Rod B. & Alvaro Garfunk bring you the Miami Underground Movement\
Born in Stockholm, the DJ/producer has spent the last decade working relentlessly
to bring his amalgamation of funky house and tribal techno to a global platform.
Although Swedish by birth,
Christian spent much of
his youth in Frankfurt, Germany,where his father was stationed as a pilot,
and this turn fate played an unexpected role in determining his musical
was the early eighties and the music at the time was early electro,
soul, funk and late disco music. Groups like The SOS Band, Newcleus,
funk bands like Cameo and tracks like Fade To Grey by Visage had a huge
influence on Christian. Although his older brother and sister would
bring home the dj mix tapes from the big clubs, with music from the pre
house days. This is what Christian turned on to.
time Christian had turned fourteen, he looked old enough to get into
the clubs himself and became, by his own admission, "a manic train
spotter." Frequenting Sven Vaths Dorian Grey residency, this club had a
big effect on Christian. He went to the clubs for the music and to
check out the DJ's.
If Dorian Grey was Smiths introduction to the
realms of electronic music, then it would be his experiences in another
of dance music's capital cities that would help mould and solidify
Christians deeply entrenched love for club music.
Moving to New York in 1989, Christian discovered that, running parallel
to its high profile house community, the city that never sleeps also
had a thriving techno scene. All the early techno clubs had started in
New York, with Joey Beltram at The Limelight and soon afterwards Jeff
After finishing high school in 1992, Christian moved to Washington DC
to study international business at university and, in his spare time
started DJing. He never dreamt DJing would become his career. Smith
nonetheless started playing at big raves in Washington and Baltimore,
spinning to audiences of between 500 and 3,000 people. Lets not forget,
this was the early nineties, and his choice of music was somewhat
different to his trademark funky techno and house fusion, as it was the
hard trance and techno days. He was playing tracks on labels like
Harthouse, R&S and Music Man.
Unsurprisingly, given the nature of dance music's loosely defined early
nineties status, Smiths first record Overdose as Neuromancer, came out
on in 1992 on a label called Music Now, only for the imprint to release
a follow up record by none other than BTs Embrace The Future. Back then
Christian was already making house infused techno, probably less
structured and not as well produced as nowadays.
Indeed, Christians earliest DJing experiences also played a definitive
role in his future work, as he first met regular collaborator John
Selway in 1993. Selway, who was playing the same rave circuit as
Christian at this time was also working in New Yorks renowned Satellite
Records store, the place where Smith, who was still based in
Washington, would order his tunes from. John and Christian connected
musically and therefore decided to hook up and make some tracks and the
Smith and Selway sound was born.
In 1994, Christian set up the Tronic label, and, despite releasing
three well-received records, put the label on hold until three years
later, in 1997. Christian put the label on hold, as he was still a full
time university student in Washington. By '97 he felt really inspired
by DJing and the music that this prompted him to get working seriously
with his label TRONIC. However, on completing his studies, Christian
started to go to New York more frequently to collaborate with John
Selway. Subsequently putting out collaborative EPs on Dave Angels
Rotation label and Primate, Smiths own 1997 release, Goldrush the
fourth release on Tronic also caused a serious reaction, this was the
point everything took off. Tronic became a popular label and Goldrush
got licensed all over the place. It was a really hard disco house tune
that DJs like Sneak picked up on and it was also the first time a lot
of people reacted to one of his releases. DJs like Carl Cox and Dave
Angel, people who were my idols in the early days really supported it.
It did so well that every month Christian had to press up more copies!
Back in Stockholm, Smith noticed that the demand for his tightly mixed,
three decks DJing had increased and was booked to play all over Europe
and beyond. In an interesting parallel development to Christians
heightened profile, the latter part of the nineties saw Swedish
producers like Adam Beyer, Joel Mull and Cari Lekebusch also attain an
international following. From 1997 to 1999, the Swedish sound was
really hyped. Christian comes from a different background, from a funk
and soul background. A point Christian feels strongly about, and is
quick to detach himself from any notions of purism. Adamant that he was
listening to house before techno, he also points out that, way back in
1994, when he set up Tronic, he encountered some resistance from his
distributors because he wanted to release material that was somewhere
in between house and techno. The distributors advised to
produce/release house or techno as it would sell better, but something
in between wasn’t going to work," Christian feels that history has
proved him right. As much as Christian dislikes the term, Tronic was
one of the first tech-house labels, music that house and techno DJs
could play; Christian calls his style housey techno!
his newfound success, Christian didn't rest on his laurels, and, for
rest of the nineties, he focused on DJing, producing and remixing as
much as possible. Releasing more EPs on Tronic, Intec and Primevil, the
Swedish DJ says that though one of his releases, Vanguard caught the
attention and support of BBC Radio 1 DJ Pete Tong, he had to keep
working as hard as ever. The really big crossover records like Move!,
on Intec and the releases on labels like Rotation and Intec opened up
his work to a lot of people.
While there's no doubt
that Christians distinctive work injected a much-needed sense of funk
back into techno, he made it accessible to a wider audience. His DJing
is of an exceptionally high standard; Smiths willingness to travel to
literally every country in the globe has been another determining
factor in his ascendance.
Christian very much enjoys Asia and Eastern Europe as his favorite new
places to play in. On a recent South East Asia tour, successful dates
were achieved in South Korea, Kuala Lumpur and Ministry Of Sound in
Bangkok. Japan is a place were Christian has a large following due to
the rocking sets at Womb in Tokyo.
While Smiths releases ensured his bookings continued to soar, the
Swedish DJ/producer identifies the release of his first major mix CD,
Tronic Treatment as another turning point in his career. Weighing in at
twenty eight tracks and recorded live in Australia on three decks, the
smooth mix moves from funky house through to dubby, rolling tech-house,
into pulsating techno. In fact, as things get faster, his selection
becomes more varied, with the brooding electro of Umeks Zeta Reticula,
the dark bass powered tones of Adam Beyers Remainings and Deetrons A1
before ending with the deep, Detroit stylings of James Ruskins mix of
Metier. It’s one of the most compelling, hand raising, foot stamping
interpretations of modern house and techno of recent years, and its no
surprise that Christians profile was raised by the mix. His sense of
diversity and unwillingness to adhere to one dimension is an ethic
Christian believes is inherent in the worlds finest DJs. Christian was
most inspired by Carl Cox and Laurent Garnier. Although both DJ’s are
quite different what Christian saw in Carl was the ability to mix
continuously between three turntables, and create that musical fusion.
Special Thanks to Hugo B & Christian Smith!!!!!!