Discoguy: So Tom, How come you started mixing stuff?
Well, I started mixing... Eh, I went out to a place called Fire Island and I went up there for a weekend 'cause I had never been there and I watched these people dance. All these white people dancing to black music - I was so amazed. I said 'Oh my God, there are other white people that like black music.' I was really stunned. And... Especially seeing that many of them.
And of course all the songs were 3 minutes long and I went 'It's a shame because the minute the song is over they start mixing in this other song and they don't know whether they should dance to the new song or keep dancing to the old one.' And then people would just walk off the floor. That's when everybody would change and you could see that they were trying to get more intense and more involvement. I said 'There's got to be a way to make it longer where you don't lose that feeling. Where you can take them to another level.' And that's when I came up with this idea to make a tape. - So that's what I did.
I spent like 80 hours to make this 45 minute tape and then I gave it to them and they told me 'Don't give up your day job.'
Discoguy: Oh, that was cruel!
Well, but it was true and then I was so depressed. I was waiting for the boat and then this guy came over to me and said 'I got to say something - You look soo down. What's the matter?' I told him what happened, I said 'Well, the guy who has this place down the boardwalk here, he is also a model and I was invited out here and I made a mistake.' But he said 'Well, you know, we own a place here - the Sandpiper. How bad can a tape be?' I said 'I think it's incredible. It took me 80 hours to do it.' He said 'If you like, I'll give it to Ron here and let him play it and let him see what he thinks of it. He'll tell you! And if he says - Don't give up your day job - Then I guess it must be true.' I gave him the tape and I gave him my phone number and a couple of weeks later they called me at 2:30 on a Saturday morning and said 'Oh, can you make another tape - the people are getting wild for this tape!' And that's how I really got started into that side of it.
Thus was born the first Disco mix. The next significant contribution Tom Moulton would make would be the 12" single. Unlike 12" LP (long playing) record albums that held 5 or 6 songs per side, these 12" singles held only one song per side. Typically, one long dance version that, due to the size of the disc, could be produced with richer tones and a heavier bass making them more suitable for night club play. These records appeared during the mid-70s and were distributed exclusively to disc jockeys. Returning to the interview, Tom Moulton tells how this came about:
Discoguy: A while ago I was speaking to Mel Cheren, the owner of West End Records, and he told me that the 12" single was all your idea. How did you come up with the idea of the 12" single?
OK, Well - You have to remember something - so many great ideas are accidents... I mean - I thought it [the 12" single] was a great idea AFTER the fact. You see, this is going back now to the early 70's, when I first started I took my records to Media Sound to master. And I came in with a new Trammps record and this was on a Friday, so I said 'Dom...' - Dominic was the guy - I said 'Dominic, I really got to get a test of this.' Dom said 'Well, I don't have time and I'm leaving - I'm going away.' I said 'Oh my God, I can't believe this... I really got to get this, I really got to get some acetates cut of this thing.'
So, I said 'What about your assistant there?' He goes 'Oh, you mean the Puerto Rican sweeper!' I was SO offended by that, so I went over to that guy and I said 'Hi, I'm Tom Moulton' and he goes 'I know who you are.' And I said 'Well, what's your name?' He says 'José' I said 'José, do you know how to use this?' he goes 'Sure!' And I said 'Well, can you cut me some acetates?' He replied 'Oh, well. I think so.' I said 'Well, let's do it!'
So, you know, he did everything I wanted... I told him I wanted this, I wanted more bottom or I wanted more top - whatever! And he did exactly what I wanted to do. And I said 'This guy's amazing!' So, from that day he was the guy who mastered all my records. I took it back to Atlantic and I said 'I want it to say "A Tom Moulton Mix", but I also want it to say "Mastered by José Rodriguez".' They went 'Oh, we don't do that!' and I said 'Well, you're gonna do it now.' So I started putting his name on everything and everybody was like absolutely stunned.
So, the thing is - one day I went in there to José - José Rodriguez - and I had "I'll Be Holding On" by Al Downing and I said 'José, I could really use some acetates.' And he said 'Tom, I don't have any more 7" blanks. All I have is like the 10".' And I said 'Well, if that's the only thing - we're gonna do it, what difference does it make?' So he cut one, I said 'It looks so ridiculous, this little tiny band on this huge thing. What happens if we just like... can we just like, you know, make it bigger?' He goes 'You mean, like spread the grooves?' and I said; 'Yeah!' He goes 'Then I've got to raise the level.' I said 'Well, Go ahead - raise the level.' And so he cut it like at +6. Oh, when I heard it I almost died. I said 'Oh my God, It's so much louder and listen to it. Oh! I like that - why don't we cut a few more?' So it was by accident, that's how it was created.
But for the next song we cut, we went for the 12" format instead of the 10" and the song was "So Much for Love" by Moment of Truth. That was the birth of the 12" single.