On the DL with CL: DJ/producer Christopher Lawrence
Wed, Jan 20, 2010 (9:25 p.m.)
Get your trance pants ready, even if you shy away from — or don’t know much about — this particular style of electronic dance music. Christopher Lawrence, the 2008 America’s Best DJ titleholder, returns to Vegas and aims to make everyone happy Sunday night at Moon.
Vegas is kind of a finicky club scene. Do you get nervous coming here? What do you think of our scene?
One, is it’s an extremely healthy scene. I think that Vegas has one of the best scenes in the country. It is very finicky though and that’s the tricky thing is you’ve really got two scenes concurrently in Las Vegas. You’ve got the underground scene, and those are the people that are really hip and clued-in to music. Then you’ve got the itinerant people and the people on holidays … Those people — the majority of them — are just looking for something to do.
It’s hard to strike the balance because a lot of times, the clubs in Vegas, you’re catering to both markets. I’m looking out and I’ll see my fans, but I also know there’s a certain number of people there that may not have ever heard of my name before. You’ve got to be able to find the balance to please them as well because they’ve come to the club to have a good night and you don’t want them to go away disappointed. It’s one of the more difficult cities to play, especially for someone like me—to find that balance to please my fans yet to also please somebody that’s a casual clubgoer.
For clubbers that say they don’t like trance — or maybe have no idea what it is you play — why should they check you out at Moon?
You’re going to hear really amazing music. That’s what I’ve always done and that’s why I’ve been successful this long as a DJ. ... There are going to be songs that you may not be familiar with, but they’re going to be incredible songs on the dance floor. That’s what I do and that’s all that I ever wanted to do. I think that’s the goal of a good DJ.
I’m looking forward to playing at Moon because at a club like that I can play songs that have — for lack of a better word — more finesse, they’re more intricate, more detailed. ... You don’t need the energy to drive 5,000 people that you do at a festival where the person in the back has to be kind of hearing the same thing as the person at the front, so it’s got to be big, banging, obvious, powerful music.
One of the other things that I’m excited about is I’m playing with Jordan Stevens. It’s his birthday that night and we’re playing together there and he’s an absolutely brilliant DJ. That’s something that people should know if they want to hear possibly one of Vegas’ best DJs.
Why do you think other DJ/producers today prefer not to label their music “trance”? Has the genre received a bad rap lately?
There’s good trance and there’s bad trance, and unfortunately, the bad trance has gotten the most attention. So there’s a lot of DJs that play really cheesy trance music, and I hate that stuff as much as the next person. … So it makes it hard because what I play is trance, but it’s also influenced by techno, house and progressive house. The blanket term “trance” would apply to what I’m playing, but it doesn’t resemble the cheesy trance and the commercial trance that has a bad name.
If clubbers want to check out what you’re up to before you arrive, you’ve got a new free bootleg remix of U2’s “I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight.” Can you tell us a bit more about all your freebies for fans?
I think it’s important to make music accessible, especially as a DJ that tours internationally. I can’t be in every country every week and so by doing my radio show called Rush Hour ... by doing live mixes at events that I play and making those available on my website, those kind of things allow people around the globe to experience the music that I’m playing. … It’s just a way of giving back. The same with the U2 remix that I did. We had decided that we didn’t have a label that we thought could put it out properly, so the best thing to do was just give it away. That way everyone can have it. It’s just kind of a fun thing to do.
How are things going with your Mr. & Mrs. Smith side project?
Mr. & Mrs. Smith is a collaboration that I started with my wife, Sara. It’s more on the electro/techno/house tip. Because I’m known for playing trance, we decided to start something between us that’s a sound that we both like that we share. We’ve been together for the last 15 years, collected a lot of music and we still listen to music together and go out to clubs. We decided, “Well, why don’t we start DJing together?” … It’s like starting all over again in a different sport. It’s made it more exciting and interesting for me, both doing the Mr. & Mrs. Smith project and doing what I do.
You and your wife are going to play together at the Winter Music Conference in Miami in March. Do you think you might bring Mr. & Mrs. Smith to Vegas at some point and how do you think it’d go here?
It’d go over brilliantly in Vegas. It’s a sound that would work in any club in Vegas definitely!
Speaking of your wife and family, how do you balance time with them while jet-setting all the time?
I always say I’m going to slow down and spend more time in the studio and more time at home with the family, but I like to tour and I like to play parties, so I just — I haven’t slowed down yet (laughing). I’ve got an artist album that I should be working on and I should be spending time in the studio, but in a week I’m leaving and I’m going to Costa Rica and Denver and Las Vegas. What I do is I try to find a balance. Right now, I’ve just gone off of a two-week tour and I’m taking two weeks with the family while the kids are on school holiday, so we can come up and go to the beach [near their home in Australia] and have a holiday together. … Then I’ll go back out on the road and focus entirely on music. Yeah, it’s tough to find a balance, but for me it’s more doing either-or, I just get in to one zone at a time.