Home Interviews Chriss V & Olart [Interview]

Chriss V & Olart [Interview]

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Hailing from Albania, Chriss V has been a fixture of the electronic underground for the better part of two decades. Highly regarded as a DJ, Chriss has shared the stage with a variety of top international talents, with Solomun, Eric Prydz, Hernan Cattaneo, Nick Warren, Henry Saiz, Roy Rosenfeld, Sebastien Leger, Khen, Eli Nissan and Armen Miran being the most notable. As a producer, Chriss has been selective with his projects over the last decade, with Dbeatzion Records, Elliptical Sun Recordings and Inception being the primary landing spots for his progressive sound. Having forged a partnership with newcomer and fellow countryman Olart last year, the duo released their first ever production, a remix of 'Sands of Time' by Gabo Martin and Jesuan M via Nikko.Z's Dopamine White. Now, continuing to build on their creative synergy, Chriss and Olart debut on roku with 'Distance Echoes', alongside remixes from Kostya Outta and Eri D.

Progressive Astronaut caught up with Chriss and Olart to learn more about the release of ‘Distance Echoes’, their musical history, DJing, studio process and more. Enjoy.

Hi Guys, thanks for joining us today. What is your current mood and what was the last piece of music you listened to ?

Olart: Currently I feel very delighted as we are advancing towards the summer and it is a very lovely time in our small Mediterranean country. The very last piece of music I listened to was the Beirut Boiler Room set from Dj Tala. Indeed a nice vibey house one.

Chriss V: I am very excited for the upcoming release and the summer gigs and festivals.

Tell us about growing up in Albania and how did it affect your journey into electronic music. Who from your home town inspired you when you first discovered your love for electronic music ?

Olart: Growing up in Albania has been overall very good mostly due to well established friendships. Albania has a very virtuous art scene with musical talents from different genres and growing up in this environment is inspiring. As a young person I picked up many influences from listening to unplugged bands in small bars or techno/progressive rave like events with a small crowd to huge venues and festivals. The diversity of events and genres makes it easy to get involved.

One of the first inspirations was Eri D and his very nice progressive house sets. Eri D is also on the Distance Echoes EP as a remixer.

Chriss V: Living the childhood here was very enjoyable , with lots of friends, music, football and other activities. First inspirations from my hometown were djs like Ad Disha, Eri D, Leo Ciko. Their music and performance always were fantastic and remarkable .

What are your favourite venues to play or attend to in Albania or abroad and why ?

Olart: My favourite events here to attend to in Albania are the Anjuna Explorations because i enjoy the summertime very much and the lineups are full of my favourite artists.

Chriss V: The best events and venues in which i played and i like are Anjuna Explorations (Albania) , Sundance (Albania) an event which has a vast attendance and artist lineup worldwide . Worldwide i like All Day i Dream , The Soundgarden , We are lost festival etc.

If you are not DJing or socializing at clubs, where do we find you? And doing what?

Olart: In my free time i am mostly hanging out with my lovely wife and daughter between playgrounds and other outdoorsy activities.

Chriss V: Family time , running and walking in nature and a bit of hiking , watching football .

How did you meet up and eventually start collaborating ? And where you releasing music in a solo capacity before your partnership?

Both: We met in the early scene of Albania electronic music back in 2007 . We had both the same interest and taste in music were frequenting the same places. Though working with production as hobby since early in my career in only had one previous release .

A successful partnership is generally based around balance and compromise; how do you manage these things within your production dynamic?

Both: Having been friends for a very long time we tend to understand each other easily. This is a good advantage that helps progress the work faster. My philosophy has always been a good critique is better than 100 compliments.

Do you have different roles in the production process? And if so elaborate please.

Both: We share the workload always and the production process varies from me trying to work a beat and Chriss on the keys or vice versa. One thing i have to say Chriss helps a lot with is references and examples of what his vision is on the project. He is indeed a very talented DJ/producer.

Working as a duo is an interesting dynamic, do you guys share a studio where all the sessions are together or do you produce separately and pass files back and forth? And if you have done both what do you prefer and why?

Both: We both share the studio almost always but there are times where we would write something privately and than bring the files back in . I find both ways of working having distinct positive effects as in the studio we can interact much much faster but sometimes the inspiration can hit while away from it.

When you were first getting started in production did you have someone you or are you self-taught? A what would you recommend new producers do to help with the learning curve of production ?

Olart: I am self-taught and in my experience my advice for new producers is to prioritize your time and resources. New gear , new plugins can be costly and overwhelming at first. Nowadays we have access to a lot of information and taking the time to do a small search can save a lot . As for the learning curve not only you have to put the hours to gain experience but also listen to a lot of music . One must train the brain as much as the ear.

Chriss V: Self-taught too , lots of tutorials , masterclasses and practice . I'll advise new producers listening to lots of music , keeping a positive attitude even in difficult times and a lot of practice. Information nowadays is easily accessible so you just have to stay consistent.

You have a new single entitled 'Distance Echoes' out now on Da Luka and Jorgio Kioris's roku imprint, tell us about the tracks and how they showcase your sound.

Both: These two tracks are the first one we wrote. We were trying to bring the old and the new together in one EP. Distance Echoes has a great emphasis on arpeggios and the sound is chosen to emulate the late 2000s and early 2010s era of progressive house and trance. The second piece is influenced by more modern melodic house/ deep house sound all while trying to keep a mysterious and mystical thematic.

What does your set-up look like? Do you favour physical gear over digital? And what studio tools featured heavily in the writing of "Distance Echoes" ?

Both: Our set-up is mainly made of the Daw Fl Studio, midi keyboard M audio , 2 external synths Nord lead and Korg, a sequencer Arturia Keystep and Beatstep. I personally have no strong feelings one way or the other. Both digital instruments and physical hardware have amazing capabilities and in the present-day scene they are very symbiotic.

Distance Echoes has relied heavily on arpeggios , the sound has been worked on U-He Diva with the help of the sequencer.

Kostya Outta and Eri D are remixers on this project, what was it you liked about their style specifically for this release?

Both: Kostya is very unique and we are playing his tracks quite often. Eri is a very talented artist that brings a lot of good vibes in any collaboration , he is also a good friend. Additionally Eri is a very good painter and that comes through in his music writing

Let's talk about production a bit more for a moment, where does the impulse to create something come from for you?

Olart: Good question, I believe it is a range of things. Sometimes is a interesting video online or learning a new technique and wanting to see what i can do with this new information. Other times it is as simple as opening a daw and jamming for a while . Also listening to music casually it can make us start writing.

Chriss V: It is satisfying entering the studio having an idea and watching your baby grow also music in general and emotional state :)

What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams , other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play? And was there anything that inspired "Distance Echoes"?

Olart: They all play a big role, the way we internalize the world around will manifest eventually in our writing process. "Distance Echoes" is one of our first projects as a duo and the inspiration is mostly spontaneous .

Chriss V: Apart from politics which I don't like and mind at all , I do have inspirations from dreams , relationships and everyday life. About "Distance Echoes" I think we have inspiration from the past era of prog/house scene .

Once a piece is finished , how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate later on?

Both: Very important. The process of finishing a project requires listening to it countless times which leads to creating different dynamic between me and the track. I tent to stop listening to it for some days and than revisiting for the final decision.

How much improvement and refinement do you personally allow until you're satisfied with a piece? What does this process look like in practice? And who is someone you share your new music with first for feedback?

Both: This is a delicate moment in production, the saying goes that a work of art is never truly finished. After revisiting the project once i consider it finished i will only work on necessary changes.

What I like to do is always take notes on things I like to change or have done while listening to the piece . It helps not forgetting things .

For feedback I send my projects on a close group of friends.

What task you enjoy the most when producing and what would you prefer someone else to do?

Olart: My favourite part is arrangement , at this part most of the ideas are on the project and now it is time to actually shape it and bring it to life. As for the section that I would have someone else do is mastering .

Chriss V: I love melodies and textures which is my fav part of production . My least fav activity is mastering .

What would be a musical extravagance for your studio you would pay for if you were wealthy?

Both: I would love to collect old synths like Minimoog, Roland Jupiter8 , Prophet etc. Just having them around showcasing them in the studio and being able to use them at anytime in their physical form would be great.

Now let's talk about DJing for a moment , it's a unique discipline at the border between presenting great music and creating something new with it, between composition and improvisation to an extent. How would you describe your approach to it?

Both: Our vision of DJing is quite simple, being able to tell a story with selection of music and at the same time being able to adjust to the set in order to have the vibe that you want to achieve.

Can you tell me a bit how your work as a Dj Has influenced your view of music, your way of listening to tracks and perhaps also, your work as a producer?

Both: DJing has huge impact on my view of electronic music, it establishes what genres I felt closer to, trying to figure out what pieces fit together better, the energy of each one. As a producer Djing helped me figure out what sounds and techniques stand out more on the dancefloor .

If you could set up an event with a line-up of five artists of your choice , who would you book and what set time would you ascribe to the artists?

Olart: This is a tough one for me but I will try, two hours set each : starting from 9 pm Luca Musto , 11 pm Sébastien Leger, 1 am Chriss V, 3 am Hernan Cattaneo and closing set at 5 am Netsky.

Chriss V: Ad Disha 9 pm , Bani D 11 pm , Roy Rosenfeld 1 am , Nick Warren 3 am , Hernan Cattaneo closing set

What's a book you've read or film you have watched that has left an impact on you, and why?

Olart: I think my personal favourite film is the Gladiator. I really admire the music and the whole experience feels like a story written upon a 2 hour long composition.

Chriss V: The last book I read was "The Four Agreements" by Miguel Ruiz , mind blowing and i advise everyone to read it :)

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

Olart: Spending time with my family is what I like doing most in my spare time.

Chriss V: Playing with my little girl and nature.

What does the remainder of 2023 hold for you guys? Anything you want to share with us?

Olart: Production wise we are working hard to get thing on the next level and i hope to have more and more work released.

Chriss V: Releases , summer gigs festivals and vacations with family.

'Distance Echoes' is available now via roku: https://bit.ly/3I9OyO6

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