Around the world with Christian Smith

In line with his upcoming appearance at EGG London, we sent Ben Smith to interview techno behemoth Christian Smith. Fortunately the interview was nowhere near as underwhelming as their surnames suggest...

Jimmy Coultas

Date published: 18th Nov 2014

Image: Christian Smith 

You'd find it hard to come across a more well travelled DJ than Christian Smith, with a blink of an eye he was breaking barriers in South America whilst still maintaining his colossal presence in Europe, a magnificent feat when you consider there aren't many DJ's out there who can cut it on both continents. 

In a world dictated by capitalism, keeping an independent label running since 1994 is an achievement in itself ,not to mention that Christian's label - Tronic - is a techno magnate, ran purely for self worth and promoting good music without the ruthless nature of financial decree eating away at everything he and Tronic stands for.

As one of EGG London's true patriots and the aura he commands as a DJ, it was hard to ignore an opportunity to get Christian in for a chat ahead of his upcoming date at the venue on Saturday 29th November. And that's exactly what we did, getting onto the subject of Brazilian Women, cheesy EDM, his brilliant new album and breaking the mould in India amongst a shed load of other things. 

You're playing at Egg London on the 29th of November. You've become something of a regular there over the past few years, what is it that keeps you coming back for more? 

It’s a combination of crowd, the people running the club, and the fact that I always love playing there. I have played most of the big clubs in London like Fabric, MOS, etc, and I can say with confidence that Egg has the best vibe and there is no snobbery when it comes to the people who go there or run the club. Egg to me stands for “Honest good clubbing”.

And what can we expect from your set on the night? Can you let us know any tunes that you’ll be dropping?

It's not about what individual tracks are played but how you build your set overall. For me its very important that have a good amount of energy in my sets. I like to be part of the party, and at the end of the day people go out on weekends to get rocked.

Speaking of high energy, there's your forthcoming album Stranger Than Paradise (get a flavour for that below). We've thoroughly enjoyed what we've heard from it so far, but what can we look forward to from the rest of the album? 

Thanks! This album is mostly geared towards the floor. I tried to cover various aspects of techno, whether its Detroit flavoured, musical, housey, or old school with new style production. It was good fun to produce it and I’m very happy with the feedback I have received from both house and techno DJs.

With the critical success of both 'Director’s Cut' and 'Omakase', was there a certain amount of pressure leading up to the new one?

Not really. I make albums because I enjoy challenging myself and it gives me an outlet to make music that I would normally not release as singles. I think producing albums are very important for any artist, it’s important to evolve and not always do the same.

I honestly do not understand how so many artists just do the same style over and over for years and barely change. Sure they have their fans as well, but its like painting over the same painting time after time. That’s not for me! 

You reside in both Sao Paulo and Mallorca, what attracted you to those places? And as a European yourself, what is it that draws you towards South America?

I got a place in Brazil a couple of years ago because I've always enjoyed living in different places. I have been touring South America for many years and Brazil has great food and women! So I said to myself why not give it a try?  

I think the single best benefit of being an international DJ is that you can pretty much live wherever you want, as long as you live close to an international airport. I have thoroughly taken advantage of this living in places such has New York, London, Barcelona, Sao Paulo, and now Mallorca, in the past 14 years.  

However, it's nice that I am really happy in Mallorca and am likely to stay here for a while. It has an amazing climate, great food, and is well connected to the rest of Europe. At the end of the day 80% of my gigs are in Europe so it makes sense. At least for now! 

Does it allow you to keep in touch with both the South American and European club scene? How do the two compare?

Europe is far more advanced than South America. It's pretty much impossible to do a proper festival in South America without booking some cheesy EDM acts, although there are a couple of exceptions.

Argentina for example has a thriving techno scene. My events generally sell around 3000-4000 tickets when I go there. This is pretty good for a techno DJ.  

Having lived and travelled all over the world, where holds a special place for you and why? 

I really like Argentina at the moment (catch him there below). Not because my events are always very busy there, but because the crowd is very well educated and enjoy long sets with varied styles,  something I also really enjoy about Egg as well! 

Added to that they have great wine and juicy steaks. I'm looking forward to going there in January again for a few shows.

We saw that you’ve been embroiled in applying for your Indian visa over the past week or so, you must be pretty excited to get stuck into that scene though? From many reports it looks like it is seriously booming out there.

Its ironic, the poorer the country the more bureaucratic it is to get the visas. It was a very lengthy process to get the visa, but I’m glad I did. Underground music is still in its infant stages in India and I feel privileged to be invited to play over there; the scene in India is still very EDM, pop DJ orientated.

So when I went last weekend it was nice to discover that I am have some real fans out there that were begging for some techno.

Tronic is going stronger than ever, what’s been the secret to keeping an independent label going for so long? 

I think the key to Tronic’s success is the fact I've never looked at it as a source to make money. I basically only release music that I like and play in my sets. I also put a lot of emphasis to release a variety of styles and not be purist, so you can get any anything from deeper house to banging techno.

It might confuse some entry level music buyers, but I do not care and the label has stood the test of time, and I am very proud that it is now one of the top 5 bestselling techno labels in the world.

One more question, and it’s hypothetical - If you could go back to any time in history, and sign any record to Tronic, what would it be, and why? Thank you!

Orbital – 'Halcyon' - a beautiful timeless song. (below).

Want to catch Christian for yourself? He plays EGG London on Saturday November 29th. Tickets here.

 

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