200s and they were a thousand guilders each! Not something that was easy to purchase for the average student who could barely afford the rent for his chicken coop in Rotterdam.”

Uncle Geert

“Fortunately, I had a kind of ‘sponsor’ in the capacity of ‘Ome Geert’, a family member who worked in an audio store that could supply that kind of equipment. I first started working with one SL1200 turntable. Yes, one, because two were financially not in reach yet. My second turntable was a tatty thing with no pitch control that really had the sole purpose of indicating the material to be mixed. After evenings of practicing to get those records to sync, I managed to get that first nice mix to flow.”

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'Mixing contest’

“And then it was time for the next step, the first gig. After conquering some sports clubs with my performances, I quickly got the feeling: ‘I want more’. But well, the places in discotheques were often already filled and it was difficult to get a foot in the door. The only opportunity to gain fame was the ‘mixing contest’.”

Ben Liebrand

“So, I entered a mixing competition in the local discotheque Fame in Dordrecht. There were two preliminaries that you had to get through. You had to work hard because the competition was fierce. In the end I made it to the final and won – all this under the watchful eye of judge Ben Liebrand, who also handed me the challenge cup. The prize money was two hundred and fifty guilders in records, but the most important reward was a test run in the Rotterdam discotheque Bluetiek-in. For me that was the main thing.”

Parkzicht met John Aquaviva en Gijs Vroom - Dave Leatherman a.k.a. TFX (NL): "Made plenty mistakes"

Peter 'Hithouse' Slaghuis

“Playing in the Bluetiek-in was no easy task. It was a prestigious club in Rotterdam where good American import records were played. It was also the club where Peter ‘Hithouse’ Slaghuis was the resident DJ. So, this wasn’t a case of ‘being thrown into the deep’ but more of ‘being thrown from the highest diving board into the deepest pool and trying not to fall flat on your back while doing so’.” (laughs) “The mixing was of a high standard. Therefore, I went back to work for nights at home in my mother’s attic – where my ‘studio’ was housed – in order to perform well.”

Trembling knees

“On the agreed Saturday, I reported early to the Bluetiek-in to be received by Chris King, one of the other residents. He kindly explained the equipment to me. With trembling knees, I put on my first record, while the disco was already filling up. And yes, during such a first gig you do make mistakes and I can tell you: I made plenty.” (laughs)

rene nu - Dave Leatherman a.k.a. TFX (NL): "Made plenty mistakes"

Hithouse Records

“By then, Peter Slaghuis had also arrived. He was friendly and collegial from the start and gave me some tips. That actually got me in a flow through this night of my first gig. Incidentally, it was not my mixing art that was the deciding factor that first time, but mainly my choice of records and the order I played them in. This made the Bluetiek-in management decide to let me DJ more often. I always had a great colleague in Peter Slaghuis and later I made many beautiful remixes and productions on his label Hithouse Records. A positive outcome from my first gig.”

Atlantic Ocean

“That set the tone and I knew what I wanted to work on to make my dreams come true. Producing followed soon. In 1988 I released my first record on the Stealth label of Hotsound Rotterdam. The second track I released became an instant club hit: TFX with Deep Inside of Me. Many releases followed, such as Techno Grooves, Space Trax, remixes by Holy Noise (Get Down), MainX (88 to Piano) and the Outhere Brothers (Don’t Stop, La La La, Hey Hey). Shortly afterwards I ran into Lex van Coeverden, a fellow DJ. Together we started making tracks on his label Pegasus. After several very successful club releases, we scored: Atlantic Ocean with Waterfall became a huge hit in many countries.”

atlantic ocean - Dave Leatherman a.k.a. TFX (NL): "Made plenty mistakes"

Healthy tension

“In 1997, when my first daughter was born, I decided to stop performing. In 2012, when my children were a bit older, I picked up DJing and later producing again. That actually felt like the first time in 1987 at the Bluetiek-in, including that positive tension that you love when DJing.”

“Nowadays, I play almost every weekend in The Netherlands and abroad. Sometimes using my first DJ name TFX, but also simply as René van der Weijde or my other alias Dave Leatherman. I now run two new record labels, NuD3ep and Ind3ep, on which I release music from new talents such as Klankarbeit, Jack Stereo and Quinten 909.”

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