Artist Interview: CHRIS STUSSY

Chris is one of the leading Dutch artists in the minimal house scene. Following his exclusive Sample Pack release, we asked him a few questions about the pack, his sound and influences. He also offered some advice to producers who are just starting their journey. 

Thanks for your time Chris. Firstly, could you give us a little background? When did you start producing and how did you get into music in the first place?

Hi guys, thanks for having me. So firstly I think I was young actually when I felt something for music. In my house, there was always music, jazz, disco all that kind of stuff. That's where it all started However when I was 14-15 I was going to my first festivals with my friends and that gave me a whole different view towards music, not knowing I would be a DJ right now, at the time I was playing in a high division of football and my focus was fully on that. Once I started DJ’ing, when I was 15 it became more of a challenge because it’s like your living 2 lives at the same time. During the day practising football and after that straight to the club to play at my weekly residencies which I had at that time. I started producing seriously when I was 17 y/o without any musical knowledge (not knowing how to play the piano or a guitar or anything like that). It was all improvisation and un till this day it still is, I try to imagine myself being on the dancefloor and think about what I would like to hear and translate this into my music. Just do whatever you want to do in terms of music, there are no rules, if you like it, embrace it and just go from there really, my friends inspire me a lot. I bounce off some new music with a forward-thinking mindset, it helps me grow as well.. 

Can you talk us through the process of making the sample pack? What was your approach?

So basically I made a beat just how I would normally do it, but then when you normally make a full track around it, I would make sketches of basslines and synths for everyone else to make their tracks flowing directly from the start. I think it’s important to have a good starting point, some sort of direction where you want to go with the track, I tried to imagine what my difficulties were at the time I started producing. It was hard to find that warm and sophisticated sound from the ’90s. I’m still inspired by that a lot nowadays. With the pack I want people to use the sample in their way, make it your own, chop it up, twist it, just try to use them wisely. It will sound more unique then just throw the whole sample in there if that makes sense.

The drums are beautifully produced. Can you give us a little more details on the gear you used to program these drum grooves? 

For the drums, I mostly used the drum machines that I have in my Fruity Loops. I mainly used the TR-909 / TR-808 and TR-707. But I also used my Omnisphere drum bank and used the piano roll to create cool grooves, pitch the samples, make them sound thick with some nice compressing and EQ’ing the peaks out of it so everything sounds really clean. Every time I started a sketch, I wanted to use the loop myself, and that was something hard, but at the same time good to share this with everyone else so they’ve got the best I can give.

All sounds in your pack are top quality but our personal favourite part is the synth  & music loops. Can you give us an insight into what you used to record and process these sounds? 

So this was a long process really, going through my samples now and I remember some moments I was inspired a lot by the sounds. I used Roland JUNO 106 a lot. I’ve got some amazing soundbanks on that one, I made all my pads with it and a lot of my synth loops were processed that way. I started to record and just find the right frequency in the filter, use some LFO, give it some edge with a slight amount of resonance so it sounds different to the original sound. Then to add texture I EQ’ed the peaks (Fruity Equalizer), compressed (Fruity Multiband Compressor or RED 3 Compressor) the sound thick, warm and gave some sounds a chorus (TAL-Chorus LX) or guitar-amp so it feels funky. I also used the Diva u-he a lot, really recommend this one. Also Sylenth1 has some amazing soundbanks to process, I went back to basics and I learned all the VST’s even more inside out, a really cool learning process.

What are your go-to tools for making music? Do you have any favourite pieces of hardware and software? 

I’m an “all in the box” producer so no hardware for me. But as I mentioned a few already above here, I’ll line them up here.

Juno 106 (pads)

Diva u-he (pads + basslines)

Omnisphere (pads + strings)

Jupiter 8 (synths + pads)

Sylenth1 (drums + synths)

ABL3 (for acid basslines)

You have such a distinct sound, how would you describe it?

Hehe, thanks! I’m glad you hear some noticeable stuff in my music. It’s not something I focus on, to be honest, it happens naturally because I feel every person has his style, has different ears so will automatically use other sounds. I don’t try to overuse a certain sound too much in my productions, I’m always looking for that particular sound that I’ve never heard before, that’s the way I develop my sound. I’m a sucker for warm pads and catchy synth lines. Put a groovy bassline played like a funky guitar and filter that up and you’ve got something special there! Haha, track is done!  

Where does your inspiration come from? Any particular influences?

As I mentioned earlier some DJ friends inspire me a lot like Toman, Litmus, Aron Volta and Djoko to name a few. When I compare my music from back in the days I sometimes feel my sound is going to a bit deeper and mature direction, on a more minimal tip I really admire Archie Hamilton, Michael James and Traumer a lot. There’s so much good music nowadays and this makes me motivated to improve my sound and master it even more. I want to learn each day so I’m taking this very seriously but in a way that it doesn’t feel like a job, but I treat it like one. I go to the studio 5 days a week, 9 till 6, so basically at least 9 hours a day, 10 or even 12 hours, sometimes a bit less, it just depends how you feel really. I just love it! I can see myself doing this for a long time.

Finally, can you offer any tips or advice for producers who are just starting their journey?

This is what I say to everyone. Be patient, work hard and believe in yourself. I’ve worked for 10+ years now and I’m finally starting to be happy with my music in general. We all struggle at some point, but this is the moment you know, when you really want to achieve something, you can do it. Only by giving your all and just make hours in the studio every day. Make it a daily routine. Share your tracks with your closer friends and ask for honest feedback which you can use the next day in a new track. Your skills will improve naturally and you’ll see once you’ve caught the attention with your music this results in some nice DJ-support and releases for example.