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In April 2017 I had the opportunity to interview Swedish techno DJ Christian Smith about his first gig. "People thought I had played too many 'big' tracks."
“My first gig took place at Club Omen in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. I was only sixteen at the time and was working as an intern at Boy Records, a local record store. Besides that, I was still in high school.”
“The storeowner was Achim Szepanski. He is also known as the owner of the legendary Force Inc. label. In 1988 he decided to throw an acid house party at Club Omen, and I got the chance to open the night for headliner Westbam. That was my debut.”
Lack of experience
“Of course, I was very nervous. The club was filled to the brim and luckily, I put down a great set. In all fairness, I admit that due to my total lack of experience I wasn’t a very good warm-up DJ. I just mixed tracks that I thought would go well with my favorite records. However, my favorites were also popular tracks from the time – which were supposed to be played by the headliner.” (laughs)
Middle of the week
“Club Omen was a sweaty, hot club. During my debut there were about eight hundred visitors, even though it was the middle of the week. Because Westbam was extremely popular at the time, the club was completely full.”
“In preparation, I packed about a hundred of my favorite records at home. It goes without saying that TRAX was my favorite label at the time and also an extensive source of inspiration for an acid house party.”
“Luckily, I got a lot of support from family and friends. Many of my friends were there anyway that night. After all, not many sixteen-year-olds get the chance to play in one of the world’s most renowned techno clubs. And no, there wasn’t a girl I wanted to impress. Other than being a very shy teenager, I was all about music.”
“In fact, I started clubbing when I was fourteen. I’m Swedish myself, but my father was a Lufthansa pilot, so we lived in Frankfurt. I visited all the clubs in that city but my favorites at the time were Dorian Gray, Omen and Plastik. I didn’t drink or do drugs. I was a maniacal ‘trainspotter’: I was always at the booth to observe the DJs and their music. I barely even danced because I was way too busy peeking at everything the DJ was doing. The latter is actually quite funny because during my own gigs I always get a bit irritated when someone is standing next to me and watching my moves all the time, even though I was just that type when I started.” (laughs)
“Sven Väth was a local celebrity in Frankfurt at the time. He worked on his pop project Off but played on weekends in clubs such as Vogue, Dorian Gray and later Omen. I’m definitely hugely influenced by Sven and DJ Dag. I also have an older brother and sister. In the early eighties they brought me mixtapes from Dorian Gray. Those tapes have also had a major influence on my development.”
We Are Phuture
“Like I said, the first time went pretty well, but people thought I had played too many ‘big’ tracks.” (laughs) “Think We Are Phuture by Trax Recoreds and Bam Bam’s Where’s Your Child. At my age and in such a packed venue it was impossible for me to hold back. Despite my lack of experience, I had a great time.”
“I don’t think I’ve made any major mistakes either. I started out as a battle/scratch DJ. For several years I practiced for a few hours every day and entered DMC competitions. I think I’ve worn out eight to ten Gemini MX 2200’s mixers (see first gig-photo). Fortunately, in the United States at the time, they cost only sixty dollars. So technically speaking, I was pretty confident that first time, because I knew my skills were tight and fast. This background still comes in handy every day.”
This interview with Christian Smith is originally published on April 27th 2017 on DJMag.nl.