For this edition of BulletCast we are honored to feature Tronic label owner, leading techno artist and family man, Christian Smith. His career reflects nothing but success and constant innovation and we got to chat with him about what it takes to be a leader in the industry. I can honestly tell you through our conversation that this man has a true passion for his work while maintaining quite a humble composure.
After “Input/Output” was released you embarked on a pretty intense tour spanning over 20 different countries. A lot of people think touring can be glamorous, can you tell us about the realities of having such an intense schedule?
It really depends. I feel that I am privileged getting to do this for a living. I get to fly all over the world, see so many interesting people, eat great food, play fantastic gigs. But yes, like you said, it can also be very tough. Last year I was gone for about 200 days traveling. And I have a family, I have small kids so it’s very difficult to balance everything. But I love what I do. Thankfully my wife is very supportive and I really can't complain.
How do you keep that balance with your family? Being able to spend quality time with them as well as your career?
Well, when I’m home I’m pretty much just home for my family and when I’m traveling and working I still keep in contact with them. Thank god for WhatsApp video and Skype. My father was a pilot when I was a kid and he was gone for weeks at a time but he could only make one phone call in a week. Now, thanks to technology, I can talk to my family every day.
With all of the genres of electronic music these days what draws you towards techno and how do you think that has helped you become successful?
One thing I've always loved about techno is the raw energy and the fact that it constantly evolves. As a musician and producer, I always look to change and look to be challenged. And this is one thing I really get with techno, whereas other electronic styles may not provide this for me as much. So why am I successful? I don’t know, maybe because I am passionate, I work hard and maybe a little bit of talent doesn’t hurt either.
Was there any major influence that drew you to that?
I have the same influences as many people have. Many people would say Kraftwerk and that’s the case with me as well. But basically a lot of early electro and lots of funk and soul music as well actually. I grew up listening to a lot of 80’s late disco and that has really influenced me a lot.
Having a good team, being a good team player and having a really good assistant that works for me. She does a fantastic job. And being organized and passionate about what you do. If you do what you love for a living it’s not really hard work.
What is it like working with Richie Hawtin during the "Enter" events you hold a yearly guest spot on?
Richie and I go way back, I’ve known him for 15 years, maybe 20 years. We run into each other all the time at festivals. I’ve also released on his label, Minus, so there’s a mutual respect and it’s really nice that he constantly invites me to play at his “Enter” events. I actually have a festival with him next month in Guatemala and the month after in the States at Lightning in a Bottle, it's on the West Coast. It’s just nice to work with you peers, it’s good fun.
Do you remember how you two first met?
I don’t remember the first time, but I do remember the first time he was next to me at a gig. This was early in my career, he was already famous, and I was closing a stage at a big festival. And he was already finished and was just checking me out. So I basically had 8,000 people dancing in front of me, and to be totally honest I pretty much just played for him to impress him. I was just starting out and I had a big gig but I was so nervous because he was standing behind me so I basically tried to impress him more than the 8,000 people in front of me. Thankfully the crowd liked it as well.
Tell us about some of the projects you’re working on for 2017.
I am currently working on a collaboration project. My plans are to collaborate with five different artists and release all these tracks in one big package. I have worked with John Selway, he is a long time studio partner of mine who made a few tracks. And last week I was in the studio with Harry Romero from New York, we made a few tracks and I am going to Brazil next month for some gigs. Over there I will work with Victor Ruiz, go in the studio with him. And hopefully some tracks with Pig&Dan.
So a variety of artists and we’ll put this together in a really cool collaborative project. Because at the end of the day, collaborating is a really cool way to learn from the other artists. And you know, you learn from each other and it’s just good fun. I don’t really have a big ego so I find helping each other works much better than fighting for yourself. Especially when you’re around peers who are very accomplished. You really have to step up your game. And it feels good to be respected by people that you really look up to.