I’ve mentioned several times how 2010 was a big year for a lot of us, but perhaps none understand this as well as Chris B. A long-time guitarist, Chris grew uninspired by the limitations of the instrument and eventually discovered bass music and digital production. After buying his first computer a mere year and a half ago, Chris B. is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after performers on the West Coast.
TGD: You’ve told me a bit about your rapid evolution as an electronic artist; what were you doing musically before you started experimenting with Ableton? What are the biggest ways you’d say your life has changed over the past two years?
CB: Well I have been playing the guitar since I was 11 years old so about 10 years now. The first electronic music I was ever really exposed to was Sound Tribe Sector 9 back in 2004. They completely blew my mind because they fused live instrumentation with the electronic element which I had never even seen or even fathomed before. This was right before Artifact was released when those guys were on fire. Around 4 years ago I kinda started to fall away from playing guitar because I reached a peak in my playing and became sort of uninspired musically. When I was 17 I went to my first rave and that’s when I was really exposed to straight forward electronic music. Of course most of it was electro garbage but still marked a turning point of my musical taste. I had my hippie roots and the whole candy cane rave thing wasnt really doing it for me. Raves were more of a social experiment for me and I wasn’t really into the music. Not too much longer after this I became really good homies with my hairstylist Omri. It was kinda weird because he said that I reminded him of himself when he was my age. Going to mad Grateful Dead shows and raves too. He was the one who first told me about Burning Man and exposed me to bass music. He was just getting into producing music himself so I would go over to his studio and just watch him make tracks and he would pretty much give me the watered down version of what was going on. It was all over my head at the time and didn’t realize that that would be my next musical passion. Finally when I was 18 and went to Burning Man for the first time I realized that all these new sounds that I was listening to were what was really inspiring me. At the beginning of 2009 was when I really first started showing interest in trying to Dj with Ableton. I would download the trial version of Ableton onto friends computers and burn a cd with a bunch of tracks and just start fucking around trying to teach myself since I didn’t have a computer of my own. At that moment I became infatuated with it. I naturally had an ear for it due to my prior musical training and caught on quick. That summer I would go around to several festivals like Sonic Bloom and Rothbury and set up a renegade stage with some friends and throw down late night sets. People would go nuts but it still wasn’t doing it for me, I had to start making my own tracks to fully be satisfied with my musical potential but I still didn’t have a computer of my own. To this day lack of equipment is what is really holding me back. I still don’t even own studio monitors! Anyways right before Burning Man in 2009 I got my first computer and shortly after that I took Ill Gates electronic music workshop. Not too long before that all I had done production wise was write a couple hip hop tracks for my friend who was a mediocre producer and MC. After taking that Ill gates workshop it made me realize that I didn’t know jack shit. I kinda just sat on the knowledge I obtained and didn’t really do anything with it. Shorty after that I had met Sugarpill for the first time and showed him a couple jingles I wrote and he saw the potential in me. I was still not taking it seriously at all until I went to Manifesto Gathering in Costa Rica last year. I brought my computer with high hopes of potentially playing a set out there. Now this was Marty Party’s party and people who have played it in the past were people like Ooah. Turns out I ended up playing 3 sets and people loved it including Marty. At that moment I realized that I could actually achieve this and the only way to do so was to produce my own music because I already had the dj thing on lock. That’s when I really started to hit the grind. This was exactly a year ago. Since then Ive been geeking out as much as possible. Sugarpill has definitely helped me out a lot along the way. Evan has been there for me not only as a teacher, but a close friend and mentor. I owe pretty much everything to him. It was definitely cosmic how we fell into each other’s lives, some crazy force of nature that is way beyond any of us.
TGD: In terms of artistic guidance, who would you say are your biggest influences? Why?
CB: I have tons of different influences, mostly my friends. A lot of my friends growing up were insane jazz musicians so the bar was always high musically. All my favorite shit is all stuff my friends make in all sorts of genres. I hear something they do and now I’m at the point in my production where I can come back at them with something that makes them raise their eyebrows.
TGD: Where have you yet to play that is a top spot on your list of tour stops? What are the elements of this place that make you want to perform there?
CB: Right now I would really love to play at a Do LaB event or one of An-ten-nae’s events up in SF as well as several festivals this summer. As far as places I would like to play, I dunno, thats a hard one. I’ve already played on the beach in Costa Rica which is one of the most beautiful places on earth as well as Burning Man. Europe, Australia or Canada would definitely be cool. The scene in Canada is going off right now.
TGD: You have great chemistry with Stephan Jacobs and Sugarpill both musically and socially. How important would you say it is to collaborate with other artists whose company you can appreciate both on and offstage? Would you say a friendship is necessary to achieve the best possible collaborative effort?
CB: I am definitely fortunate to have friends like Stephan and Evan. I definitely think its important to dig the other person’s music in order to collaborate and make something dope. However, I don’t necessarily think friendship is required to achieve the best possible collaborative effort but it definitely helps. Look at Pink Floyd. Those guys fought all the time and they made some of the most incredible music of all time. Also Stephan and +verb have made some banging tracks together and they haven’t even met before. Not to say they wouldn’t become good friends if they did meet, but yeah you catch my drift 😉 When Stephan and I first starting writing tracks together, we didn’t know each other very well but it definitely was the bridge to our friendship. It definitely does help to be homies with someone when writing tracks because if you are in a room with someone for hours on end working on something who your not vibing with personally, I’d imagine you would drive each other nuts.
With two fresh new releases (“Malefic Planet” w/ Sugarpill & a remix of Samples’ “Drop Bombs”), ChrisB. is already starting 2011 off on the right foot. March 4th marks the exclusive drop on Addictech of his debut EP, What’s Your Fantasy, (featuring a collaboration with another one of my favorites, Gladkill) to be released on Simplify. To stay updated on this artist’s upcoming events and new music, please check his Facebook and SoundCloud pages.
Featured on this episode of TGD:radio was Sugarpill, a high-energy melody maker based out of Los Angeles. Evan has a brand new EP scheduled to drop this February and was so kind as to share one of these highly-anticipated tracks with the TGD:radio audience. I had the chance to ask this cutting-edge artist a few questions; below are his responses!
TGD: From getting to chat a bit, it seems as though you have experience in several fields outside of music. When did you make the decision to shape a career out of your talents and what prompted the commitment?
SP: I don’t think it was really a decision in a big sort of way, things just seem to happen and I just keep working hard at whatever I have the opportunity to do.
TGD: How would you say your sound has evolved over the past year? In comparison, what would you consider to be the hallmark elements of your music?
SP: I’m pretty sure my sound has evolved a lot in the past year. I think I probably broke through a major barrier because now I actually complete way more tracks and get them sounding much more clear and polished. I used to record and produce records for a band that I was in and for some reason when it came to my electronic stuff, I was just slacking on applying those techniques up until about a year and a half ago.
I’d like think the most prevalent elements in my music are bass and glitch, but it seems like I’m really stoked [on] really strong melodic content. I feel like the melodies draw me in and chill out some of the harshness of the glitch sounds.
TGD: What do you have coming up in 2011 so far that you’re most excited about?
SP: Right now I’m stoked on my next release. It’s a 4 track EP coming out on Simplify Recordings. It’s going to be prereleased on Addictech.com on Feburary 4th. I kept to a lot of the elements I really liked about my last release and also cleaned up some of my techniques, so hopefully it shows. I also tried to add a little more of a contrast between the tracks across the whole EP so people could either play a single track out or just listen to it straight through.
I also have a little mini tour I’m working on in Feburary to support the release. Its looking like I’m going to be in Los Angeles 2/4, San Francisco 2/10, Portland 2/11 and Arcata 2/12 so far and definitely have some more to come that I can’t announce yet.
TGD: Your sets are packed with energy; for someone who’s on the go so much, where do you find the inspiration to maintain this so consistently?
SP: I don’t really know, I just really like getting on stage and playing music. I’m usually a pretty mellow person, but when I get up there I feel like its my chance to let loose and the whole thing just takes over me.
TGD: What’s your take on the creative process behind your collaborations with Stephan Jacobs and ChrisB.?
SP: Collaborations are a really interesting thing for me. I definitely think the stuff that I have made with Stephan and Chris has been some really amazing work that we’re all really stoked on. The process is pretty simple it kind of just works itself out. We just get in a room together and take turns “driving” ableton and recording each other. Its really nice to have the momentum of another person working on the same thing to push you to make something a little better or try something a little different than we might do alone.
For frequent updates on Sugarpill, please check his website, Facebook,Twitter and SoundCloud pages.