As a Virginia Tech student, I had the wonderful opportunity to interview a local Blacksburg, Va DJ, Chris Reese, also known as DJ Pyrite. Born in Roanoke, Va, Chris lived in Blacksburg, Va where he started off his DJing career. “I Dabbled in and out of producing as I’ve been DJing for the past 5 or 6 years” he says, “but I haven’t really put my head into doing it for the past year and a half.” After a few years of playing in small Blacksburg venues, Chris finally had the opportunity to expand his DJing career to larger audiences.
DJ Pyrite’s latest track, “Gojira”, is his most recent song. Listen to the track and download it for free here:
Keep reading for a few questions and answers about his DJing experience.
Q: How Did you begin producing?
A: “I Learned from a turntablist in Blacksburg. I Had some friends getting into it at the time and thought ‘if they can do this why can’t I do this?’”
Q: How long did it take you to move up from small venues to bigger festivals?
A: “I started out playing at local places around here and I still do because I always love playing in Blacksburg. I guess it took me about three years before I started to do bigger stuff and opening for big name acts and bigger festivals and that kind of thing”
Q: What was your first big opportunity?
A: “I’d say my first really big opportunity was opening for Modestep at The National in Richmond. Modestep is from England and they are rarely ever over here. DJ Muggs from Cypress Hill was the other support and that was pretty huge too. He’s an amazing turntablist so that was a really big opportunity,”
Q: How did you make your way up to playing at festivals like Big Dub and Imagine Music Festival?
A: ” Well I started out for awhile working with this company B.A.D.A.S.S. RAVES. I still work with them, playing for their shows all over the place: Virginia, D.C, Maryland, Chicago. They’re ever expanding and I got linked up with another company that does a lot of the bigger name artists throughout the East Coast Promo. Just by working with them and cutting my teeth and getting gigs I started to get booked for bigger stuff. As far as Imagine goes, I finally got a booking agent so I have someone that’s selling my name. I’ve been trying to get in as many cool places as possible. Getting a manager finally after about four and a half years definitely really helped too because I can go forward on what I need to be doing rather than negotiating with people and that kind of thing.”
Q: Was Imagine or Big Dub your first summer festival?
A: No I played some small festivals like Pink Moon and just smaller more home grown stuff all over the place but Big Dub was the first time that I played a festival I guess of that stature. It was completely sold out, four to five thousand people and then I got to play on the main stage so that was really awesome. Then of course for Imagine I wasn’t on the main stage or anything but even to be considered for that was a huge honor because there were only two people from Virginia even considered and I was one of them.”
Q: Are there any artists that you are inspired by?
A: ”As far as the way someone preformed, I was always inspired by Bassnectar and the way he controls the crowd is amazing to me. I have a completely different mixing style from him but I definitely try to bring in a lot of high energy and constantly just jumping around and dancing. I feel like it helps the crowd get into it. There have been all kinds of people I’ve been inspired by. Anytime I go to a music festival or a show, I’m constantly analyzing what a DJ does or what producers do on stage, whether it be their mixing or their sounds. I try and take inspiration from them because that’s how you learn to please people. Being a DJ or producer isn’t always about doing what you want to do, it’s about how to make the people feel a certain emotion.”
Q: Can you please describe your process of making your latest track Gojira with Oniix?
A: ”Well it originally started out that I just made this really sweet drum beat and I didn’t know what to put on top of it yet. I’ve known Matt Oniix for awhile. He’s always been a great producer and he was waiting for me to catch up to where I can collaborate with him. I sent him over the drum beat and a few ideas I’ve had, like the Godzilla samples and putting some really thick orchestral horns over it. Then I let him go to work on the synthesis for awhile and we came up with something we liked almost immediately and then we just took it from there. This was all online because he was in France for pretty much all of the summer but we got to meet up once before he went to France to sit down and talk about how we were going to finish the structure of the track. He wrote those really cool melodic string sections in the second breakdown. He came up with that completely on his own. The four chord drop in the second drop, that was an idea he had and we changed that. We were constantly bouncing ideas off of each other and coming up with what would sound the coolest. Sometimes I’m more of an idea person. I would feed him the ideas and let him see what he came up with because I’ve respected him for so long that I almost wanted him to have his way in the synthesis of that song and it came off really cool, just bouncing ideas off of each other. ”
Q: Do you plan on releasing anymore tracks in the future?
A: “Yeah, I’m working on a few right now and I’m about to work on another colap with Oniix since that track went really well. I’m constantly working on something regardless of whether or not it gets to the point of getting released or not. Some things you end up developing you want to end up using them and getting them out to people and some things you don’t because you are not as stoked on how it sounds or they just aren’t how you want it to be. My tracks are far from perfect, but in terms of releasing songs I’m pretty much a perfectionist and I want it sound really good before I let other people hear it.”
Chris concluded the interview with advice to up-rising producers:
“Always keep pushing at it. There will always be doubters but you have to move past that and keep trying. I had people tell me I would never make it and I specifically remember one person telling me ‘you are never going to do anything with this’ and every time I get an awesome gig, I hate to be one of those people ‘I told you so’ but it’s like I want to throw it in their face so bad. It’s like my reason to keep on pushing and keep being successful and trying new things and make all the doubters shut up because I do what I love doing and I’m doing a pretty good job for myself.”
After having a great talk with Chris, I asked him the standard question a Malaysian Safari writer must ask: What is a Malaysian Safari?
“Well at first I was a little clueless because I saw the web URL and I was like ‘Okay, what am I going to see here? Safari pictures with hippos and elephants?’ Honestly, I might as well have thought of the zoo.”