Chatting with Chocolate Puma

We touch base with Chocolate Puma about 25 years in the business ahead of their Temple SF gig on Friday 5/20.
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We touch base with Chocolate Puma about 25 years in the business ahead of their Temple SF gig on Friday 5/20.

This Friday, San Francisco is in for it. Chocolate Puma is fixing to pounce on the glorious Temple nightclub in SF, and boy are they ready to dig their claws in deep.

Not familiar with Chocolate Puma? What about The Good Men, Zki & Dobre, Jark Prongo or even René et Gaston? I could go on, but the fact of the matter is, all these aliases, they all add up to the going on 25 year career of Netherlands production duo of Gaston Steenskist and René ter Hors.

Currently focusing on their Chocolate Puma alias, these gentlemen can produce it all from high energy house music to respected underground techno. Lucky enough to catch them before they extend their claws and go for the party jugular at Temple, here is my interview with Gaston about the latest and greatest with Chocolate Puma. Oh, and if you're in the Bay, be sure to snag tickets ASAP here.

You made your first record in 1991. Then a lot of things happened. How are things now for Chocolate Puma?

It's more fun than ever actually. I hear some older producers and DJ's from our generation complain about these new times. These kids are ruining what we built, but we don't think that way. We love it right now. The energy, the connection you have right now with your fans through social media.

You have quite an extensive repertoire of aliases. How might you go about defining Chocolate Puma?

When we started Chocolate Puma, when we made "I Wanna Be U", we didn't think it would fit the other projects. At that time we also had a project called Jark Prongo. It was more techno. Now, we only have this one project, Chocolate Puma, but we still love to make more techno stuff, or vocal stuff, or future house, or whatever you call it. The difference between Chocolate Puma and all the other projects is that for now, anything goes. Back in the day, we would have different projects for different styles. I think it's also a sign of the time that people are more accepting when artists are do different stuff. Especially this year, you see different artists making trap or moombathon, or bass-house, and people love it.

Now on a more philosophical level, what exactly does identity mean to you creatively speaking? 

The music we make, that's our identity. It's an extension of who we are. The music we make is based on all the stuff we heard in our childhood, or when we first went to a club. Identity is our record collection. All the stuff together, we put it in a melting pot and through our range and computers we translated into, we think, something we should share with the world.

You two have been working together for 20 years. How do you continue to make this artistic, almost marriage, work and thrive?

That's a question we ask ourselves sometimes. How is it possible? We've been together longer than with our wives for example. It's also funny that during all these years, we have different tastes in music, but it's complimenting.

Over the years what have been some personal highlights for you guys?

I think the first highlight was when we made "Give it Up", when we were still releasing records on our label Fresh Root Records as Good Men. René et Gaston and all the other projects. That we released Give it Up. We had this two really important clubs in Amsterdam, Roxy and It. Roxy was really avant garde. It Club was more like a gay club. Really big clubs. Really important for the whole scene here in the Netherlands. I'd never been to It Club or Roxy before. Rene was there every week, but I didn't go there. Then we heard that "Give It Up" was played by the resident DJ's there. That was really mind blowing for us because we knew how important these clubs were for the Amsterdam scene.

One night we went to It Club. The DJ stopped the music when we came in. He saw us. He stopped the music. People started drumming the intro of "Give It Up" on the floors, on the walls. We had goosebumps all over. He played "Give It Up". He said watch the crowd. They went nuts. It was something that I never would have dreamed of experiencing. From that point on, I was like, “Okay, if our music does this to people let's make some more.”