Chris Finke is a UK DJ, producer and label owner who has travelled the world and has seen the UK techno scene go through many changes. As resident at Birmingham’s Atomic Jam club night he has supported everyone who’s anyone in the genre over the years. We caught up with him to grab a promo mix, discuss parties as well as the history and the future of his preferred genre ahead of his appearance this Saturday in Room 2 alongside Kenny Larkin and Terry Francis.
Starting at the beginning, what were your first steps of discovering and getting into techno?
I first discovered techno when it was all "rave" I suppose. I heard people like Carl Cox and Derrick May mixing up all styles and techno really struck a chord with me. When the scene fragmented, I went down the techno path in the main and I’ve been into it ever since. Guys like Dave Angel, Laurent Garnier and Derrick [May] were my first point of reference in techno as a stand-alone genre.
So did you begin to get involved in the rave scene before or after it became more fragmented?
I was only involved as far as going to them, which I did when I was really young, like 15, and got my first set of decks at the end of ’92 so I was sort of right on that wave of the scene changing I suppose.
When did you start to DJ out in clubs?
I’ve had two goes at it, the first one was not long after I got decks and was just learning. I got to play some really good parties but it wasn’t a real career thing for me. Although I was really into it, that sort of thing wasn’t really an option then. After that, I finished college and got into the turntablism for a couple of years but had to stop as it was getting too much with work etc, so I had a complete break and came back to it all in about 1999 when I really got into it properly again. This is when I started the Flux nights a year or so later which was a vehicle for me to get more gigs and to get my name around.
Did the Flux label emerge at the same time as the parties?
No, that was a couple of years afterwards in 2003. My Flux partner (Andi) and I started that as an offshoot of the parties and a place for me to eventually release my own music when the time was right.
And would you say that having put on your own nights and DJed at many others, did this put you in a good position to produce music specifically for the dance floor? As opposed to starting a label/producing first and then gigging?
Yes definitely, I suppose everything I have done has come from all of that. I’ve always been a DJ first and foremost and always will be. Any music I have released or remixes I’ve done up until this point have been 100% dance floor material that I would play and is reflected in my style of DJing.
But you’re in the process of making an album at the moment, will that be purely dance floor orientated as well?
Yeah it’s looking that it’s going to be 90% dance floor stuff. The album is something I’ve been building up to and will sound more complete with a few other bits in there as well to glue it all together.
What do you have coming up at the moment?
Coming up, my Trackman ‘Don't Stop’ remix on Flux Recordings is killing it on promo and gets released on 12" and digitallt on Oct 11th. I have an EP out on Gynoid Audio with remixes from Mark Broom and Go Hiyama, my ‘Shut That Door’ track (which was a breakthrough track for me last year) gets remastered and is out on Flux in December with remixes from Kyle Geiger and Ortin Cam. Plus I have a remix for Bastardo Electrico which is out soon as well. Then next year it’s the album and mix CD among other things, so I’m really looking forward to a busy time!
Sounds good, what's your take on techno in 2010? Things have changed a lot in the last couple of years...
Things are HOT right now, it’s the first time in maybe 12 years that techno as a genre is actually bang on it and kicking ass again. DJs and producers are now playing and making music that you are proud to call techno again, it’s great. One good thing that came out of the "minimal" scene that has now thankfully all but died is that a lot of people are now into techno as a result of it, and discovering the history, music and new artists that are going to make history in the future.
What's your history with Atomic Jam in Birmingham? How long have you been a resident there and how would you describe it to someone who might not have been before?
Atomic Jam is simply the best techno party in the UK and I’m proud to be a resident there. I’ve been with them since the start of 2003 and played every one since. The booking policy generally reflects where techno is in its present state and I can’t name a major or second tier DJ who hasn’t played for us over the years. It has based in Birmingham and for most of its life has been at the Que Club, a huge old cathedral type building which is just stunning, and the crowd are real party people so it’s just a very special place to play.
What have you got in store for the 15th birthday?
To kick things off, we are doing a big party in December at the newly refurbed Institute in Birmingham with Adam Beyer, Len Faki, James Ruskin, Cari Lekebusch plus myself and new resident Mark Broom (who replaces Ade Fenton who is now the keyboardist for Gary Numan). Broom and I are also putting together a mix CD for release early next year which is shaping up to be really cool. As well as this, we will be doing some Atomic Jam tour nights, so lots going on.
You've spent a lot of time on the radio, what do you like about being on the air?
I’m pretty obsessed with radio. I'm really annoying in the car as I’m always flicking between stations to see what they are saying (not for the music oddly!). I always have been like that, thinking about it... I used to tape the charts and cut out the music (joke). With me doing it as a job on local radio, to doing the Split Show with Ben Sims for 3 years which was massive, to now when I’m about to start with the BBC doing Introducing, it’s something I think I’m good at and have a real passion for so is a big thing for me.
Plus I talk a lot so it’s a place where I can’t be told to shut up directly ;)
Haha well I guess you won't be saying much when you take to the decks at fabric, what do you like most about playing at fabric?
Haha, no, I don’t think getting on the mic at fabric is an option, but I wouldn't rule it out ;) This will be my third time there and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s one of those places where you have to perform as everything is so perfectly set up for you, so it’s just you and the crowd. You can really work them there and test yourself but you also have to be 100% on it musically as well. So all in all it’s a wicked club to perform in.
Awesome, and finally, after you play fabric you’re returning to Japan, are you looking forward to this?
Yes I’m off to Japan for gigs in Osaka and Tokyo, which will be amazing. I’ve been looking forward to going back there as it’s just the most mental place I’ve ever been to, just nuts. The people are so friendly as well and they are so into music, it’s just a very cool country.