Christian Smith Talks About The Craziest Thing That's Happened During His Set In iEDM Exclusive
Tech-house DJ and producer, Christian Smith has been on the rise for the past two decades. From throwing his own Tronic label parties, to headlining some of the biggest festivals on the planet, this man can do it all.
In the midst of all the craziness, he was kind enough to join me for a quick chat in between sets on a party cruise, Shipsomnia, in The Mediterranean Sea.
iEDM: You’re a man of many talents, do you like to DJ or produce more? Why?
Christian Smith: It’s two totally different things, but at the same time they go hand-in-hand. There’s nothing better than having a couple thousand people screaming and raising their hands to one of your own productions. It’s a really nice feeling. At the same time, it’s really nice to sit in the studio and create something new. Right when you have something that you really enjoy, that energy is magical. So, I like both, but if I had to choose one it would have to be DJing. Just because of the raw energy and adrenaline. You feed off the energy of the crowd and it’s amazing.
iEDM: You have been performing for the last few days in various cities and events, how has that energy been?
Christian Smith: I just came from Sonar. I had 3 gigs in Barcelona, including my own party last night… which was ram packed and went until 8 in the morning. I lost my voice. It was incredible. Today I played a boat party [Shipsomnia], that was fun, but the party in Barcelona was incredible because it was a Tronic party.. which is my label. We managed to sell out the place, sell out from end to end. Which is really difficult because in Barcelona during Sonar you have around 100-150 parties a night. A lot of parties fail. Even though you may have a good lineup, sometimes only 50 people show up. We had close to 2,000 and I’m really happy about that. This is my first time on a cruise ship so I’m really enjoying myself. The gig aside, I’m having a great time. Though it is a little more mainstream, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s my job to convert people to the underground.
iEDM: Where is your favorite place to perform? Why?
Christian Smith: I’ve been touring for a long time, close to 20 years now. It’s crazy, time flies when you’re having fun. Every year I travel around the world from Australia to Japan to North America, and I live in Europe, so obviously many gigs there.
However, my favorite place to perform right now is without a doubt Argentina. The crowds are educated and passionate. They have a big scene as well. It’s quite amazing. I’m lucky to be able to go there about twice a year. I’m actually playing there in August and I’m already very excited. I’m really looking forward to that.
iEDM: Tell us about the craziest thing that happened during one of your sets
Christian Smith: It’s funny you ask me that, my driver today just asked the same thing when we were chit chatting. I’ve played over 2,000 gigs so I had to think about that. Of course, normal things happen like bras and panties. But once I played on an island called Isla Margarita in Venezuela and was at a festival. For some reason the police were not happy about it. I don't know why, I was DJing. The floor was packed, and suddenly an officer pointed a sawed off shotgun right in my face. He said to switch off the music right now, I said “okay” and turned it off right away. That might not have been crazy, but it was scary. Like, which police force uses a sawed off shotgun? What the hell..
iEDM: Have you always wanted to make music?
Christian Smith: Well, I’ve had a lot of education. I did my undergraduate in international business and finance, and then I became an investment banker. I hated it. I was making good money, but I was working crazy long hours… like 80-90 hours a week. I thought, ‘how the hell can I get away from this career?’ I thought the only way to get our of this was more education. So I went to graduate school at Stockholm School of Economics in Sweden to get a Masters in Economics. While studying that I produced a couple of records that caught the attention of dj’s like Carl Cox. Within only a few months, I started getting booked in places like Australia and Japan. Just random, distant places. I was like, ‘wow, I’m going to give this a try.’ The only problem was, I was almost finished with my masters degree. But imagine having 10 bookings in a month while finishing school, it’s not possible. So I ended up dropping out of grad school, my parents were not happy. But I decided to go for it, and this was about 20 years ago. I still do what I love, and I’m very happy that I decided not to pursue banking any longer.
As they say, you make your own destiny. It’s easy to do what’s comfortable, but you have to take risks in life. If you take risks, even if you fail, you can say that you’ve tried. I took a risk and I got lucky. My profession as a DJ is a dream job. I get to travel the world, talk to locals, hear their stories, and eat local food. Traveling is such an inspirational thing, and it’s so educational at the same time. I’ve done this for a long time now and I hope to do this for a long time to come.
Having said that, it’s difficult as well. Being a successful international DJ requires a lot of work. It’s not just a gig, it’s also during the week. You have to have a PR agent, you have to do interviews, you have to strategize, you need to have a regular release schedule, etc. It’s really competitive, for every gig I do, there are 100 other DJ’s that are willing to do it for a fourth of the price. You need to justify your standing. It’s survival of the fittest, but it’s like that in most jobs I guess.
iEDM: Your label Tronic has recently hit a landmark of over 200 releases. How does it feel?
Christian Smith: Pretty crazy because when I started it was just a hobby. I was doing like 1 release every few months, now it’s 3 releases every month. The label is now really structured and organized. I have a full-time label manager working for me. Overall, I just have a very good team behind me. The Tronic machine is well oiled and runs very smoothly. I’m very happy that we have done over 200 releases, but it’s not about the number, it’s to be consistent and doing what you’re passionate about. The label is now the 2nd biggest techno label in the world. That was never really my goal, the goal was to do what I’m passionate about. People support that and I’m very appreciative.
iEDM: You just hosted a Tronic label in Barcelona, can we expect Tronic parties in other places around the world?
Christian Smith: Tronic events are the next big thing for me. Something I’m spending a lot of time planning and strategizing. There are Tronic parties coming up in Argentina. I just did one in Tokyo, Japan.. I’m planning to do one in London, in Amsterdam, in Frankfurt, Germany. So far, people like the concept and they like the DJs that come with the concept. I think it makes sense to do these branded events because the label is very popular, the artists are very popular, and if you put it all together it’s a good package and people seem to like that.
iEDM: Is there anything else you’d like your fans to know about?
Christian Smith: Yes, I’m going to spend more time in North America as well. I used to live in New York, so I was doing 50-60 gigs a year out there. Now that I’m in Europe I only do 5-10 so not much at all. I really love North America so I plan to do Tronic events there as well. I just enjoy going there, so I plan to bring the Tronic brand back to North America. Additionally, Ultra has asked me to host a Tronic stage at their Resistance party in Ibiza this August. So if Ultra wants Tronic, it’s a brand worth pushing.
This hardworker also knows how to party. After our interview, Christian and I walked up to the main stage and partied one last time before the party cruise returned to port.