We managed to sit down with the legend that is Christopher Lawrence just after the New Year for an insight into what 2012 has in store for one of trance music’s most pioneering producers...
When it comes to trance music the passion still burns as bright as ever for the legend that is Christopher Lawrence. He’s true to his roots and is pushing the underground sound promoting new faces and re collaborating with old. As we head further into 2012 you can expect some very exciting projects from Christopher and his Pharmacy Music label as we roll into Summer. The labels most recent and debut compilation ‘Phase One’ is just the beginning as we can expect Pharmacy to push out more frequent releases this year. One thing will remain the same, and that’s quality. The label has some serious talent behind the wheel with Sean J Morris and Jonathon Allyn two I’d highlight. Now, just after the New year we managed to grab a few words with Christopher, who as we discovered has been finding some very odd items in his new house…
i:Vibes: Welcome back to i:Vibes Christopher, its been a while since our last chat. As we begin another year, how was 2011 on the whole for you?
Christopher: It was a big year touring wise and for my label Pharmacy. It was also a year for regrouping and thinking about where we are headed.
i:Vibes: You ended the year with the debut compilation from your very own label Pharmacy with ‘Pharmacy Music Presents: Phase 1’. With such a superb back catalogue on the label already how did you go about picking the tracks for it?
Christopher: It was tough because there were so many great tracks to choose from. We have our regular producers like Sean J Morris, Magnus and Jonathan Allyn, then we have our newer producers like Steve Birch, Gian Carlo, Fergie & Sadrian and Cowboy Mike. It was a matter of trying to pick the best that worked with the flow of the mix, plus the tracks that best represented those producers.
i:Vibes: Have you been please with the album’s reception, we personal loved it here on i:Vibes and it’s one which will continue to grace the CD player well into this year?
Christopher: I’m glad you liked the mix. This was the first mix compilation we’d released on Pharmacy and we weren’t sure what the reception would be like as it’s not your regular run of the mill pop trance. We were pleasantly surprised by the reaction, not only from our existing fans but from many new fans. We’ve also had fantastic responses from press. People loved it!
i:Vibes: The album also kick started a re-launch for the label with a new logo and mission statement going into this year. What does 2012 have in store for the label?
Christopher: We felt it was time for a facelift for Pharmacy and we’re very happy with the new logo, artwork and now we’re working on a new website. We’re beefing up our release schedule with more frequent singles and a bunch of new artists coming on to the label. It’s a rebirth of sorts for Pharmacy.
i:Vibes: Out of all the releases to date so far on Pharmacy Music, which is your favourite?
Christopher: For me the latest release is always my favourite because that is the one that I am playing out in my sets on tour and on Rush Hour. My favourite original track of my own is Tremor. I think that Tremor captures my sound perfectly.
i:Vibes: What artist on the label has impressed you most during the past twelve months?
Christopher: All the artists are doing a bang up job but the guys who are getting a lot of attention right now are Fergie & Sadrian, Sean J Morris and Jonathan Allyn.
i:Vibes: Sean J Morris’s has just released the latest bomb for Pharmacy with ‘Earth’, which has gained support from the likes of Paul van Dyk, John 00 Fleming and Greg Downey. What makes his sound so irresistible?
Christopher: Sean J Morris is an extremely talented producer that comes from a film and television background. Sean has scored several films and is a classically trained musician. When he turned his attention to dance music he already had years of production and technical experience. He has a great ear and that translates in to his productions.
i:Vibes: Can you give us any sneak peeks on what the next release on pharmacy will be?
Christopher: “Little Boy” by Fergie & Sadrian just came out this month and the next release will be one of my own tracks called “OK to Go” and will feature remixes by Jonathan Allyn and Fergie & Sadrian. After that will be a brilliant ne track by Victor Dinaire who has had previous releases on Armada, Discover, and Euphonic so we are very excited to have him on Pharmacy.
i:Vibes: You spent the New Year playing at the 4th Annual New Years Eve Ball for Stereo Live in Houston. As New Year’s Eve parties go, how did this one compare to ones past?
Christopher: Every New Years is different. Last year I was in New York playing a psytrance event with Infected Mushroom and Shpongle. This year I was at Stereo in Houston, which was a more commercial crowd. My set got moved back to a later slot so the bottle service crowds had left and it was my fans and the hardcore clubbers still on the dance floor. These are some of my favourite sets because it’s late and you’ve got a crowd who is truly up for it. It reminded me of the old days. I loved it.
i:Vibes: You’ve been back living in the States now for a little while after moving back from three years down under. Do you miss Australia?
Christopher: There are some things I miss about Australia, they are highly socialized country with great health, education and welfare systems and the people are friendly and very funny. But Los Angeles is home for me. I am glad to be back.
i:Vibes: Where is your favourite place to play over the in America right now, we hear Las Vegas has become one of the country’s biggest hotspots in recent years?
Christopher: Las Vegas is blowing up right now. EDM has taken hold in a big way and the clubs are pushing international DJs now, rather than the local residents which is how it used to be. I just signed a residency deal with Chateau Nightclub in Las Vegas which is really exciting because I get to bring my brand of trance to a mainstream market.
i:Vibes: Have you ever thought about taking the Pharmacy label on the road to do a one off label night with your signed artists, we think that would be fantastic?
Christopher: We’ve road tested Pharmacy nights on the West Coast in the US and they have been selling out. We program the night to build the energy, keep the lights low, LED screens off and create this underground vibe which people go nuts for. We’re definitely taking Pharmacy on the road this year. Our next date is at WMC, we’re doing a Pharmacy room at Mekka on Sunday March 25th with John 00 Fleming, Jonathan Allyn, Sean J Morris, Gian Carlo and myself. For anyone who isn’t going to WMC, they can listen in on DI.fm’s trance channel, as they are doing a live broadcast, which airs directly after ASOT at Ultra. Definitely looking forward to Pharmacy touring internationally this year.
i:Vibes: Have you any plans to dig out the tux for Mr & Mrs Smith this year?
Christopher: We actually have big plans for Mr & Mrs Smith this year. We’ve really beefed up our sound and have been playing some great shows in Southern California over the past few months. We’re also launching a new label called Smith Sonic, recording our first single and starting a podcast called Electric. The tux however, has been retired.
i:Vibes: The Trance genre seems to have various levels of style in today’s scene with the underground, full on banging one we think Pharmacy deliver time and time again. Where do you see the Christopher Lawrence trance sound going this year?
Christopher: There are elements of my music that always remain consistent - it’s tough, dance floor friendly and draws on elements of both psytrance and classic trance. The key is not to get stuck in a rut and to incorporate new sounds as they evolve. Balance is the key.
i:Vibes: What other genres do you take on board and feel influences your own style of music?
Christopher: I like to listen to a wide variety of music. One of the best resources is the EDM station called Electric Area on satellite radio here in the US. Whenever I am in the car I listen to Electric Area and it is fantastic because there is such an eclectic variety of DJs from Carl Cox to Skrillex to the Crystal Method and everyone in between. On a side note, I’m excited because I’m joining Electric Area for a one month residency in April, but we’re definitely pushing to make it permanent!
i:Vibes: If you could name one album, track or artist that inspired you growing up, who, or what, would that be?
Christopher: Surprisingly one of the bands that really influenced me was AC/DC. When I was a kid I was into heavy metal and the thing that I liked best about heavy metal artists was their “I don’t give a shit!” attitude. I think that has carried over into my own attitude in dance music. I have always played my own tougher underground sound. I am not into pop trance. I prefer my music to have balls.
i:Vibes: Can we expect to hear a Christopher Lawrence artist album this year?
Christopher: I’ve been trying to finish the artist album for two years now and it’s still not done. I have my unreleased tracks, plus a back catalogue dating back to my last artist album but what I need is some down tempo tracks. Banging trance is good but you need to show musical range in an artist album.
i:Vibes: Any plans for collaborations this year, is there anyone in particular you would like to spend time in the studio and hammer out a track with?
Christopher: John 00 Fleming and I are currently collaborating on a track. John is one of my best friends and is one of the funniest people I have ever met. He is a great person to spend time in the studio with.
i:Vibes: Will you been dropping by Burning man this year? What highlights coming up for 2012 are you looking forward to?
Christopher: I go to Burning Man every year the highlight is playing Opulent Temple which is the biggest and best sound stage on the Playa. I also love to ride my bike on the Playa at night looking at the art and watching the art cars. There is nothing like it. It’s indescribable.
i:Vibes: We read you recently cleared out the garage at home. We’re always one to ask the unusual question, but what hidden treasures did you dig up in there?
Christopher: I found a Ziploc bag with one crusty old joint and a porno film on a VHS cassette on the top shelf over the washing machine that the original owner of the house must have left behind. I guess he was planning on having a good time but never got the chance!
i:Vibes: Do you still play any of your old Vinyl records or has everything gone digital in this download day of age?
Christopher: I still have a Technics 1200 turntable set up in my studio but, sadly, I only use it when I record in a classic track for my “One from the vault” segment on Rush Hour.
i:Vibes: Are CD’s still the weapon of choice for your live DJ sets?
Christopher: Yes, CDs are still my weapon of choice but by the time you read this I will have switched to SD cards. I started out playing vinyl and switched to CDs when everything went digital. I have been reluctant to give up CDs because I still like the tactile experience of flipping thru my CDs in a live set and physically choosing one to play. Maybe it is nostalgia for vinyl but I like to feel like I am actually doing something when I am DJing. The reality, though, is that playing off SD cards is much more flexible. One SD card holds far more music than a CD case and since I have been playing longer sets it makes more sense to have a larger library of music at my disposal.
i:Vibes: Finally, we know you’ve asked the question to your fans but, what is Christopher Lawrence’s New Year resolution?
Christopher: To eat more vegetables.
:: Read our review of 'Pharmacy Music Presents - Phase One (Mixed by Christopher Lawrence)' right here!