Last Friday night, world-renowned English DJ and producer Chris Lake continued his “Rising Tour” (part of his “Rising Music” Label) at Avalon Hollywood with his friends TJR and Nom de Strip. This Fall's “Chris Lake Rising Tour” has been all over North America in September. It was a thrill to chat with Chris and get to know his artists/friends. If you need a preview of his humorous/entertaining side, make sure to check out http://chris-lake.com/ for his latest video for the song “Boneless” with Steve Aoki and Tujamo. Along with GTA and Hot Mouth, Chris can be proud of the likable, talented guys on his label.
Special thanks to Chris, TJR, and Nom de Strip for taking time to chat with us.
EDM Sauce: Let’s start with Nom (de Strip) who is on stage.
Chris: He is such a dick.
EDM Sauce: What kind of issues do you face travelling with such a person?
Chris: He is an utter menace. There’s something wrong with him, I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. But I love it, I absolutely love it. It makes him a very, very unique character. And he’s lucky that he’s extremely talented as well. He’s always got a smile on his face, he’s such a prick.
EDM Sauce: How long have you two known each other?
Chris: About six months past too long. We’ve known each other for a while. You’ve gotta understand we are British and we are unbelievably sarcastic. We like making fun of each other and don’t take anything seriously. We’re very comfortable with each other and not scared to say anything about each other.
EDM Sauce: When you’re working with young talent, what do you find is the biggest thing you need to help them with as a producer. You run two labels, what do you feel you need to do the most with someone as they come along?
Chris: There’s different challenges with different artists. You never know what stage you’re going to find someone. If you take twenty kids, twenty twenty-one year-olds, five of them are going to be super mature. Probably ten of them are going to be utter dicks that you can’t believe they’re twenty-one. They have the mind of a fifteen year old. Everyone’s different, different artists need different mentoring. Some people are nervous, fearful of performing. Some get stage fright, some overthink records, you need to encourage them to not overthink the recording process – just be creative and let the creativity flow, let the records come out freely. Some people just need to be told they’re fucking great all the time. Some people need to be left alone all the time, you need to identify a different way of dealing with each other.
EDM Sauce: I’m curious about your background, what kind of day jobs did you have before you got into this?
Chris: I’ve been a box maker, industrial cleaner.. horrible, horrible, horrible job. I was working night shifts doing industrial cleaning of fish processing machinery which was a rancid, rancid job. This would be machinery where there would crevices where if you weren’t using the right attachment on a hose or whatever, there would be fish stuck in there until you cleaned it out with the right nosil. These fish would stay there and basically rot. Once you broke the seal of the fish, the smell would swamp the whole factory.
EDM Sauce: How long did you do that?
Chris: A long time, three years. I worked in fish factories, did forklift driving, I sold screws, two weeks. With free drills. Seriously. Screws. With free drills. That was shit, that was horrible. Then I was a postman for three years. You’ve heard that one haven’t you? Yeah, postman. I was devastatingly good-looking in shorts.
EDM Sauce: How did this (Tour) all come about? What’s your favorite music out right now that you’re excited about?
Chris: There’s some great artists out there. Most of them are assigned to Rising. Seriously. There’s a whole bunch on the label. This whole tour came about with very pure intentions. We’re all friends. TJR, Nom de Strip, GTA, Hot Mouth, myself. We’re all friends, we all hang out, talk all the time, share music of each others. We wanted to put on a show where we could bring it all together, have some fun. One of the main exciting parts of that is that all the artists on the tour have a very unique sound and you could go and listen to a record and go, “that’s a Nom de Strip record” or “that’s a GTA record.” You could say that because there’s no one else that has that sound. They’re like a leader in a micro-genre. That’s what you need to be successful in this scene. There’s so much copycat music which is out there which is written to a formula, which is very unimaginative, which is very, very boring and great at accelerating the demise of the excitement of the scene. But when there’s artists like guys on this tour right now that are pushing music and trying to do something different that’s their own, it’s exciting. That’s what’s good about this tour, we’ve got the exciting..not the boring ones that are copying everyone else.
EDM Sauce: How much new music do you listen to on a daily basis? You oversee so much production. Is being different what stands out the most?
Chris: Yeah, I get to listen to a lot of music. I can’t listen to every record all the way through. I can just listen through a track very, very quickly. I can go to five different points in a record and be able to tell if it’s interesting enough to carry on listening to. Just by the overall sound of the record. And so many records right now sound exactly the same if you just do that five-point skip. So I’m looking for something that stands out but has this sound that separates it from other demos. That’s what I look for. That’s actually easy to find, that’s the easy bit because when someone sounds different it’s just screaming, “pick me, pick me.”
(Mrs. Lake walks in)
That’s my wife.
EDM Sauce: She’s a singer isn’t she?
Chris: She is.
EDM Sauce: So music is the whole deal, do you get burned out?
Chris: We are absolutely swamped in music. She’s talking about music, I’m talking about music. About once a month we have a punch off. I actually kick the crap out of her.. she kicks the crap out of me.. We take it in turns.
EDM Sauce: She looks kind of tough.
Chris: Yeah yeah yeah.
EDM Sauce: What do you do to relax? What are you watching?
Chris: Oh, c’mon. You know what I’m watching. Breaking Bad is fucking awesome.
EDM Sauce: Do you have any American addictions?
Chris: Yeah, Veggie Grill. I just came from there.
EDM Sauce: So you’ve gone healthy.
Chris: Don’t hate.
EDM Sauce: So you’re based in LA for how many years now?
Chris: Two years now but we’ve been spending time here for about five years.
EDM Sauce: Ok, what’s a highlight for you over the years. Anytime, anyplace.
Chris: There was one point in my career where i got government funding to set up a record label. I got about a thousand pounds to set up a record label and then I spent it on Playstation, a copy of Grand Theft Auto.. I sat there for a year and I completed it. True story, I think I was doing industrial cleaning in a factory at that point. That was a huge achievement (laugher). No, but being realistic, it was probably when “Changes” came out. That was the record that took my career to a different level. It took my ability to have a much wider audience. The coolest thing was when that record was out and everyone seemed to be playing it, it was nice going to bed on a Saturday night thinking, there’s probably still people dancing to that right now. I’m not having to do anything for it, and loads of people have probably danced to it throughout the whole of the weekend. That’s an epic feeling. I’ve that feeling ever since every weekend. There’s probably someone dancing to my music right now. That’ very, very, cool.
EDM Sauce: Did you get GTA 5?
Chris: I can’t do it ..Listen, knowing what happened back when I got that government funding and getting that copy of Grand Theft Auto 4..
Mrs. Lake: Which one was it?
Chris Lake: Two versions ago, I think it would’ve been three..
Mrs. Lake: Not vice city?
Chris Lake: No, the one before. I think it was the one where you go and take the hooker and go into the car park and rape her..
Mrs. Lake: Yeah, that was the third one.
Chris Lake: Okay.
EDM Sauce: I have to ask you some golf stuff first. What's your handicap?
TJR: Dude, right now it’s bad. I just played today actually… I’ve been playing since I was like 12. But I screwed up my back pretty bad in my 20’s but then I worked out and got it pretty good. I got a couple herniated disks so for a while there I was a scratch like a +1 or +2. I was playing really well. Then I went to college for golf and stuff. But nowadays, I barely play like a couple times a year. I don’t keep a handicap anymore. You know what I mean? I tell people I play to about a six, just to keep it.. I don’t know. I could shoot well, I could shoot 88 or I could shoot 72. I don’t even know. It depends on (things) like how hard the course is.
EDM Sauce: Do you drink when you play?
TJR: I used to but it’s fun at first and then by the end of the round I’m exhausted and drunk and its a disaster.
EDM Sauce: So where'd you play in school?
TJR: So I went to school for golf, Methodist College in Fayetville for professional golf management. That was my thing, I wanted to like get into the business. I mean, I could play but I wasn’t like.. I knew how far I would go. I mean, I didn’t make the team at Methodist. We were Division III champs, we were really good.. but like my first year, my first semester, I discovered dance music. You know what I’m saying? I tried to go out for the team and didn’t make it and then my roommate brought me to a rave and I was like, “uhh…8 in the morning putting on a Saturday or go out and have fun with my friends?”
EDM Sauce: How old were you?
TJR: I was 19.
EDM Sauce: Were you a good student? Did golf come first?
TJR: Nah. I still love golf, it was weird… It was like I love this new thing but I love golf so I still tried out like all the time but I would come home like raving with blonde bleached hair all over the place.. I’m whacked out of my mind on the course trying to tee off with everyone with these huge pants on…like I didn’t give a fuck but everyone knew.. there was this running joke with everybody that I got into jail. I still graduated school and then I went back into the golf business for a little bit because I wanted to be a caddy so I did that for a few years after college. I was like a country club’s personal caddie. Like the members. So, it’s a long story.
EDM Sauce: So how do you like being on Tour with these guys (Chris and Nom de Strip), you seem like the chill guy in the group?
TJR: Do I really? Yes! I can be the chill guy. I don’t know, I guess I can be very reserved but usually I’m the guy getting super drunk and blacking out and nobody finds me and then my friends find me in like a gutter or something. But no, Chris and Nom are great guys. I’ve known them for a while, too. Especially Nom. We’re really easy going. Chris is pretty funny. I let them take care of it. I don’t have to be the crazy guy.
EDM Sauce: So “What’s up Suckaz,” this song is incredible. Did you know this was going to be big when you made it?
TJR: Thank you. Well, I was making it while I was doing my Australia tour this year in February. So I was testing it in Australia, which Australia just loves the Melbourne bounce. The “bounce,” that’s like their thing. So I was testing it over there and I was like, this is going well. I was testing it as I was making it. I was like, “alright, this is going to work.” And I made it similar to “Ode to oi.” Ode to oi worked. The arrangement, kind of everything that I designed.. well it’s my arrangement style, the way I did things so I’m going to do it again similar but obviously different. So yeah. I still didn’t expect it to go #1, I still didn’t expect for them to go as far because it’s hard to predict. I don’t know.
EDM Sauce: This is a fun time. Where do you see yourself in the next few months?
TJR: I’m excited too because I’m doing a lot of pop production. Guys in the mainstream are coming to me. They’re coming to me for my sound, I’m not compromising, I’m not changing up to fit what they’re doing. So they want what I’m doing right now so, I’m like “this is cool.” So I’m splitting up my production. I work with them and then I do my own stuff. It’s like, getting the radio.. I’m not like featuring. I’m going to be a writer, producer.. but that also sets me up for later on. I want to do more producing and stuff as things progress.
EDM Sauce: Who was your favorite to work with so far?
TJR: I’m like a super.. To be honest I love working alone. I’m like a loner. I like to be in my room, I’m super uncomfortable with people around trying to create. Like I want to be a dork in front of the mirror when I’m working on music and jump around and I gotta feel it.. and I mean when someone is sitting there I’m like, “I gotta be a dork for five minutes. Try not to watch me or take pictures.”
EDM Sauce: So what was it like to work with Pitbull?
TJR: Yeah, see someone like that.. they send you the acapella and you send them beats. They’ll send you something back. It’s more like you’re home sending back and forth and I’m not there. I’ll eventually get to that, though. I did that with Dirt Nasty, though. I had beats. We were in the studio together and he started writing and record it. So that was my first experience. I still felt uncomfortable but I know I need to learn and grow and to be that guy that is uncomfortable.. I know these guys are actual real musicians and I’m just kind of fiddling around.
EDM Sauce: What's been your favorite place to play?
TJR: The greatest surprise.. it keeps expanding the more places I play but.. Australia, Canada… I love playing in Florida, Southern California and stuff. But Italy was the biggest surprise. They are the craziest to Ode to oi. I played there ten times already within six months. When you play Ode to oi, they chant like the whole melody. You can’t hear the song. It’s, “bop! bop-bop-bop! Oi..oi!” I mean it’s Italy so it’s just like, em bap, em beep… it’s great food, great country. It’s been an amazing experience playing there.
EDM Sauce: What’s your heritage?
TJR: I don’t know, I think I’m Russian and I know I’m Greek. And then the other side, I think I’m Russian or something.
EDM Sauce: Did you grow up in Connecticut?
TJR: Yeah, born and raised. Suburban kid all the way. Getting in trouble. Mailbox baseball at night. Fucking doing lawn jobs and then playing golf.
EDM Sauce: You’re working a lot on tour now. What’s it like working on the road?
TJR: It’s hard, definitely affects your productivity…
(Nom de Strip walks in, making stange noises)
TJR: Oh, the zoo let out all the animals…
Nom: That sounded like a really serious sentiment.
EDM Sauce: What’s it like on tour with Nom?
TJR: Gah, he’s the weirdest guy I know. He’s so strange. You should see the pictures he sends after hours.
EDM Sauce: Have you ever slept in the same room on the road?
TJR: No, no.. we dont..
Nom de Strip: Not yet! Not yet! No wait, we have actually shared a bed. You slept in my bed at my house now..
TJR: Oh yeah, yeah. Alright, alright…
Nom de Strip: You look so surprised. All we did was ..(?)
(lots of laughter)
TJR: Yeah, it’s actually really hard to be productive. It drains you, the travelling and the lack of sleep. You need to be creative and you’re on a laptop. Unlike when you’re at home, comfortable with your speakers. It’s a challenge. You gotta do it, you gotta keep on going. I’m taking time off from tour to work on my music. Sometimes you gotta say, “okay. No tour.”
EDM Sauce: Is golf something that helps you relax?
TJR: I like playing with people, though. I used to like playing by myself. But now I enjoy playing with people but now I like to be a bit more social. Now it brings me back to my childhood. It makes me feel like.. like I’m a kid again. It brings back all those memories. It’s kind of like my place of ..Ohm, whatever you want to call it.
EDM Sauce: Zen?
TJR: Yeah. That’s what I feel like.
Nom De Strip
EDM Sauce: What are some of your favorite albums as a kid (influences)?
Nom: I like kind of emotional music, music that I find emotional. For me, Massive Attack’s “Mezzanine” (1999). I grew up really loving Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, things like that. I really love 80’s, 60’s and 70’s too.. the 80’s.. I don’t really know what happened to music after that. When you’re growing up it affects you more. But there’s a lot of old music that I still listen. A lot of songs are really sad songs but I don’t sit there and get really depressed. I enjoy the songs.
EDM Sauce: Do you think now that the 80’s and 70’s are kind of coming back with the raves and the EDM, hippies?
Nom: I don’t know, I think they’ve always been coming back in some form or another I think. I feel something is always a knock off of something before really. What was a recent song? That Robin Thicke one.. I don’t know. There’s a lot of different styles that are a rip off. Junk. But I like when you get a mixture of stuff in modern style. Sometimes it works really well and sometimes they’re just blatantly trying to make some money out of something but.. that’s about all I’ve got to say (laughter).
EDM Sauce: Let's switch topics. What do you like to drink?
Nom: It depends. When I’m DJ’ing, I like to drink Jack Daniels and Coke because I can drink a lot of it and know where I am and gauge it. I can drink it and know I’m not going to be falling over the decks or anything like that, not doing cartwheels all over the club. Shots is when I’ve already played. When I’m home.. you know my wife likes drinking wine but that just sends me to sleep. I drink beers, I really like cider. There’s one from Scottland called Strongbow. Whenever you go abroad, it’s like sold as this export drink but in the UK that’s what all the tramps are drinking in the streets because it’s so cheap. That’s why I used to drink it, it was so cheap (laughter).
EDM Sauce: Do you have a favorite bar or place to play in America?
Nom: Hmm, I don’t particularly have a favorite. There’s something I’ve really enjoyed on this tour was New York, playing Webster Hall. That was my first time going to New York. That was a really good show. Yeah, I don’t know. Specific venues.. I can’t think of too many over here yet. I haven’t done too many gigs here. In the UK I can list .. like growing up in Edinburough.. I prefer the dark and dingy venues. Webster Hall is kind of similar. They’ve got this open, large space. I prefer the ceiling like here (puts his hand up to his forehead). And you can only see the front row of people and the sweat dripping down…
EDM Sauce: So I've read you have a cat.
EDM Sauce: Do you have any more animals?
Nom: Just Tubby. Big fat Tubby. We tried to put him on a diet. He wakes me up at like six o’clock every morning wanting his food and his belly is like flapping around in my face. I’m like, ‘c’mon it’s not even light outside.’ That’s the only pet at the moment and I’ve had nothing very exciting.. well I used to have tropical fish for a while. Neon tetras, those little tiny ones. You can get a bunch of them in small spaces. You don’t need a massive tank. We had all eight of them and they were swimming around, it was cool.
EDM Sauce: Where are you looking forward to playing most of the next few months? What are you working on?
Nom: Production wise I’m excited about some tracks. I just finished “On the rock” which I played tonight. There’s a guy called Nezzo, who I’ve done a track with before. We’ve got another one in the works which I’m really excited about. To be honest, the Nom de Strip stuff is probably about 25% of the time doing pop stuff which is a lot less excitement stuff. I’ve got some more festival things coming up which will be cool because I’m used to kind of the club gigs. I’ve been talking to TJ, he says that he always likes to play different styles of music when he’s playing in festivals. It’s going to be fun to experience that, see what works. It’ll be fun to test things out. I think there’s one in Texas around Christmas time.
EDM Sauce: Lights all night?
Nom: It’s on the 28th.. I can look it up really quickly but I can’t remember.. Oh I have a studio session with Loud coming up which will be pretty cool… let me see. Oh I’m playing something called Freakfest. Oh yeah! Lights all night. Is that what you said?
EDM Sauce: Yes. So what’s your real name?
Nom: My real name is Nom de Strip! My mom actually calls me Nom. But I’m Christopher Mark Elliot. My mom wanted to call me Christopher-Mark with a hyphen but luckily she didn’t. You can’t introduce someone as Christopher-Mark. So yeah, Nom de Strip is not my real name (laughter). My mom calls me Nom now… so it kind of is my real name now.
EDM Sauce: So how did you come up with the name (Nom de Strip)?
Nom: An urban dictionary website online.. I always find it difficult to name songs and especially come up with a phony alias for myself. We were struggling, I went on there and had a look around. That was one of the things that I saw which I thought would suit me quite well because all it means is your porn name or your stripper name. So it’s still kind of ambiguous.. so I wasn’t kind of sure what kind of music I was going to go into. So I thought it suited me, it could still be kind of flexible. I figured the music fit that name and it kind of stuck. But my mom really does call me Nom.