[INTERVIEW] CHRISTIAN SMITH
As DJ, producer and boss of Tronic, one of the most dominant techno labels in the world, Christian Smith has spent decades honing his craft, touring, collaborating with some of techno’s finest artists, establishing a syndicated weekly radio show and releasing on his own and other high profile labels like Plus 8/Minus, Drumcode, Cocoon, Bedrock, Mobilee and more.
A veteran artist who traveled through four continents last month alone, Smith gave us solid advice about finding balance amidst a heavy tour schedule. We also talked about evolving as an artist, thoughts for anyone wanting to pursue their passion creatively (producers check this out!) and candid views about what he feels would benefit the house music and techno industry today.
We hope you enjoy getting to know this genuine, insightful artist and industry leader.
Hi Christian, thank you for taking the time to speak with us here at MJD!
What makes you evolve as an artist? Is there a belief or habit that has helped you to evolve?
I think that the main drive of me being in the music industry for over two decades is the love for house and techno. One way to keep on evolving musically for me is to produce artist albums. In these album projects I get to produce music that I would normally not release on singles. This helps me evolve and keep on pushing myself creatively as well. I enjoy making singles as well, however, with albums you set yourself apart from the others and can show that you have a larger bandwidth than just peak time techno music.
What do you enjoy most about this lifestyle? And least?
The travel! I love and hate it. It's incredible that I get to see the world every year, and meet many interesting people. But at the same time, the constant flights and jet lag can be really hardcore. Just last month I played in four continents, and did around 20 flights. Sure, being an international DJ can be glamorous if you are a superstar and fly private jets. But for the normal touring DJs like myself it's not all first class and five star hotels. Also, it takes a lot of work to stay relevant these days. Don't get me wrong, I love what I do, but being a successful touring DJ is not a walk in the park.
How do you maintain your balance with the touring?
As much as fly all over, I try to spend as much time at home as possible. Thankfully the majority of my gigs are in Europe. This means that I get to be home four to five days during the week. That's not bad. But when I do tours in North America and Asia and beyond, WhatsApp is very helpful and I get to speak with, and see, my family on a daily basis.
What advice would you give anyone wanting to pursue their creative passion?
Go for what you are passionate about and go full steam ahead. You have to work your ass off, and be very persistent! Also, finish all your tracks! One finished track is better than 30 unfinished ones. Furthermore, before you send your songs to the labels, make sure that the quality is good enough because once I listen to an artist whose music I don't like, it will be hard for me to take that person seriously the next time his or her demos arrive.
What do you feel would benefit the house music and techno industry at this point in time, for DJs, producers or fans?
It would be great if artists would get booked for their music and talent rather than social media presence. I understand that social media has become a necessary evil, and I'm cool with that. But I feel that it's sad that so many talented producers and DJs don't get a shot because some other people are better at social media. I feel that sadly the music seems to matter less and less. Other than that it would be great if we all turn down our egos a little and just have fun. There is so much elitism going on its laughable. Who cares about what genres you like. To me there are only two kinds of music, good and bad.
What’s next for you? And for Tronic?
A big Tronic boat party during ADE, lots of exciting releases on the label, and more touring!
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us!
Updated: Check out the Tronic Showcase with Christian Smith & Drunken Kong this Friday, June 28th in Toronto!