As you can see, we’re big fans of interviews on this here bit of internet. Such big fans in fact, that we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to interview yet another fantastic name in this scene, Chris Voro. With more than two decades of experience in the biz and a varied portfolio of genres he’s looking to showcase, we’re delighted to have sat down with him and discovered some rather interesting details. I’m obviously not going to spoil everything here – that would defeat the entire purpose of this thing – so stop twiddling your thumbs and get reading. 😛
TranceMag: As with any interview, we start at the beginning – wherever that may be. Could you tell our readers a little about how your music journey began, specifically relating to Trance and then what other genres sparked your interest?
Chris Voro: Well, I’ve always been a listener. I discovered Electronic Music in about 1994. At the time, I was listening to a Greek radio station which played Electronic Music, and I liked it a lot. One day, I listened to Terra Ferma – Lunar Sunrise, and that did it for me – I was hooked. So I discovered Trance Music. I also started listening to Goa at that time. Man with No Name, Astral Projection, Mystica, MFG, etc.
After some years, a Greek web radio was launched by a friend (the station was at danceradio.gr). Since my knowledge of the genre was good – being a listener for so many years – he asked me to get involved and I did, by managing the Trance stream with him. We did good things back then. I discovered ReOrder from the trance.nu forums. We had his first show and we booked him his first abroad gig. I also was one of the first believers of Aly & Fila, right when they were starting. And I got Fadi a show on our radio station, before DI, ASOT etc. He still calls me “the first believer”. We hosted ASOT, GDJB, and more. And we also had exclusive mixes from Giuseppe Ottaviani, PvD, and others.
It was a great Trance stream, fighting head to head with AH.FM for the second place after DI. But the expenses were significant, and the income minimal so we stopped broadcasting.
With my connections I became a Trance DJ in Greece. Since I was getting good promo, I took part in some events, even opened for Markus Schulz for example. But I got tired of it, and I started looking for the next step.
My buddies Active Limbic System started their journey in production, so I thought what the hell, I should give it a try. Maybe it could fill that musical emptiness I started feeling at the time. And it did. I didn’t have any musical background, only some basic stuff, and I didn’t know anything about production – not a single thing. I didn’t even know what sidechain meant, or compression. That was 7 years ago. But I started experimenting and asking around, and I slowly improved my skills. So, that’s it.
TM: Your experimentation has led to you releasing quite a few tracks in genres that are not Trance – most notably Breaks. Is there something in particular that’s most important to you in a production, something that applies across all these genres?
CV: What I look most for and pay attention to is the atmosphere of the track. When I start a tune, I try to make pictures in my mind and then transform them into sonic impressions. I get my inspiration from almost anything, but what best describes my inner world when I produce is the cyberpunk universe. You know that dystopian, futuristic, noir atmosphere. This is what I usually try to translate into my music. I like the production quality to be as high as possible, but the attention to the sound will never be on the same level as the attention to the atmosphere for me. That’s how I got hooked on Electronic Music, through the atmosphere and its overall feeling. I wasn’t a producer and I couldn’t appreciate the sound quality back then. I expect the same from the listeners today. I don’t make music for the producers; I make music for the listeners and myself, of course.
But the reason that I produce different genres is because I feel like it. I’m always searching for new and different things in every aspect of my life, trying to get as much experience and knowledge as possible about everything.
And you still haven’t seen (or listened) to anything yet from the variety I want to present. This year more things are coming, totally different from what I’ve done to date, starting from my Chill Out album.
TM: We’ll come back to the album in just a little bit, but staying on the subject of the things you want to present, some of our readers might not be aware of the fact that you have an imprint of your own. Could you tell us a little about Blacked Out Recordings, how it came to be?
CV: Sure. It’s really hard for me to find music that I like nowadays. I get hundreds of promos every month. I like one track in 150-200 – and I’m not exaggerating. Most of the tracks I get sound the same, especially in Trance Music.
So I decided to start a small digital label to push forward some of the music I like. That’s why I have released only a few tracks on it. I’ve rejected a lot of tracks ‘cause I thought any label could release them. I’m looking for special tunes for Blacked Out, with great atmosphere. They might not be the best sound-wise, even though I consider them class, but if you notice, that atmosphere in all of them is phenomenal. Unfortunately, as time goes by, fewer and fewer producers pay attention to the atmosphere. It’s getting harder to find tracks for Blacked Out. Btw, I named the label Blacked Out, because I think most of the producers Blacked Out after 2008-2009 regarding the overall feeling a track should have. I can give you an example. You can check “Love Stimulation”. The PvD Love Club Mix and PvD’s tracks after 2008-2009. Totally different atmosphere and feeling. Love Stimulation creates emotions in my mind and soul, while his recent tracks just make me move my feet. Now check out You Are My Salvation – Asynja, on Blacked Out. The feeling and the atmosphere is present. It’s a journey. You won’t dance to it, but you’ll get the soul healing you should get. That’s the purpose of the music for me. And that’s the purpose of Blacked Out.
TM: You’re right about Asynja, in fact it’s one of the reasons why I personally like the track so much. Though the idea of atmosphere as king is not gone – looking at stuff from The Thrillseekers for example – do you think this drifting away from the focus on it is due to the larger emphasis put on club ready tracks?
CV: Probably. Also, Electronic Music – especially the underground genres at the moment – can’t make money. It doesn’t sell. Piracy is widespread. The promo pools of labels are enormous, and they give music to anyone. I mean I get loads of EDM and House Music. I haven’t played and am never gonna play music from these genres cause it’s not my style, but I’m still getting it. Also YouTube, Spotify etc, pay just a bit to the artists and they give you the possibility to stream music for free in lower quality, which is fine for the average listener. So why should anyone bother paying attention to the music and the atmosphere of a track he makes, if the only purpose of it is to keep his artist name in the loop in order to get gigs and have an income?
And that’s what separates a producer from an artist for me. A producer makes music to get money out of it, either directly or through promoting himself to get gigs. An artist does it for the love for music. To express himself and to offer people emotions. Artists pay attention to the atmosphere and music. Producers don’t.
Just to be clear, I’m not against producers. Anyone can do whatever he wants; I’m not the one to judge. I’m talking about myself here. I was making music for fun. When I got my first big supports, I did it for fame and to feed my ego.
But there was a point when I got a message from a certain person, who told me that a track I did helped him to stay strong during the passing of his mother. That did it for me. I realized that I am responsible for what I do. Fame and money can’t drive my need to create music anymore. But I can’t blame anyone that has different reasons to make music.
TM: Speaking of producers and the like, do you think that someone who’s at pretty much a beginner level would benefit from a certain approach to better understand and improve his or her creations?
CV: Well, you need to focus on the reason you make music. What drives you to do it? Is it enough? Does it complete you? Are you being creative enough to improve yourself through the process?
Of course I’m talking from my personal experience again, and I don’t know if these questions apply to everyone, but making music professionally made me a better man. I started feeling love for the people around me, for nature, for the world. I think it’s like the astronauts’ view effect. When they look at the planet from space, they realize how insignificant we are in comparison to the universe and that we should do our best to improve each other’s lives and love our world.
This feeling for me surfaced when I asked myself these questions. I don’t consider myself a great musician or producer, but I do what I do with love and I fill the empty holes in my soul through this creative process. And that’s what improves me. To be able to feel whole through my music. I spent almost 4-5 years to get to the point where I asked these questions to myself and started improving significantly and maybe someone could benefit by starting earlier.
TM: We’ve touched on stuff like your label and your opinion on production in general, but as some of the readers may know, you also have a radio show of your own, dubbed Raze. Could you tell us a little about that and its predecessor, Gloomy Sessions?
CV: Sure. I started Gloomy Sessions sometime ago on trance.fm. It was a pretty successful show, but when trance.fm stopped broadcasting, I had to find a new home. So I thought it was time to try the mighty DI.FM. which is why I went for a new show. Matt, the man behind the channel, is a really cool and helpful guy and everything looks fine so far. It’s a show focusing on Psybreaks and Psytrance, but I’m occasionally throwing a Progressive or a Melodic Techno tune in there. Like Gloomy Sessions, it’s 1 hour per month.
TM: Now that we’ve covered these aspects of your sound portfolio, it’s best we shift focus onto the album you mentioned a couple of questions back. Tell us about how ReChilled came about, and what the reasoning behind the track and remixer selection was.
CV: As you know, I’m a producer who likes to listen and create various styles. Every now and then I want to make a Downtempo track. After a downtempo EP on VIM Tronica, I was talking to Chris and Hannah from Discover, who are my managers, and they told me that “Chilled Trance” was the best selling release from the Recoverworld catalogue. The first idea was to make an album of original Downtempo tracks with Trance characteristics. But it would take about 2 years, and I couldn’t spend that much time on something that wasn’t my primary genre. As such, we decided to do remixes of Trance classics that I love, from the Recoverworld back catalogue, to save time and at the same time to give credit and a kind of “thank you” to the original producers of tracks that made a difference for me.
All the tracks included on this album are from artists that I respect a lot. John Askew and Activa were the guys behind Perfecto Fluoro when I joined the label. They were by my side every step of the way, and I owe them so much.
Sean Tyas is the best sound designer I’ve encountered in the Trance scene so far. Great guy, amazing producer, and probably the hardest working guy I’ve seen. We had talks about music and Logic’s bugs in the past, and I had a first try at remixing his major hit “Lift”, in a Discover competition some years ago. I was making my first steps in the realm of production back then, and the quality of the remix sucked. But it was a very unique Breaks/ Dubstep direction, which Sean appreciated and passed it to the final selections. It didn’t make it to release, but it started a good conversation about how my ideas were cool but my production skills and my mixing kinda sucked. And that feedback helped me so much.
There’s a Magnus track there, under his Michael Lee alias. I’ve worked with Magnus a lot. He’s an amazing guy, and our sounds just click. It was the first remix I did from the album. When he listened to it, he told me it brought tears to his eyes, because he had made the original track for a person close to him, who passed away. That gave me motivation to try to imagine what the producers behind the original tracks would want the remixes to sound like.
So far, the feedback from them is extremely satisfying. I don’t have to talk about Aly & Fila or JoC I guess. Or Bryan Kearney and Greg Downey. We all know who they are and what they’ve done for Trance. But I want to mention Para X.
I had to put one more track in there and Chris suggested to me some Para X tracks. To be honest, I’ve seen his name, but since I’m not into Uplifting Trance that much at the moment, I’ve fast forwarded most of his tracks. I must say however, the majority of his productions are really cool. When I listened to World Of Illusion for the first time, the final version as it is on the album immediately came to my mind. And even though it’s not one of the favourites for the people that listened to the album so far, it surely is one of mine.
The collaborators on the album are also people I hold huge respect, admiration, and love for. You know I’ve worked with the Research & Development guys a lot in the past. It actually is my favourite label on the planet due to their musical taste and quality control. They release great music for open-minded people. And I’ve especially worked with John Dopping, who for me is the definition of the word artist. I could speak for hours about how great John is, but that’s not the point. I’m glad that people like him are working in music. Alan Ruddick is also a great guy, with a lot of knowledge about music and the most versatile taste I’ve encountered.
Chris Oblivion is a well known Greek DJ, one of the best Greek DJs actually, if not the best. And he was one of the persons behind a radio station that got me into music many years ago, Life FM. I think it was one of his shows were I listened to “Terra Ferma – Lunar Sunrise”. I’ve also worked with him a lot. Great and funny guy with a heart of gold.
One Arc Degree is a Greek duo that I came across through my releases on VIM Records. They are signed to Iboga, so that says a lot about their music quality. Their perspective on music is brilliant. I’m a HUGE fan of their work and I think they’re totally underrated.
Ode is a melodic techno project that 3 of my closest friends have started. They have some tunes in progress that are absolutely amazing. George Deligiannis, also known in the Psychill world as Cydelix and in the Trance world as Geedel, had releases on the famous Platipus Records, Cosmicleaf, and more. Probably the best Greek engineer and a awesome musician. He’s also the guy behind the mastering of the album. Nick Karantanos is a best friend of mine for years. He was producing for Nitzhonot some years ago, which was really famous in Greece and now he’s going for deep and atmospheric Techno. I think he’s going to nail it. Manos Theodoridis, the third of Ode, also worked with me on the Gary Maguire remix, as Solar Caravan. One of the best musicians I’ve come across. His mind is capable of producing monumental melodies. I’m working with him on more tracks at the moment. Trance and Breaks. And he also has some brilliant Progressive tunes coming soon.
So, as you can tell, the collaborators and the original producers are people that I admire both for their work and personalities. With the exception of Para X, John O’Callaghan, and Bryan Kearney, who I don’t know in person, but through their fantastic work, they’ve showed me a part of themselves that I like.
TM: The tracks from the album are certainly a thing to behold, especially due to the way in which they pay tribute to the originals, while crafting an identity of their own. Will the LP be available strictly in digital form, or will there be a physical release as well – CD, vinyl, cassette, stone tablet, that kind of thing?
CV: We’re thinking of photocopying the music sheets, attaching them to ravens’ legs and sending them throughout Westeros. We will distract the Night King this way and the humans might stand a chance. But if someone needs to use his iPod during the great battle, the digital version is already available to preorder.
TM: Finally, someone who gets it! While we’re on the subject of digital things, are there any other future releases in the digital realm that we should be looking forward to? You know, reaching into the coin bag and putting money aside for?
CV: Of course. I can’t stop making music, you know. There are 3 new Progressive tracks coming soon: One on Old SQL Recordings, one on Stellar Fountain/Astrowave, and another one which was just finished and I haven’t decided on the label just yet. Also, 3 new Psybreaks tracks – one is a collab with fellow Greek artist Genuss and it’s coming out on VIM Records, the other one is a collab between me and Spanish Trance producer Michael Kaelios and will come out on my label Blacked Out Recordings, and the third one was finished just yesterday, so I can’t reveal the label just yet.
There’s a Downtempo/ Chill Out collab with Kayshan for VIM Tronica, and I might throw a new original Downtempo tune in there to release it as an EP.
I have a remix in progress of the astonishing You Are My Salvation – Tired Giant, a remix of a Trance classic that I did 2 years ago – and it might get a release after all on Armada, cause there are some copyright issues. And as I said, there are Trance and Breaks tracks coming soon in collaboration with my friend Solar Caravan. We’re thinking of throwing a Drum N’ Bass track in the pile too.
TM: Anything else you’d like to say to round off this interview?
CV: I just want to ask any producers starting now (even though I am considered new in the field as well), especially in the Trance genre, to start listening to other genres. To open their minds, stop using templates, be creative, get inspired. The music needs you. Don’t fail it.
Check out everything from the producers that I collaborated with on my album, and you’ll get the point.
Thank you for the interview, Florin. I had fun. And thank you for supporting the music we love.
A great big thanks to Chris for taking the time to answers these queries so thoroughly, and we wish him the very best in his future projects! If you have survived the wall of text above, be sure to grab you copy of Chilled Trance Volume 2 from Beatport.
Press pictures and logos courtesy of Chris Voro