Chris Cargo is a name that will need no introduction to long time progressive house fans. A regular contributor to the scene until 2009, long time fans will be pleased to know he’s back in the game. We look back at his career and find out what’s coming next!
1. Hi Chris, thanks so much for joining us today, how are you?
Chris Cargo: I am great, thank you for having me 🙂
2. Where are you living now and how long have you been producing and Djing?
Chris Cargo: I live in Belfast, Northern Ireland and have been producing for almost 20 years and djing for 24 years
3. How did you get into electronic music and where did some of your earliest inspirations come from?
Chris Cargo: Great question I suppose I always had an interest in music I used to compile my own top 40!! I would use my mum’s old records and record them onto tapes complete with voiceovers!!
I really got into electronic music from listening to a friends brother and his mates playing early piano filled House and Progressive music. Labels such as Guerrilla and limbo etc and djs such as Sasha, Digweed & Laurent Garnier were massive in shaping my future in electronic music.
4. So your first releases came at the beginning of the progressive house golden years let’s say. Two releases on Little Fluffy Clouds out of Ireland followed by an EP on Scottish imprint Red N Raw. Looking back on those releases how do they sit with you today?
Chris Cargo: I am proud of those releases, 1 of which featured on a Global Underground comp, but they are obviously nothing like I would make today, I think the b-side on one of The little Fluffy Records tracks ’Timeless’ was the name and this was perhaps the blueprint for future releases that track I could still groove too today (if it was slowed down lol)
5. Following that you became a part of Barry Gilbey’s Choo Choo Records which was quite well known for setting a trend for darker more heady material. It followed a period where the BPM’s were at an all time high and things were super melodic. How old were you at the time and how big of an impact did it have on your career being a part of that crew?
Chris Cargo: This time was a massive part of my career and life in fact Barry and I are still in touch today. I was maybe 22-23 when I started releasing with Choo Choo in total I had 7 releases. It was like a family, I would stay with the Gilbeys in Sheffield if I was over and they attended my wedding so we became good friends. A lot of gigs came through the label as well and have lots of fond memories from label nights around the globe, one i particular the sticks out would have been with Mara in Portugal on Christmas Day, I think we were the only people staying in the hotel, swapping gifts in the restaurant before the gig!!!
6. Would you still play those tracks today?
Chris Cargo: Not usually but I actually played ’Solid Substance’ at a kinda retrospective night a few weeks ago, this one has really stood the test of time and wouldn’t look out of place in today’s sets. I ve actually been tweaking it a bit tempo wise and coming at it with a different spin for 2017.
7. Around 2007-2008 things seemed to slow down until 2009 where you went roughly 8 years without a new production released. Why the absence? Were you still actively working on music or taking a break and focusing on other things? and what was it that sparked a return?
Chris Cargo: I new this question was going to come up!!! yeah things started slowing down on the gig front I guess that was one of the reasons but there were several others.
The music went through a really strange few years around this time, it was probably around the changeover from vinyl to digital, I had also just released an album which I had put my heart and soul into and in hindsight I signed to the wrong the label it was a real mess and soul destroying in many ways.
Around the same time I got offered a job running the entertainment at a local nightclub I was getting married and soon to have a child so I choose the steady income of running the club and soon the music production and gigging elsewhere was put on the shelf as this took up all of my time. I was just drained from it all, the album flop, the touring and I just wasn’t feeling things musically then either.
I do kinda of regret stopping production completely sometimes, but in other ways I don’t as I am really fresh now and really feeling things again. About 2 years ago I got out of the whole club thing and I am a different place with my life, settled and content. Around the start of this year I began listening to things again and I don’t know it just flicked a switch in me and I haven’t stopped making music since. I am definitely back in this for the long haul I ve had a break, recharged the batteries and raring to go!!
8. How did your first new productions in eight years end up on Deersky’s Soundteller Records?
Chris Cargo: Since I had began getting back into music again Soundteller was one of the labels that had caught my attention so I sent them a couple of tracks and the rest as they say is history!!!
9. Are you finding a lot of people who followed your productions years ago are still around now? Or does it feel like an entirely different landscape?
Chris Cargo: A bit of both really I am finding a lot of people getting in touch saying ‘I used to play your music and I love such and such a track’, it’s really nice and makes me acknowledge more the impact I had back then which I maybe I didn’t realise at the time. Equally though it’s really nice that people that may not have heard my music first time around are getting to hear what I do now, (2nd generation of Progressive House fans) It’s also really good to hook up with old friends from years gone by and find out how life has been treating them.
10. You have a new single out this week on Stellar Fountain. Tell us how you approached writing the track, how it ended up on the label and how Matter got attached to project as a remixer?
Chris Cargo: Kinda the same as with Soundteller, Stellar Fountain was a label that caught my attention and I sent them a demo, as for Matter the label approached him to do a remix and I was delighted when he agreed as he makes some top stuff.
11. So with the aforementioned release on Soundteller, one on Lowbit and now Stellar Fountain you seem to be right back in the game, what’s coming later this year from you? and where do you see your musical endeavours going in the future?
Chris Cargo: I have releases forthcoming on Bonzai and Clinique Recordings plus remixes for Sprout and Stellar Fountain plus some cool collabs. I am definitely back in the game for the long term, I feel I have some unfinished business!!
12. I remember you touring pretty extensively back in the day, is there a gig that stands out in your mind as the most special or a particular venue you loved to play?
Chris Cargo: I had so many wonderful gigs back then and was very privileged to be paid to see the world and dj in some of the best clubs, some of the stand out ones would be Q-Club in Zurich, Earth @The Melkweg in Amsterdam, The Backroom in Kuala Lumpur and at A-Priori in Moscow.
13. What were the main challenges for you when learning to produce music? What tips would you offer to new producers just starting out?
Chris Cargo: I wasn’t musically trained when I was younger so I did find that aspect of things difficult when it came to playing melodies on the keyboard, but I had an ear for what worked together, over the years I have taught myself a little more on the musical aspects of things which has made things easier. In the early days I always struggled with computer problems not enough memory things not working the way they should etc etc thankfully these days the technology has got a lot better.
Chris Cargo: My advice to anyone starting out would be to be yourself, once you have found your sound stick to it, don’t try and imitate somebody else or chase the next big thing, invest in good monitors and good computer with lots of memory and never give up.
14. How has your studio changed in the last 20 years in terms of hardware?
Chris Cargo: These days it’s pretty slimmed down I have mostly what I need in the computer!!!
15. Looking back over your discography what release are you most proud of and why?
Chris Cargo: There are several that stick out for different reasons, a track i did under the name Sentinel that came out on Choo Choo ‘I am’ was the title and I always felt it was the closest to the groove I was searching for at the time. Solid Substance also on Choo Choo (Transitions remix) another alias of mine I loved for its Deepness and sublime strings. Cityscape on Renaissance simply because it was on Renaissance an iconic brand that I had grown up with and lead to me touring for them around that time.
Timeshifter from my album, to me I always felt it was one of my finest pieces of work and one that sadly never really got picked up on for reasons beyond my control.
16. What five tracks are you currently loving the most at the moment?
Kora ‘Caddo’ – Sol Selectas
James Gill ‘ Supermoon’ – Sudbeat
Andre Sobota ‘Altitude’ (Dmitry Molosh remix) – ICONYC Music
Oovation ‘Solar’ (Michael A remix) – Mango Alley
Arian 911 – ‘7 Melodies’ – Innervisions
‘Dusk’ is out now via Stellar Fountain, you can purchase the release: here