Oct 16, 2017
John Christian On Fire
John Christian has been a man on fire in 2017! From his original “The Grimm” to remixing Tiësto and Diplo’s iconic “C’Mon,” to creating the festival monster “Scream” together with Tijs, his productions have been in a class of their own. After helping Tiësto create the Club Life Vol. 5 – China compilation, which features three of his own originals, one remix and two collaborations, we were excited to talk with John about his productions and budding relationship with Tiësto.
Your first release on Musical Freedom, “Flight 643” was such a massive success. Can you talk about how your career has progressed since that release?
Actually “Flight 643” was my first official solo track after my remix releases for Nicky Romero, Avicii and Busta Rhymes. The story behind the track is so great – “Flight 643” was originally a Tiësto track from 2001, then redone totally by me and got released on Tiësto’s label, Musical Freedom. I believe that this chain of facts caused the instant attention from all of the big names in the scene, and that led the track to become one of the most played tracks in 2013. Right after that I was able to sign tracks to labels like Toolroom Records, Protocol Recordings, Mainstage Music, Metanoia Music and so on. Also promoters got interested in booking me for festivals and in clubs.
What made “Scream” the right track for you and Tijs to collaborate on? Can you take us through the production process?
Tijs and I were almost literally daydreaming about creating an album, which would be the most epic and best dance music album in the world. After a while we came up with the idea to make a blueprint for that album. We wanted to do a track which would contain a high dose of musicality, originality, party vibe and technical skills, that despite all that would sound like an instant perpetual earworm. Although this might sound like an insurmountable task, I believe “Scream” has all of it.
In the break you can hear that we have used this jazzy kind of chord progression, which is nothing similar to what’s out there already. Also we created some kind of a ‘horse riding’ bassline, which was fresh but technically difficult at the same time. If you listen carefully to the track you can actually hear us sing on the track, which we did to create the party vibe. And finally we worked on a melody that’s repetitive throughout the whole song and should catch you instantly.
All of this happened over a period of a few weeks in which Tijs was testing the tracks during his gigs and I was polishing the production in the studio after receiving his feedback over and over again. Apart from having this track succeeding, we had put down the blueprint for the rest of the album.
Your original “The Grimm” has also been huge this year – insane DJ support! What do you think are some of the standout characteristics that make it so accessible to other DJs?
I’ve tried to make an energetic track that anyone could play. From a DJ that plays house, who could play it at the end of his set, to a DJ that plays EDM, who could play it even at the beginning of his set. Also the break is something that can be played by a lot of DJs because of the familiarity of it. I am delighted to see that DJs find it relevant enough make mashups with it too. It wasn’t easy to find that thin line, which would indicate the crossover potential of “The Grimm,” but ultimately it worked out very well.
How’d you approach your remix of “C’mon”? What elements of the original did you want to preserve and how do you feel that you’ve made it your own? Was there extra pressure after the massive success of the original?
When Tijs proposed to me to work on a remix of that track I felt the pressure instantly. What could I possibly add to a track which was already that familiar and successful? For that reason I proposed to go into the studio and just try some things first before saying yes. As we were already in the production process of Club Life Vol. 5 – China, there wasn’t that much time for the remix so that created even more pressure. Once I started, I stepped back from looking at it as some kind of competition. I just imagined myself making an original track with the most relevant parts of the original song, comparable to making a cover of a song. This worked out great, and when I proposed the result to Tijs he went crazy for it and even played it the same day at Ultra Singapore.
You’ve got three additional solo singles on the Club Life Vol. 5 – China compilation, can you tell us some more about one of them?
Well I would pick “Back To The Old School.” I consider this track the official follow up to “The Grimm.” First of all they were made in the same period of time. Second that was a period when I felt total freedom inside the studio, which sometimes can be very hard to find. So both “The Grimm” and “Back To The Oldschool” represent my personal taste and production skills the best.
You’ve previously worked with SWACQ when he was Arin Tone, so what was it like working with him and Tijs together on “Brolab”?
I can put it down in one word: FUN! Having fun inside the studio is literally the only way of making a difference with your music. SWACQ and I share a lot of time in the studio together and we try to trigger each other as much as we can in order to remember the initial reason for making music – having fun and trying to entertain other people. I’ve seen a lot of people struggling in the studio because they were taking it all too seriously. I always say, “Hey, we’re not saving lives here, let’s just have fun and see what happens.” Because Tijs approaches it all exactly the same way, there was a fundamental reason to do this “Brolab.” During the studio sessions we were putting down some ideas in which we all had our equal contribution and I can truly say that without one of us three, this track couldn’t have been like it is now.
What does it mean to you to feature so extensively on the new Club Life album?
To me this is the most valuable acknowledgement of my talents and abilities ever. Tijs can work with whomever he wants and he chose me as his partner to create this Club Life album. I’ve known Tijs already for five years but never worked that intensively with him, but during the production of this album I got to know him as a person a lot more which makes me even more proud of this whole adventure. He really is a people’s person who has achieved more than all the others. Therefore his acknowledgement towards me is not only supportive towards my musical career but also means a lot to me as a person.
If you want to learn more about the artists behind Club Life Vol. 5 be sure to check out SWACQ's story here. You can find the full Club Life Vol. 5 album on your platform of choice here: http://musicalfreedom.lnk.to/clublife5
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