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David Kristian

"Kristian Rock"

Nightlife Magazine












--> "Montreal based producer David Kristian is one of those talented artists who seems to keep slipping under the popular radar. Amongst the cognoscenti, he’s considered one of Canada’s prominent electronic artists; he received international critical acclaim for his ambient album Cricklewood, and he’s released on Alien8, Discreet/Indiscreet, Suction, Drop Beat, Ninja Tune, Lo Recordings, Schematic, Worm Interface, Law and Auder, and Interchill. His most recent release, Music from the Mermaid Room on Wikkid Records, is a retrospective collection of unreleased beat-driven tracks from 1993 to 2002.

The first of a ten part series, these tracks from almost a decade of work flow seamlessly together and prove that Kristian’s always been on the beat.

Part of Kristian’s relative anonymity could be due to the fact that he’s a bit media shy. For this interview, Kristian preferred to use email, a reasonable way to avoid misquotes but certainly adding to the “mad scientist” mystique.

“There are things I have said on the phone which have been edited in such a way that they have been taken out of context and led people to think I'm against beats, sampling, and that I'm some sort of analogue synth elitist,” explains Kristian. In fact, Kristian, who is perhaps best known for his expert manipulation of analogue instruments, is working with digital tools these days. “I am a huge fan of the Korg Electribe "grooveboxes" and Applied-Acoustics Systems Tassman software synthesizer. These have all played a part in my live renaissance and are a very practical alternative to having a room full of decaying antiques.”

Kristian is no purist, nor is he willing to be trapped in his own history, but it has taken him some time to break out of the ambient box that he found himself placed in after Cricklewood. His beat-driven tracks aren’t easy to throw in a box either, though they’d be comfortable in many a DJ’s crate. “I don't like words like Intelligent Dance Music (IDM) and experimental, because all music requires intelligence to make, even the most mainstream or boring stuff, and I certainly find it challenging to make people dance. It's like being a comedian and trying to make people laugh, it takes skill and wit.”

One senses that Kristian’s sense of humor tends to be on the darker, grittier side, as is his music. “I guess it's because I grew up loving music that was usually on the soundtrack of some TV show, like U.F.O. or Space: 1999. That, and the fact that today's digital toys need to be sullied with slight de-tuning and harmonic distortion. I love the sound of warped vinyl, cassettes, and mag film stock, for the same reason some people like rain; it's melancholy, nostalgia, it’s about not sounding like you just used sounds that came off the assembly line.”

There’s nothing prepackaged about Kristian or his music, and ultimately it would do a disservice to the quirkiness and originality of both Kristian and his music to try to promote him as some kind of “next big thing” populist dance producer. I'm not part of a scene, which I think is the secret to longevity. Sure, some of my stuff will become dated, or maybe it already is, but I can surely say it's all my own. This is not to say that I don't enjoy taking notes when I go out to shows and club nights.” And those notes will come in handy as Kristian brings it live.

Audiences can expect a revisiting of his d&b tunes with electro elements integrated. “I'm looking forward to feeling the energy of the crowd, which is the real reward when playing this sort of stuff live.” It seems that the mad scientist is ready to come out of his lab to practice a bit of beat-driven alchemy for our dancing pleasure, as well as his own."

David Kristian performs April 24 at Sat with Capital J, Black Market, Pivot and others Music from the Mermaid Room is released on Wikkid Records (Lucinda Catchlove, Nightlife April 2003)


David Kristian

"Music from the Mermaid Room"

Exclaim! Frequencies review


--> "Techno in the truest sense of the word; not IDM, not tech-house but pure robot music and superb. David Kristian is one of the more prolific and adventurous electronic producers in Canada. This time, Kristian has chosen electro-dance styles to vent his latest creative impulses. Every tune is well crafted with catchy melodic hooks. The closest analogies that come to mind would be Solvent and Lowfish, only Kristian tends to the darker end of the spectrum. If the Suction Records people are Luke Skywalker and Obi Wan, then Kristian is Darth Vader, only slicker. Something of interest to note on Music From The Mermaid Room: close listens may reveal a deceptively dated feel. This detail however gives the producer his signature style. That being said, each tune here is an excellent example of dark robot music with masterful drum programming and exemplarily imaginative keyboard lines. How Kristian manages to be this prolific and still deliver high quality music is something of a mystery." (I.Khider, EXCLAIM!)


David Kristian

"Mermaid meat and bass potatoes"

Interview with Raf Katigbak


--> "From his early dates rocking some of Montreal's very first all-night techno parties to his critically acclaimed releases on a host of local and international labels, for the last decade the name David Kristian has been synonymous with the Montreal underground electronic music scene. He's kept a relatively low profile on the live tip the last few years. The past six months, though, have seen Kristian emerge from hibernation in typical Canadian fashion - bright eyed, bushy tailed and ready to rock Montrealers again, as witnessed by his killer sets at Blizzarts and Saphir not long ago. His latest batch of plastic is a 10-CD retrospective of the last decade on local imprint Wikkid Records, getting rave reviews all over. The Mirror recently got a hold of Kristian, as the big Wikkid label launch (one of the last events at the old SAT) draws near, and this is what he had to say.

Mirror: I've noticed you're out more these days, taking notes. Have things changed a lot musically in the past 10 years?

David Kristian: I think the live club scene has become more sophisticated. People are looking for a little more melody and that's really important to me, hearing melodic hooks. Now when I go out, I know I'm going to get to hear something different.

Mirror: So melody is important, huh?

D.K.: I think any sort of two-minute song that is going to be played and remembered forever, like the Beach Boys or Simon and Garfunkel, that's the sort of thing I think is what everybody should strive to achieve.

Mirror: That's funny, 'cause a lot of people have you pegged as the abstract electronic guy.

D.K.: It is funny because I would say only about 10 to 20 per cent of what I do in the studio is ambient or abstract. That's a very small percentage - everything else is beats.
Mirror: Which brings us to the Music From the Mermaid Room retrospective.

D.K.: Exactly. Basically, it's all the music that I've been dying to release over the last 10 years but couldn't. It's like them going back, going, "Whoa, look at all this stuff that should've come out over all these years."

Immortality 'n' chips

Mirror: So what is a mermaid room, anyway?

D.K.: Mermaid rooms were actually rooms in hotels where they had women swimming indoors and you could watch them swim through the window.

Mirror: Creepy.

D.K.: I've always been fascinated by Japanese mermaid lore, which is very different from our mermaid stories. Not all the mermaids are in water, some are on land, and if you eat the flesh of a mermaid you have eternal life, or you can also turn into a demon, or a bakemono. Actually, the name of my abstract side project is Gentle Bakemono.

Mirror: Besides the upcoming CDs, I hear you also want to put out more vinyl as well.

D.K.: I really like vinyl almost as a fetish object. I think records are beautiful. When CDs came out it had to become a new style of artwork. You no longer had giant gatefolds with gear lists. I really liked that. When you're a kid and you're lying on the couch and you have the sleeve open in front of you like a book, you're just staring at it transfixed and you're examining the minute details in the artwork, you just don't have the same kind of intimate experience now. Now everything is disposable and attention spans are getting shorter by the minute, but at the same time it's evolution, things have to change, move forward.

Deriving thud from a spud

Mirror: Laptops are certainly popular in Montreal these days.

D.K.: But they're also dangerous too. Shows are disappearing at an alarming rate. You think you're going to go see something really major and you go there and it's like watching somebody at an Internet cafˇ. To be completely fair, in the end it's not what you use to make music, it's the music you make.

Mirror: I understand you like using toys.

D.K.: Toys are amazing. They're simple, but when you process them they're not so simple. It's nice to work with limitations sometimes and to see what you can do to make it sound like your own thing. I just modified an old Speak & Math toy so that when you push this red button it sounds like R2-D2 on Ex-Lax.

Mirror: What's this I hear about you playing a potato?

D.K.: That was a drum & bass show in 1995. Back then I didn't have a real sampler, all my rhythms were from drum machines that I programmed manually. For samples I used a modified Walkman. To modulate it I would do things to it like dropping alcohol or saliva on it. At some point I used that old potato experiment, where you have a potato in a Petri dish with water and probes. I was taking the electricity from the potato to short out components on the Walkman, and that produced basslines. So while I was playing live, these huge sub-tone basslines were coming out of this potato. Of course, it was at one of those early drum & bass shows that nobody was at. Except a few record label guys, of course.
( Raf Katigbak, Montreal Mirror)


David Kristian

Music from the Mermaid Room

"Disc of the Week"


--> "IDM pioneer, sound engineer and certainly one of Montreal’s most accomplished and prolific electronic artists, David Kristian is at it again. Following his heralded release on Piehead, local imprint Wikkid has just released Music From the Mermaid Room, the first in a 10-part retrospective CD series culled from Kristian’s immense DAT library of unreleased tracks created from ’93 to ’02. Spanning from his emotive, Boards of Canada style analog melodies to eerie, minimal ambience to his more dense, electro-driven pieces, Kristian’s uncompromising vision and unrelenting search for as yet unexplored sonic universes are the thread that binds each track to the next. Add to that his natural talent for scoring films that lends a dark, cinematic feel to each track and you’ve got a great comp. An excellent cross-section of this local legend’s work that leaves the listener yearning for more. Thankfully, more is on the way." 9/10 ( Raf Katigbak, Montreal Mirror)



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