Progressive-Sounds: The "As Long as the Moment Exists" remix package is undoubtedly a major project on your end. Could you describe the process of arrangement and execution?
Chris Fortier:I think originally, from the moment when I first sort of had my album done around the end of 2006, when I finished all the songs and we started selecting the one's that were going to be included in the album in its original form, I had thought we would do a remix like this. This is sort of a vision that I had for the album.
I really wanted to have the album released and stand on its own, and not be something like many artists or labels try to do with these kinds of things with releasing singles, remixing the singles and have those remixes come out at the same time. Doing the album I wanted to do was a growing process for me as a producer, moving into a new area as an artist and making an album, not just club tracks or singles. I wanted to grow into something more than that. So the idea was really to put the album out and have it stand on its own two feet without having a crutch of other remixers. After it ran its course, and we did everything we did with promoting it, and I toured on it, we would have interpretations after the fact come in.
Due to a lot of the things that had happened music industry wise over the last year, it's taken this long to kind of get together, as we started working on it last October or November with putting stuff together, putting the ideas together, and starting to reach out to people.
In choosing people to do mixes, it really comes from picking people that I really like, and artists that I'm supporting in my own sets, rather than just picking somebody because they're really popular or sell more records. It was purely to find guys who were doing things I liked, who I thought who could give a fresh take on the music itself, and that basically is how it all grew from that point. I try to find music that's exciting to me, and find music that I want to play.When I'm making music or choosing records to put out for the label, I'm signing things that I like, not things that are going to sell or have some type of marketability to them.
Hopefully when I'm DJing, I can put it together in a way that creates an interest for the people listening. When I'm making music or choosing records to put out for the label, I'm signing things that I like, not things that are going to sell or have some type of marketability to them. If we sell 1000 records, great, but if we sell none, that is still ok. I'm doing this because I like the music and I want to be involved with this artist or with the music that I'm making." I have to be content with the music I am making and not for someone else.
Progressive-Sounds: You mentioned that some of the remixes in this package hail from some of your all time heroes. Did having some of these people you hold in high esteem apply their touches to your music enhance the experience of putting this package together?
Chris Fortier:Well, I think that over the last few years I've become more friendly with people and met people along the way that I sort of looked up to or were inspirational to me musically. Getting to that level with these guys has been an eye opening experience. You never really think that someone you hold in such high regard would be into your music, and when you find out they are, it's a nice surprise. To be able to have them work on a project has been great. Everything I've been doing musically is part of a continual growth, and I'm just continuing to try to reach out and expand everything that I'm doing with each project. With each piece of music that I'm writing, I've been fortunate enough to expand into meeting people that I never thought I would have met. Every day becomes more gratifying than then the next.
Progressive-Sounds: Are there are any remixes in particular that you find to be especially interesting?
Chris Fortier:There's kind of a wide array of remixers and with different sounds. At first, I was letting people choose their own song, and we started to fine tune that a little bit more. But they're all different. Some things are very surprising and some are just what you were hoping for. In terms of guys that I didn't have any kind of relationship with before, who we e-mailed and said 'hey, I'm a fan of your stuff, would you like to do a mix?' like Joey Beltram, Ink and Needle, Pheek or Error Error, they came back pretty gung ho about it and turned in great mixes. But because we have a wide spectrum of things, there are all different kinds of ranges, and I'm not sure if there's anything that sort of jumps out over everything else. But everything's really solid.
Progressive-Sounds: So you expect a pretty broad stylistic range?
Chris Fortier:I'm a fan of having people delivering something new and fresh. I like a range, or an evolution from the first track to the last, not just collections of stuff where everything is just straight on in your face clubby tracks. That's just one facet of making albums, and I like to have things that can ebb and flow. Of course, that's something that you're hopeful for, but you never know until you get the mixes in. But there is going to be a variation that can give you that up and down that almost every kind of artist tries to have, regardless as to what type of music they make.
Progressive-Sounds: Have any promotional copies of these remixes seen their way into the boxes of major acts?
Chris Fortier:It's still pretty early, but there's been some stuff that's gone out, although I couldn't tell you how often they're getting played. But Josh Wink, FK, Sven Vath, Richie Hawtin, John Digweed, and Sasha have been sent some things here and there. I don't really know yet if anything has really grabbed anybody, but we'll know in the next few weeks. But those guys have only gotten a couple of things so far, and there's still things coming in. There's over 20 different remixes, and it's going to be kind of an extensive kind of thing with two, three, maybe four remixes as part of an EP, which will be released on both vinyl and digital. Vinyl is obviously an important thing for me when I'm doing a record of any kind, as I want it to be on vinyl because I'm almost all vinyl myself.
Progressive-Sounds: Do you intend to have this remix project lend to further touring on your end?
Chris Fortier: I play almost every weekend as it stands, but when you do a bigger project like an album or mix album, there's a little more focus on the touring, or the promotion of the tour and its routing. What we'd like to see happen, and what's in the works, is doing dates and then coupling up with some of the other remixers from other countries. We'd couple up with some of the guys from Spain, for example, and then maybe have the guys in Spain do a date or two with me. We'd do the same with the guys from Germany or Australia, and we'd just be getting people on board wherever they're located.
Progressive-Sounds: Ultimately, what relationship do you hope to forge between the remix package and the original artist album? Do you view this as supplementary material to the album, or perhaps something that breathes further life into what you intended to do from the get-go?
Chris Fortier:I think, for sure, it will reignite the album. I was really pleased with the feedback, reviews, and all the responses that came from the initial album. Obviously, making something like this with all my heart and soul is very personal, so you hope people will like it, but of course you never know if they do. But to have all the positive things that came back is very nice, and makes you feel good about where you're going. You try your best to reach out as far as you can with getting the album out to people, and for people who might have missed it or passed it over the first time because they either didn't like it or get it, maybe this will give them an opportunity to go back and listen to the original versions again if they liked the remixes. It might make them say, "you know what, I like that now. I didn't quite understand or get it at the time, but I get it now." But yeah, I think both things. I want to be able to have a fresh look at what I've done because I was really pleased and proud of how it all came together, and obviously I want to just push it into another level, trying to reach even more people.
Progressive-Sounds: What are your thoughts on DJs creating "artist albums?"
Chris Fortier: Well, there's always this perception of there being this great divide between being a DJ and a producer, like 'oh man, this producer is now a DJ, he's getting gigs that he wasn't before, and how unfair that is.' Then there's the other side of it being 'this guy's a DJ, now he's trying to make music.' What's the problem with making albums?For me to continue to grow and not just be stagnant, I wanted to make something that had full scope of all the things I'm into - all the music and influences that I have.
For me, I've been making and playing music since I was very little, and I had made singles, 12", and club records for years. For me to continue to grow and not just be stagnant, I wanted to make something that had full scope of all the things I'm into - all the music and influences that I have. No one complains about a rock band, saying 'well, they play live, but how come they made an album?"
It's what's done, it's what happens. It's kind of a strange kind of thing. If the guy is great at what he's doing, then it doesn't matter. At the end of the day, it comes out to how good the music is, and when that music is really good, the DJ tag is really pointless. No one's saying anything to Richie Hawtin or Matthew Dear, saying 'they're DJs, how dare they make an artist album.' People like their music, and it's just an album. It's just very selfish of anyone to close someone out from doing something just because of some kind of tag or label.
Progressive-Sounds: You've had the privilege of getting three discs for the esteemed Balance series. What are your thoughts on massive compilations such as that? Do you feel it's integral to recreate a club atmosphere like Lee Burridge, or incorporate many different styles a la Jimmy van M?
Chris Fortier: Well, It seems the three disc thing has had a resurgence since mine, but my Balance release didn't start with three discs. It started out with two discs, which was what most people were doing, but I couldn't fit everything I was trying to do into two discs, and I was just struggling and struggling to force it in. At one point I called EQ and asked if I could do a third disc. They paused, and asked what I had in mind, but they didn't say no. And from that point, that was all I needed; I just needed one little inch, and that sort of allowed me to have my vision. I mean, I could make 20 discs. I've been buying, collecting, and playing records for around 17 years now, so I have a plethora of music to draw from.
Progressive-Sounds: Yeah, it was officially released as a 'bonus disc.'
Chris Fortier:Yeah, and I'll tell you what, the only reason it was a bonus disc was because we didn't want the price of the CD to be too high. We kept it as a bonus disc so it could be sold as a two disc set, so we were essentially giving it more value. Otherwise, no one would buy it, as it would have been 40 dollars or something, which is outrageous.
Progressive-Sounds: You mentioned that the third disc to that release contained an authentic representation of electro, distinguishing it between much of electro's latest incarnations, which you had some pretty harsh remarks towards. Could you give us some of your thoughts on the interest electro had been generating lately, and how you feel it's different from the electro you would otherwise promote?
Chris Fortier:"Electro House" is just another one of those genre names that somebody came up with to call something else. I can't even tell you that it has any correlation to real electro and the history of where it all comes from. The way I see it, what people refer to as electro house is essentially just the new version of progressive house. It's just a little bit more of a re-hash with one little sound that's sort of indicative of what some people would consider that type of record. Years ago, I never would have thought that I would have to clarify that, but now even if you just say "electro," people will assume you're playing one of these records, and I can't even name anyone off the top of my head who makes these records at this point. But when I spoke about the third disc, it basically stems from what the real electro sound was originally all about; mid 80's, Beat Street Detroit, Miami Bass, and what the German's sort of evolved from Kraftwerk and on. It doesn't sort of link to what people would call and consider electro these days.I do think that a lot of these current flavor genres can be found over many different years, but with slightly different name tags.
I do think that a lot of these current flavor genres can be found over many different years, but with slightly different name tags. They've added a BPM here, a BPM there, but you could find these records minus one little sound 10 years ago- and that was called house [laughter].
For me, it's all house music. I don't really like to get into any name calling or genrefication- all it does is put things in little boxes and alienate people who think they like only thing from maybe hearing something that may inspire them and grab their ears. People should judge from what their ears tell them and now from what they see on paper.
Progressive-Sounds: Genrefication, as you say, appears to be an especially tedious matter today, as there's so much overlap with nothing really conveniently fitting into certain genres the way they may have done many years ago. ?
Chris Fortier: Yes, and I hope people see that. The best DJs in the world have never played only one thing. For me, it's all about building energy within a set and not about "oh, I play a couple of house records, and a couple of minimal records, and a couple of progressive records;" you take the music where it takes you, where you think it's going to go.
Progressive-Sounds: As a DJ and producer, have you ever undergone any notable stylistic shifts, and would you ever consider returning to the world of breaks, as your compilation "Atmospheric breaks" was a fantastic and emotionally charged release?
Chris Fortier: I would never limit myself to say that I'm never going to play certain records. I never know where music will go and take me, as I'm constantly in search of new music. You never know, one odd record could start a whole movement. But I really can't say I've noticed any new trends recently - there's always a fluctuation between things. Even guys who are known for being sort of in one camp are always ever expanding and trying different things, or have an alias where they make a different kind of music. I think the most important thing we all have to try to do and remember is to keep trying to expand and push yourself. If you're making music, try to keep experimenting and push yourself into new areas so that the music will grow and expand, because that's where we really need to be. There probably was stagnant period in around the early 2000s, but I think the music has been invigorated again over the last few years especially, and it's not necessarily due to one movement or style of music that's grabbed hold. I also think the care-free attitude of clubbing came back, which is what clubbing is supposed to be about, rather than this serious, head down, marketing, sell everything, make money approach. It needs to get back to having fun, listening to music, partying with your friends, and that's what I think we've seen over the past couple of years. Wherever the music is going to go, we just hope that the people who are contributing to the growth of the music are contributing to a sincere growth, not just try to capitalize on something. I would say, however, that there will always be an underground, regardless for whether or not it's the most popular sound of the day- there will always be an alternative to that, and that's what music lovers need to continue to try to seek out to the best of their ability. In terms of "Atmospherics," that CD kind of came about by accident. Streetbeat, the label out of Miami that actually released it, are known for being a Miami Bass or breakbeats sound label. We had done a breaks mix version of one my tracks called "No Resolve," and I had sent it to them, which they included on one of their compilations. The guy called me and said that they had never heard anything like this, and that they were mostly doing things that were non-vocal, or that weren't as atmospheric. I said that there was a whole bunch of this kind of stuff out there, and he said 'well, why don't you make us a mix?'I would never limit myself to say that I'm never going to play certain records.
I could have easily sat back and said, you know what, I'm going to include a couple of tracks and do my normal thing, but this label would have probably not known what to do with it, as they were primarily in the whole breakbeat world. In the essence of just keeping on theme with the label and what they wanted to do, I just did it. It was obviously something I was hesitant to do, as at the time, I was thinking "I hope that people don't think I'm going to just show up and play breaks," and that sound was growing and growing. I'm really happy with the album, and it's not something that I would say I don't want to be associated with because I don't play breaks. As with anything, I sat down with a vision of what I wanted to do, and how to make something that sounded great from beginning to end. My original concept was to do a series of CDs, with this one being on that musical theme, and then doing more, but it never really came together in doing further CDs with the label.
Progressive-Sounds: Did you notice people starting to pigeon-hole you as a breaks DJ after that release?
Chris Fortier: I was afraid someone would, but not really. I do kind of get "I love your Atmospherics CD" and "oh, are you going to play breaks tonight?" Well, I never really ever played them exclusively. At that time, there were a lot of those records, like the early Hybrid things that I would play at the end of a set, or hit at the right moment of a set. But there was never a time in my whole life when I walked in somewhere and it was two hours of breaks.
Progressive-Sounds: Some people are rather resentful towards the idea of remixing a "classic." Do you have any thoughts as to whether or not certain tracks are untouchable, or that remixing is appropriate given the right conditions?
Chris Fortier:I definitely think it's appropriate given the right conditions. I wouldn't say that any track is untouchable, but I would say that there are a great number of records where you have to tread very carefully when choosing the person to do it. You can't just choose some guy because he's popular, or you think he's going to do his thing, because sometimes that just ruins it all. But if you can find someone who truly has an alternative look at it, and that comes from maybe knowing what that remixer's pedigree is, you can hope that they would turn in something really special, giving a fresh new look on something. So I don't think it's impossible, but depending upon the song, you have to carefully ensure that you choose right.
Progressive-Sounds: Do you have any remixes line up this year?
Chris Fortier: I did 24 last year, so a lot of that stuff is starting to come out now. Some of the more special one's are the one's I've done for friend's that make completely different music. For example, I did one for Steve Porter's new single, which is completely different than any of the other mixes. I basically wrote an entirely new song, taking tiny little pieces of his track, which are barely in there. But I was really pleased with that, and it's a little bit of a different vibe for me. But some of the people who have done stuff for my remix album are people that I'm going to repay by doing remixes for them, like things for John Selway, or Patrick Zigon. I did a lot of remixes between hotel's and airport lounges being back at my studio, and it's something that i want to continue to do because it allows me to really do a lot of unique experiments with some things and ideas that I might not have normally done.
Progressive-Sounds: Just about everyone today seems to have a devoted compilation series. Do you foresee yourself having a consistently released mix comp at some point?
Chris Fortier: It's something that I've been talking about with EQ, but I'm not sure. It's something I would like to do, though I don't know if I'm going to do as many as Digweed's "Transitions". I would like to have something that could be a cornerstone for what I'm doing. I've done so many mix CDs, and although they're great to have, you can only go so far with those. At the end of the day, making original music is something that I'll be able to do for the rest of my life, whether or not it's ever released, and it's just something I enjoy doing. It's a creative outlet that I want to be involved with, so I see doing more artist albums and developing myself in that matter much more than concentrating on a mix CD. But at this particular juncture, there will definitely be more mix albums to come in the next few years for sure.
Progressive-Sounds: Do you find your most gratifying work to come out of the production studio?
Chris Fortier:To a certain degree. It's true, because you go from an idea that you have in a Taxi for a bassline or something, and you go from nothing to something. So that is what's really gratifying, but the way that I approach mix set CDs, it's almost like producing something anyway. I put so much effort into them, probably more effort than I've heard in a lot of other CD mixes out there. I mean, I spent six months working on the Balance album, so I'm trying to craft something really special, and grow something unique from whatever I did before. The Balance album is definitely a step above the Bedrock album, and the Bedrock album is a step above the albums before that in terms of all the effort and attention to detail that I put into those mixes. Because the Balance album took so long, it felt like making my own thing, and I imagine that the next mix CD will probably as involved, if not more. There's so many people making mix CDs, and so many people making just live mixes that go on some podcast or radio show, that it's important for me to take the extra time and effort and really make something unique, making it different from everything else that I and others have done before.
Progressive-Sounds: Your Balance installment was very well received, though of course people seem to hold every Balance comp relative to Holden's 005 as a standard of evaluation.
Chris Fortier: That's probably where the series got its legs, really. Interestingly, at the time in which I was approached to do a Balance comp, I had my own company called Balance Record Pool that I was running. EQ had a series called Balance, and when they released the first one, I said, hey, you know I have a company called Balance, right? They said "oh, our series is called Balance, but our label isn't." They kept asking me if I'd like to do one, and I kept thinking that it's going to be ultra confusing, and I kind of just put it off a little bit. They kept going with the releases, and when it got to James, it was standing on its own, and had become a worldwide release that wasn't tied into anything else. That's when I could see that it had its own identity. They had said to me at first "we'll put a sticker on your CD saying that this Balance has nothing to do with your Balance," but I thought that just wasn't a good thing. But once I saw that James had done his, and that it was such a great and special mix that people were really responding to, I thought that now I can do something without there being this automatic connection to Balance Record Pool. Unfortunately, I still think it happened. I've seen a few places here and there where people are going "doesn't he own Balance?", or "who is doing the next one?" Obviously, that comes from that little bit of confusion, but I'm okay with it at this point now.
Progressive-Sounds: But you're happy with your decision to do a Balance album?
Chris Fortier: Oh, for sure. Working with EQ was one of the greatest experiences that I've had. I'd always had little problems or issues with every compilation for whatever reason- there was always one little thing that sort of hung something up. But these guys that run the label never said no to me,they wanted to do anything I wanted to do, embraced every idea I had, ran with it, and made things happen. There were never any limitations, and that's why they were the first people I went to when I had made my artist album. Those are the kinds of people I want to work with; people who have a vision for music, and not about the bottom line of how many records they can sell, or how much you're going to tour to promote the album, with that as a factor.
Progressive-Sounds: A lot of people draw a distinction between Balance and Fabric, and Global Underground, saying that GU relies heavily upon marketing while the former emphasizes talent more than anything else.
Chris Fortier: With Balance series, in the beginning, their selection stems from who they have at their disposal, especially in the beginning. They obviously couldn't go to Sasha or Digweed and get a compilation from them. But now they've realized that is something that works for them as well, and Fabric is of course in a league of their own, who were happy to sell their CDs mail order, although it's great that they're now being sold in stores throughout the world.
Progressive-Sounds: With the completion of your artist album and remix project, what's the next step from here?
Chris Fortier: I think just trying to continue to grow, as an artist or a simple human being. Just continue to seek out and develop new ideas and inspirations on a personal and professional level. Everything comes back to DJing as for me, which is what was doing well before I made my first record. But my hope is to continue to make artist albums, which is the part of my professional career that I want to grow. It won't stop for me, even if I retire from DJing. I grew up listening to all kinds of music, and I would like to continue to grow myself as a musician. That's definitely a huge part of what my future will entail.