I don’t often play the name game with people but this week’s guest has a few Google namesakes – one is an American actor, another is an American football long snapper (whatever that is) – and as for Linked In, well there I lost the will to live. However – our man in Manchester can be found either in the studio, working for Paper Recordings, at Sprechen Records where he is the owner or can be found with his feet firmly under the desk at Electriks as booker, organiser, programmer and head tea boy for The Refuge, Electric Chair, End of Year Riot and Electrik Bar…phew!! Pull up a pew, take a break, take a white chocolate KitKat and give a deafening Stretford end sounding DMC welcome to Mr Chris Massey…
So Chris, as we settle onto the family heirloom sofa (that your dog Hudson has recently used as a chew toy) in your home studio, tell me, how do you take your tea or coffee and would you like the Wispa or Kit Kat peanut butter bites I’ve brought to accompany your brew?
Always a coffee first thing then maybe a second cup a bit later but never past 3pm…coffee after 3pm is when you get ‘danger farts’. I’ll defo snaffle the Wispa please…they have been high on my hit list since you said about rinsing a bag of Wispa Bites at the cinema.
In the time that I have known you, we have become quite the chocolate connoisseurs, what’s the most glamorous / weirdest chocolate flavour you’ve ever tried?
Weirdest would have to be the green tea flavoured Kit Kat that my mates brought me back from Thailand. It looked ace in all its phlegm green glory but alas, when you bit down it just tasted of a standard Kit Kat. Epic chocolate fail.
We time travel back to your school staffroom in 1970 and you are the Headmaster – are you a Nescafé, Maxwell House, CAMP or Nescoré man?
Maxwell House or Nescafe. The ‘will they, won’t they’ Nescafe adverts of the 80’s and 90’s…
…were a staple viewing of my childhood and an intro to early soft porn. I actually remember my brother blagging me about an adult version where the camera panned up to show that couple in bed naked and she said to him “you didn’t just marry me for my coffee did you?”…true story and I believed him for years.
Your staffroom attire is high-waisted, terracotta needlecords, a sky blue polyester shirt with a penny round collar and a checked hacking jacket (with navy blue cord elbow patches). What shoes are you wearing? And do you have a) a mullet b) sideburns and / or c) a moustache?
Crikey! Could only really be a pair of brogues to go with that get up although the entire ensemble sounds a bit ‘noncey neighbour’, so I’d maybe accessorise the pants and roll them up slightly, pull the sleeves on the jacket to give it a Baby Jane era Rod Stewart look and then stick a pair of Converse on. Defo Moustache to go with it.
Is it true that your first association with Electriks was in the kitchen as a chef? What are the transferrable skills between cooking, organising a busy kitchen and DJing / promoting??
I got involved at Electriks as part of my work experience module when I was doing a degree in Popular Music & Music Production. My background from school was/is a fully qualified chef with experience of Rosette winning hotels & food. They have often said about me getting my whites back on to work in the kitchen at Volta and Electriks but I think (and hope!) those days are behind me now, I was a very angry young man back then! Transferrable skills? Working to a strict time limit is always something I’ve been used to and of course late nights, stupid working hours, drinking to numb the pain etc etc. The list is endless!
Can you remember your first DJing date for Electrik? When was it and what was the party?
The first official gig was playing on a Saturday at Mint Lounge when we had stopped doing Nish Nash Nosh and it was in a transition period of a new night starting. There was about 10 people there and 8 of them were my friends.
How long have you been working for the Electriks family now? What’s your job title?
I think it’s around 7 or 8 years now. My job title is one of life’s great mysteries! I seemed to think we locked it in as Promotions Manager at one stage but so much has changed since it’s probably due a re-edit.
Briefly – can you give me a one line break down of one ‘To Do’ list task per day on the agenda this week chez Massey / Electriks / Paper / Sprechen Records. Can you also colour code each day…
Electriks – Monday – Flame Red – Make a coffee
Sprechen – Tuesday – Aperol Spritz Orange – Send all tracks for 2-year anniversary compilation off to be mastered.
Chris Massey – Wednesday – Baboon’s Arse Red – Finish off remix of Raf Rundell track.
Paper Recordings – Thursday – Dog’s Lipstick Red – Swat up on Northern Disco Lights film ahead of Q&A at film festival.
Refuge – Friday – Maxwell House Coffee Brown – play some music in the public bar from 5pm.
I recently read your takedown of ‘It’ and am always amused reading your film updates on Facebook. Is your style more Mark Kermode or Peter Bradshaw? Who are your film critic influences? Do you commit your reviews to paper for any publications (online included)?
As much as a bell end that he is, I did always really like Jonathan Ross when he was hosting Film on BBC. He would watch any film and review it for what it was. If it was big daft overblown ‘take your brain out and enjoy’ kinda flick then that’s exactly how he would review it. I think movies are like music in that people go mental and wank on about a film that is quite clearly dull as fuck and pretentious only they don’t want to seem un-cool by saying as such. Arrival & Under The Skin being two classic examples of this. I was doing some reviews for the guys at Numb Magazine but had to put things on hold due to workload however you can read my ‘Netflix Corner’ section:
You live in virtual spitting distance of my hallowed Man United ground Old Trafford, are you a fan and can you ever get a decent parking space outside your house on match days?
I have tried for many, many years ever since high school to get into football but in all honesty, it just bores the absolute arse off me! I don’t mid watching darts and also have a fondness of American Football (is that sacrilege?). Parking is never an issue as we have a residents parking pass! Although trying to drive down Chester Road after a match is the stuff of nightmares…avoid at all costs!
Last Christmas you didn’t get to party much because you took delivery of a beautiful caramel / rust coloured Hungarian Vizla called Hudson. Have the last seven dog years affected your social / work life in any way?
Yes it certainly has had an effect but not really n such a bad way. He does need attention & entertaining which can be a little frustrating whenever I’m wanting to just shut myself away in the studio but on the flip side its been great to go out on date days with Lisa and take him for walks to the very best that Northern England has to offer!
Who looks better in a tie? You or Hudson?
Tough call but I’d say Hudson. I never ever seem to wear ties unless it’s a wedding or funeral nowadays!
Your house is a treasure trove of cool shit, collectibles, robots, action figures and posters. What’s the most valuable belonging that Hudson (your dog) has aced.
Luckily he’s not fucked up anything in the cool cupboard although I did have a Snoopy teddy that was my Nan’s and something I always played with at her house, which I inherited. Hudson liked it so much he ripped the ears off it
It’s bring your dog to work day. Luke (Cowdrey) has a cute black Maltipoo called Lady: does Hudson outdress, overwork and upstage her to win his place as the Electriks office mascot?
Hudson IS the Electriks dog! Lady has only visited a few times but she’s too much of a madam to make it in the cutthroat world of Electriks. Although it would be nice to have a dog who doesn’t jump up on your desk and eat a full tub of butter and knock pints of Pepsi all over your workload!
It’s a scientific fact (ok that’s a broad generalisation) that men can’t multi task but you regularly manage it. How do you balance your busy DJing career with doing the bookings for Electriks, Electrik Bar’s One Deck Wednesday, The Refuge and The Lost Disco, Paper Recordings, producing your own tunes, being married, owning a lively dog and collaborating with people like me, Jamie Bull, Danielle Moore (Crazy P) and Will Tramp in the studio and running your record label (Sprechen)?
Short answer is, I’ve not got a fucking clue! Ha ha! I think it’s down to being able to time manage my days/weeks and using a diary as much as possible so that I’m always (kind of!) aware of what I have coming up, although Lisa is also really good at reminding me of things too!
Do you ever feel like a you have a split personality? Or are you totally Zen about having such a massive workload?
It’s hard to be Zen although I do try. Anxiety about events not selling and such is always a monkey on my back and also not knowing when to switch off can make it difficult to get into a Zen state of mind. Moggsy who I worked under at Electriks for many years was instrumental in helping me get organized and learn how to relax and switch off from anything work related so I’ll often go back to techniques I was taught by him.
How do you relax?
I’m really, really not sure! Ha ha! I do really like to watch old Italian horror films and classic 80’s horror flicks so will often flop in bed at night and crack a DVD on. Or if its weekend we’ll pop Hudson in the car and head off for a nice dog walk, usually the beach.
Your record label is called ‘Sprechen Records’ – sprechen zie deutsch? Can you speak any other language?
Absolutely not. I was so shit at French and German at school. Although I’m pretty savvy at speaking Nadsat from Clockwork Orange having seen it tons of times and read the book too.
How and when did Sprechen come about?
I started Sprechen on the back of working with Neil Diablos on El Diablo’s Social Club Recordings, which Neil wanted to end. He said I should just set up my own label and with encouragement from other peers like Ben Davis at paper I went forth and started pouring my money into a bottomless pit!
Which DJs / producers are in the pipeline to speak the Sprechen language?
I have a 2 year anniversary compilation on its way which contains tracks by Gina Breeze, myself and James Rod with Danielle Moore on vocals, Neil Diablo and a collection of tracks from my friends in Norway Karl Fraunhofer, Rave-enka and Kohib as well as a cut from Homeboy (Renate resident) and recent Sprechen releasers Planet Jumper. Following that I have an EP of my own with some vocal work by the very ace Michelle Manetti, a second EP from Field Theory and also an EP from one of the greatest characters on Facebook, Mitch Davis as well as a follow up Mutant Disco EP by myself & James Rod.
What are your three most recent releases…
Dionigi – The Sweep, Crush, Filter EP
Big banging throbber from one of Italy’s finest…
Planet Jumper – Beware The Beast In We EP
Low slung, cosmic chugger loveliness with bags of punch & pow-wow…
Dorsia – Fm Dreams EP
Hands aloft, laser reaching squelchy bombs ahoy…
As a producer you’re happy to collaborate with an array of artists. How do you create productions that retain the sense of your sound but also enable the other artist’s ideas and input to shine through?
It will depend on what the original source material is sounding like and what stage its at when I get hold of it. I’ll tend to listen out for something that I think I can add that will a track. Sometimes this may end up being a complete rebuild and other times it may just be more a case of my experience of mixing something to give a track a bit more oomph. I have certain techniques that I suppose it what may give something ‘my sound’ but I’m always looking to develop and try new things…that’s the glory with the studio is a place to continually learn.
How different is your DJing style to your production style? Is it easy to make the switch?
I take an approach to producing music the same way that I DJ in that I will always take inspiration from all sources and ‘jump genres’ and styles as much as possible so as to keep things exciting for the listener and for myself too. There are techniques that can be applied to both DJing & studio work from working a dub delay, fading to silence, giving everything space to breath, cutting out a kick drum for a few bars etc. It’s a very nerdy & very exciting!
You recently helped to organise, book the line up and also DJ’ed at the inaugural Lost Disco Festival in Tisno, Croatia. How did this come about and how was it for you? Have you booked talent for festivals / events this size before? What were your personal ‘Lost Disco’ highpoints and what can we expect from The Lost Disco 2018?
I knew Adam from Lost Disco (who also co-runs The Eden festival in Scotland) through a friends friend and we had spoke a few years back, he then called me up and explained that they wanted to move one of their stages that was called “The Lost Disco” from Eden festival and take it to Croatia and that through my years of working on and running Electric Elephant would I be interested in getting on board to bring an element of those vibes to Lost Disco. It was great and a real honor to be asked to be part of the event and was great to be able to bring over friends, colleagues and peers who all really helped to create a magical weekend of music. Personal highlights where of course the Handsome Boat Party with your goodself, Jamie Bull and Dave Kendrick, Horse Meat Disco at Barbarellas was incredible as was Kiwi who did an incredible warm up that night. 2018? Just awaiting to hear from the powers that be but I’m ready to be involved again if needed!
You produce and DJ encompassing an array of styles from pop (Mint Lounge residency), Madonna and Janet Jackson to electronica (James Yuill) to full on disco and acid house. What would you say is the binding agent?
I always remind myself that I’m there to entertain and that more often than not it’s a party (as naff as that may sound!). Obviously different music is better suited to certain environments, moods and time of night etc. and I think it’s always about treading that line in-between being true to yourself whilst also not becoming a human jukebox. Drop in a few familiar and recognizable tracks amongst the newer or obscure stuff and it will always keep people’s attention and give an injection of enjoyment. Similar when producing, I always picture the dance-floor at Barbarellas in Croatia and what I imagine would work and create the best possible vibe. Hopefully it shows and works in stuff I do in the studio!
You’re a hat and tat man. Who and where do you recommend for a good titfer and an awesome tattoo in Manchester?
For hats it’s always J Wippell’s (just next to the town hall) without a shadow of a doubt! I got onto them from Luke Unabomber and have been getting my headwear from them ever since. Regarding tattoo’s I’ve actually never got any done in Manchester! Mine where all done by a guy in Darwen many years back but I am due to get quite a few more done so I am on the look out of where to head to.
You’re playing at One Deck Wednesday at Electriks in West Didsbury: what are your Top 3 One Deck sizzlers…
· Dennis Bovell – Dub Master:
· David Essex – Rock On:
· Whistle – Please Love Me:
The Refuge is officially 1 Year old on the 30th of September and you have an exciting program of events in the pipeline. Tell us a little bit about the upcoming shenanigans? What have been the standout Refuge moments so far and what are your personal Top 3 tunes when you hold court in The Public Bar?
The 1st birthday is next on the agenda with Gilles Peterson in the basement…
…which will be pretty special and then we have something new that we’re doing as a bit of a pop up recent entitled “Return To…” with the focus being on a specific genre, musical movement, night club, record label etc. These will be a bit more sporadic however I can reveal that the first one will be at the end of September and will be a Return To Cosmic with Daniele Baldelli playing all night for 6 hours! The courtyard parties have been up there with my fave standout moments but the basement closing on party over Pride weekend with myself, Hifi Sean & Luke Solomon is up there with my most fave gigs to have played this year.
Top 3 tracks? I tend to play the 5pm – 8pm after work slot on a Friday so always try to keep it within the ‘balearic pop’ and bar grooves vibes, which covers all bases:
Buzzcocks – Why Can’t I Touch It:
Delegation – It’s Your Turn:
Morgan & McVey – Looking Good Diving:
When and where can we hear Chris Massey play next?
I’m back at The Refuge most weekends coming up and then will be returning to the phenomenally good Supernature Disco (https://www.facebook.com/SupernatureManchester/) at the end of October as guest at their 2nd birthday as well as launching my upcoming EP at the event. I’ll also be on your very excellent Reform Radio show on 10th October and then off to Jakarta the week after to host a Q&A for the Northern Disco Lights film as well as DJing at the official after party and then on 25th November I’ll be doing a special in-store at Eastern Bloc for the 2 Year Sprechen release with Neil Diablo, Gina Breeze and Alberto Mombelli!
Finally, you and I have a long running discourse about the things we would like to lock away in Room 101 (often pinging each other late night on chat whilst we’re DJing). What three things would you like to nominate for Room 101 this week and why?
· 1. BMW drivers for definite because they’re absolute twats.
· 2. People being rude when asking for requests. I’m not against people asking for a request but when they try to be smart with stuff like “have you got anything we can dance to?” and stuff like that will always bring out The Hulk in me.
· 3. Toast and/or crumpet falling butter side down. An old fave and classic but annoying as piss nonetheless.
Chris, you are a multi-talented, multi-tasking, decent and sincere gentleman, dog lover and a scholar. Thanks for being so open and candid and speaking DMC’s language. We wish you every success with Sprechen, The Refuge, Electriks, Paper Recordings, The Lost Disco, DJing and Producing and well, everything you turn your hand to. Respect.
Cover shot by LJK PHOTOGRAPHY / THE LOST DISCO