Exclusive Interview With Chris Carrier
Some people are just born to make music. Parisian Chris Carrier is one of those people. For more than a decade monsieur Carrier has released over one hundred records and remixes for a variety of labels. Although not as popular as he should be, Carrier is revered by connoisseurs as one of the most gifted producers in the dance scene. We caught up with Chris for an in-depth tête à tête about his music, life in Paris and Sesame Street. Lisez-vous!
“We have gone full circle, underground electronic music is a real, quality genre now”
How did you start out being a DJ/producer. Was there a connection with the uprising rave scene of the 90’s?
I started being a DJ after a couple months of raving, after hearing the DJs at that time, guys from the Netherlands like 100 %Isis, Per, Dimitri, Marcello. They were playing a really innovative and new sound. I also remember seeing Josh Wink playing for hours in a tennis court in front of 50 people in Paris, this was another inspiring experience. After some raves in Holland, Belgium and the UK, I started to get more into the Detroit DJs and turned towards the techno groove. At the beginning I worked with an Atari computer and some analogue machines, but it was really experimentation. After making a few tracks and playing more in the rave scene I met Guillaume la Tortue in ‘95, one of the biggest French DJs during the early 90’s. We had a good feeling together and launched our techno label Chronobrain. This was quite hard techno and was the type of thing Spiral Tribe and others were playing in the big outdoor illegal raves in France. But by the end of the 90’s my taste was developing for something less rough, after spending some time with my friend Jef K who was into US house. A more housey kind of techno was also becoming fashionable back in the clubs, which was around the time we started the labels Combustible and Taka. A little later I developed my interest in the West Coast house even further and the product was the label that I still run today, Adult Only.
Do you carry your musical influences from the past, like techno and drum & bass, with you into the production of your more recent work?
I’m not someone who sticks in one sound, so yes inevitably there are a lot of influences coming into my tracks. For more recent work, like the Lotus Seven LP, the influences are from funk and hip-hop, but you can find techno sounds on my latest EP Adult Only 41.
Has there been any special occurrence that had a big influence on you as an artist?
Yes, around 2003/4 when I went on the internet one day and found my tracks for free. With illegal downloading obviously came the crash of the vinyl and it was very hard to make money from running a record label. But the positive thing that came out of this was it pushed me further as a international DJ. If I wanted to make a living out of music I realised I had to perform more, so it gave my DJ career a new lease of life!
What’s it like living in Paris? And how big of an influence has this been on your development as an artist?
Paris is so cool because you are kind of in the centre of Europe, in a few hours by plane, train, you can be in the next famous city. I love the cafés, the nightlife and I’ve been here my whole life… Winter is often grey so it’s no problem to stay for days in the basement studio. When the tracks are finished, it’s just a phone call to producer friends, distribution, labels… If I was living in St Tropez maybe I wouldn’t get round to making so many tracks!
Our favourite record from you is “I’m In Love Today”. Still smashing that one every once in a while! What would be your favourite own production if you had to name one? And why?
Ah yes this is a cool rework. ‘I’m In Love Today’ was done with a sample and a rhythm box and believe it or not a very depressive mood that day…. It seems to have given a good result!
It’s difficult to choose my own favourite… Usually I work on ten tracks at a time and during the last session I really liked a track called ‘Galaktical Dance Mate’. Actually I’m going to release it on Adult Only by the end of the year, with a remix and collaboration from a very fresh and talented Parisian artist, keep an eye out.
What kind of music do you listen to beside electronic music?
Hip hop forever! I’ve loved it since I was teenager, I was listening to DJ Premier, A Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, Digital Underground, Eric B and Rakim. Also I’m a fan of disco, funk, and reggae… But at the moment I’ve been listening to Sesame Street daily! My little daughter is a big influence in my life right now! I’m made sure she knows Herbie Hancock…
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You are playing at Be-at Club, the new club of Be-at.TV, and at Amstelhaven during ADE, what do you think about ADE itself and why is it so important in your opinion for DJ’s and producers to be in Amsterdam during this week?
It’s like Sonar, it’s a great opportunity to meet DJ friends from all over the world that you may only see a few times a year. It’s good to hear what everyone is playing and how the sound is developing and moving. Also I particularly like Amsterdam as a city, I’ve visited many times over the years.
You are amongst Jef K, Apollonia, Le Loup and many others with the Lola Ed Agency. What does Lola Ed mean to you?
It’s a team of good French artists, I’m not saying there are not other good French artists too, but this crew of people has evolved in Paris over a long period of time, with new guys joining us year by year. We work closely together, share music between us and are all big vinyl lovers. In the past you’ve heard about the French touch, I hope we are helping to define the new French sound!
This year you did an album on Apollonia with fellow producer Hector Moralez. What can you tell about this collaboration?
Hector and I started working on music together back in early 2000, doing studio sessions in Paris as well as San Francisco. We already made a couple of EP’s on Nightshift Detour and Robsoul. Dan Ghenacia, a longtime friend of mine, heard the LP and wanted it straight for his label Apollonia. I’m really happy we could then develop a live act out of the album with Hector on the mic. I really pushed him to do this because it was the first time he had done it out of the studio and on the stage. It’s great!
What is your relationship with fellow Parisian label boss Phil Weeks?
We married! Haha. I met Phil through Hector in early 2000 and we had a good feeling. I released the first collaboration with Hector on his label Robsoul. I can say he’s a good friend and at the moment he has taken a real place in house music, the label is fat and I’m really happy for him.
How do you see the scene at the moment and what do you think it lacks and needs?
I think at the moment it’s really good, there are a lot of new artists and labels, I like the influence coming from the Romanians like Funk E, Marcman and many others. Because we are going through a massive classic house revival and young people are appreciating vinyl and old tracks again, we have gone full circle, underground electronic music is a real, quality genre now.
Who would you like to team up with for a new collaboration?
Well if I could say anyone why not Herbie Hancock! Actually I’ve started a collab with Le Loup, we have a few tracks done already that are probably to be released in 2014.
During ADE there will be lots of young upcoming DJ’s and producers who are trying to make their way into a musical career, what do you want to say to them or do you have any tips about being committed to a life as an artist?
I always encourage people to try to get into using machines for producing, or a mic, remember that you can make sounds with everything around you…
I read that you are into cooking and as a kid dreamed of being a cook. Why not participating in the ADE cook-off?
But why did nobody invite me! A cooking competition with no Frenchie inside?! Haha, yes I like to cook for friends and family, all kinds of food. Of course it’s a big part of the French culture, we also love a different wine to go with every type of plate, and cheese, and more. Just like I like to mix up my music and create, it’s the same with cooking… at the moment I’m into Japanese remixed with Bio.
Do you have any news to share with us on some upcoming projects?
Just released is the new EP from Marcman on my sublabel Adult Only Shape… and I’m working on an LP for Adult Only in 2014… more news to come!
Chris Carrier can be seen at two events during ADE. First up is ‘Soweso & We Dig. Music present’ on October 17th at Amsterdam’s latest venue addition on Leidseplein: Beat Club, the first ever club from the infamous Be-at.TV where live-streaming will bring an extra dimension to the Amsterdam clubbing experience. Techno Taverna will be his second playground, two days later on Saturday, October 19th @ Amstelhaven.