Hailing from the underground of New York’s 90’s rave scene as a teenage resident at the legendary Tunnel club, Cheyne Christian has been captivating dance floors the world over as a selector of all things tribal, Latin, and Afro house.
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In 2018 after a brief hiatus, Cheyne re-emerged in the concrete jungle with a wealth of new material, signing to coveted labels such as Nervous, Toolroom, Saved, Wired, Stealth and more. Unquestionably a favorite choice of labels and artists alike, his tunes have garnered tastemaker support from Carl Cox, Fatboy Slim, Claptone, Mark Knight, Roger Sanchez, Cedric Gervais, and Shiba San.
Cheyne can be found spinning his hard-edged melting-pot of New York sounds regularly at Somewhere NoWhere (NYC), House of Hyde at SLS (Miami), and Deep Root at Brooklyn Monarch. Also catch him weekly on Select Radio with his Sneaker Dancing Sessions show, and monthly on DI.FM.
In addition to being a prevalent producer and DJ, the NYC-based artist also runs his own label, Bridge & Tunnel Beat Co.
Cheyne Christian’s intriguing discography continues to resonate with fans across the globe with every subsequent release. His infectious house sound and distinguished live performances position him as an artist to watch in the dance music space.
With decades of experience under his belt and currently riding the highs of his career’s renaissance, Cheyne has a chat with SIX AM about the golden days of the 90’s rave scene, his artist path and return to the music industry, plus some upcoming work of his to be on the look-out for soon.
Welcome to SIX AM Cheyne Christian! How’s everything going?
Everything is great, thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited as my debut release on the legendary Roger Sanchez’s Stealth Records is out now. It’s a groovy little Afro house track called Wakala featuring NES Mburu.
Also, SOS has been sitting at number 21 on the Beatport Chart for almost two weeks, the longest Top 100 run I’ve had yet.
For those that never got to experience it for themselves, what was the NYC rave scene like back in the 90’s? How do you think it’s influenced your path as an artist?
Man, that’s so hard to put into words. It was where you wanted to be, but never knew existed. The music had so much energy, and was so infectious, but it wasn’t easy to just go out and be able to stream or download or find the tracks that were being played that were pretty much creating the soundtrack of an entire era. If you wanted to hear tribal, you could only find it with Danny Tenaglia, or Louie Vega, and it was only at Tunnel on Saturday nights, or wherever Louie was playing at the time. If you wanted to have your mind blown with progressive house, you’d hit up Wailo once a month on a Friday when Sasha & Digweed were in town. There’s been so many iconic spots through the years that had their own individual soundtrack and attracted such an amazing melting pot of a crowd that could only be found in New York City.
As for being influenced, my production style and my DJ sets would not be what they are today if I hadn’t partied in that scene or played throughout that time.
You’ve been in the game for years, but took a brief hiatus for a moment and then came back strong in 2018. What triggered this hiatus, and what would you say are the key differences of your path pre-hiatus vs post-hiatus?
It was 2005 and I’d been in the grind for about 10 years. I had some cool residencies in New York City, Miami and New Jersey. I had a one hit wonder of a release with my travel remix of C+C Music Factory‘s ‘Sweat’, but I couldn’t seem to gain any momentum to propel me forward on the global scene. I ended up finishing an album, which was a great representation of what was happening on the electro tribal scene, distributed through Oscar P and Open Bar who helped me lineup my first UK and Ibiza tour. I was getting support from Roger Sanchez and many others. I was right where I wanted to be. Ibiza was unlike anything I ever imagined, and I had no plans on returning to the United States. Then I got a call from a girl who I used to hang around with letting me know she was pregnant and keeping the baby. I had never thought about having children before, nor was the timing right. However, despite not wanting to spend the rest of my life with this girl, I knew I had to leave everything behind and go be the best father I could be to this child that was on the way.
So after the tour was over, I went back to the United States, got a real job in technology sales and hung up my headphones for what I thought was forever. A few years later, I eventually got married to an amazing girl, who I’d known for many years, and we had two children of our own. In 2018, after being together for over a decade, she told me I was turning into an a**hole and desperately needed a hobby. She said, “Why don’t you get back into music, you were always happier back then.” So she took me to the nearest Guitar Center and let me pick out some toys. They had CDJs set up, and I stepped up to the decks and started playing around. A few seconds later, I literally found myself in a trance, thinking I was back in Ibiza, mixing songs together, cranking the FX, just having a blast. The next thing I know I have a crowd of people around me, and my kids are looking at me like “Dad, how do you know how to do that?” Needless to say, I dropped a small fortune at Guitar Center, taking my new toys home and started to play around a little. I wondered if I still could produce music, so I did some research, hit up my old mentor and friend, Dean Masi of Masi and Mello and bought some stuff. A few weeks later, I had produced my own track and started a record label to release some of my new music. A few months after that, I made the Sunglasses At Night bootleg that Claptone played for months, it was supported by David Guetta and placed in Spotify’s ‘Housewerk’ playlist.
The key differences for me are that while I absolutely loved what I was doing back then, it was a grind, and it was really stressful. It wasn’t always as glamorous as it seems. I was completely broke living gig to gig, and had no direction.
Now, I do it simply for the love of music, and the love of entertaining people. It’s truly straight from my heart, every set, and every song I produce. I also think that being away from something I loved so much for so long, has helped me be able to produce the way I’ve been producing. I have so many ideas that need to get out of my head.
You’ve released music on some pretty heavy hitting labels such as Nervous and Toolroom, and have been bolstered by the likes of legends such as Carl Cox, Fatboy Slim, Claptone, Mark Knight, and Shiba San. How does it feel to be supported by some of the titans of the industry? How does it affect the way you approach your career after gaining such recognition?
I suffer from what I like to call Leonardo da Vinci syndrome; I’m never really crazy about anything I’ve produced to be quite honest with you. I listen back and cringe sometimes like “why did I do that,” or “I should’ve done this,” or “that’s so not finished!” However, when legends like Carl and Claptone, Mark and Norm played my songs, it was truly humbling. I have always looked up to and admired their production styles and DJ sets since the start of my career, so getting support from them means everything.
My production style varies from tribal, to Afro and Latin house. Anytime I make a track, I’m always thinking of how the crowd is going to react to it, and not as much, but who’s gonna play it. I bounce within those genres, and whoever likes it likes it. For me, it was just something in my head/heart that needed to get out.
You’ve got a release out now feat. Josh Dion ‘SOS’ on Bridge & Tunnel Beat. Co, as well as the release you previously mentioned feat. Nes Mburu titled ‘Wakala’ out on Stealth. What made you want to collaborate with these 2 unique artists? What was the inspiration behind the tracks you made with them?
I’ve always been a huge fan of Sting and The Police. That SOS song has been in my head for almost 20 years. I made a bootleg last summer for my sets and it went over pretty well so I decided to collaborate with Josh because I knew he could sound pretty close to Sting and get this out to a wider audience. I worked with Josh on the Phil Collins’ In The Air cover, and he absolutely killed it.
With Wakala, I made a really cool beat, Afro house style, and knew I wanted Nes to sing something over it. However, with this one, I wanted to take it a little further than we did before. So I found a guitar player from South Africa to play the licks you hear on the track.
A few years ago, some of our close friends introduced me to the Afro house sound with Black Coffee and some other DJs. Having been out of the game for so long, to me it sounded like a blend between progressive house and tribal house – two styles I used to play all the time and were part of my go-to sound. I was definitely hooked. When I made my first track Lotto on Nervous, I made an Afro house track and looked on fiverr to find an African singer songwriter. I came across Nes’s profile, listened to his demos, and immediately knew I wanted his voice on my track. This would be our third collaboration together. And I got two more lined up after this.
As a teen back in the day you were a resident at Tunnel Club (NYC), and these days you can be found playing regularly at Somewhere NoWhere (NYC), House of Hyde at SLS (Miami), and Deep Root at Brooklyn Monarch. Is there anywhere new you’re playing soon that you’re excited to play at? And where are some bucket list venues you’ve been dreaming of playing at?
As you can imagine, time is pretty limited for me so I’m very methodical about where I choose to play. I’m working on a few things for this summer in New York and Brooklyn, and possibly New Jersey also. I probably won’t be back to Miami until the fall as the season dies out a little bit. However, in terms of bucket lists, Superior Ingredients is at the top of that list, Brooklyn Mirage, Harbor and Nebulous. In Miami, I would love to play the terrace at Space and maybe even open up for Oscar G at 1-800 Lucky in Wynwood.
Also, believe it or not I have never played a festival. Some of the festivals on my bucket list are Tulum’s Day Zero, BPM, Tomorrowland, Coachella, EDC, Ultra and Burning Man.
For now, you can catch my Sneaker Dancing Sessions show weekly on Select Radio FM Thursdays at 3AM UK time / Wednesdays at 10PM Eastern standard. And the third Friday of every month on DI.FM.
Thanks for chatting with us Cheyne! Is there anything else you’d like to share?To all the DJ’s that have been supporting me and to everyone that has been listening to my music and DJ sets, I truly appreciate you.
Connect with Cheyne Christian: SoundCloud | Facebook | Instagram | Spotify