ADSR Mix 021: December Beaches
March. 13. 2017
This week we sit down with Chicago born DJ / producer: Christian Vartanian aka December Beaches. The son of a well known Chicago club owner, Christian has been surrounded by house music and DJ culture for as long as he can remember. With an ear for the eclectic, Chris's DJ sets and productions speak with a playfulness and depth well beyond his years. Having released on Chicago's "Lake Shore Drive Records", and Melbourne's "Tsugu" imprint, Chris's gritty lo-fi productions pay little attention to current trends or genre classifications. Check out the mix Chris has left for us below, a refreshingly original take on lo-fi, soulful, and world sounds blended well into an exciting hour of multi-genre explorations.
Hello Mr. Beaches, tell us about yourself and your music.
My name is Christian Vartanian, I’m a 19 year dj/producer from Chicago, I’ve been holed up in Florida for a little bit now. I grew up in the nightlife scene and have been experiencing every bit of it; from house clubs, footwork battles, to big room festivals my entire life. My music is me taking a stab at making something that I enjoy and find fun. Lately its been lo-fi house and techno with a healthy dose of sample collages.
What’s your favourite beach?
Michigan City Beach is the best beach hands down. Im not a big beach guy tho tbd.
Production-wise you’re getting a name for your gritty n grimey lo-fi house. What is it and where does its future lay?
I've been doing Lo-fi for a while now, ever since I've been producing and I've always been trying to emulate the guys that I've listened to growing up such asTheo Parrish, Keri Chandler, Green Velvet, and the Dance Mania guys. It was always just me going in between deep house, ghetto, and the wonky techno of Detroit. So I just started making my tracks for lack of a better term purposely “shit” and making them seem more retro to emulate the feelings I had listening to the older DJ's music. Technically speaking, I end up doing a lot of lo-passing and a lot of tape saturation. On my last record "Tape Drama" I bounced the tracks to cassette to get that nice little "warmness”.
I think the future of the sound lies in the compositional elements. Club Systems aren’t tuned for this stuff so the more guys playing it in large venues the more people will be having to make tracks that sound great and crisp but also feel Lo-Fi because of the way they arranged things and their sample choices. Its already happening, a lot of the “scene” is just becoming hi-fidelity ghetto house and deep house with compressed drums; Im very ok with that.
For me personally, it's still going back to sampling. Going back to disco, and to Afro-beat, and pummeling it to the ground till you’ve made a fun track. The sound isn’t where the vibe is, its the feeling.
Tea or coffee?
COFFEE; BLACK. ALSO RASPBERRY TEAS
In both your production and DJ sets you seem to have a healthy disregard for current trends and just about everything else. Is this a result of an anarchist upbringing?
It's not about purposely being anarchistic, it's about having fun. I grew up in the around night clubs (my father ran Crobar and definitely helped make electronic dance music mainstream) and I've seen DJ sets from every single genre and every single scene and when you do this for so long you get bored. Any form of reckless abandon for trends and sound design principles that i have stems from that. I'm just trying to have fun and I can see that people are also trying to have fun. Dance music is supposed to be this way and unfortunately; it's been getting to serious. I'm just some kid on a computer remixing Prince songs. It's not that deep, and it never has to be. I'm not doing it as a political statement. I'm doing it because I sincerely want to do these things. It's fun to go out and play a bunch of crazy house sets, stop the set then play afro-jazz for 3 hours, and then ending it on shout-a-long rap songs. I think that's what DJing is about. You're not doing anythingtechnically interesting. Your job is to make everyone have a good time and people forget to include themselves in the crowd. The music I’m drawn to is not only good but it sounds like the person making/playing it was actually having fun and enjoying themselves. If that means I'm an anarchist, then I am the biggest anarchist on this GOD DAMN Earth.
What is most likely to make you sit down and produce a track?
If I’m listening to records and I hear that one special section that I need to sample right at that second. Its those little bits of inspiration that get me going generally. Other than that Ill try to be making music whenever time allows, in between class, in bed, in the shower, in a cab; its 2017 the world is your studio.
Mustard or ketchup?
Mustard, ketchup fans are banned from all my shows.
What’s your most memorable DJing experience?
A few sets back I was booked to play an unusually short set of 45 minutes. I was supposed to play in the middle of the night but due to some really bad management I ended up closing right after the worst top 40 hiphop dj i’d ever seen (ousted her for playing off her iPhone). After she finished her train wreck I was left with a crowd that was clearly not prepared for house music and a party that still had 4 hours in the tank.
My tunes cleared the room immediately but about an hour into that incredibly extended set people came back and we were all grooving till the sun came up.
What does 2017 have in store for December Beaches?
More sets hopefully! Really trying to make a habit of playing out more so I don’t end up playing the same tracks over and over again. That and the fleshing out my vogue-beat side project “Rhodesia” (2nd to last track in the mix). Also more archival releases on my Soundcloud. 2017 is gonna be the year house is fun for everyone.
Thanks for putting together such a playful set. Run us through your thinking when you put this one together?
I approached this like I would any of my dj sets. Just set up the decks and played the tracks that I thought should be played while I moved with the music. The only tracks that weren’t improvisationally programmed were the first two. The intro to that version of “The Pressure” is long and spacey and a perfect way to introduce someone to how Chicago House should both sound and feel. Black Madonna’s Exodus right after works well after since its a remix of Larry Levan’s Edit of the Joubert Singers “Stand on the Word”. Two Gospel songs flipped into house tunes with production credits of two of disco’s greatest seemed like the perfect way to start the show. Once those were going all the other songs fell right into place, even if a bit wonky of a place.