Used _ Chris Page Interview
Chris Page is a Techno Producer from London and is currently releasing music on labels like Affin , Gynoid Audio, BCR, Translucent, Shapeless Records. His track “Used“ was the first vinyl release of the German label Affin in February 2012. That’s when Chris and ad.lib bumped into each other for the first time.
Quickly, they discovered that they both share a passion for dark sounds and excessive sound design… so it was perfectly natural for them to meet up and talk about motivation, closed off producers and effect chains.
ad.lib: Guess we’ll best start with what seems the obvious question after reading your biography! You mention that there was life before techno… tell me about it?
Chris Page: Yeah, I guess like everyone I didn’t start out being into techno. My parents didn’t listen to anything remotely like it. It was all Beatles and Paul Simon. I guess the closest influence I had through them was Eurythmics! Left to my own devices I started out being quite into trance and hard house.. but it didn’t take long for my tastes to evolve towards the harder techno sounds of people like Dave The Drummer and Chris Liberator. However I went through a musical calming, getting into tech house and breaks, before working my way back up again into the kind of techno you hear me playing and making now. So I’ve travelled through the genre’s a bit!
What or who did bring you back to techno? Some certain artist or track?
No one in particular. I’ve always had a thing for big powerful music, so I guess it was just me giving into my desires to produce and play what I truly felt passionate about. I always found myself drawn to the bigger tracks. The ones with real reach and depth.
I think that’s what’s different with techno that with any other genre. It’s pretty hard to describe that momentum in words… it’s all about that feeling when music becomes something physical… something big…
Yeah, when you really can’t help yourself but dance, or jump, or just grin! I’m not gonna sit here and say deep house is shit, but I find it very hard to be moved by it. That’s the point of music to me. It’s got to move you. Whether it is emotionally or physically.
So what do you find so fascinating about Techno? What keeps you coming back for more?
That really is a tough question. I have no idea what keeps my motivation really. It certainly isn’t the money! Haha… I think partly it’s the sense of community I’ve discovered around where I live in London. The Techno scene is smaller than you would think, and everyone knows everyone. It’s just fun to be a part of. It’s a big kick when you hear your track played at a party. That’s a natural high worth chasing. That must be it I guess. Getting to look around you and see people being moved emotionally and physically by something that formed in your head and was put together by your hands. It’s kind of unifying. I like the stuff I make, it gets played, and when you see other people enjoying it, you know you share something with them on some small level.
The community part of techno is really interesting. I feel the exact same when I talk to people (in real life and in all the social networks). Do you think techno artists are open people and less envious than in other music scenes? Is there a connection or common spirit?
I’m not sure to be honest. Without being an active member of any other music scene it’s hard to answer. One thing I will say for techno is that it’s a wonderfully diverse genre where you can be what you want to be. You’re not restricted in anyway. The techno of Ancient Methods, is very different to the techno of Donato Dozzy. I’m sure there are better examples to help highlight the diversity, but you get the idea!
I see techno as a philosophy in making music. It’s not a narrow or limited style… and this is mirrored in the people behind the music. You can be – or pretend to be – the intellectual concept music nerd or the eccentric freak … or both : )
Yes, looking at the individuals within techno, there are all sorts. I mean just looking at the people at the top of their game, you have Ritchie Hawtin and Chris Liebing. Both of them are open with their opinions and use social media platforms to spread themselves around. Then you have people like Shifted, who keep their identity a complete secret and appear as very closed off.
Spot on. At the end it’s all about the music. Artists become real when you have to deal with them… but for the people dancing in a club it’s always going to be about the music. You had several amazing releases recently and what I really like with all of them is the precision and amount of details in your soundscapes. How do you work in studio? Hardware / Software or both?
Thanks for saying so! I tend to work ‘in-the-box’ with no external hardware. My ‘thing’ is samples and field recordings. I love recording doors slamming, trains passing, rain falling and so on. Sometimes the mildest of noises can be spun into the craziest of elements. My friend had a squeaky car door, which became this horrible wailing horn noise in one track. It’s fun to point out to people in the club!
Interesting… Your sound is very dense and atmospheric, so it’s hard to spot single elements within the mix. The elements are nicely glued together and become one.
I love running things through long effect chains. It allows you to create interesting evolving noises. The more effects, the more parameters. Even the smallest of tweaks can prevent a noise from become stale and dull.
The effect chains. That’s what makes working with a modern DAW so amazing to me… you can explore new ways of audio processing and experiment without limitations. But still I find myself using the simple techniques again and again. Is there a certain tool or technique which you’re absolutely in love with at the moment?
I think I touched on it earlier. I love recording samples myself. Getting noises you could never get from a 909 or an 808 or a 303. Then using a modern DAW like Ableton to absolutely turn something inside out and upside down. You can make cool textures by recording ambient noise, looking at the waveform and time stretching a very small section over a bar, and warping the peaks. Combine this with really really extreme EQing or a chain of EQs and you can pull mad sounds out of almost literally nothing at all. I’m also getting into bouncing sections of effects into audio. So you’re committed to how something sounds and you have no way back. It stops you fussing.
Stop fussing – great advice! The endless amount of possibilities can make sound design become an endless process… so how much time do you spend working on one track?
As for finishing tracks, it totally varies. Sometimes, you’re just ‘on it’ and you can sit down, and 6 hours later you have a great track your happy with 2 weeks later. Other times I can sit down for 6 hours and only have a kick and percussion loop.
How much time do you spend making music? Are you full time musician and if not, what do you do to stay alive?
I spend an awful lot of time making music. If I’m not making, I’m researching, networking, or fussing over something I’ve made. Sadly I’m not able to do it full time. I earn a living by working as a train driver. The shifts are antisocial for regular people. However I spent my spare time in my room making music, or in a club! Both of those activities can be done any time of day really. So I don’t find work interferes too much.
So the antisocial work shifts allow you to chill out between the music shifts? Any other things you do to relax?
I love bikes. I’ve been into riding bikes since school. Taking them over jumps and riding down hills as fast as I can. I broke a few limbs!
Nice one! Adrenalin is a good preparation for the studio sessions!!
Yes, I still ride these days, and I’m currently working towards taking my motorbike test. So a whole new element of danger will come into my life!
Hahaha.. OK, so some days ago you sent me a promo copy of your upcoming release on Gynoid audio which will be released pretty soon. So what’s up next? Any upcoming releases or gigs you want to point out?
Well, yeah on the 23rd of April my Gynoid EP goes out. Shortly after that another EP for Backwater Community Records will be released, and I’ve got 3 remixes due for release soon. Theo ne I did for your Devoted EP which will be released on Translucent, right?
Yes, but still a bit of patience needed there, I’m afraid. It will be released by July 11.
Yes, then the others will be first. There’s one for Shapeless and one for Outland. The Outland one might surprise a few people. It’s a little Housier than my usual toughness. Hopefully will win a few people over though! I also have another EP out on Backwater Community, which might actually have been released by the time this is being read. I also produce under the name Kontrol Room in collaboration with my friend Dave Johnys. We play out together as well, which is what we’ll be doing on May 6th Sunday Bank Holiday in London. We’ll be on just before Tommy Four Seven, who in turn, is playing just before Ben Klock. It’s gonna be a big big night. I can’t wait.
Sounds awesome.. can’t wait to hear all these tracks! That actually brings me nicely onto the last question. There are cool gigs, cool releases, cool remixes… so what’s the next step for you? What are your goals or dreams or wishes for your music Chris?
Well, the cool releases and cool remixes are controlled by me in a way. If I don‘t make them, they won’t happen. I’ll make these things for as long as I can! I suppose my goal isn’t so different from that of every other DJ and producer out there. I’d just like to keep building my profile. Keep putting out quality releases and to earn the respect of my peers. Then, hopefully I’ll get some more cool gigs. That’s what it all comes down to. The hours of toil in the bedroom endlessly tweaking kick drums, all for 120 minutes alone at the front of a crowded room full of excited people! That’s my goal.
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