[Interview] Brian Cid talks producing, Ibiza and his new label.
By Frank DukePhotos by Kathryn Lasso
Brian Cid is an unsung hero making his identity known as an electronic musician, an engineer, and a performer.
I was struggling to put on my boots so that I could make my way to Jungle Nightclub, and I thought to myself, “Why can’t I just be there already?!” It was a bit early, but I didn’t care. I love getting to events early to hear warm up sets. They are some of the most intricate and unique musical curations to experience. I finally arrive to Jungle, walk around the open, warehouse dance floor. Gathering with friends to talk about music, ideas, getting drunk, hangovers, and adventures of the evening ahead.
Tito Mazzetta was warming up the room when I arrived. With his recent release on “Conceptual Records,” I had a feeling he was locked and loaded with some of the finest minimal house. It was a very artistic opening statement. It reminded me of being at a swanky cocktail party in the design district. People were conversing, getting their toes tapping, and their bodies moving.
People began flooding into the venue in a constant stream. The energy was rising and I could feel a great night was ahead of us. Luis Valencia makes his way to the booth, and gets himself set. He makes his way in from silence, and the room was immediately filled with dense melodic ambiances, staccato baselines, and white noise accents. I walk to the booth, introduce myself to Brian Cid, and say hello to the rest of the guys from Expand Projects.
Brian is truly a person full of passion for what he does and the people that are inspired by it. He is down to earth, damn humble, and always there to help in any way that he can. He and I made our way outside to have a bit of a more in-depth and technical conversation.
You’ve been hard at work in the studio recently. Tell us a bit about your mini-album on “Lost&Found” and your artistic approach as you worked on it.
It was a really interesting project both technically and the meaning I wanted to give behind it. Guy J pretty much hit me up saying that he wanted me to give him a five track EP, and I came up with this track called “Aurora.” It was a very energetic track, and Guy loved it. Then from there, I bailed the other tracks and used that one as my guide. My intention was to write a journey like album, where it would be in crescendo style, where it would grow throughout the whole track-list. Then I just started writing. I was traveling and was super inspired coming back from Ibiza and the nature over there. The island of Ibiza is a big contrast to my comfort zone in NYC. It just grew from there. I wanted something spacey. I wanted something organic. I wanted analog, a lot of rhythms, and a bit of everything. It took a bit longer than usual to get it where I wanted to be because it had to be a conjunction of all the tracks. I couldn't just focus on one track. I have to focus on all of them because it’s all connected. I feel like I was able to showcase what I was really feeling at the moment with the best of my ability.
You are sort of new to the scene when it comes to underground house and techno, but not to the music industry. What inspired you to shift your focus from working with pop artists such as Gaga, Cher, Beyonce, to now working with imprints such as “Lost&Found,” “microCastle,” and “Knee Deep in Sound.”
I made a career doing work for other big artists, for underground artists, for hip-hop artists, for pop artists, and for other commercial genres. The thing was, my work was usually for someone else. Not ghost writing, but helping with production and engineering. I got to a point to where I wanted to start a project that had my name on it to really showcase what I have inside. I’m a creator, I’m a musician, and I just want to create something. So I put together a little EP. I was lucky enough to have Todd Terry pick it up. He loved it, released it, and that was my introduction to the dance world. From there I just took it to the next level. I started with more labels, more artists, and learning the scene. I’m still learning the scene, and I love it. It changes all the time and it has so much history. I love to keep learning about it. I’ve always been a fan of it, although I’ve never really followed it - until I started getting into it production wise. I started off as a producer first, then my tracks were getting picked, played out, and getting a lot of support. So I thought let me go ahead and play them myself. I’m already a drummer so it was pretty easy to pick up DJing. So being a drummer and being an engineer, I just had to learn the room, learn the styles, and learn how people are playing. Once I started getting really into it, I immediately felt at home. It wasn’t forced, or a struggle. And now people are really getting to know my name outside of New York.
You are not only just a producer and DJ, but also a mixing engineer and mastering engineer. What are some pivotal pieces that you utilize most often in your studio throughout your workflow?
I approach production in a very engineering way. My studio in NY is built for mixing and mastering. If you go to my studio, you won’t see much production gear. I have keyboards and stuff like that, but it’s nothing heavy. It’s kind of like being a painter with his selection of colors. He tries to do his painting based on that collection, and establish a style based off that. While he might add some color here and there, but for the most part he going to have his canvas and a limited color palette. I like to force myself in the studio to think like that. I figure out my sounds and really put emphasis on that. It works out great.
You are not solely an electronic musician and engineer since you play instruments, correct?
I am mostly a drum set player. I also play a bit of piano and keyboards, but I’m not a pianist. For drumming, I like to limit myself there too with a five piece set with a couple cymbals. I usually take a rhythm oriented approach. Switching out drums as opposed to adding more, it’s just working what you have.
You recently started up a new record label called “Extinct Records.” What does this imprint mean to you artistically?
“Extinct” is a collaborative project with Glenn Morrison, who has a long history in electronic music. We were just thinking about a way to channel our music out and build a brand that people can relate to. Essentially build something that can grow into something else, support other artists, and channel our creativity. That’s where it came from. “Extinct,” artistically has a theme with the Dodo bird as the main character. I have a fascination for what the world used to be, what it is, and what it will be. I felt like bringing up all these extinct animals to communicate this whole vibe. It felt fresh. People have been responding really well. We’re only releasing my tracks for now as a way to set it up. Show people what we’re really doing, understand it. Then we’ll let other artists go ahead with it. I think this year we’ll start incorporating more artists and really take it to the next level.
You were just featured in DJ Mag. How was your experience with Deputy Editor, Erin Sharoni and the conversations you had?
It’s funny how it happened because DJ Mag actually contacted me. They said that Erin and some of the other staff were listening to some of my stuff for a while. We had the opportunity to hang out, check out my set up, and just talk. I was like, "Hell yeah! Whatever you want." So she came up from Miami for a quick little interview, which turned into a night of jams. Listening to records, talking music and life. We just spoke about music in general. My history, my upcoming and where I’m heading. It was really fun. It all happened organically. She did a really good job.
When you are not making music in Brooklyn, what do you typically find yourself doing?
To be really honest with you, when I’m not working on music, I’m making more music.
Who is someone you truly admire in life?
I am really inspired by people in general, not any person in particular. Those people that are out there doing good things, creating new ideas, and pushing the boundaries are the ones that I truly admire.
We made our way back into the venue, and gave each other a sincere “cheers” with our plastic glasses of tequila. Luis was ready for Brian to do his thing as he prepared himself, and dove in headfirst.
I made my way to the dance floor pretty quickly once he set up. I’ve been listening to this guy’s music a lot too. I knew he was ready to take us on this progressive, grooving, forward thinking, and powerful journey. He did not disappoint. The lights we’re at just the right temperature to keep things open and lively. The Pure Groove Speaker Systems were warm, bright, and powerful. Everything was perfect.
Throughout his set I was happy to hear some edits and blends between some stuff I’ve really been digging recently. He has this edge that he brings to the style of things. Brian plays progressive house and techno mostly. He keeps it laid back, and yet he somehow contrasts that with tracks that makes me want to dance and have a blast. I mean, at one point the guy had me salsa dancing with a friend of mine. The dance floor was grooving, bouncing, and there was this tone of community between so many different kinds of people.
I am very happy to see these kinds of things happening in our city. Every week it just becomes more and more prominent. We’re people, and we like to have fun. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, or anything else. As long as you’re a good person with a good heart, let’s go have some fun and celebrate not only music, but humanity. Brian certainly brought that kind of experience for me. I am really looking forward to watching him continue to grow as an artist, a boundary pusher, and an all-around great guy.