DJ Chris Hale

Tokyo-based underground electronic music producer and DJ Chris Hale is currently putting the finishing touches on a new album of minimal and ambient techno to be released soon, but he stopped for a minute to tell us a bit about his work.

How do you describe your music to people, Chris?
My "sound" is actually difficult to describe, but some have called it "dark soul" music- that is, dark atmospheres fused with soulful rhythm. From deep, progressive and tribal house, to stripped down techno and atmospheric electronica. On my new album "Day and Night", I merge abstract nu-jazz with ambient new age elements. My label got Warner Bros. to allow me to sample Fred Astaire's classic "Night and Day" and drop the vocals into a high energy drum and bass mix. At the end of the day, I simply make the types of music I like to dance to in dark, smoke-filled subterranean clubs. On my radio show and podcast (at iTunes, Tokyo Metro), I try to bring all kinds of music to the table, showing my eclectic approach to music composition.

Tell me about how you originally got into your craft.
I have always loved electronic music. I think I was 7 years old when I first heard Donna Summer's "I Feel Love,"with its minimal vocals and droning synth lines. I still remember that moment thinking, "what is this wonderful sound?" I started making music a few years later, getting old keyboards and synthesizers as gifts and taking them apart to make sounds the manufacturers never intended. I used to use an old dual-tape dubbing stereo to create multi-track arrangements of my tracks and remixes of my record collection. Keep in mind this was in the early 80's, years before remixing and DJing transformed into the massive business it is today.

I started putting my music on the internet in the late 90's, and was one of the first top artists back in the heydays of MP3.com, garnering hundreds, even thousands of plays and downloads a day. My tracks regularly topped the house, tribal house, progressive house, and Detroit charts for weeks and months at a time. That success led me to seriously re-think music as a hobby and do it full time.

What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
There are some pretty amazing clubs in Tokyo, where I am now based. I would say my favorite thing is dancing the night away in some subterranean club. I like Djing too, and I do my fair share in the Tokyo area, but sometimes you just want to let go and give yourself to the music.

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
Finding the time to make sure it is done right. It is so important to deal with labels that you can trust and who give you support. I think I have been lucky in that regard lately, but I learned the hard way that not every label or producer has your best interest at heart.

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
An actor. And in a way, it has come true!

In what way has your community impacted your development as a musician?
While living in New York and Tokyo, and delving deep into the music scenes there, my sound has definitely expanded and grown, both as a producer and DJ. New York and Tokyo still have amazingly vibrant underground scenes that easily rival any in the world. People go to clubs to lose themselves in the sound and to connect with people in ways that are socially forbidden in the light of day. It is in the sanctuary of darkness and deafening sound where people are free. One of my first tracks I produced after moving to Tokyo, "Dancers in the Womb" is an homage to the Shibuya club Womb and recreates the energy I felt on the floor there.

What other artists out there do you love?
Eurythmics
Autechre
Radiohead
Cole Porter
Photek
David Bowie
Swans

What does your future hold?
Hopefully more of the same. I love where I am as an artist. Tokyo is tremendously inspiring, and I suspect I will be here for a while. After that, who knows. Maybe Berlin? Wherever the music is calling...



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Check out more from Chris Hale at www.djchrishale.com or head to iTunes to grab some of his music. You will also want to catch him on the Tokyo Metro Podcast and his blog about life in Japan.