Let's start by talking about your musical background.
As long as I can remember, I’ve been into electronic music, particularly Hardstyle and Electro at the beginning. I first got into creating and manipulating music at the age of eleven when I came across a free DJ for PC. My friends and I would mess around with it and make silly mashups and mixes. I kept practicing and got my first real achievement when I was thirteen and came third in Ellaskins’ 10 minute mix competition. After that, I would occasionally play at friends’ parties. I soon got into production around the time that Big Room was really popular. It took me some time to learn FL Studio but nowadays I’ve been finally getting my first tracks signed and supported which feels amazing. My influences come more from the harder styles of music and I think that shows in my production. Recently, I’ve been trying to listen to a wider range of music to find different inspirations for sounds and ideas.
How did you go from Hardstyle to Groove?
I remember first moving away from the 150BPM range when I started to discover some of the old school Electro like Miles Dyson, Benny Benassi, and Bloody Beetroots. I was blown away by Big Room because of the incredible energy I heard when I first started going to clubs. After a while, it started to get a little repetitive and I found myself getting into Groove music because it gives you more freedom to create different tracks and experiment with very unique sounds.
How do you go about constructing a Groove track?
Sometimes, I just hear something or get a very specific sound, rhythm, or melody in mind that just inspires me to open up a new project and try to recreate what I’m hearing down into the DAW. After that I’ll work to build the whole track around those ideas. Most of the time, I’ll make a track in sections, creating short loops and then making the transitions to tie them together. Other times I’ll just get in the studio and mess around with sounds and melodies on my keyboard until I hear something that I like. For example, this new track that my friend and I are working on came from me playing around for a week, layering sounds randomly until I stumbled on something cool. When I’m doing a collaboration, I always use stems because I’m a big fan of bouncing stuff to audio. It stops you from having to constantly tweak it and it also saves a lot of CPU in the long run. Recently though, I’ve started to stem out my projects multiple times during the mixing and mastering stage since I’ve found it to be really helpful in achieving an overall better mix.
Do you do live gigs?
Yes, although I haven’t been able to do a lot recently since I’ve been focusing on production. I’m hoping to do more live gigs next year because it’s one of my favorite things to do. It feels amazing to play my own tracks and see the people dancing to them. I also enjoy making short videos of me playing, like I did for you guys and The Groove Lab.
Do you have any stories from the studio?
For sure! I wanted to talk about how my latest track, “Amnesia,” came about! So, I had been talking with NO_GUESTLIST for a while and exchanging ideas, getting feedback and one day he sent me this project called “shitty demo” which was literally just a bunch of drum loops. The idea behind it was to make a Tech House track, so I added some elements to it until we both thought there was a solid idea there. We then sent it to Nikko since he had heard it and said he got inspired by it. NO_GUESTLIST and I both thought he was just going to make some minor changes and do a new mix and master since the track was pretty much done already. We started to get a little worried when he went absolutely silent for a week until he sent us back the track and just blew us both away. He changed the vibe of the track completely and made it a massive Groove banger whilst still keeping the main idea intact. I think you can still hear the tech house elements and arrangement if you listen to it closely.
What do you do besides music?
I just finished my first year of university which was tough because I moved away from home for the first time and couldn’t bring my set up with me, meaning that I’ve had to work a lot with headphones. Other than that, I love to play tennis and football in my spare time. I think that regularly practicing sports is very important for both physical and mental health. I think it also teaches you discipline and teamwork which are important in life and in music.
Where are you hoping to go with your music and career next?
I’m always hoping to release more music and reach as many people as possible, I already have some interesting solo and collaboration projects coming soon. Of course, like I said earlier, I hope to get back to doing live DJ gigs as well. I can say I’ll be returning to the Groove Lab next month for another release, and I’m also working closely with NO_GUESTLIST on a bunch of new stuff. experimenting with different ideas. All the rest is a secret for now!
Would you like to make any shoutouts?
Shoutout to NO_GUESTLIST for being the King of ID’s and also for being a great friend who’s always happy to help. He’s really helped me settle into the scene and has taught me loads. Shoutout to my good friend ma/g/ua who’s tearing it up now in Boston. We started DJing for fun in middle school and we’ve never lost touch even after he moved away. Looking forward to another B2B session soon. Also shoutout to my friend Filippo who doesn’t care particularly for electronic music, but has always been happy to help me, give me feedback and listen to my work since day one!
Chris W. Lao
DJ, Writer, and Student.
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