Chris was a resident at techno temple Atomic Jam for over a decade. Now he's switched up his style and become Bodyjack, inspired by his love of rave, juke and garage — and he's loving it. With releases for Hypercolour and his new Body Trax imprint, he's ready to begin a new chapter...
Techno DJs don't come much more credible than Chris Finke. Resident at Atomic Jam in Birmingham for over 10 years, Finke is as respected for his various productions and remixes, on labels like Mote Evolver and Decoy, as he is for his epic sets. 2013 saw Chris take a leap into
the unknown, though, with his new Bodyjack alias. His debut EP, the rave-tinged 'Feel Real Good' on Hypercolour and the first EP on his own Bodyjack set the stall out for something very different.
From house to booty to bass, it might seem like a strange time to move away from his main genre, seeing as we are slap bang in the middle of an industrial techno revival. We spoke to Chris to get the lowdown on Bodyjack, his new label Body Trax, his thoughts on modern techno, and what inspired his new moniker and sound...
You are mostly known for your techno sets, but the Bodyjack sound and aesthetic is very different. What was the inspiration behind it?
“I've been DJing full-time for 10 years, and was finding it increasingly difficult to play what I wanted to play. I was playing techno, and if I deviated from that it just wasn't working. Maybe in some clubs, but in general the promoters were getting confused and I was finding it harder and harder to make a living.
So it was a decision I made over probably four or five years, I just thought, 'I'm going to split this stuff up'. Bodyjack is basically a culmination of everything I've ever listened to, and everything I am listening to now. I have just killed off Chris Finke, as an artist at least, for now.
“I do have another alias I started for pure techno (which is anonymous), that's going really well too. I've actually just got my first booking with that for Berghain in May, which will be wicked. But Bodyjack is something I want to have fun with, and that's what it's all about for me.”
So what are the main non-techno influences on Bodyjack?
“House, UK garage, Dancemania, Relief, that kind of booty/ghetto thing is a huge influence. Obviously rave and jungle is in there, and also the new style of stuff like L-Vis, Tessela, Pangaea, those guys. No real boundaries really. I tend to be quite picky, and there's loads of stuff I like at the minute, it's got to be the strongest time for music since 1993.
For someone who has been listening to music as long as I have, I know what I like, but I'm so open to new, weird, crazy strains of dance music and there's so much amazing stuff about.”
How are you finding DJing and producing as Bodyjack compared to your former Chris Finke stuff?
“I'm absolutely loving DJing as Bodyjack, I've really got the fire back! Rocking up to play without any idea of what I'm going to do, and the best thing about this is I'm having fun with it, which really makes a difference. Playing for younger, less jaded crowds is like a breath of fresh air, it's fun. I'm a DJ first and foremost and always have been, and I got into producing because I had to, really.
These days I love producing as much as DJing, but if I had to choose one over the other, DJing would always win. I play mostly new stuff and edits I've done of older stuff people don't know. It would be so easy to just dig into the collection and play old bits, but there is so much wicked music around these days you just can't keep up and it keeps coming!
“I've been so lucky, I've travelled the world, America, Japan, Australia, South America. But the last couple of years have been really, really hard at times. A lot of DJs have really struggled to come to terms with changing with the times and keeping a relevant identity.
I'm such a positive person, always have been. For me, staying upbeat and doing my own thing is the key, not sitting there, slagging people off on Twitter all day which is what a lot of people I know who haven't done something about it have ended up doing. When I started doing Bodyjack tracks I felt so much more at home with it, it was like a light had gone on. 'Oh right, I can do this!' just by widening my base. It's been an interesting journey and I'm quite excited to see where it takes me!”
So what exactly has changed so much in techno, and by extension, dance music?
“Well, when I first started DJing properly, it was the tail-end of people making a lot of money from music, whereas now you don't make any real money from music unless you have a massive hit. When I started, it was just vinyl. The guys I was hanging round with were shifting five, six, seven thousand units on vinyl for every release they did. Then all of a sudden those glory days just stopped pretty much when the digital side kicked off.”
As someone who has made their name through techno music, what are your thoughts on the current “techno revival”?
“Techno got really hard in the early 2000s, it was ridiculous. No girls went to the clubs. In the UK, techno got such a bad name for a long time. The minimal thing came around, and that was ok for a while, a lot of DJs jumped to that, but it got just as bad. Now with the industrial thing, there's a lot of people jumping onto that thinking it's the next thing when guys like Perc and Truss who broke that sound have already moved on. So, while there are some people making some amazing techno, there are hundreds making bad stuff as well.”
So, what is coming up for Bodyjack?
“My new label with the guys at Clone called Body Trax (for straight-up house and techno dancefloor bangers) kicks off on 15th April. After that I have got my EP for Unknown To the Unknown, which I just finished today, and that's got a DJ Haus remix on it. Big room EP that! Then I have my second EP for the Bodyjack label as well, so lots going on.
I've made a conscious effort to say no to remixes and music for other labels so far, I just want to do everything differently with Bodyjack. The only one I really wanted to do was the UTTU release, 'cos I really like that label. I am trying to avoid making the mistakes I made in the past with other stuff, like I did so many remixes, and some of them I probably did because they offered me money and I perhaps wouldn't have done it had I not got paid.
But now I'm trying to hold it down and only do things I really want to do. To work a bit more slowly and only put out things I really like, not because I get asked to do it. I think that's where a lot of artists let themselves down, by putting out too much music.”
Catch Bodyjack at DJ Mag Sessions at Ministry of Sound on 5th July alongside Noir, Uner, Franck Roger and ZDS. Limited £10 tickets available HERE