INTERVIEW | Cristian Varela
For decades, Cristian Varela has cemented himself as one of the most talented and versatile techno DJs in the global scene. A student to the game, Cristian began his life in Spain, studying music theory while developing his skills on the piano. It was when his brother introduced him to dance music that he would begin develop a keen ear for the genre. After years of experimenting behind the decks and learning to mix different genres, Cristian developed into one of Spain’s greatest exports to the techno scene.
Today, Cristian Varela is a busy man. His label, Pornographic Recordings, co-founded with friend and dance icon Marco Bailey, has been running strong for 15 years. His most recent album, Max & Max, dropped last month. Accompanying his album release is a live show, further communicating his sound to his audience.
We recently had the chance to chat with Cristian, where he gave insight on his life as an industry veteran.
Last month you released your latest album, Max & Max. Congratulations! How does your sound today compare to the sound that you had when you first started producing?
Now the structure is a quite different, the sounds and the machines have totally changed and the way to produce a tune, but I love the combination of the new plug ins with the old analogic monsters like Ms20 or Monopoly. Now my creative way is more focused with clean sounds and the perfect harmony between the mix and mastering. In the past we used more distortion and dirty sounds. I also still love that of course.
Dance music is constantly evolving. How have you seen the global techno scene evolve since you entered the scene over two decades ago?
Every 6 or 7 years there is a new cycle in the electronic music and now is something like a golden age for Techno I think. The sound is more atmospheric and even some DJs who never before played our sound, now find they love it. The most important part the techno scene I think is the beautiful symbiosis between different styles within the same track.
You recently performed your album Max & Max live in the Beatport Studios at Amsterdam Dance Event. For you, what goes into planning a completely live show?
Of course! I started the tour with my live show in Spain the 31 October in a huge building designed by Calatrava (Ciudad De las Artes y Las Ciencias) in Valencia and now we are preparing with Jon Rundell and Carl Cox all of the other worldwide shows with Intec. Its a beautiful audio/ visual show with touch screens, synchronized visuals and playing all the tunes in a real live show where I play the keyboards, drum machines and synthesizers – I love it!
For your Max & Max live show you’ve teamed up with visual genius Benja Realizomedia. How did you team up with Benja, and what was the creative process like between the two of you? What went into creating a visual art to reflect your music?
I have known Benjamin for 20 years and he is a very creative person. We basically worked in the effects of all the visuals when I make any of my movements with faders, kicks or any effect levitra bayer uk buy needs to
always be perfectly synchronized. We prepared some granular synthesizers to play in the touch screens and I send via midi all my channels to all his visual layers. It’s very beautiful when the people can see exactly what is happening and especially when they can see exactly what they are listening to. I can also control some filters with laser! That’s fun.
What are the events that lead you towards studying piano and music theory professionally?
My classical knowledge is more focused for movie soundtracks and special experimental shows. I have just finished my last movie soundtrack for a great Spanish director – Antonio Del Real, and now I am looking for some collaborations to take place after my last symphonic studio work I did at Abbey Road in London. I am very excited about this and the future.
You first got into electronic music at the age of 10 when your brother bought you a cassette featuring the likes of Vangelis and Jean Michel Jarre. What lead you to start mixing records?
My brother was DJ and I became very interested in how to mix different songs to create something unique with this mixture. When I tried the first time to mix a rhythmic track with a vocal song I was very excited about the result. After this I started to buy vinyls from all different styles of music and always tried experiment mixing completely opposite songs.
You have composed and arranged music for film, theater, television shows, and commercials. How does your artistic approach vary when conquering different mediums? How is it the same?
It’s a different world, because to create specific atmospheres and feelings in a movie is a very complicated process, where only one wrong note can change the whole scene and the viewer’s emotional experience. In the electronic music industry – you can be more experimental and abstract.
Along side Marco Bailey, you have been running Pornographic Records for over 15 years. How did you two decide on the name of the label?
Because at the time we started the label, techno was still very much only underground. Similar to that of erotic movies, we just thought it’s a striking name to make some noise in the industry, and we definitely did it!
How did you and Marco meet? What inspired the two of you to partner up and create your own imprint?
We met in a legendary club called La Real in the north of Spain, I was one of the
only people speaking English and French, so then we started to speak about the music, the energy……and since we became great friends, maybe even like brothers to one another. At this time we were producing on big UK labels like Primate and Primevil, because the sales of our EP’s were fantastic we then decided to make our music on our own label.
How has the label grown and evolved over the past decade and a half?
Pornographic is one of the unique labels that survived after the transition from the analogue to the digital industry. It was very difficult period after the big companies like Prime or Intergroove disappeared. The beginnings of the digital era was very hard for everybody because of the piracy, hacking and uncontrolled free downloads. Now everything have more control but is still not enough.
You have become a mentor for the next generation of dance music artists, serving as a teacher at CEV Madrid. What lead you to take on the responsibility of conditioning the artists of tomorrow, and what is your favorite aspect about being a teacher?
I love to teach, and have done for many year now. My responsibility is basically to teach students about the music, respect, professionalism, dedication and the passion for the music itself. After all, these are vital values for any artist. I teach them the best technique as I think possible, the tricks and behavior they need to carry with them to be successful, as well as how to control nerves and transform that into huge positive energy. The psychology on the stage is also very important for some artists who have panic attacks on the stage.
What can we expect next?
More music, shows and movies!!!