Piknic Electronik #5 – Interview with Christian Vance

PE Interview with Christian Vance photo

Originally born and bred in Melbourne, Christian Vance is now residing in the electronic music mecca Berlin where he spends most days producing or playing live shows around Europe. His career highlights include being invited by Derrick May to collaborate on a remix project for the movie Tekkonkinkreet in Carl Craig’s Detroit studio. Vance is also running his own imprint Haul Music with local hero Mike Callander where his second release was released on Carl Cox’s Global Underground compilation (#38 Black Rock Desert). This Valentine’s Sunday at Piknic Electronik the live techno DJ is coming back to town. 

Vance also remixed Parisian, Etienne Jaumet of Zombie Zombie fame on classic French label, Versatile. One of the more recent 12” offerings on his own label was praised by Resident Advisor featuring a classic remix by British legend Kirk Degiorgio. In 2013 he released the 12” EP “Uneasy Me” on Aril Brikha’s Art of Vengeance record label with a remix by Aril himself.

Coming from a background in classical music, what made you transition into electronic music?

I dabbled in classical voice as a teenager but came from a home where early rock and roll reigned supreme. My Dad was in a band during the 60’s in Melbourne. I also played and studied guitar from an early age too. My Uncle was studying in Switzerland in the late 80’s around the time house and techno music started to become prevalent in the clubs; he was inspired by the new sounds and promptly bought a synthesiser to play when he returned to Melbourne. I commandeered that synth in 1994 after having bought my first Underground Resistance record a couple of years before. Not long after I was dancing to Laurent Garnier in a big warehouse. The rest is hopefully self explanatory!

You’re first and foremost known for your live shows, but what came first, playing live shows or DJing?

Well, not that I was DJing at 14, but the first records were purchased when I was pretty fresh. We (my previous band mates from Phunk dE Sonique) used to finish school and head to Prahran and the city to buy records from Central Station, Octave, and several other stores that were stocking quality new dance music. We didn’t really know anybody in the scene or industry at that age but wanted to make the music ourselves. Alongside the Korg synth from my Uncle we bought a sampler, a Roland Juno 106 from Jeff Tyler (who ended up booking us for our first gig) and started making our own jams that could be coherently strung together for an hour or so. Friends of ours were DJing more but we loved to make our own music. On a professional level the live shows came first but we were all mixing records like crazy back then. I continued that energy performing alone but I was booked occasionally to DJ before I ever performed the live stuff solo.

What’s the best thing about living in Berlin as a DJ and artist?

I think the “as a DJ and artist” part of the question is really the key to the most succinct answer. You don’t have to travel that far to get most stuff done! Most European gigs are only an hour or two flight away. Proximity to all other artists, equipment, ideas, attitude. In the thick of it, so to speak.

Do you miss Melbourne at all? Are you planning on moving back home at some point?

Loaded question. Family and friends might be reading this so I’ll say just this. I miss them the most. I have friends and family in Europe too though so that keeps any homesickness at bay for the most part. There are no plans at this stage to move back. There’s too much happening and in the pipeline right now too even contemplate that.

What artist(s) are inspiring you the most at the moment?

This is always a tough one. I was recently reorganising all my music that I DJ with and realised that there are a few artists that always seem to be much more visible and represented. Mr. G and I:Cube are two artists that always surface when I listen to and order music. When I play a little heavier, music from the likes of Truncate and, more recently, DJ Spider seem to pop out. The artists where hypnotic rhythm, musicality and technology merge in a way that just gels with how I like to see a dance floor moving. What’s been inspiring me the last few weeks though is the entire back catalogue of Roxy Music! Brian Ferry’s voice cuts through a Berlin winter like a hot knife through butter.

Which club is your favourite place to play at in Berlin and why?

Another loaded question! Honestly, like everywhere on earth, it goes on a gig by gig basis for me. There are no favourites when I think back over the last few years. The hype is always in the moment for me. There are many good clubs in this city to play. I’ve been resident at a party series called “Away” that has taken place in several venues in the city, many times at About Blank. As we are working very closely with several key artists and making records together – these parties are where it’s at right now for me.

How long will you be staying in Australia this time? Have you planned any fun activities while you’re here down under?

It never feels long enough. A few weeks this time. I think the fun activities will be playing the gigs and being invited to some summer barbecues! My body needs to convert some vitamin D!

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Catch Christian Vance play at Piknic Electronik this Sunday at The Paddock alongside the two great local crews Cut Copy DJs, Slomotion (Phil K, Darius Bassiray, Ozzy LA). More information about the event can be found on the Facebook event page.

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