What is your real name and your DJ Moniker?
Christian Smith-Solbakken is my real name and Christian Smith my artist name. So fairly close 😉
How did you start your career?
I was hobby DJ since the age of 14. I then became more serious about DJ’ng whenI started entering DJ competitions like DMC. I spent much of my youth in Frankfurt, Germany as my father was stationed there as a pilot for Lufthansa. So I saw Sven Vath on a weekly basis long before he became an international superstar. I actually went to university in Washington DC to get a degree in International Business and Finance and it was during this time that I started getting paid gigs at illegal warehouse raves. This was in the early 90’s and I often played with people like Josh Wink. Back then we got paid around $150-$300 a gig, and had to drive ourselves there and no hotels were ever included. Different times for sure, Ha ha. I enjoyed playing those raves, but in the end it was not enough to do be able to allow me to do this full time. So after University was over, I became an investment banker in Washington DC – I hated life! I was working around 80-90 hours a week, and was just not inspired by anything. The only way out was to get more education, so I moved to Stockholm to pursue a masters degree at Stockholm School of Economics. It was during this time that I produced a bunch of records that got the attention of Carl Cox, Dave Angel, Sneak etc. Before I knew it I had booking requests for gigs all over the world. I remember the very first ones were for tours in Japan, and Australia. It all happened really fast. In the span of 6 months I went from having 3-4 gigs a month to 8-10. So I decided to go for it and give music a chance full time. Unfortunately, I never finished my masters degree, and my parents were a little upset. But as soon as I stopped asking for money and they saw how international this was really is, they were fine with it. This was almost 20 years ago, and I have been touring the world every year since.
Where are you based now?
Palma de Malloca, Spain. Island life!
Please give an example of your music writing process?
This really depends on what inspires me that day I’m in the studio, or what ideas I have. I don’t really have a formulaic approach as to how I produce my tracks. I do often sample early 80’s electro and disco tracks, and totally change up the loops. This often inspires me and I really get into producing the track. I work fairly fast and usually have a track finished within 5-6 hours. Then I play it out at a gig, see if it needs any adjustments in the mix down or arrangement and that’s it.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently working on my next album which will be comprised of a bunch of collaborations that I’m currently doing. The last 3 artist albums were all solo projects so it’s nice to do something different. For this project I wanted to use some different names that I have never worked together with before with the exception John Selway. So for now I have collaborated with NYC house legend Harry Romero, my longtime studio partner from many years ago John Selway, Brazilian rising stat Victor Ruiz, and I am planning on making some tracks with fellow Mallorcans Pig&Dan, and Germans 2Pole. The album will have around 14 tracks and will be released in late September. I will do a 4-6 month world tour in support of this album and am planning on doing around 60 gigs in 20+ countries. Its hard work, but I love what I do, and working on challenging projects keeps me motivated.
What is your gear setup?
Right now just a laptop, good monitors, and a decent sounding room. I did work a lot with Wehbba, and he has an amazing studio. He also mixed down a ton of tracks for me over the years! But now I’m trying to work alone again doing everything from start to finish. I will inevitably buy some analog gear, but in all honesty, it’s not about what equipment you have, but how you use it, and how good your room sounds. It’s really incredible what you can do with some good plug ins these days. Arturia for example made amazing software versions of most of the legendary analog synths. I am in the midst of moving places, so I will build a new studio very soon. It’s exciting, but at the same time I’m in no rush to buy a Minimoog, or fancy tube compressors. You really can make warm sounding music inside the box these days!
What do you like to do outside of music and does it affect your music?
I live on a lovely island, so I like to go to the beach when I have time. I also have a lovely family. So that really keeps me busy. It’s tough to juggle all the things I have going on with Tronic, my label, my weekly radio show, coordinating my touring schedule etc. I also work out a few times a week. I might not look that fit, but I’m not working out to look like a muscle pack, but more to feel good, and make sure my back is holding up after the many hours I spend sitting on planes.
How would you describe your music genre?
I’m not a purist and love everything from house to techno. But people tend to put me into the techno bracket, which I’m fine with. Techno has given me an amazing life doing what I love, so I really cannot complain.
Do you know or have studied any music theory?
I studied it in school for a few years, but am not very good at theory. I would like to say that I’m fairly good writing melodies and producing musical techno, but I have no formal training.
What are your plans for the future?
Continue busting my ass with touring the globe and expanding Tronic. I was just asked my Ultra to do Tronic stage at their ‘Resistance’ Ibiza residency. This is exciting of course. But I am also planning many other Tronic events from Tokyo, to Buenos Aires, to London and beyond. Around 20-30 a year.
What are you listening to at the moment?
I must admit, I really enjoy Spotify. Even though they totally exploit the artists barely paying them anything, I enjoy the fact to have so much music available any time. I listen to a lot of funk and soul when I’m home. I also like rock, and classical music.
Who are your top 5 influences and icons?
- Early 80’s late disco. Labels like Prelude, Emergency, Profile etc.
- They really are the dons!
- Early Chicago house. Labels like Trax.
- Carl Cox. Has been a huge inspiration to me throughout my career. His consistency to rock the house is amazing!
- Laurent Garnier. One of the true artists with a very open minded palate in his sets. He does not care about trends, hypes, and just does what he wants. I really respect that.
Where and when are you playing next?
My next gig will be next weekend in Nancy, France. I summertime I try to tour mostly only inside Europe as there is so much going on. I am however planning on coming to Australia in September J.