"The raw power that can exist in techno is irresistible." – SIAK
Utah's own SIAK submits NCM's 5th guest mix comprised of influential and original music. Chris is a rare and undeniable talent in the city of salt. Hear it for yourself on his debut release 'PHD' for Hel Audio out now on cassette and download.
Where are you from and how did you end up in Salt Lake City?
From age 3 to 14I was in Atlanta Georgia. From 14 to 23 I was in Columbus Ohio. I came here in '99. My parents are from here and were moving back I needed a change so I came with em.
Which bands or artists inspired you in your formative years?
I wouldn't say bands. More like movies and music videos. Spent a lot of time watching MTV and VH1 as a kid. The first time I heard Kraftwerk's Tour De France on the movie Breakin' I lost my mind.
1. Drexciya - "You Don't Know" 2. SIAK - "Master Config" 3. Cybotron - "Clear" 4. SIAK - "Rev Limiter" 5. Anthony Rother - "Simulationszeitalter" 6. SIAK - "Devil's Drink" 7. Kraftwerk - "Tour De France" 8. SIAK - "Choplifter" 9. Egyptian Lover - "Egypt Egypt" 10. SIAK - "IMBN" 11. Dynamix II - "Bass Generator" 12. Dr. Siak - "Divine Thunder Godcore" 13. Dr. Siak - "Ersatz Lover" 14. Jega - "Breakpoint Envelope" 15. Meat Beat Manifesto - "Brainwashed This Way/Zombie/That Shirt" 16. SIAK - "Hill Avenue Funk"
Other tracks from that era would include "19" by Paul Hardcastle, Herbie Hancock's "Rockit" that video was the baddest.
How did you become interested in electronic/dance music and producing in general?
That is a big question that would take a minute for me to fully answer but Ill just say this. Growing up in the 80's and 90's with older siblings exposed me to a lot of music. When I started seeing movies like Beat Street, Breakin' and Breakin' 2 I realized that a lot of the songs that I heard and loved in those films weren't as much made with conventional instruments. They were made with synthesizers. I remember thinking to myself. "I want to hear ALL of the (electronic) sounds." That feeling has stuck with me since then. Fast forward to 2002 I purchased my first synthesizer/sequencer Korg-ER-1 that summer and fall I was jobless and hiding in my parents basement learning every bit of that instrument.
What is the origin of your production moniker SIAK?
That is a secret. Let's just say I like the way it sounds and the way the letters look together. I've come to learn that "Siak" is actually a Japanese name and also a place in Indonesia. Had no idea. Thought I made it up.
You have quite the vintage keyboard/drum machine set up which is what makes watching you so engaging. What equipment do you use for performing vs. producing and do you see yourself as more of one than the other?
The gear I use for live and studio are one and the same. From the start I never wanted to produce something in the studio that I couldn't re-create live with the same instruments. Most of the tracks (not all) I've released were rehearsed and recorded live in the studio. There are a few bits of gear I use just in the studio but that is only because they don't easily lend themselves to performing.
What is it about electro and techno on a musical level that excites you?
I like the mysterious/ sci-fi sounds of electro and the funkiness of a broken beat made by an 808. Its makes me wanna get up and dance like a robot or get on a high tech motorcycleand rip through the city... at night.
Which artists do you look up to or influence your music right now?
Drexciya (RIP James Stinson) Anything Gerald Donald related (Dopplereffekt, Der Zyklus, Arpanet etc.) Besides Kraftwerk I'd say Anthony Rother is a master of electro.
Your style seems to be quite minimal or raw, and that’s unique. Why do prefer this and how do you keep too many influences from creeping in?
Oh man I don't know that I do! Thanks. I love music that gets right to the point. In production I find that it's easy to want to include every cool sound in my tool box. The main idea and force of the song can get bogged down in doing that. Iv'e had to learn to focus on the main musical idea so that it can have maximum impact.
What is your favorite movie and why?
Too many to name but since you're making me choose one I'll say Blade Runner. I just love the whole vibe of it. The score is incredibly moving. I've seen it countless times.
What is a favorite city or country you’ve ever visited?
Detroit. Being in the birthplace of techno is humbling.
How would you describe the underground dance music scene in Utah to an outsider?
I'd say that it has more to offer than you would think. There is a lot of good things going on these days. You have Industry Night hosted by Hel Audio. Featuring the more experimental side of things. We have Boiler Room style parties by Quality Control. Those are a blast. They've got their sound system dialed. We have most of the dance music genres that you would want to hear.
What do you think could be improved?
More people! And more promoters giving little guys a chance. Artists getting their game tight. And DJs/producers having enough trust between us to constructively critique each others tracks and what not. Playing locally produced tracks in DJ sets.
Outside of music, what’s surprises you the most about living in Salt Lake City?
It's always sunny. Miller Motorsports Park. Squarewave Sound. It's fun to be close to other cool cities. Seattle, Portland, LA.
I know you ride motorcycle(s). What kind of bikes? What do you love about riding and does it influence your music in any way?
I have three bikes at the moment. I have a Yamaha R6 for pure track riding. I have an Aprilia Tuono for sex appeal and track riding. My BMW K1300GT is for getting lost in the mountains for days. Yup. Big influence on my music. A two wheeled machine that can take you from 0-60mph in a matter of a couple seconds is always inspiring.
I was told that techno legend Dave Clarke picked one of your tracks for his most recent podcast. How did that feel? How did he find out about you?
Amazing. It's quite the compliment to have a DJ/producer that big play your cute 'lil tune. A buddy of mine who runs a label and a weekly electro radio show had a good email address for him. So I just sent the download link with a subject that said "have a listen?" and hoped for the best. I got pretty lucky. I've heard he gets sent giggabytes of music from people weekly!
What can you share about the exclusive mix you've made for NCM?
It features tracks and artists that inspired me over the years mixed with new and old tracks in my catalog.