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Tuesday 01st, February 2005
Christopher Lawrence (2005)

American based dj and producer, Christopher Lawrence has been very active in the music scene for a long time. His first single, ĎNavigatorí was released in 1996, followed by a collection of ground breaking tracks bringing him to the attention of superstar djs such as Paul van Dyk and Paul Oakenfold. In the late nineties he established himself as one of Americaís biggest selling djs with a string of highly successful mix cds including ĎRiseí, ĎTemptationí and 'Around The World'. While continually receiving praise in his home country he was also voted #7 in last yearís prestigious DJ Mag Poll, making him the highest ranking American dj. In the same year, Christopher released his widely anticipated debut artist album ĎAll Or Nothingí, played at a string of high profile events around the world and is now currently in the process of launching his new label Pharmacy Electronic Records. Christopher recently toured in Sydney to promote his new album and Trance.Nu contributor Lisa was lucky enough to catch up with him after his gig for a chat.

Trance.Nu: So, howís the tour going so far and what have been the major highlights for you?

Itís been really good. I think tonight was my favourite night so far and I already did Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane and I just like the room in there and I felt I connected with the crowd really well, so yeah it was good!

Trance.Nu: This is the second time you have toured Australia since your first tour last year at Two Tribes. After playing at the festival and also in clubs here, how do you rate the scene?

Oh its one of the best in the world.

Trance.Nu: And do you have a favourite city?

I really like Melbourne! (laughs).

Trance.Nu: Many artists say that the Australian audience is quite unique compared to the rest of the world. Do you adapt your style for different parts of the world where you are spinning?

Yeah I do to a certain extent, but mainly I tailor my sets to the room more than anything else because if your in a smaller more intimate club setting you donít just wanna go in full on banging over the top and by the same token if your playing a large arena event, subtle tracks just get lost. So you wanna play more banging or a bit more obvious because you want the person in the back of the arena to hear the same thing as the person in the front. So itís more I tailor my sets to the room and then to the flow of the evening.

Trance.Nu: What influenced you to become a dj originally? How old were you when you started and was there anyone you looked up to during your days as an aspiring dj?

I always loved music and I started clubbing when I was 16 in San Francisco, going to underground parties. At that time it was more alternative music like Depeche Mode, New Order, Sisters of Mercy, that kinda stuff and then a friend of mine, it was like 1989 said ĎYou gotta go check out this partyĒ and it was in a basement of a club and there was probably only like 60 or 70 people, but the music changed my life and that was it. I never went back into anything else and started collecting that music because at that time there was no such thing as a compilation cd and so the only way to get that music was to buy the record. And then just the natural extension was I got turntables, taught myself how to mix, and here we are today!

Trance.Nu: For those that arenít familiar with your music, can you tell us about the style of music you push as it is quite different to typical European trance from places like Holland and Germany?

Yeah I donít play the European style. Itís a more underground style and I think itís a style that kinda developed out of the warehouse parties in the US, especially Los Angeles and some of the other major cities. When our scene was developing in the states, it wasnít so much a club scene as it was a rave scene and in places like Los Angeles every weekend we would have parties where there was 10-40,000 people and so that was the sound that developed out of there. Itís kinda a tough, powerful sound and itís influenced by techno and a variety of things but Iíve tried to steer clear of the obvious commercial sounding tracks, it just doesnít do anything for me.

Trance.Nu: Internationally, do you find it hard to compete and keep up in a music scene that is largely dominated by European artists?

No because like we just discussed, they donít even play the same music! I developed my own unique sound and I produce my own stuff so Iíve kinda carved my own niche but there really isnít anybody else out there that plays my sound so Iím quite fortunate.

Trance.Nu: How would you compare the American dance scene compared to the rest of the world? Is there much support in a country that is mainly dominated by rock and urban/commercial music?

Thatís the main difference. There is a large amount of people that go out clubbing every weekend but itís still very underground. Itís got no support from radio, no support from MTV and if you go and watch the Grammys and the award for the best dance album goes to artists like Cher! (laughs) Itís a good and bad thing. I mean it would be nice if we got support from some of the larger media in a positive sense and also it would allow us to get corporate support. Right now, no tobacco companies, no cigarette companies, no telephone companies, nobody wants to be associated with electronic music in the US and that really holds things back because its makes it difficult for promoters to do large scale events.

Trance.Nu: 2004 has been a significant year for you. You released your first debut artist album ďAll or NothingĒ, collaborated with artists such as John 00 Fleming, placed 7th in the prestigious DJ Mag poll and played at a string of high profile events around the world. Would you say it has been your most successful year so far?

Yes, 2004 is definitely the best year!

Trance.Nu: I heard you will be launching your own record label in February called Pharmacy Electronic Music. What prompted you to start your own label, and what kind of sound and artists are you looking to sign?

I guess I was tired of getting ripped off by other labels (laughs). Giving them my music and not getting paid for it is one reason! And there is a label in the UK that I produced a lot of music for over the years and ended up owing me a ridiculous amount of money and then they closed their doors and I never saw any of it! So that was one reason that prompted me but also I think because in the same way that like I play a sound and nobody else plays that sound, I have a hard time finding records for myself and so I thought well if I start my own label, at least I can support the producers that are making that sound because obviously other labels arenít and I know that those guys are out there, and girls, theyíre in their home studios making their music, so send it to me and Iím gonna put the good stuff out! (laughs).

Trance.Nu: I understand you have strong links to Australia with your wife originally from Melbourne and you having future plans to move here permanently. How do you think living here will affect your dj career and how has the American public responded to your decision?

It will be a bit of a transition, but in the past, you know a few years Iíve really been playing more on an international circuit than I have domestically and so at the end of the day everything is a plane ride away. My booking agent has me doing things where you go to London, then Turkey, then Vancouver because you can (laughs) and so it will be a longer flight from Melbourne to these places but at the end of the day from LA to London or Melbourne to London its about the same and Iím also going to keep a little apartment in Los Angeles so what Iíll do is many tours of the US, go back for three weeks at a time and just hit the major cities. But I talked about it over here once and it got back, you know people start reading things on the Internet and I started getting hate emails from fans in the states (laughs), calling me a traitor saying ĎIíve supported you for all these years, how dare you move!í But Iím still gonna be playing! Its not as if cause Iím living in a different country my music is going to change but Iím not going to be doing this, its really bizarre! So Iím keeping their names and making sure because I know at some point when that stalker jumps me outside the club the FBI will be looking for that list of people that sent me the hate mail! (laughs).

Trance.Nu: I heard that there are strict regulations in America for running raves and warehouse parties with so many promoters reluctant to put them on. Does this mean that dance music is not very accessible to those under the legal clubbing age? Do you think this will play a major role in the future of dance music in the US?

Yes I definitely do. I think that the most detrimental thing happening right now that a lot of people havenít even focused on is the fact that when the government first came down on the raves, that was bad, and it shut them down and it forced everybody to transition into clubs. Not a great big deal, because people find the clubs, clubs develop and now weíve got a fantastic driving club scene. Clubs are 21 and up, so where do the 16 to 20 year olds go? They canít get access to this music. If youíre a young adult, the music you listen to is a major part of your identity, thatís who you define yourself as, itís the sound track to your life and the music that you listen to is how you treat your friends, and your music is your life. You hear some music and you go thatís how I feel, thatís me and so if youíre a young adult and you begin to get attracted to electronic dance music but you cant get into the club, your really alienated because this music almost more than any other is about the clubbing and raving experience and without access to it you cant really be a participant in it. So whatís happening is when everything transitioned to clubs, we lost an entire generation of people that were into the music and now just because they donít have access to it, theyíre trying to find something else and unfortunately in the US its hip hop. Because if youíre a white, middle classed kid you donít want to listen to what your parents listen to which is rock and so you want to be something alternative and the only thing thatís really accessible is R&B and hip hop. And so thatís where a lot of the young adults are really turning to besides the young black kids and now you have all the young white kids and so weíve lost them or where losing themÖ but Iím doing my best! (laughs). There was a time when my booking agent said weíre gonna start to steer clear of these all ages events but now Iím doing every all ages event that I can, at least in North America because itís the only way to include these kids and I think about when I was younger, I wanted to be a part of this music and I would have been really bummed out if my favourite dj never took the opportunity to play at events I could go to.

Trance.Nu: You just released your debut artist album, ďAll or NothingĒ, which like your mix cds had a good response in the US. How has it been received internationally and why has it taken you so long for you to release an artist album?

The album itself has been received really well. Itís good itís gotten great reviews because itís more personal than compilation cds and Iíve done heaps of compilation cds but those are like a souvenir of a night out, where theyíre a snap shot in time of a djís career. But an artist album is all original material so you donít have the luxury of choosing the best tracks by everyone else producing out there so you have to create your own and Iím not the most prolific producer because Iím on the road a lot and Iím very picky about whatís going to go on the album so it took a long time but Iím happy with it because I think its more of an album. Its got a bit more diversity than the sets that I play, thereís more down tempos, well for me down tempo, for other people it could be dance floor tracks (laughs) so yeah Iím happy with it and it just took a while to put it together.

Trance.Nu: You recently did a collaborated with John Ď00í Fleming on the track ďAttentionĒ. How did you find working with him and are there any other artists that you would like to work with?

Well right now, weíre going to get together and work on a follow up track and weíve been friends for years and its just one of those things we just really enjoy. Heís just an awesome guy and heís a fantastic dj and weíve done tours together and always hung out and I really respect John Ď00í Fleming for his integrity in his music and in his sets and so it was just one of those weird things and we talked about working together and then finally it just fell into place and Iím really happy with the way the track turned out. Heís brilliant in the studio and that comes out everywhere.

Trance.Nu: And that will be released on his label?

Yeah on J00F.

Trance.Nu: What do you like to do when relaxing away from djing?

Um, I have very little time! And the time that I do have I spend with my son and my wife. Iíve got a two year old son and Iím on the road a lot so when Iím home I like to spend 24 hours a day with him.

Trance.Nu: What does 2005 hold for Christopher Lawrence? Anything else you would like to tell us?

Um well weíve covered a lot of it! Thereís the launch of the label, the track with john, Iíve got some more productions lined up and just more touring!

Trance.Nu: Well thatís about it! Thank you very much for chatting with us and good luck in the future.

Thank You!!

Trance.Nu would like to thank Christopher Lawrence for taking time out with chat us and also to his management for organizing the interview!

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