Sunday, October 3, 2010

Interview with Chris Awesome & Free EXCLUSIVE Poppa Soul Re-Rub For EVERY member!

With a name like Chris Awesome you'd think there must be a big ego to match. Yet, in this candid interview, the DJ and upper coming Producer confesses to being pants when he first took to the turntables and reveals he's much to learn before he develops his own unique style.  However, his two debut releases made the top 3 in the Junodownload Charts and his future releases are sure to follow suit.  So, if that's not Awesome, what is?

How did your relationship with music start?

The first music I really remember listening to and enjoying was the almighty Status Quo. I was taken to see them live when I was about 11 and  loved how loud the music was - how everybody was united with there love of the same music. After that it was the late 90s chart dance music -  2 unlimited and the like. It's really naff stuff, but it got me hooked on music with a beat!

When did you start Djing?

I started 12 years ago, at the age of 16.   A mate of mine brought his decks round for a party and I was instantly fascinated.  He let me have a go and I was pants.  I brought my own decks soon after and started practicing with Hard House. I didn't really know what I was supposed to be doing or where to buy records or anything like that. I found a store that had a very limited selection of vinyl and brought about 10 Tidy Trax records. That was all the vinyl i would let myself buy untiil I could beat match, which took me AGES to figure out.  After two months and three smashed sets of headphones later, I could beat mix.

When did you start playing NuFunk and how did that come about?

I ditched Hard House once I'd mastered beat mixing and started moving into Funky House. I remember loving how happy the music was, but something still wasn't right, i didnt feel comfortable with the music I was playing. Then I stumbled upon a Fatboy Slim CD, and managed to catch the very end of the Big Beat thang. I'd found my sound, but couldnt find much stuff on vinyl, there were no good record shops near my hometown Peterborough and didn't know any good online stores so found it hard to find music I loved.

A couple of years went by, then one day, I was looking at a new online record store i found and i stumbled across the 12" that changed everything. It was Badboe's Good Groove artist E.P.  I bought up everything i could find by Badboe and Good Groove, I then found Bomb Strikes, Funk Weapons and mashed up funk etc. I started playing the NuFunk in a local bar and it went down a storm. Everyone loved it and really got into it.  I found it had an infectious quality that people just couldn't ignore.  It suddenly became very easy to get a crowd into the music.

When did you start producing and mashing up your own tracks?

Separate from my DJing life, I started to learn to play guitar.  I'd always wanted to be able to play since I was little, but never really got round to it. One day i discovered that a very good friend of mine could play like a ninja, so i started to learn from him. We formed a little studio band and started writing songs. My friend had done some studio recording at college so we started recording our songs on a really simple home set-up. A couple of the projects got really involved and I guess this is where my producing started, but it was a couple of years before I merged the producing we were going with the songs we had written, and the NuFunk that i played out while i was DJing.

My first attempts at producing NuFunk style tracks were in Garage Band. I was skint and had no money for expensive software and Garage Band was just sat on my Mac not being used, so i started to experiment. I swiftly realised that, despite its basic appearance, it's actually quite powerful if you know how to trick it into doing what you want, which i got pretty good at.  I made a couple of amateur sounding tracks, which never saw the light of day, but once I'd learnt from those mistakes I started to find my feet. The first song I was happy with was the You're Not Awesome made entirely in Garage Band, which is out on a Big M vinyl this year, thanks to Mick for all his support!  After that I hit the limitations of Garage Band and moved on to bigger and better packages.

Is there a Chris Awesome sound, and if so how would you describe it?

I don't think there's a 'Chris Awesome sound' in terms of music production yet.  I've only been making tracks for just over a year, so its still a massive learning curve for me. I do hope that one day I'm considered to have a 'style', but i think that takes a very long time to develop. As for DJing however, I'd like to think that I have a certain sound. I try to make my sets as energetic as possible without loosing the crowd to anything too heavy. I think it's a fine line, but something that's extremely important. One wrong move and you can loose a crowd you've spent the last two hours building up. I like to think of my vibe as feel good party tunes, hopefully that comes across.

Tells us about your latest releases and anything you've got coming out soon.

Well, my first release was 'dont say you love me' on Big M, with remixes from the amazing Kid Stretch, my good friend Hayz and the dirty little bass whore - Busta! They're all really strong remixes and helped the E.P no end in getting to number 3 in the Junodownload Breakbeat Chart. It was received really well and I was chuffed to bits to get messages of support from people who were playing it out in there sets.

Following on from that, Mick (Big M) and I started up the Bangers & Mash Up Series Vol.1 one, which offers exactly what it says on the tin - mashed up bangers. That release was also received really well and went to number 2 in the Junodownload Breakbeat Charts. I was made up, but bummed not to get to the number one spot.  However, as Theo my step son tells me: "First the worst, second the best, 3rd the one with the hairy chest!" So I guess 2nd is cool with me :-) I'm working on Volume 2 right now, but it's still early days.

I've recently produced a track called Happy times for the exclusive CD we've lined up to mark the launch of NuFunk.net's debut monthly gig - Boogie Boutique. It's an absolute honour to be on that CD with the likes of Badboe, Kid Stretch, Nick Fonkynson, well, everyone on there really, they're all top guys and I'm proud to be associated with them. The CD will be handed out for free at the launch of Boogie Boutique (8th of Oct - Lost Society in Clapham - London) Excuse the shameless plug!

Which bands/DJ Producers do you most enjoy?

Away from the decks, I'm a huge fan of Muse. I've seen them live about five times now and they're simply the best live act going. I saw them at Wembley Stadium a  couple of years ago - it was stunning. I love the grandure and shear enormousness of their music. But back to the world of DJs and NuFunk producers.  I know this is the most boring answer I could give and the most predictable, but it's A-Skillz all the way for me. He is the king of taking samples and beats and out putting something, which is not only technically amazing, but funky as hell. When it comes to making DJ friendly tunes, he's at the top of his game.  When I'm playing one of my long 5 hrs sets I play a little game. If the crowd is being stubborn and not getting up to dance, I select any A-Skillz tune and drop it and 9 times out of 10 it works - people get up and dance. You can't argue with that! Obviously there are loads of DJ/Producers I really admire and respect, but i think Adam 'A-skillz' Mills has a little something extra. I'm sure I'm not the only one who sends love to him and his family at this time.

What is your take on the bootlegging debate?

This always splits peoples opinions, but I think that so long as your changing the proposition of a song, then its fine. Let's say your take a love ballad, and turn it into a dance floor monster, you've completely changed what the original song had to offer. However, if you were to take a song that was designed to be danced to and change it into something else designed to be danced to and then sell and make money from that, I think that's a little bit naughty and you're asking for trouble. However, if you're doing that just for fun and don't sell the tunes, then you're not stepping on anyone's toes.

This all started when DJs wanted to make there own unique dance tunes to play in clubs. But then other DJs want to get hold of these tunes and play them out also. This is where the confusion arises. Is it OK to do this? Like I said, if you change the proposition of the original song then i think it's fine, because you not stepping on anyone's toes. No one is going to say "Hey, shall we buy that new love song by Justin Timberlake for our romantic night in tonight?" "Nah... let's buy the Parker - fucked up warp bass in your face dubstep dance floor monster remix instead"

But that's just my opinion and there seems to be millions of different opinions out there. Either way, I think the law needs to change somehow.

How do you feel about new digital developments in production and DJ technology?

I'm a big fan.  I've just bought myself Serato and god damn it makes my life so much easier! I hate CDJS, so I've been hauling vinyl around the country with me for a while now. I used to use one CDJ to play stuff that was only on digi release, but i didn't enjoy using it. Serato is the best of both worlds. Playing digital tunes through normal vinyl - perfect!

Can you reveal a killer production tip to our readers?

To be honest, I'm still learning myself! But there is one thing I'd recommend. I think it's important to have a catchy hook in your music. The way I test this myself is to play a rough version through loud speakers when my 8 year old step son is playing with cars or lego or something. I leave it on for a little while then turn it off. If he starts humming the song to himself later on, I know its got a hook (this technique also works with wives!).

How do you feel about being able to reach out to people through the internet, is it changing things for the better?

Oh yes, definitely. Especially in a scene this small. On my first E.P for example, Kid Stretch is from Greece and Busta from down under! Without the internet that E.P would never have been what it was. That's partly why we launched NuFunk.net. We wanted to give people a place to unite and get together to grow the scene. I think the internet has helped us all network and get NuFunk to where it is today - a strong growing music scene.

Some quick fire questions to finish:

What's your favorite sound? Cheering when you drop one of your own tunes, hasn't happened to me very much, but it's a good feeling when it does.

What's the last music you put on your MP3 player?
Hmmmm, I think it was the A-Skillz 09 mix that's on his Soundcloud player.

What is your proudest achievement in life? Getting married to Kelly last year on the one hand and on the other getting signed on Big M.

And your biggest regret? Hmmm, that's deep! I don't think I have any really.

What do you think about NuFunk.net? I'm very pleased to be a part of something that's doing so much good for our little scene. We've got big things planned for the future so watch this space!

And finally, tell us about this free tune you've offered out to the readers?

It's a re-rub I made a while ago of A-Skillz's Poppa Soul. I've been playing it out for a while now and it always goes down well. So, I hope everyone else can spread the love.

You can buy the original A Skillz version HERE - it's well worth it.

To get your copy of Chris Awesome's exclusive Poppa Soul re-rub, head over to our Member's Vault at the forum. You can't access the vault if you're not a member of NuFunk.net, in fact the forum is invisible until you sign in.

Once you sign in, the password for the Vault is in the forum description. We've spray-painted it out in the picture below, but you get the idea:
And if you're not a member yet, get on it and join the rapidly growing community HERE

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