Christian Nielsen

Christian Nielsen, the DJ/producer from Denmark is a man who remains true to his sound. When others around him may feel the urge to follow trends, his unique adaptation on house and techno remains. Now with a recent release ‘Over and Over’ just out on well-received imprint Noir, we sat down with him to discuss his take on all things dance and how it is he creates his instantly recognisable sound…

Interview by Ian Fleming

Can you remember when, where and why you fell in love with dance music originally?

My first encounter with dance music was “Basement Jaxxx – Red Alert”. I was listening to the radio and recording some music on to tape, when the track came on. I hadn’t really heard house music before and even though it was a cross-over-hit, it still led me to other amazing names like Cassius, Moby and Chemical Brothers. But it wasn’t until 2006 or something I was introduced to underground house music through a DJ friend. He played me some Kerri Chandler and I was hooked! I started searching the internet looking for music and remember feeling like I was exploring a whole new world.

How much do you like summer vs winter? Do you write as much music when it is warm as when it is dark and cold?

Summer is my thing 100%. My body just functions better in warm weather. But truthfully winter is just perfect for producing music. During the winter in Denmark, it gets dark at 5 pm and the darkness really lets you dig deep into the production process and some amazing things can come out of it. Some weird things too! But I think most of my biggest tracks have been produced during the winter for sure.

Do you play different stuff when the sun is out? Do you play more fun tunes maybe, happier stuff?

Most of my gigs are at night and in clubs, so it’s hard to answer that question really. But the few times I’ve played in the sun I’ve definitely played a bit more “happy” and organic. But at the end of the day it’s all about how the crowd reacts.

You have got a few releases coming out in a short space of time – is that planned or just how it happens?

Personally I always try and schedule releases with a 1-2 month gap, but when it’s not your label the only thing you can do is try to influence the label managers. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. With the last couple of releases it was a mix of what fit my schedule and what fit the different labels schedule. Things did get a bit close, but I feel things played out pretty well, and I’m super happy of the outcome.

Where do you start on a new tune? Do they all come from an idea in your head or are they more trial and error?

Sometimes I can have a really clear idea from the beginning, but honestly most of the time it’s all about trial and error. Normally I start with creating a basic groove consisting of drums, bass, lead/vocal. Next step is listening to it for 10 minutes straight. If I still groove to it I’ll start building the track and finishing the foundation as fast as I can. When that’s done, it’s all about polishing and creating the vibe that I want. Normally I’ll start with some basic EQ’ing on pretty much every channel, then add extra effects where I feel it’s needed, and then end of with a mixdown making the track sound whole.

Can or should dance music have a social and political message, do you think, like it did back in the day with tracks like Someday?

Of course! Although I’m not really sure what kind of message besides the classical “love, unity and peace” would fit well with house music to be honest. Don’t get me wrong, there is loads of shit going on in the world that needs to be addressed, but if economic inequality and political wars are subjects that would fit house music, I’m not so sure. But I would say it would be nice to see artists take a stand on different matters and trying to use their voice for something besides promotion.

How much are DJing and producing related? Does one inform the other? Do you like the same sorts of sounds?

I think this is different for everyone. It depends what you were first I think. I started out as a DJ, so for me my focus is always the dancefloor. When I DJ I always try and take the party to the next level, regardless if it’s me ending or warming up for a main name. So when I produce music my mindset is pretty much the same. “Is this track next level shit? Will it make my set better?” and so on.

Do you go in the studio every day and try to create, or just when the mood takes you?

I try to produce every single day I can, and every available minute I have. I might not even be in the mood but it always makes me feel good when I turn the computer on. Producing music for me is like breathing. The whole thought of creating something is like a drug to me, and when I’ve been away from the computer for a few days, I get grumpy as hell. To put it in other words, I will always for the rest of my life produce music. I just can’t help it.

What is an average week like in your life, do you have a routine, do you do things to stay healthy and sane away from music maybe, like gym or dog walking?

Besides producing music and touring, I have a pretty “normal” life. I live with my girlfriend and my little son who is 2, and I also have a very normal 8-16 desk job. But no, I don’t really have that many routines like that. Because I have a limited amount of time every day, I try to spend most of my time in the studio. Hell I even bring my studio computer with me to work so I can produce during my lunchbreak. But when I feel the need to relax my main thing is movies. I love just chilling in front of the TV with my girlfriend watching movies of all sorts. Oh and the news! Love watching the news.  

What’s next, what are you going to go and do after this interview?

Well next from me, I have a release on Noir Music that will be coming out on September 2nd. Really excited about this one, showing an even heavier side of me. I also have a 3 track EP coming out on Skream’s label, Of Unsound Mind. Been a fan of Skream for ages now, so really looking forward to working with him and the label. After this interview I’m going on vacation for a week! No computer and no cell phone! Can’t wait!

Christian’s Ep ‘Over and Over’ is out now on Noir