“Sun Shines Better With Us”
Fifth guest mix is by a French techno & house producer – Life Recorder.
E: Hey Kriss, we are going to chat to get to know you a bit more, understand what you are about with music and life. Speaking of which, are you high on life so much that you need to record it?
K: (Laughs), I have started with this name some time ago, when producing and releasing my first tracks in 2006 on the first label co-created 316 recordings. It was with a friend Max t at that time, I was young, and didn’t know much about labels and everything. I started producing and I was thinking of a name for my project. Life recorder came naturally to me because it is how I see the music, recording, putting life things in it and expressing the moments that I’m living through.
E: I love your name, considering the names out there, being hard to pronounce and remember. Life recorder just seems so real and has that human element in it. Was this your intention?
K: Yes sure, it was important to keep the human element, to put emotions in music before everything you know. It was always the way I see music. And for me is cool as it could be house, techno, everything.
E: Exactly, it doesn’t need to be boxed down to any style. So, how do you see music then?
K: Music is a way to express feelings in a way that I can’t express with words. It is something deep.
E: The way I picture it is like you are walking this earth and you have a recorder in your pocket, capturing all the moments.
K: Exactly, and in this way I also like that I can record those moments simply with what I have available to me. I don’t need to have a big studio or something like that, I just record with what I have in my home environment.
E: Being busy as a father, working and everything else, how do you keep up with capturing all those moments?
K: Yes, sometimes is a bit hard, as since I became a father, things are different. Usually I work on music a lot during the day, even if it’s like in the middle of having my kids around. When I feel inspiration, I try to find a half an hour to start something and after that I come back to it. I try to work like this, it’s not easy for me to spend a lot of hours, to be in the studio. I do my music in a corner of my house, there is a lot of life around me when I’m making music. It’s a challenge to just lock myself away from it for hours to do music. I grab the energy from my family members and do music in the middle of that. Sometimes is good, I have some days I can be alone and really focus on finishing things, but really the creative process and all the inspiration is most of the time on the go in the middle of kids.
E: How do you stay in flow when you got like kids mumbling, and talking and grabing you etc.?
K: Sometimes, I try to do something quickly on my computer, like even for 10 – 15 minutes, , like a draft and come back to it later.
At home doing the “dark” house and techno
E: Let’s rewind, how did you come across techno?
K: In the early 90’s, I was 12 maybe younger. The first time I heard the word techno was through the dance music compilation, the group was Technotronic. I have started to listen to it, I was hooked by the dance music, and techno kind of sounds, also listening to rock music and Hip house. Later when I was at school I was listening to a lot of radio, it was very important even in France. Some shows at main stream radio after midnight were playing rave music, techno music, I didn’t know shit about this you know, where it was coming from, but I started to buy some compilations that were available in super market. All the Chicago, Detroit sound, the first Carl Craig stuff and everything so I have started like that.
E: Were you going to parties at that time as well?
K: I started going to parties when I was 19, so a bit later. I was living near Switzerland then, 10 minutes from Geneva and there were a few good clubs, where a lot of Detroit, Chicago Dj’s were playing. One of them was – Weetamix club, the first important party I went to was with Derrick May in 2000, it was amazing.
E: What is so special about Detroit that you have chosen to follow this kind of Techno not any other style?
K: I like the sound of Detroit techno for the same reason I like making music, what I mean is because it’s all about emotion and soul. The kind of Detroit Techno that hooked me the most was music by Juan Atkins, Carl Craig and Derrick May of course – Rhythm is Rhythm stuff etc. Track like “Icon” by Derrick May is one of my favourite techno tracks ever. When you are listening to Detroit Techno, you can really feel like you are seeing the images of the city you know, and that is something that I really love and try to do also when I’m doing music, is to put some images into people’s minds.
E: Ok, so you were 19 going to those parties in Geneva, seeing Dj’s, what went through your mind seeing them play vinyl?
K: I saw Dj’s on Tv as well because there were some music channels where you could see reports from parties. I saw a Dj set by Laurent Garnier, Carl Cox and all those guys, and I was already hooked on the music so when I saw them in actual clubs like for example Derrick May djing, I was really excited. Everything, like the vibe, club, sound, the way he was building intensity and all the technical aspects of djing. I have started to seriously think about wanting to really do it myself. Derrick said in a recent “Universal Techno” documentary that djing is like creating music with music and I follow that idea very much. Another Dj that had a big influence on me was Jack De Marseilles. My all time favourite dj’s were always mixing in more than one style like house, techno or electro,
Universal Techno document 1996
E: So, how did you go from being a spectator & consumer to becoming a Dj yourself?
K: It took me a while to buy records to dj with, as there were no real electronic music record shops in my city. I needed to wait to go to Geneva and started to buy records, but then a record shop opened in my city and I started to do parties with friends and play. I was really feeling it and wanted to do parties everywhere. Whenever there was an occasion to bring turntables, at someone’s house party, b-day party, I wanted to share the music with people, share the music I love. After that I did my first ever gig at a record shop. We became friends and started a little crew and do some parties together.
E: It seems like you really enjoy playing at record shops, why is that?
K: Record shops, yeah man is really nice, you can be there to share, meet people, to listen new stuff, discover new artists. It’s hard sometimes to discover new stuff as when you are on the internet you always come across the same artists so at those times was really good to play at a record shop, meet people, share music and discover new names.
E: What was that first memorable record that you have bought?
K: My first experience with vinyl was when I was much younger. In fact, I was buying 7-inch records in a supermarket with my mum, and the first record was a rap record by De La Soul.
E: How did you get into music making & production?
K: I had some samplers and machines, grooveboxes at first, having fun, experimenting but really not thinking too much about doing music professionally. Everything was about djing for me, so I sold my stuff to buy more vinyl. I was into djing like nothing else. Then one day a friend of mine gave me a copy of Reason software and I have tried it and I was like, “yes!” It was cool, a bit like working with machines but inside a computer. I tried using Cubase before, but was lacking patience with it. Another important factor that led me to production of music was when Laurent Garnier was releasing the “Cloud making machine” album and he did a remix contest. I made a remix for the contest and sent it to some friends. They said that it was really nice and encouraged me to send it for the contest. I was selected among the other winners and was on the album website. This was a good motivation for me and since that time I started to dive more into it, eventually releasing music and kicking off Life Recorder project.
Life Recorder in the zone, as Derrick said – “djing is like making music with music”.
E: What happened next?
K: We have launched a label with my friend called code 316 recordings. Those times were quite bad for Detroit techno, there was lots of boring minimal stuff floating about and we were probably one of the very few French label doing Detroit influenced techno at that time. Then, we have started to have some support from the Detroit guys like Claude Young, and it was a momentum to record more music and put more feelings into it, playing music a bit like djing as I see them both very much related.
E: How are they related?
K: I have a vision of a dj when im doing music. I want to create an atmosphere and naturally thinking about building tracks with an intro or outro, thinking of the dj, how he/she could mix it. Starting with a rhythm part to mix it, keeping the thing instinctive. When tracks get too complicated for me I get bored, it’s the same kind of idea when I’m djing.
E: Do you remember the process of making your first EP?
K: Yes, it was on code 316 recordings. I was influenced by Detroit stuff and also by European stuff like Steve Rachmad, Mark Broom. I made those tracks on Reason not knowing anything about how to mix down tracks and it was very hard to complete. I had no idea what I was doing with it, it was very raw, with bad mastering, but it was a good experience in all.
E: That’s how we learn right. People generally wait too long to release music and I always encourage them to release music and take risks, so I respect the fact that you have released music that was maybe raw and not well produced.
K: Yeah, that’s how I really learned and is crazy as not long time ago some guys send me questions on Facebook asking about these tracks and they sound bad laughs… but those were my first steps I needed to take them to get me where I’m now.
Life Recorder with crew
E: `Why have you decided to start your own record label?
K: It took a long time to really do it, I was thinking few times during the past 10 years. I started in 2017, this was after moving to Marseilles and taking time to find my rhythm in life and also in the music scene. I have met some good people, with whom I share the same vision for music and a friend of mine opened a record shop 4 years ago called – Extend & Play, We began like a collective, started to do parties, to get money from parties and then deciding ok let’s start a label. Another reason for starting a label was that I was getting a bit annoyed with finding a good label to send tracks to, it was stressful having no responses, or sending full Ep, and a guy would want to release only one track. In the meantime, I was getting a bit more confident in my own music and I was feeling the need to create my own platform to express my vision. I have also created some following in the past 10 years. The parties, the people I have met I started to create some good and honest links, like with Stojche in Berlin, people in London or Chicago. So, the confidence and possibility to financially do it was there.
E: Do you feel much more responsibility by having your own label? Like much more pressure on your back as when you are releasing on other labels, you don’t worry so much about promotion, distribution etc?
K: Yes, I can feel that for sure, see I have started my label with friends, and we have 3 labels in the collective, so for the moment, money from labels largely depends on sales or on if we are doing parties, all the profits from events go to labels. For the first 2 releases I was the only artist and now I have 2 new artists joining so I feel this pressure when involving another artists in. I have to be serious, I don’t want to do things that some labels did to me, like no answer, no news, you know. For me the human thing is more important than money.
E: Being a perfectionist as besides running a label you also produce music, what’s the criteria for selecting artists to be on your label.
K: For the moment is quite simple, I really want to work with people I know, I need to love their music for sure, but want to keep it like a family style. I hope I can open the label much wider later and start to release other artists.
E: Who would you really want to have on your label one day?
K: I respect a lot of producers out there. I would love to have more housey and techno producers like Freddy P, Conforce or Ron Trent to name few..a lot of guys really.
E: I have noticed that over the course of the years you have changed your style ever so slightly, going from techno to now more house sound. Are you getting more chilled at home with your loved ones? Slowing the beats, getting older? (laughs)
K: I was always into many styles of music, house, techno. I used to buy more techno records before, but when I have arrived here in Marseiles, my life has changed, environment played a big part, there is more sun at the seaside.
E: What else have impacted on your shift in style?
K: I have started to look back, reflect on my music. One day I remember I was about to release an EP for a digital label and when I have finished I was like, “yeah, it’s not me”. I wanted to have more personal signature on my music. I started to dig deeper and listen to more Detroit House than Detroit Techno to dive into some of my favourite Chicago or N.Y deep house records, like Guidance Recordings. I always loved that more spiritual side of house music. In 2009 / 2010 Detroit House sound was really coming back. I started to discover a lot cooler stuff that I have missed over the years. This mix between Techno and House was feeling much more natural to me. Guys like Steven Tang in Chicago, for me it was a perfect mix. I started to be really influenced by the crossover between the sound of House and Techno and really wanted to find a good balance between the two.
E: Ok, let’s talk about your mix. What can you tell us about it?
K: I have been making a lot of dreamy, mellow deep house oriented mixes the past few years so lately i’m taking the opportunity to create some mixes with a bit more techno feeling a bit more raw, pumping style. I also love dub techno. I haven’t done a mix like this in some time. I usually like to mix new things with old stuff. I never like to play only new stuff. In this mix I’m playing both vinyl and digital, new artists like Nathan Surreal, John Hester or some of my fav older stuff from Kikoman or from Damon Wild on Synewave as Voyager 8. Sometimes I play them at pitch -8 and I like it. The groove can come out great. So, i’m starting with a bit more house feeling and moving to Techno. In this mix you could hear me starting with a bit more House feeling and moving to Techno. This mix reflects more on what I like to play at a party.
E: About playing at a party, do you prefer mixing with just vinyl or mixing in digital technology as well?
K: I love to play vinyl, but since 6 or 7 years I’m playing both. I prefer not to play strictly digital as I still need this feeling to play records into my set. For this particular mix for example I have played vinyl and cd’s. I have burned tracks to a cd as I don’t have a cd player with built in usb at home (laughs).
E: As preferred way is digital and lots of club’s sound system are calibrated to digital mixing, do you find it difficult to play vinyl in clubs?
K: Yes, that’s the reason why I have started to incorporate more digital into my mixing. For a while I didn’t want to bring a usb and play off it, but I eventually had to. One time I was preparing a mix for a show in Marseiles and one day before the gig I was told that I can’t play cd’s or vinyl, I can only play usb. So, I had to buy one and prepare a mix on it. After that experience, I have found this very convenient to keep my mix fresh, to play some promos that I’m getting and for sure to reduce the stress of travelling with a lot of vinyl records. I think when you are preparing files to play, you can listen to a lot more stuff, I mean in terms of genre. It takes much less time than listening all your records. What I really like now is to take a carefully selected bag of records and have some files with me too.
E: Do you test your own unreleased productions, demos when djing digitally?
K: Sometimes, as usually I prefer not to play my stuff. It’s a strange feeling, I don’t know why I feel that.
E: Excellent question you have asked yourself.. Why?
K: I have more confidence in few tracks, but I haven’t arrived at this point where I’m feeling fully confident about the music that I do. I don’t know. Some people tell me is great stuff..
E: They are telling you but you are not telling yourself that’s the thing right?
K: Yeah, the thing also is that a lot of my tracks the past few years are more speaking to the mind than directely to the dancefloor but there are maybe 2 tracks of mine that I like to play.
E: Which ones?
K: I’m feeling good about Life Notes 002. I’m playing the track “Monotonal Vibes” i’ve made as Motion Process at the end of the mix here. Also I like the track called “Better with You”, which I have been playing a lot.
Life Recorder with Stojche at a beach some place…
E: Right, it’s very weird as you have a track called “Better with you”, and I have a release called “Sun shines better with you”. Creative minds think alike?
K: Yes, you have Soleil label, and I have a track called sun rays.
E: Haha, I also have a track called sun rays. I think there is a lot of sun in your music, in my opinion..
K: Yes the sun is really important to me
E: I think this was also one of those factors why I wanted to work with you in the first place. Cause you have lots of sun in your tracks, just sometimes would be good for that sun to be a bit more darker, stronger, you know what I mean..
E: It can’t be just a beach anywhere, it has to be a beach in Detroit, imagine that..
K: Yes, I know where you going with this.. Lately I have noticed that a lot more Techno is making it’s come back. Techno it’s inspiring me again and I feel i need to go back to it.
E: It’s not like you have to suddenly just do techno. I think what you said about the crossover between House and Techno is a really cool combination, that’s your sound. Ok, I got to ask you this question, what words of wisdom would you pass to upcoming producers? Don’t be modest here man, you made lots of music, djed for a while. What would you recommend for people out there?
K: Wow, I would recommend, not to try to be somebody else, just because it’s working. I would advise to keep your mind open, to listen a lot of stuff, not just techno or house. To get into a music history also, which I think is really important. Sometimes I get some messages from guys, asking me, which machines I’m using, and I don’t have any machines. It’s kind of funny sometimes, but for me is hard to answer as I think the learning never ends. So, the advice I would give is to stay yourself, do what you feel and still learn you know.
E: It’s funny, as when I heard your music for the first time I was picturing that you have some nice analog gear in the studio. Cause you got that sound, you have recreated and its inspiration cause when you think that you are using just fucking Reason software to make stuff like that!! People be like, No! He has got a 909, 808, 101, Dx7 and all that shebang you know.
K: Yes, it’s quite motivational for me. Sometimes when I’m frustrated, when I feel my sound is not sounding the way I want, not warm enough, I think I need some machines.. but no I try to make my sound with what I have.
E: Yes and it’s a living example that you can make really good records with such minimal equipment.
K: Yes, is also what I like and respect in music coming from Detroit and Chicago, the history is pretty much like this you know. A lot of guys were doing music with very minimal stuff. For example I like how Mr G does his thing wiht MPC.
E: Yes, like one sampler, drum machine, mixer and effect and they could come up with some funky shit. Speaking of coming up, what’s on the horizon for Life Recorder?
K: In January / February 2020, I have two tracks coming on 393 records in Dublin, one kind of electro Detroit track and one techno track, it’s a split EP with Tr One, young producer from Dublin. I have Life Notes 03 coming also with two great producers one is Jason Wynters, from Birmingham in UK, and a friend from Chicago his name is Taelou, great music and great people. We have been supporting each other for quite and while now. I also have one track on the EP. Im also working on a solo EP.
E: Have you considered recording an album? Can we expect an album from Life Recorder any time soon?
K: I hope I can do it on my label, it can be quite a process..
E: Ok, Life Recorder, what do you really need to make an album?… besides time..
K: To put myself into this focus of the album, without all the distraction about other releases. I also need to be productive and make tracks and at the end have enough tracks for the album. Generally, is quite difficult as Life Recorder is all about expressing and releasing what I’m feeling at this moment.
E: Ha, you will be impatient to wait until the album is finally produced as you want the record to come out earlier right?
K: Yeah, but I feel much better now. It’s crazy, I’m more productive having kids and family, I can do music much quicker than before. I think an album can be possible in the near future, I hope J
E: Ok, so what we should wish Kriss – Life recorder for 2020?
K: Just to keep moving, doing what I love, to move forward with everything in the middle as a family dad. To find the right balance, do the label, play more gigs, meet new people. Everything is related, the gigs, motivation and creativity, so I hope everything will go forward, also with you and Soleil bookings, I hope we move forward and see each other soon!.
E: You Motion process you 🙂
Life Notes 001