Zki and Dobre, Jark Prongo, The Good Men or just plain old Rene et Gaston; whatever you prefer to call the DJ and production duo most commonly hailed as Chocolate Puma, chances are you know them one way or another. Gaston Steenkist and René ter Horst are two of Holland’s most celebrated electronic producers and with a career spanning 20 years, 200-odd releases and countless remixes under their various guises are a duo whose influence on the European dance music scene cannot be underestimated.
Over the last few years, Chocolate Puma and leading house label Defected Records have enjoyed a close relationship, with the duo fast establishing themselves as key artists both in the studio and behind the decks. Records like ‘Morning Rain’, ‘Back Home’ and Beatport #1 ‘Tonco Tone’ as well as countless well-received remixes have placed Chocolate Puma in a league of their own, resulting in a dedicated House Masters compilation in 2011 showcasing the very best of their illustrious catalogue, an accolade they described as “a huge honour”.
Their latest project is an In The House mix for Defected, a compilation which represents the culmination of a life spent in and around house music. 2012 also saw a new collaboration between Chocolate Puma and countrymen Firebeatz on ‘One More Time’, a record that was duly awarded the accolade of Essential New tune by Radio 1’s erstwhile Pete Tong. Despite their obvious successes however, their approach to making music remains refreshingly straightforward, especially in a time when the amount of technology can often seem overwhelming and, more importantly, unnecessary. “Some producers focus solely on the sound quality or the effects” remarks Rene “but they forget that it also has to be musically interesting. It’s fine to have all the equipment but you still have to be creative.”
With 2012 marking the 20th anniversary of the release of ‘Give It Up’, Rene and Gaston continue to stand for quality in a music scene littered with mediocrity, setting ever- higher standards for their own production and inspiring new generations of producers with every beat, bass thump and joyously raised hand. Chocolate Puma are a benchmark for excellence, hard-work and talent; long may they continue to fly the flag.