You've previously discussed how you got into DJing, but let's talk about how you first got into music production.
Ever since I can remember, I've been playing the piano and have been hooked on rock and classical music. When I was thirteen, I saved enough money to buy a PC and started experimenting with FL Studio. I started out by making dubstep and drum and bass, which both have heavy rock influences, but when I was seventeen, I went to a Steve Aoki show and got hooked on electro house and festival music. I kept improving my production skills until I was good enough to start getting work as a ghost producer at age twenty. Two years later, when I was twenty-two, I decided that I was going to start the Debris project. This was around the time that future house was really taking off and that's what the project has generally revolved around ever since. Occasionally I'll go back and experiment with drum and bass or dubstep when I'm bored or want to work on my sound design.
How did you go about building your ghost clients?
I have built a clientele primarily through word to mouth. Once you get a few Beatport top 100's under your belt, it grows on its own. I never have to worry about not having work. These days, I make a lot of pop music now to compete with companies who promise you a 100% finished record for under $500USD. Whenever people ask about prices, I just say that you get what you pay for.
Let's pivot over to the Debris project now, you've been making more energetic, festival ready tracks lately with Animal, Ronnie Botten, and Valkyrie. What can you tell us about the direction you're taking the project and goals you have?
Well RudeLies, Jonth, and I are very actively pushing the "Future Room" sound. We all make future house/bounce with big room influences but we all do it our different way. RudeLies has this strong sense of groove that he pairs with his signature synth, Jonth focuses mainly on melodies, and I like to have very aggressive drop stabs and big room kicks. The upcoming tracks that I've been crowd testing are finally ready for release and those are even harder than the tracks you just mentioned. I finally think that I've 100% found my sound and that sound is this unique brand of festival music.
Tell us about your release on Future House Cloud's ADE Sampler, "Valkyrie."
That track started as an official remix for Revealed which got cancelled unfortunately. When I got the news, I decided to turn the project into an original and reached out to Cambodia's top singer, Nikki Nikki, who is a very good friend of mine. We worked on the lyrics and she had sent over her rendition of them for Valkyrie; we were really invested in this project and thought it had a lot of potential. Unfortunately, the track suffered another setback because due to management, I had to ultimately replace her vocal with one from Splice. Bjarne of FHC has been a big fan of my stuff and so he was eager to release the "stripped down version" of the record and that's the one that's available now. I have some very cool tracks coming up with my girlfriend who's on the vocal duty for those songs. She's actually a DJ herself and it's been super exciting to have been able to work with her and create something together.
What is it like to be in a relationship and work and live with another creative, musical mind?
Well we have a studio at home where you could find me making music or her singing, or both! Whenever I'm producing, she'll look out for me and make sure I'm being fed and not going too far down the rabbit hole and I'll do the same for her. It's easy to lose a lot of time in the studio so it's great to have someone looking out for you and keeping you in check. It's insane to have such a supportive girlfriend; she is my biggest fan, loves my music, and plays my music out when she's DJing. She also gives me feedback as a "listener/DJ" and not as producer, which is sometimes more valuable than feedback from another producer. She's truly my daily inspiration and I couldn't be happier with her.
Do you guys ever go back to back on the decks at home?
We do but it can lead to a few arguments as she like to play mainstage big room whereas I'm pushing for more future room tracks. She does find the occasional gem on Soundcloud from say, a Russian producer with just fifty followers.
What sort of steps did you take to make sure it has that Debris sound?
The track includes some distinctive electro influences and you can also see some of my rock background that I think people will really like. While it's not the festival sound I've been pushing, I still think it reflects my sound and my style. The track will be coming out early in 2019 so I'm excited for you all to hear it for yourselves!
Give us one of your most vivid memories from being on stage.
There was this festival in Cambodia called "Afterlife Asylum" where my tour manager used a CO2 gun to blow the snapback off of my head while I was performing. That was pretty unexpected and funny but later on in the show, I thought it would be cool to jump off the stage but it turns out it was about three meters high and I sprained my ankle on the fall! I had to get up and painfully limp back up to the booth to finish the last fifteen minutes of my set. Longest fifteen minutes of my life.
Chris W. Lao
DJ, Writer, and Student.
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