- What is it like being involved in a small scene like Canberra?
Intimate, close knit, satisfying, bitchy, sometimes difficult, always challenging, always changing. If I didn't like it I wouldn't have stuck around for so long though. So far the place has been good to me, and I never thought I'd be able to get done here what I have, and I think Canberra's got a lot to do with it. Especially in the last few years, it's gotten to be a great creative environment. Whether it's making tunes, playing or putting on parties, it's a great place to do em all.
- You DJ around town and the country, are a part of Canberra's biggest party promoters, Twisted, and have a show, Therapy, on local community radio and guest presenter spots on Triple J. Has it all been a natural progression?
Well it hasn't been unnatural, that's for sure! 15 years ago I started a radio station at high school, began DJing at the school socials and put on a college party. I'm pretty much doing the same thing now, but just on a slightly bigger scale. So I guess you could say it was always going to happen.
- Canberra is breeding some top producers like Nash T, Vance Musgrove, Ross McGrath, Paul Richter, Jeff Drake and RA editor, Ryan Papa, some of whom you've collaborated with. Is it something in the water?
And that's just the tip of the iceberg! I guess it's just down to the fact that there's a whole bunch of middle class kids here with computers and too much money to spend on records! We've always had an abundance of DJs, so the production bug was always going to hit eventually. I remember thinking about 8 years ago that this scene was going great, if only we'd get some production going. Well we're really making up for lost time now. It's great to be able to go interstate and play a whole bunch of stuff and say, "this is from my hometown!" The fact that there are so many producers here giving it a shot is a sure-fire sign that things are healthy. There may be fewer people going to gigs, but as long as there's music being made it's a good place to be.
- What kind of studio set up do you have?
I did have some hardware til recently. But I've gotten rid of my hardware synths and am pretty much digital all the way now. There was just no point having virtual analogue gear when there are so many software synths that can do the same thing. So now I’m just running a kick ass PC with Cubase SX on two flat screen monitors. Though even with a half dozen releases under my belt it feels like I'm really just starting out. I listen to early stuff of mine and cringe, if I knew then what I knew now! At least it feels like everything I do steadily improves, so hopefully I'm headed in the right direction.
- What do you aim for when you produce a track? Do you have a goal in mind?
I've never done a "beautiful atmospheric masterpiece", that's more Nashie's department. I pretty much write exclusively for the dancefloor, it's an instinct thing. I could start something atmospheric, but at some point I'm going to put a dirty fuck off kick drum and a big swinging hi hat in there! I usually have a bit of an idea about what sort of sound I'm going for, and things just flow from there. It ain't rocket science, just put a bunch of noises together and next thing you know you've got a record on your hands. My only goal for the moment is to come up with stuff that'll work well on the floor. I might change focus one day, but for better or worse, now it's all about mindless DJ tunes.
- You've had some of your tracks listed on CDs by Satoshii Tomeii, Hernan Cattaneo, Bexta, Timo Maas' Essential Mix and the new Two Tribes mix CD. What releases can we expect in the future?
I've just got a new deal underway with a Canadian based label called Release, and the first single under that will drop this year. It's called 'Flashpoint' and it’s a prog tech disco thing. Kismet (on the Two Tribes CD) is due any minute now on Vapour, as is the remix I did (ages ago now!) for Paul Richter's first single 'Not Much Left' on Vicious. Then I've got about another half dozen things floating around which should surface at some stage
if someone decides they're good enough. The one everyone asks me about most is the 'Chemical Heart' remix, and we're still trying to work out how to get
- With DJing, promoting and producing becoming so popular, what effect do you think this has on 'the scene' with the influx of wannabes with big-room-hit and get-rich-quick schemes?
Hopefully, I think we've seen the end of the big rush. The whole music industry, and dance music and clubs in particular has been shrinking for some time, and this means that a lot of people who weren't in it for the long haul have moved on. It's amazing though, despite the fact that numbers are down in vinyl sales and club attendances, people fail to realise that the good old days are over. They've got to realise that if your event's going to sell out or your record's going to do well today, they have to be bloody special. It's simply not that easy anymore, and that's probably a good thing. It means DJs, producers and promoters all have to try harder.
- I've noticed you don't like pigeon-holing your musical style as "progressive", rather "forward thinking dance music".. What do you mean by this?
Ah, even that term's a bit wanky. I dunno, I just generally say that I'm into decent tunes when anyone asks. Everyone wants you to fit neatly into some kind of box to help with marketing. But latching onto one particular style is just so boring! People who only like progressive or breaks or house exclusively really need to get a life and stop being so blinkered. Music's music and that's it, it's either good or bad. I think for some people dance music these days is a fashion statement.
- 'Progressive' music went through a rough patch a little while ago and there has been mention of a reinvigoration with the likes of disco prog and punk house. Where do you see the music progressing?
A rough patch? It got boring as bat's piss is what it got. There were just too many boring plodding records coming out, and it just got to the point where you were wondering what the hell the labels were thinking. Progressive just took itself too seriously for too long, and everyone who was going out for a party (i.e. not the guys there to trainspot and note the key progressions in the sets) just lost interest. 'Disco Prog' was just a throw away term I used in a column once to illustrate the point that everyone's so hung up on finding a tag for the next big thing. As far as I know you won't find a disco prog section in any record store, I was just having a laugh. It's an exciting time though, and the sounds that are getting me interested at the moment are a mish mash of house, breaks, tribal, prog, disco, electro and even, gasp!, rock or punk. So basically anything and everything. Stick it all together, use all the digital bells and whistles and production tricks from the best progressive, but give it all a bit more rawness and life I say.
- You're billed to play at the upcoming .lucid 5. What will punters be revelling to in your long awaited return to Sydney?
I'm really excited about the Lucid gig. I've hardly ever played proper grown up sets in Sydney (usually just the big all age parties), so it's great to finally get a chance to play the sort of stuff I'm more known for in Canberra, and that's generally a pretty mixed bag. Lucid's a very eclectic lineup so it's hard to know exactly how things will fit in, but I've got a feeling that a whole bunch of dirty lo fi prog-ish house, breaks, tech and electro inspired tunes will find their way into my bag that night. I've got loads of tasty CDR action at the moment too, so if there's a pioneer I guess we'll get some of that going. Can't wait!
- Are there any big plans for Chris Fraser, DJ/Producer/Promoter/Mic Monkey in 2003?
Nah I'm pretty much thinking of kicking back, having a lazy one and watching some daytime television. As if. Definitely more studio work, there's a chance I might be embarking on a really exciting new studio project sometime this year, fingers crossed. DJing wise I've never been happier with what's in my box, so the more I can take it out of the house the better. And hopefully I'll utter some vaguely coherent sentences on the radio at some point, sounds like a good plan if you ask me.
- If you could fight anyone in the world, who would you fight?
I could try and come up with some kind of try hard witty answer like "ooh I'd fight Becker or that superintendent asshole from The Bill, or John Howard", but honestly I can't be bothered. I really don't want to fight anyone, sorry. You're all off the hook. For now.
Catch Chris DJing in and about Canberra and at .lucid 5 (15th March) @ Manning Building, University of Sydney.