HigherFrequency  DJ Interview


Cristian Varela

Cristian Varela a.k.a Chris Vareland-Carlos Duran, having grown up in a creative family, began playing and composing music before the tender age of 11. Now known internationally as the number one Techno representative from Spain, he is the CO for the Phrentic Society, a multi-faceted electronic music company. He has also released various material for prestigious labels such as Primate Recordings (UK), Primevil (UK), Session Recordings (Belgium), Planet Vision (Germany), Pornographic Recordings (he owns together with Marco Bailey) as well as his own label Donkeyhead Recordings. We caught up with him to talk about his new Intec release and his classical project that is in the works.

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> Interview : Laura Brown _ Photo : Mark Oxley


HigherFrequency (HRFQ) : Welcome to Japan. How do you feel now?

Cristian : Now for me it's more familiar. It's been a few times that I come to Japan. It's not like the first time I came to Japan when it was so amazing - the first time I was completely flushed - the country, the lights, the cities. Amazing. Now I continue to be surprised because Japan is very special, but I'm more familiar with it now.

HRFQ : Can you tell us a bit about how your set is going to be at ageHa tomorrow night?

Cristian : A DJ set with 3 decks. But about the music, I never have a plan. I don't know what can happen in the dance floor. It's always like a new world. All the sets are completely different. You know approximately what you will do, when you begin to play in the first 10 minutes. But before I arrive, I never know what will happen.

HRFQ : You just finished your Brazilian tour. You've said that are the Techno scene in Brazil is getting bigger and bigger every year. How do you compare the scene in South America and the scene in Europe?

Cristian : I think it's very similar now. But Brazil three or four years ago was very difficult for the Techno. It was more for House or Tech-House. But now it's similar. They know it's fantastic for Techno. And they know exactly what you are doing with the decks - what you are doing with everything. So now it's similar. The other difference. The people are hot. You only do something and the people scream. It's fantastic. Spain is similar. But for example in Germany, Belgium and Holland, the people are hot too, but they are concentrating on the music. They are listening millimetrically to what you are doing. So it's nice too.

HRFQ : Can you tell us what's happening in Spanish Techno scene?

Cristian : Now Techno in Spain is very big. In the clubs, 2000-3000 people come, so they are always full. A lot of international artists are coming every week, in different parts of Spain. And the big festivals, Sonar, Festimad, LoveParade -- very good festivals. Techno is very big and House too.

HRFQ : You said the Japanese scene is similar to the scenes in Brazil and Spain. What are you referring to exactly?

Cristian : The excitement is very similar. The Japanese people take the artistic things like something very special. So, they always are very concentrated to see what you are doing. For electronic music, the culture here is fantastic. I remember last year, I had just finished my set in Liquid room, and some guys came to me and said "yes, the mix you made with that record and after you put Marco Corola and after Marco Bailey" and they remembered the mix I made and they know the records and how I do the mix. Normally in Spain or Brazil, they like and understand, but they don't know exactly what record you put and what mix. Here it's fantastic.

HRFQ : You just had a party to celebrate the 10th year of Phrenetic Society (Cristian's company to take care of management and labels) with Carl Cox and Marco Bailey in Spain. Can you tell us about what is the main activities are of Phrenetic Society?

Cristian : Phrentic Society is a company for the festival, for electronic music. It has an import music shop, a wear shop, a producer academy - the first DJ academy in Spain since 1994 - and an agency too for DJs. Phrentic is a lot of things. Everything is mixed and put in our festivals. Of course you have the Djs, music, very good sound, the best lasers. It's like all of Phrentic Society in one place, in one festival is what we are doing.

HRFQ : And what role do you have in the company?

Cristian : My brother and I are the CO in the company. And we have different people working in the different areas.

HRFQ : You are running the PORNOGRAPHIC (label) with Marco Bailey. What kind of role do each of you have with the label's operation?

Cristian : I'm the label manager. Every time, we're receiving demos from all around the world and we choose the tracks that we'll put in the new releases. And of course we always put one track from me and one from Marco. And the other tracks are from new talents or guests. It depends.

HRFQ : What kind of criteria do you have for choosing new artists?

Cristian : It's very important, the music must be underground. But inside the underground, it must be good for sales. It's no good to have a very underground track and then sell 500 copies. Then we must stop the label. So we choose in the limit of underground but good for sales. To not enter into the commercial - is only one step. It's difficult. We usually take two more funky tracks and two more underground, experimental tracks. So in the label you can find underground and not so underground. But never commercial.

Cristian Varela

HRFQ : You are going to release a single from Carl Cox's Intec very soon. Can you tell us the story behind this release?

Cristian : Now the manager from Carl is now managing me. And one day I showed her some of my stuff I produce that's more in the classical side - more chill or ambient, classical. And she said, "Oh, this is very nice! You do this music?" And this music is completely the contrary. And she began to be interested in my electronic music. And one day she said that Carl wanted to listen to my new productions. Because Carl has a lot of records from me, and he knows me as a producer for a long time. But not his manager. She asked to give some tracks to the label and they liked them, so now I produce the new Intec.

HRFQ : Do you have any advice to the budding DJs and producers who are thinking about sending you their demos?

Cristian : Sure, I have a lot. I think though the best three pieces of advice are: Always play the music that you like. Don't follow a mode. Just play what you feel you like. The other one is, don't take bad things for playing. Everybody knows what I'm talking about. The third is have confidence in yourself. This is the only way we can continue our long travel.

HRFQ : You are now working on your next full album, but we heard that it would not be a dance album, but a genuine classical album. Can you tell us a bit about the concept of this album? Why did you decide to do this classical project?

Cristian : Because from very young, I studied piano and I must finish my career. I always did in parallel, classical music and electronic music. From 1991, I'm always producing electronic music, so I think it's time to do something more classical and more musical. I'm working very hard on the classical album.

HRFQ :Can you describe it a bit? You'll be playing piano as well as other instruments?

Cristian : I'm playing every instrument because with midi, all is possible. All the strings parts, piano and harp, all the instruments, I play from the keyboard, but it's all composed. So all the album will speak about the feelings. One track will be for the Love, another will be for Panic. Each track will speak about one feeling. I have now ready seven tracks and I have to do five or more. I want do 12 or 14 tracks and am thinking about March/April [2005] that I can finish.

HRFQ : And regarding labels, what are you thinking about for this?

Cristian : It will be a big company. I can not say what, because we are looking at a few. But it will do big promotion around the world and something very special.

HRFQ : Talking about new technologies, what is your opinion about the gear like Final Scratch and Traktor, or Ableton Live? Have you ever used them?

Cristian : I like Final Scratch. I was the image for Final Scratch in Spain because Stanton called me. Because they said you are #1 in Spain, so I did the image for Final Scratch in Spain two years ago. I use it and I like it. Because you can play your new tracks, to check the sound if the mix is nice. And you can even use all the stuff that you can't play in vinyl. And because you can have 2000 songs in the computer, you don't need to bring the very heavy fly case. But I only like it as a complement to your DJ set. I always play with my vinyls because it is completely different. It's a nice complement. Only complement in my opinion.

HRFQ : Some people say the positive side of new technology is to make music production easier, but the negative side is that there will be so much emotionless music because it is easy to make. What do you think about this?

Cristian : I think it's very nice. In the beginning, I thought it's no good because a lot of people will do music. But it's very nice because more people are doing music, so more competence. With more competence, you always need to work harder to have better music. With the people who have been doing music for a long time, we need to work very hard to do best and best and best music. Because the new generation is coming to take everything. It's nice. Then the music will be better every time.

HRFQ : What do you think of the future of Techno music? Do you think it's going to be more integrated with other genres?

Cristian : Yes. I think this is the way. Because now in the present, we are looking at a mixture with the Techno and House and atmospheric music, so a lot of styles are mixing in only one style. So I think Techno in a few years will be more atmospheric or Tech-House. I think different electronic styles in one. So I think this is the way.

End of the interview

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