Chris Lake

Exclusive interview with the biggest UK producer on American shores

Chris, welcome to DMCWORLD – where in the world are you right now?

“Hey Dan, I’m just leaving the hotel on the way to Philadelphia Airport for another show.”

Cool. You were in Atlantic City last night at HQ for a big night with Avicii, how did it go?

“It went well, the night didn’t go without incident though. We were both playing at the Veld Festival in Toronto on Saturday with Deadmau5 and Steve Aoki and I managed to get to Atlantic City quicker than Avicii. There was a cock up when he landed here and there was no one from immigration to meet him. So he was sat on the tarmac for two hours which meant I had to play a lot longer than I was meant to, but it was all good.”

You are living full time in the States at the moment with your wife in Los Angeles right?

“We are, we’ve been here since December now and it’s been great. I just decided it was going to be a lot easier than living in London with all of the shows in the US right now. And we didn’t fancy another winter in Europe to be honest!”

You have got the Buzz Chart people once again jumping through hoops with one of your tracks, this time around it’s your tune with Lazy Rich featuring Jareth ‘Stand Alone’ coming out on Ultra. Talk us through the history of the release…

“This was a tune that was created on the net. Rich and I have been talking quite a bit recently about doing something together and I really liked his remix of Sundown’ that he did for me last year which really caught my attention. He started with an idea, I developed it a bit, my wife found our amazing vocalist Jareth who she wrote the lyrics with, I tested the tune and here we are with a great release.”

Ten years ago in an interview you described your sound as “energetic, tough, emotive and directional dance music”. How would you describe it a decade later?

“Ha ha, I can’t even remember saying that! On the whole, that description is very much the same today. I like good energy, I like variation in the music I play and make and I love creativity. I don’t approach a DJ set by going through records to see what’s hot right now, that’s not important to me. What’s important to me is to be a leader, not a follower.- that to me is much more fulfilling.”

We interviewed Paul Oakenfold in this week’s magazine, he has of course been one of the driving forces of EDM in the States for two decades now. He claims that the scene will be here for a decade now and even though a new music genre may come and take it’s mantle, dance music will always have a place in America. Thoughts on that?

“I have to agree. That’s not to say that in the next eight or ten years dance music won’t change over here. However, one thing that does worry me is that I think America has already had it’s golden period over here. The thing about the dance explosion in the US is the Americans have got money, huge amounts of money that are heavily influencing what works and what doesn’t work in dance music in this country. I feel it is influencing music more than I have ever seen before, just like it has influenced hip hop. Once they have embraced a sound and got their claws into it, they then bastardise and dilute it into the biggest load of commercial shit you have heard in your life. Look at hip hop. How different are the records you hear on the radio today from the brilliant sounds of hip hop in the early days – it’s unrecognisable. I truly hope dance music keeps it soul and roots, but yes, I am really worried what direction it is going in.”

Following the dates in America you are off to Australia. Are you still enjoying all of this traveling weekend after weekend, what keeps you motivated?

“Dan thank you for letting me know where I am going next week, I really had no idea where I will be! What keeps me motivated? I love traveling, I love visiting different countries, I love meeting people, I love seeing different cultures. I haven’t had a drink of alcohol for three years now and I have turned into a massive people watcher. I enjoy seeing how people approach a night out, I love viewing people’s different etiquette around the world, their different foods and language. That’s why I still enjoy getting on a million planes a year!”

Why did you decide to give up the booze?

“I’ve never been a huge drinker, but when I am drunk I am a real pain in the arse. I thought I was providing a public service by not drinking any more…making life more bearable to anyone who comes within ten yards of me when I have had drink! Since then I have coped a hell of a lot better with all of the travelling. Saying that though, most DJs I know tell me they can’t cope with all of the travelling without a drink! Seriously though, I need to be testing my music all of the time when I play out, I have to keep relevant to remain a big part of dance music and for that, it’s best to keep a clear head right now.”

I haven’t been to Australia for about four years now, you are visiting east, west, north and south on your whirlwind tour next week. Does the crowd’s appreciation of music change where you are in Australia nowadays, for instance does the Northern Territory differ much from Queensland?

“I am in the same boat as you Dan, I haven’t been since 2008. I really can’t remember ever having a bad gig in Australia, they have always been good to me so we’ll see.”

Do you manage to get any production done whilst on tour or is it a case of simply putting another Sopranos box set when you are on the go?

“Ha ha, how did you know about that! Sometimes I do need to work when I am on the move. Today for instance I am doing some press interviews and I will go through all my e mails that need dealing with whilst up in the air. But it’s really difficult to be creative when you are flying or in a hotel room. People in management and at the record label forget that sometimes you can’t just tune into your creative side of yourself, you have to be in the right mood. When you are a plane all you can hear is the massive whirring of the engines and I just can’t concentrate. Maybe I’m just not a good enough producer, look at Skrillex, he can make a whole bloody album whilst flying!”

You were on British shores a couple of weeks ago at Fire in London with Marco Lys and Nelski for your Rising label party. London is one of only a handful of cities that have a half decent club scene in the UK at the moment, why do you think it is so poor around British shores?

“It’s so difficult to put on a good night with a great line up in the UK. I feel that in general, the crowds on the dancefloor want a little bit more than what I grew up with and was happy with in the early days of my clubbing education. I was happy with a dark room, a good sound system, a strobe and preferably lots of sweat. People want more these days – but putting on a night costs so much in the UK. To put it into perspective, 99% of the clubs in America have bottle service in clubs. It’s not uncommon for some guy to sit at a table and spend something like $50,000 on alcohol for his group for the evening. That one guy has just covered all of the club’s costs for the evening. In the UK the door entry price has to cover everything…and that’s the main reason the club owners and promoters aren’t able to put on huge line ups that we have over here any day of the week.”

But your Refresh party rocked though…

“It did. I didn’t make it to bed which always happens when Nelski is around. He was an absolute menace, I’ve never seen him so drunk. He was that bad he should have been put down.”

You have been playing for Cream at Amnesia in Ibiza for a few years now, it’s still one of the best nights on the island. But you’re hardly there this year?

“I know it’s such a shame, I have only had one date there all summer – it really sucks. I feel like there is a huge hole in my summer not being there, but next year I am going to make sure I’ll be there much more. I had a great night there last month though, there was something like 6000 people there for myself and Calvin Harris. An incredible crowd and an incredible venue. It makes that 16 hour flight well worth it!”

So what’s the latest on the album front?

“It all depends how much I get done on this plane journey ha ha! It’s getting close to completion, I’ve been testing a few more records recently, done a couple more collaborations but it’s been really hard balancing the touring and the studio work. This year hasn’t been easy for me as every time I get some time off, something comes up. I’ve had to move house and then when I had another free slot I had the worst ever food poisoning. But I’ll get there.”

What is the big top 10 you are currently spinning…

Hot Moth & Chris James ‘Totally Worth It’ (Original Mix) (Rising Music)
Chris Lake & Lazy Rich ft Jareth ‘Stand Alone’ (Original Mix) (Ultra)
Knife Party ‘Rage Valley’ (Original Mix) (Big Beat Records)
Hardwell ‘Three Triangles’ (Original Club Mix) (Toolroom)
Gregor Salto ‘Azumba’ (Original Mix) (Mixmash)
Cyrogenix ‘We Rock’ (Daddy’s Groove Re-Beats) (Test Pressing Records)
Choclate Puma ‘Just One More Time Baby’ (Original Mix) (Spinning Records)
ATFC ‘Boom Bash’ (Original Mix) (Stereo Productions)
Mark Ronson ‘Record Collection’ (Plump DJ’s Remix) (Grand Hotel Records)
Michael Woods & Sheldon ft Polina ‘Goodbye’ (Original Mix) (Diffused Music)

Where have been some of the major festivals that have gone right off this summer?

“There’s been so many, EDC was a really good show for me, Ultra in Miami I had a real blast at and I’ve just done this great event in Poland called Sunrise which was just brilliant. The area I played in was like an amphitheatre with the crowd elevated all around the DJ booth, a really good vibe over there.”

I once saw you trampling around Glastonbury with white trainers on – are you better prepared these days for festivals?

“Ha ha, no! I should have learnt better shouldn’t I? Even at Veld in Toronto this weekend I didn’t do any weather checking and I turned up with about four layers of clothing on thinking it was going to be freezing, not realising it was in the high 80s. I ended stripping down to my gym shorts for my DJ set. Me and preparation don’t go well together.”

And finally. What is coming out next from your label Rising Music?

“I really think TJR is going to be one to watch, he has a great ear for music and is really individual, his sound is so unique. He reminds me of touches of hard house back in the late 90s, hard but in a house, electro vein. So watch out for him. Nom De Strip has also upped his game. There are some releases too coming up from him that I’m really excited about, the sort of tunes that I build up to in my set that I always make sure gets played right at the end…”…