Catching Up
Chris Liebing Looks Back At The Past Seven Years

Chris Liebing is set to make his seventh annual appearance in Room One at WetYourSelf's upcoming Bank Holiday Special shindig. Understandably close, the WYS! team linked up with the restless techno king of CLR and newly turned vegan, to toast the occasion and to find out what he's been up as of late touching on his progression as an artist since he made his Farringdon debut...

WYS!: One of the reasons we love you is that you have always believed in your own sound and haven’t followed trends. Your sound has developed but has always maintained a very techno purist feel. How do you feel your sound has changed over the years in terms of your productions and your live performances?

Chris Liebing: First of all, I feel like I am still trying to understand what else can be done musically at the same time as sticking to the purity of techno. In the beginning, everything was very fast. When I listen back to productions I made 10 or 15 years ago, I am amazed at how fast those tracks were and how crazy it all was but at that time that's what was suitable. I'm not saying that I don't follow trends - I think to a certain extent, everyone is following tends. You are always a product of your own environment and you are under the influence of trends and hypes, it's just a matter of how much you allow it to influence what you actually do yourself and how aware you are of this influence. For example, it was not my idea to go slower, in regards to the tempo of my music, everybody starting going slower. Many people played 135bpm or 140bpm ten years ago but those who didn't, those who stuck to their guns and instead played slower are the people that really deserve the respect. Those who played 125bpm sets back in 2001 are the real visionaries. The fact is, I am not one of these people. So in this respect, I might as well be following a trend. I do like to have more space between the bass drums and in order to do so you have to slow down the tempo. More space also means there is more space for emotions and bass to come through at the same time not leaving behind, as you said, the purity of techno.

It is a constant journey and I really enjoy being on this journey. In the past few years, I've had more confidence to look back to where I've come from and my musical roots and incorporate them into my current sound. Musically I come from the ‘70s and ‘80s era so melodies and vocals have always played a big role for me - it just has to be the right melodies and the right vocals, and more and more I seem to be able to find them. It's a very interesting journey and a lot of fun and it really feel as if I'm just starting out. Of course, on the other hand, there is a technological evolution that over the years has enabled me to play what I really want to create in real time - this is also constantly in a process of development and fine-tuning.

Throughout these seven years, you have gone strength to strength. Has your success affected your creative flow as an artist? You must have to spend less time in the studio? Does this mean you make more music on the go or do you still need the studio? What is your optimal technical set up for a studio session?

For me, the optimal set up is simply having the right speakers. I really need to hear what I am doing. This is why I am not very good at making music on the road. I can sketch and come up with ideas but I really need to sit down in my own studio and listen on my monitors to be able to get the groove that I am looking for. Most of the music I am doing is all about the bass and how the bass sounds, how it comes across and how fine-tuned it is. This is pretty impossible to do on the headphones. I really need a room where I can hear exactly how the bass sounds and how it reacts - this is why a studio is essential to me. Though, saying that, I am beginning to catch more ideas on the road and put together loops which I can then continue when I get back in the studio.

My success as a DJ did indeed impact how much time I spend in the studio. Additionally, I was working a lot on my label and the CLR podcast over the last six or seven years which took a lot of time. I was also producing for artists on my label, especially their albums, so I wasn't able to spend much of my time on my own projects but, luckily, this year I've been able to make my own music a priority again and have already managed to get a lot of new music done so I am very happy about that. It is really exciting to be back in the studio and not having to think about other things. This year it was a priority to make time for my own productions and my DJing and there is always a lot of work you can put into that.

You play at least two or three live sets a week. How do you manage to make each set special? How much of your sets are prearranged and how much is done right there on the spot?

The relation between prearranged and right on the spot is 0 % to 100 %. I don´t really believe in prearranging things. Mainly, because I am too lazy for that, I have better things to do and secondly every night is different, every situation is different. Even if you play in the same club, like fabric for example, the audience is different every time, the person who plays before you plays different, something is always different. So I would not see the point in prearranging anything. My technical set-up (something that people have criticized me for at a time when I was leaving vinyl behind) allows me to constantly try new things and new combinations. So every gig to me is something new and exciting to be approached. I have learned a lot of improvisation skills, which are very helpful, so I believe that doing the right thing in the very moment is the key and not preparing something and just letting it run.

If you had seven words to describe the change in the techno scene since you started, what would it be and why?

Sound, technology, professionalism, commercial success, Ibiza, digital and bass

"It's almost like being in the Matrix, taking the blue pill or the red pill"

Seven artists you love at the moment?

Martin L. Gore, Trent Reznor, Massive Attack, Chet Faker, Gregory Porter, Robert Hood, Alessandro Cortini

Seven career highlights?

My first Love Parade and playing at Siegessäule in Berlin in front of 800,000 people, my love for New York City and every party I have ever played there, my love for Ibiza and every party I have played here, my first sixteen hour gig at Berghain and all the other gigs at Berghain! Every gig at fabric in London, Cocoon afterhours at the beach in 2013 and finally, my terrace for HYTE at Amnesia in June.

We know that you turned vegan a few years ago… how has being a vegan changed you as a person? Do you feel it has affected your music? What is the hardest part of being a vegan and what is the most rewarding?

I am not sure if the veganism has changed me as a person. Maybe it has made me more empathetic for my environment and more aware of my environment, but it has definitely changed my body. I am almost never sick any more. I have no colds, I have doubled my energy, I need less sleep and I never smell bad! It has affected my music, as I have more energy and I have more inspiration. My body needs less energy to deal with infections and inflammations, and all of that made more space to be creative musically. I strongly believe that.

The most rewarding part is that you know that you don´t participate any more in a mass killing and a mass-murder of animals any more. You take an incredibly big step to save the environment and my body feels as if I was twenty again. That is the most rewarding.

The hardest part of being a vegan is that you are suddenly aware of how much suffering is involved in animal products. For example, going to have breakfast in hotels and seeing what people mindlessly stuff into themselves, heaps of bacon and scrambled eggs, and then thinking that a long, long, long time ago I was doing the same thing. Knowing how much better you feel now and wanting to yell in their faces that what they are doing is wrong, wrong for the body, wrong for the environment and wrong for the animals, but you can´t. That's why most people think that vegans are annoying. You have to deal with the fact that suddenly you are in a totally different reality. It's almost like being in the Matrix, taking the blue pill or the red pill. Once you take the blue pill, there is no way back. You suddenly see the facts, the facts that the meat and dairy industry are trying to cover up, trying to make you feel good about the milk that you are drinking. Dealing with this is definitely the hardest part.

Finally, what can we expect during your seventh time at WetYourSelf?

I have no clue as I don't prepare anything! But I sure hope that we are going to have fun.

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