We caught up with trance producer Chris Grabiec to find out about his career and his forthcoming album ‘Pride and Honour’
First off, how did you get into DJing and producing?
I first started clubbing in the early 90’s and from my very first night out I was immediately impressed by the Djs. I was very young and to be really honest I was in total awe. I knew that’s what I wanted to do so I bought some decks, learnt how to mix and used to spend all my money on records. I then hustled my way into working weekends at a record shop based in Kingston-upon-Thames called Slamming Vinyl and all the guys that worked there had produced records. I realised that this was the next natural step so I got in contact with Bradley Carter (Ruff Driverz) and went on to make several tracks.
Was working at Slammin Vinyl record shop a solid education for a young Grabiec?
I think working at Slammin Vinyl definitely helped. Back in the day there was no internet and the only real way to get close to the scene was to try and network face to face. There were a few magazines that you could get information from but otherwise getting industry knowledge was quite difficult so being around the main players I learnt a lot. Visiting different studios also helped me with obtaining advice on production techniques etc. These days you have all sorts of web-sites and social network sites where you have everything you need at your fingertips.
Tell us a bit about the new album “Pride and Honour”
I took a long break from producing/djing and only started again in early 2009. After releasing a number of singles throughout 2010 I though there were so many new artists these days producing singles so rather than be totally lost in an already saturated market I decided to produce an album instead which I thought would be much more meaningful so I locked myself away for most of 2010 writing and producing Pride and Honour. The album has 18 tracks and its meant to progress like a dj set starting with the first track at 132 bpm and increases in tempo to the last tracks which are 140bpm. I have also brought some other music genres into the album including breakbeat and dubstep. You will also find remixes of two of my favourite tracks from 2009 “Guardian Angel” and “Rescue Me” as well as “Heart of Fire” and “Salvation” which I already released as singles but decided to include them as they are great tracks
We heard that you went to Amsterdam to film the video of “Protected”. How was that?
“Protected” was written in summer 2010 and is my 4th Collaboration with Christina Nicola. I really loved the track and wanted to do something special with a track featured on my album so I decided to invest in a music video.
Christina and I flew to Amsterdam and filmed the video in November when it was absolutely freezing and the day that we arrived there just happened to a storm and it rained all day. We visited different locations in Amsterdam city centre to get the shots. The end result was amazing and the bad weather actually added to the atmosphere of the video. I only have a very small cameo role at the end. We had a fun time and a great experience!
This album has been a long time coming, but you wrote and produced it quite quickly, tell us about how you made the tunes.
I do all my writing at my home studio in West London. When I have written the track to a suitable stage I take the project to Nat Clarkson’s NJC studio in Suffolk where together we produce the track to completion. Nat is responsible for mixing my tracks and not only is he is an amazing producer he is also is a top class mix engineer, a real talent with an excellent ear for detail! We don’t mix tracks internally we mix externally through Nat’s TL Audio mixing desk which gives a much superior balanced sound. Finally when the mix is right I send the mixed version to be mastered by Stuart Hawkes at Metropolis who puts that finishing touch to the track. We have a very slick process which has been fine tuned over the last 2 years and I can map out how production will work. I’ve started working on my second album now which I will write in the same way but we will mix it in one of the pro studios towards the end of the year.
Can you tell us a bit about the collaborations in the album?
My main collaborations have been with Christina Nicola on the tracks Protected, Heart of Fire and Salvation. A talented guitarist “Mr Lee” provided the live guitar on the first track of the album (Also called Pride and Honour). “Guardian Angel” was a collaboration with Raechel Waldon. We wrote the song together on this one about 2 years ago and it was my very first released single. I wanted to bring the production up to date so decided to remix it. I also remixed “Rescue Me” where Philip Browne provided his vocal talents. Last but not least there is “Remember Forever” whichI co wrote with Roza Smart. All of these artists come from different musical backgrounds which is cool as I feel that is a positive thing to introduce great new talent to the trance scene.
It must be a relief to be able to concentrate on music full time yeah?
I’ve only just started working on music full time. I had been working as an operations manager within the healthcare industry and left my last role just recently. This is something I had been doing for almost 15 years so it’s been a big change for me. I found working a full time job and then on music in the evenings and weekends was quite tough as I was literally spending all my time either at the office, in my studio writing music or at Nat Clarkson’s studio producing and mixing the tracks which left little time for anything else but now I feel very relaxed and so much happier concentrating on music full time! I feel my sound is getting better and better and that is due to having the extra time to work on tracks and do this when I’m relaxed rather than a few hours here and there. I have a project open all day and can work on that in amongst doing other tasks without the additional pressure.
You’ve got the album launch coming up on the 1st of April at Juju in Chelsea, excited?
I’m really exited about the launch night! I get to have everyone under one roof at the same time.
I know the Chelsea bars very well and I thought JuJu would be ideal place to have a party. It’s also going to be the first time I get to play out for over 10 years so I’m really looking forward to that. I have a 3hr set planned and will play a selection of tracks from the album and also some of my new tracks. Its gonna be a rokin night with a load of cool people and for me a real celebration after all the hard work that has gone into the production of Pride and Honour.
What is it that you love about Trance music?
It’s got all the elements I like about dance music and I fell in love with it from the first time I heard it! It touches me like no other music can. I love it all from the progressive slower tracks at 130bpm to the driving ones at 140bpm.The production in trance is very intricate and every developing so I’m constantly working in developing my sound to make bigger and better tracks. Also the atmosphere at the events is awesome. It’s such a friendly music and the fans follow it like it’s a religion.
What is the best rave / club night that you remember?
I have had countless nights out in Amnesia (Ibiza). I have been going to Ibiza for well over 15 years now and for some reason Amnesia is the club that always sticks in my mind. It was about 2 years ago at Cream. I was there with my closest friends and family members and the music just worked all night and the atmosphere was amazing. It was a crazy night from start to finish!
I’ve always got something to get up for these days so I don’t really get the chance to go out as much anymore but I am sure I will make time for a few party nights out this year.
What would be your dream gig to (a) play? and (b) bear witness to?
To play it’s got to be “Energy” in Holland. The production at these events is simply amazing and it’s a huge crowd so for me to be included in that line up would be one of my life time dreams. Bear witness to…..hmmmmmm. I guess to have all my favourite clubs/ events under one roof and then have the time and energy to enjoy each one. You could be in the Amnesia arena and then walk next door to Ministry of Sound arena and then into mainstage at Energy arena etc…huge productions, amazing sounds and epic lightshows!!!!
If you were stranded on a desert island with one record deck, a speaker, and one record, what would you want the record to be?
“Miss You” by Simon Patterson…this is an amazing party track that I never get bored of.
For more information about Chris – or to hear some tracks – drop us a line at Raw News.