An interview with Technasia... by Gar Browne
Charles Siegling, aka TECHNASIA, is a French DJ, producer and Sino label owner. ‘Central’ is the first new Technasia album in five years – and sure to be one of the musical highlights of 2010. We recently caught up with Charles and asked about his 2010 highlights, Hong Kong and why self evolution is so important to artists today! Read on...
CGI: Hi Charles, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. 2010 is drawing to and end, any highlights for the year?
Charles: Sure, plenty actually! In terms of gigs, I’d say Monegros, We Love Space Ibiza, Aquasella, Fuse were really awesome. Release wise, my third artist album, ‘Central’ came out last May and like for every album in an artist career, it’s always a big moment with a lot of media exposure and attention from the public. I’ve stopped playing as a live act for quite a few years now, focusing more on my DJ gigs. So 2010 saw that changed as I started a new live tour this year and it’s very exciting.
CGI: In 1999 you founded Sino records (with Amil Khan) based out of Hong Kong. As a young European man in a country with little to no dance music scene the cultural challenges alone must have been difficult to overcome. In your opinion, what was the biggest challenge you over came? And looking back now, is there anything you would have done differently?
Charles: Like you rightly said, Hong Kong is the least place you would think of when it comes to electronic dance music. But if you think about it deeper, it’s also very challenging in itself to establish yourself. When we started Technasia in 96 and Sino in 99, we had the choice to set things up in France, where i was living at the time, or even to sign P&D deals with electronic music distributors, but instead we thought that going the hard way would be much more beneficial for us on the long term. Doing things on our own, out of time and out of trends, out of the cliques of the leading electronic music capitals, still remains our very own trademark today. It’s hard sometimes, but very gratifying most of the time. We would never have been able to set things that way for our music if we would have set our labels somewhere else in the world. Hong Kong has that special magic, that energy, that culture shock thing that just rightly fills your inspiration-o-meter all the time. Everybody that’s been there will know exactly what i mean. I think the biggest challenge we encountered to date is...to still be here today :D I mean, as you know this scene is extremely competitive, and even much more now than it used to be. It’s always really hard to stay at the front of the scene, if you’re not a resident of Berghain in Berlin or Space in Ibiza. You always need to fight you way to be heard, and most people don’t really take the time to dig things too much in music nowadays. They just wanna get whatever is famous in this or that. So being tagged as a ‘Hong Kong-based label” as well as a ‘Techno artist’ does not really help in that. We’d probably would have made more money by doing electro in Paris with cool flashy t-shirts, but that’s not really fun, isn’t it?
CGI: What’s the scene like in Hong Kong today?
Charles: Pretty much non-existent, as it’s always been :D No seriously, art in Hong Kong is a very underground thing. People care a lot more about making their bank accounts 6 digits or more than checking out a cool cutting-edge upcoming act at a club. There are a few spots indeed, one of them being a very cool club named Yumla, bringing lots of quality djs to Hong Kong. It’s not easy because they have a really small capacity, which means tiny budget, but they still manage to lineup some really cool names. I’d say Hong Kong is like the rest of Asia when it comes to electronic music. Aside Japan, which has a very old and healthy club scene, the scene in the other Asian countries is very sporadic, and doesn’t even always have the best music taste really (lots of Top 100 DJs shit there). There are a few clubs and events here and there. It’s usually based on individual initiative, so it never lasts really long. A few clubs have made it through the years though in Asia, one of them being the Zouk franchise (Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and soon Bali) which has been doing fairly well for 15 years now.
CGI: How would you compare Technasia the solo act to Technasia the duo? Was it a difficult decision to go it alone?
Charles: It was a hard and an easy choice at the same time. A hard choice because I started and built Technasia with Amil, and being on my own now, I sometimes feel very lonely. But at the same time, it’s all new challenges for me and I just love that. We used to discuss everything together from A to Z and find compromises so that we were both happy in the end. Now I have no other limits than my own failure or success. It’s a lot of responsibility on my own shoulder but I dig that so that’s fine. The last few of years before leaving Technasia, Amil did not have his mind in it anymore anyway. I could see that he wanted to do something else, out of the music business and not live that Marco Polo DJ life any longer. He wanted to settle down. We’re still partners in business for our labels, and he injects some ideas here and there once in a while. So the strings are not completely cut.
...Doing things on our own, out of time and out of trends, out of the cliques of the leading electronic music capitals, still remains our very own trademark today....
CGI: Your latest album, Central, is your first new album in 5 years. You've stated that you "wanted to give my music time to evolve artistically before making a new record.” Tell us something of that evolution over the last 5 years. Are you happy with where you are now?
Charles: I’m VERY happy with that album. It’s my favourite out of the three I produced since I started. It’s diverse, it flows, it can be played in clubs or listened at home, it represents all the facets of my personality and what I’ve been fancying in electronic music for these last 20 years. I personally think every artists should take a bit more time between each of their productions released, because there’s way too much similar music today coming out from the same guys. The only way to get away with that is to take time to let your music skills develop, so that you can make your sound evolve and renew yourself every single time. I’ve never been a prolific artist, and I’m actually quite proud of that. I see some producers that lineup 200 EPs or more and I just can’t even name a single record of them. I like to put stuffs out on the market when my music has something new to say, an interesting idea to express. That good ol’ ‘Quality not quantity’ is something I really attach a lot of importance to. I don’t like to follow trends, and I dislike suckers that do. I like artists that create their own musical world and develop original skills, so i try to apply that to myself as often and as much as I can.
CGI: In your opinion, how important is it for DJ's / Artist to under-go this type of artistic evolution?
Charles: Like I said it’s important to develop your skills, and it usually take many years, even many decades sometimes for that to happen. Music is an art, and like with every other art, it’s a sophisticated mix of practice and talent. So evolving your sound is indeed the most important notion. However, switching from one new music trend to the other to stay in the loop, is not evolution, that’s complete regression. That’s what you do when you have no ideas anymore but still want to earn lots of money. And acquiring new technologies to do skills that usually required years of practice to master, such as what Ableton Live or Traktor do, is also a complete fraud. That just make artists more lazy and less patient, without increasing the quality of their productions. There’s no bullshit in music: hard work and talent, that’s the only things that can take you somewhere.
CGI: Any up and coming artists on Sino that we should keep an eye out for?
Charles: Indeed, I just signed two new artists on Sino. First there’s Dosem, originating from Barcelona. He has been around for nearly two years now and has already released a few EPs on Sino and made a few remixes as well. He’ll release his first album next year, a double CD, for which I’m very excited about. Then, there’s also Zadig, a new talented French Techno artist, that I’ve just signed for two EPs as well.
CGI: Any major plans for 2011?
Charles: Yes, but I can’t talk about it as yet as I’m just starting to work on it... Aside of that, I’ll get married during summer 2011 :)
CGI: Your playing 2 gigs in Ireland soon. You're in Cork on the 12th and in Dublin on the 19th with Joris Voorn. are you looking forward to the gigs and how do Irish crowds compare with the rest of Europe?
Charles: Irish crowds doesn’t compare with the rest of Europe, they completely surpass it!...unlike with the French football team :D Seriously, man, I love Ireland, everybody is just super friendly and always up for partying. Something they put in the beers down at the Guinness factory or something...