In 2014, I Love Music Academy was fortunate enough to host Christian Smith, a heavyweight in the international electronic music industry. Christian has been a highly acclaimed DJ and producer and a successful label owner for over a decade, and we were thrilled to have him with us. While in conversation, he shared his knowledge of the mechanics of running a label, insight into his producing techniques, and his impressions of the music industry at large.
If you missed the 3-part Q & A session with Christian Smith, you can watch it here:
Arjun Vagale: You’ve been in the music business for so many years, you are a Dj, Producer, Label owner, entrepreneur, What is the secret to keeping yourself relevant in this day and age we live in?
Christian: To stay relevant, I don’t really think about that. I just do what I am passionate about and I think that is the most important thing. ‘Cause a-lot of artists these day jump in bandwagons. As soon as something is popular they um… if a couple of years ago was the minimal way, everybody jumped into the minimal wagon, and now its deep-house. I don’t really follow trends. And I think this is my way of staying relevant, by way of ignoring popular trends and doing what I like.
G Force Arjun (Faculty I Love Music Academy): The thing I really like about your productions and the unique sounds that you have in all the tracks. So, my question: What’s your favourite Synth and why?
Christian: There are 100’s if not thousands of plugin’s that you can choose from, there are a lot of good ones as well. One of the plugins I have been using the most, I guess the fairly obvious one is the mini-moog. Why? Because it is arguably I think the warmest emulated synth that is for plugins, I find. and it is very versatile. However, as good as the mini-moog is, it also requires a lot of work. Once your done working on the sound, you get really really good results. I have done several tracks just using the mini-moog.
Puneesh Suri (Instructor at I Love Music Academy): Obviously you are an amazing Electronic Music Producer, but do you also listen to other genres of music?
Christian: I am a kid that grew up in the ’80s, so obviously I live a lot of 80’s stuff, whether its rock’n’roll or even ’80’s pop music. I tend to listen to a lot of music when I cook. This is when I get to relax, I put on Spotify, whether it is Grace Jones or Pink Floyd, different genres from Soul, Funk to rock’n’roll; you know…pretty normal stuff…
Kohra: I’m a huge fan of Tronic and I think you guys have been around for almost 20 years and I just want to know how you have been running it successfully? What inspired you? And what are these consistent things that you have been doing over the last so many years that have made it work and stayed on top of your game?
Christian: The key of having a successful label, I think, is to have a good vision and the music you want to release, but also being organised. The better you want your music label, the more costs you have. You want to have good mastering. You want to have good artwork. You want to have a good team. Just like a properly working engine. In order to do that you need to be really focused.
What is the key to running a successful label? I think its passion. You have to do what you really like. A lot of people start labels because they want to make money, back in the day, you were able to make good money with records, but that’s kind of over unless you are really commercial. Sometimes people want to associate themselves with one sound. and I don’t adhere to that. I like to have an open wide palette whether its deep house, good real deep-house, not this commercial crap. or banging techno. If I like it, then I paly it then I want to be able to release it. I release what I love, I make music that I love. People all over the world get to listen to my music, online or sometimes still on records.
Something I try to push a lot is album releases, very few labels these days release albums. I do it because I think it is a very important project for an artist to develop his or her style. Just doing singles is good, but not a big challenge to me. I try to release a lot of albums by established artists but also newer artists and the people seem to really enjoy making them and the followers of Tronic like listening to them as well.
Arjun Vagale: You have just released your new album, which you know I love. What was the inspiration for this particular album?
Christian: Albums are really really important, I can’t stress on this enough. I think any artist should try to definitely make an album. Why did I do this album? Several reasons.
First of all, I really enjoy it. Also ’cause I just got a daughter, 2 months ago actually. so I wanted to make a big project so I don’t have any pressure to release more music for a couple of months. All of us artists, we predominantly do one thing. But if you do an album, you can do things that you were thinking about, put it all on there and build a big cohesive project, and its a lot of fun. And even if you don’t release it, it’s good for you. It helps you evolve your sound.
G Force Arjun (Faculty I Love Music Academy): I’m a big fan of the drums on your tracks, is there anything in particular that you do to make them sound so good?
Christian: I think one of the reasons my drums sound good is because I actually do not use any kind of sample CD’s. I never use pre-made loops, and I generally do everything from scratch. I do sample sounds, drum sounds of course, but with those, I create my own loops. I’m not a fan of these sample CD’s, because in a way you are just using somebody else’s work and often you can hear that. It sounds quite generic. So I try to make my own loops. Also, the mixdown is really important. So compression, EQ, very very important.
Watch part 2 & 3 of the Q&A With Christian Smith on youtube.
For more videos and artist interviews subscribe to our youtube channel
Enjoyed the Article? Check out more ” Up Close and Personal” Interviews: