It has been somewhat of a whirlwind year for Cork-born, Barcelona-based producer and DJ, Chymera – aka Brendan Gregoriy. Having released a steady string of highly successful tracks since mid 2007 – on a number of very different but influential labels – Gregoriy is now reaping the benefits with a hectic touring schedule that has seen him play everywhere from Russia to Japan this year. As the year winds down, we catch up with Chymera to talk about his plans for next year and highlights of 2008, his views on the music industry, relocating, and the all important question of whether he’s heard Chinese Democracy yet.
2008 seems to have been a very successful year for you, in terms of releases and gigs. What were the highlights?
Playing in Tokyo at the Womb club springs to mind as a highlight. It had been a dream of mine for a long time.
Do you have a master plan for 2009? Have you many releases have you lined up for next year, and on what labels?
At the moment there’s just one release lined up. It’s called “Sumatra” and it’s released on Figure in January. It’s backed with a remix from Deetron. My master plan is a small amount of releases, preferably on some of the labels I have released on already. Quality over quantity!
Describe your current sound, and where you feel you’d like your music to go in the future.
2008 has been a year of real flux and change for me, musically and personally. To be totally honest, I’ve been writing music non-stop and I’ve scrapped virtually 99% of it. I’m trying hard to push my sound in different directions, away from the sound that I’ve become known for, which has been generally big, epic, building melodic techno and house. Almost all of the releases that I’ve had out from 2007 to mid 2008 were written in a short period in 2007, with the exception of Caprica Burning that was made in February this year. I just had a huge backlog of tracks that I liked, and I eventually signed most of them, plus there were also some long delays with particular labels. I’ve still got another 2 or 3 tracks in that style, which might see the light of day soon, but I’m more interested in putting out some of the new stuff I’m working on, if and when I finish it! It’s hard to say where my music is heading. Some of it is definitely more geared towards the dancefloor and I’ve been testing those tracks when I DJ out. And some of it has gone off in a more spaced out direction. We’ll see what happens.
Are you hardware or software? Does that debate bother you at all, or are you just more focused on the end result?
I use both. The computer is my sequencer and sampler and I get much of my synth sounds from hardware. I like to use VST effects but there are very few VST instruments that really stand out. I can’t see myself getting rid of hardware any time soon. Working on the computer is so fast and so fluid though. I record my hardware synths into the computer and then edit and apply more effects to them once they are in the arrangement. Luckily I think the hardware VS software debates have died down. Or maybe I’m not paying as much attention. However the vinyl VS digital one is still raging, and shows no sign of abating… yawn. Why can’t everyone just live in peace with their format of choice?
You’ve lived in Costa Rica and now Spain, where to next? Is location important to your musical output and inspiration?
I’m happy here in Barcelona and I hope to be here for some time yet. Costa Rica was a fantastic experience. I was lucky to make such good friends so quickly. Definitely tear jerking leaving the place. At the end of the day it was too isolated musically. It’s just impossible to make a career out of music there. The scene is too small. I had to return to Europe in order to tour and gig. It’s just a short hop and a jump to anywhere in Europe from here. Plus Barcelona airport is a breeze. I’m straight through check-in and customs in less than 3 minutes. From the point of view of music making, I don’t think location makes much difference at all. I’ve made tons of tracks in the jungle in Costa Rica, and in freezing cold bedrooms in the ‘burbs of Dublin, and they have all turned out ok! As far as inspiration goes, it is nice to be close to a healthy scene. I’m still young and I still enjoy going out and getting twatted from time to time and it’s always nice to hear DJs spin their stuff, both to evaluate the opposition and just to have a good night. I can see myself here in Barcelona for at least another year or two or maybe longer. After that, no idea…maybe somewhere like Belgium or Holland.
I believe you were partial to a bit of Heavy Metal back in the day. Have you heard Chinese Democracy yet?
I still am quite partial to heavy metal in fact 😉 I haven’t heard Chinese Democracy yet and I don’t have any interest in hearing it. Was never into G’N’R to be honest with you. I was much more into thrash and groove metal stuff, as well as alternative.
Can we expect an album from you in the next 15 years?
Yeah in 2022… Wait for it with bated breath.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the music industry? How hard is it now for an artist to make a living out of what he does best? Physical sales seem to be diminishing at a rapid rate worldwide. Are you very reliant on the income you get from DJing?
I’m just glad that I don’t own a label or promote gigs. I really empathize and have nothing but utmost respect for those people who do. It’s very tough work, although I do get quite depressed hearing about the decline in sales and gig attendances, all the time. From negativity comes negativity. As far as gigs are concerned it is hard to make a living unless you have a solid profile. You need to be on top of your game, market yourself properly and bring out well-timed (and quality) releases to keep you in the public eye. And even if you are doing all that it can still be a grind. I’ve been living from music since the start of 2008 and it’s now my only income. I was struggling for a lot of this year to get enough gigs but since September I’ve been averaging three a month, which is enough to manage on, so all’s good. Although everyone moans about how little you get from record sales, it’s still not to be sniffed at – it could pay your rent that one month you are short. I’ve just signed a publishing deal too so hopefully I can get some decent revenue from that. Plus radio plays are a nice little bonus. I made about €600 from a few radio plays on Radio 1 and some Finnish radio station.
What artists/music currently inspires you, or the Chymera sound?
I admire people who are pushing techno forward without jumping on the nearest bandwagons. People like Shed, DJ Bone, Franco Cangelli, Fabrice Lig, Donnacha Costello, Santiago Salazar and Martyn (dubstep with deep techno influence), off the top of my head. When I play out I like really energetic house and techno stuff. I generally don’t play my own epic tracks out in a set! Maybe just as a set closer, where they fit perfectly. I really dig good dancefloor oriented stuff with subtle funk and soul. For listening at home and for doing radio mixes I like deeper stuff, although one my of my pet hates at the moment is the deep house revival, which is really just boring, bland tech-house, so none of that please! I’m listening to a lot of Philip Glass, Steve Reich and Arvo Part at the moment. Some of the melodies are just amazingly hypnotic. Other than that some other artists/bands who have inspired me this year are PJ Harvey and dEUS.
What is your Top 5 for 2008? And what are you looking forward to in 2009?
Martyn – All I have is Memories
Donnacha Costello – Trust
Franco Cangelli – Wee Funk
Soul Designer – Scaraboogie
Omar S – The Further You Look, the Less You Will See
I’m looking forward to a nice cup of tea in 2009.
Chymera will be playing live and DJing at The Twisted Pepper on January 10th.
You can check out a recent Podcast Mix here – http://www.bodytonicmusic.com/podcasts/2008/oct/01/bodytonic-podcast-022-chymera/