Chymera Interview

Chymera, or Brendan Gregoriy as he is also known was born and raised in Cork, Ireland. In his early years he spent most of his time listening to various forms of alternative and guitar based music before he moved to Dublin where he discovered electronic music and DJing. In 2002 he began to take his first steps in electronic music production. In 2006 and early 2007 he had his first international release on labels Urban Torque (as I Am An Exit), Supreme Entertainment and Mezzotinto, the later of which “Midnight at the Aquarium”, swiftly brought him to the attention of many house and techno luminaries. Since his early releases he has gone on to release tracks on labels such as Ovum, NRK, Connaisseur, Cocoon and Outpost. After almost 3 years living in Barcelona, Brendan relocated to Berlin in 2010 where he is now currently based. We managed to grab a few minutes out of Brendan’s busy schedule to discuss his thoughts on the music industry, his studio set up, his current hometown and future projects for 2014.

Hi Brendan. Thank you for taking the time to answer of few questions. You were born in Cork and then moved to Dublin. Has being born and raised in Ireland had a big influence on you musically and if so why?

I grew up listening to metal and alternative which was a result of the group of friends that I hung around with. I discovered Electronic music when I moved away to go to University. Dublin had a really good techno scene at the time and it was techno that attracted me the most. I didn’t really notice such a huge difference between my tastes and global tastes when I moved away, at least not within Europe. My style of playing changed a little a bit but beyond that, we were getting the same records and trends in Ireland.

I have read that you find the crowds in Dublin amongst the best in the world. What are your opinions on the Dublin scene at present and the crowds?

I play now in Dublin only about once a year these days. It still has a good scene and the crowds are always enthusiastic and full of energy. Not a huge amount has changed except that now the club-goers are much younger. When I left I knew all the faces in crowd, now they’ve been replaced by the next generation of clubbers.

I believe you are now living in Berlin. For those who have not experienced it, can you explain what the scene is like there and some of your favourite clubs and places to hang out?

The scene is what you make of it. You can see any DJ you want most days of the week. To be honest it’s a bit overwhelming so I actually don’t go out that much at all. Maybe once every 6 weeks or so. The clubs are great of course. Of the big ones, Berghain/Panorama bar is of course always worth a visit if you can tolerate the queue, or if you’re lucky enough to have a guestlist spot. Usually it’s a bit less hassle to go to one of the smaller ones though. I like Wilde Renate, About:Blank and Prince Charles. Katerholzig can also be fun. Usually I will just hang out in a local bar or got to a restaurant. There’s also a really quiet life here if you want it. That’s more my style.

What is your current studio setup and do you prefer to use software or hardware when producing new music?

My studio setup has been relatively stable for almost 10 years. At it’s core is Ableton live which is my sequencer and VST host. I get the majority of my sounds from hardware synths, with some VSTs and I use samples for my drums.

What are some of your favourite toys in the studio and why?

The access virus and Oberheim matrix 1000 are responsible for all of my releases from 2005 until about 2009 –  so for that time period there were by far my favourite and most important pieces of kit. From 2010 onwards I added some more bits and pieces like a Nord rack 2, DSI Mopho and Tetra, Vermona Mono Lancet and Moog Minitaur. I would say that the Nord is now my favourite polysynth – it’s got such a great character and I love that all the controls are on it’s face, there is no menu diving at all. The minitaur is incredible for bass and the vermona has taken on a life of it’s own in my live sets. Pretty much the only VSTs that I use are the Korg Legacy suite and the TAL suite. I love their Juno 106 emulation.

When you are approached by an artist for a remix, what is the process you go through?

Generally I tell them straight up that the chances of it actually happening are slim to none at all. If they are still happy to send on the parts then I will have a mess around and see if they inspire anything in me. Unfortunately I haven’t had a successful experience with a remix since 2010. That was the last time I finished one which was released. So for now I’m not accepting any more at all. It’s too much effort and time for little reward. I’ll leave remixing to the real pros in the business.

I remember those halcyon days of buying vinyl. There has been more than one occasion where I missed buying food because I had spent all my time and cash in the local record store. Do you think with the advent of the digital age some of the majesty and wonder has been lost when we can now buy mp3s with a few clicks of the mouse, day or night?

Actually in a way I prefer the whole process now. I don’t really have such a high regard for vinyl any more. At the time, I loved it. But as I realised more and more often, I only liked one track on an entire release  – for which I would have to spend about 10 euros. I like that I can now just buy that one track, along with a whole lot more from different releases, for a fraction of the price of the vinyl. I still respect people that play vinyl and vinyl culture itself. It’s also important for me to still release my music on vinyl, as it gets to more people and covers all the bases. I enjoy hunting for releases online, especially trawling through back catalogues and finding old releases that I used to own but which were robbed or lost or destroyed over the years.

How do you feel about music streaming sites such as Spotify and the returns seen by artists from such sites? Is this a realistic way for music retail to develop?

I don’t use Spotify at all. For me it’s a waste of time, but I know that a lot of my friends do use it, and I’m sure a lot of people have discovered my music through it. I don’t make any money from it though. It’s still important for me to own a piece of music and do whatever I want with it – if I just want to listen or preview a track, I will use Youtube. I still buy CDs from time to time, and of course I buy a lot of music digitally, preferably from sites like Bandcamp. Bandcamp for me is probably the most important and interesting development in the music retail world for the last few years. I really hope that it prospers.

Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook now appear to be the main way in which the artist connects with their fan base. Do you feel it has impacted heavily in the way you now operate as a music artist? Can you be successful without them?

They are indeed incredibly helpful to me. I can post about my releases or gigs and instantly make my fans aware. Myspace was also great back in the day. That was the first step in the ladder and was really helpful in getting releases signed. Sure you can be quite successful without them, but it’s pretty funny how now almost everyone, even luddites, have a facebook page. Some people are completely over the top on it, other people barely even use it. But it’s still probably the first way that I find out any information about my favourite artists.

There are many budding producers out there looking to break into the music industry. Is there any advice you would give to budding producers out there?

Don’t change your production style to suit trends, unless you really really love that trend. Only make music that you love making. Bandwagon jumping might work for some people but you’re not fooling anyone.

The industry has seen many changes throughout the years, but one issue is the struggle for exposure in a flooded digital world of music. How do you find this affects you and releasing your music?

I don’t really give it much thought. I’m lucky that I have managed to release on some of the biggest and well respected labels in the business and I think that is very important in breaking through, especially if you have a small profile. The money that I make from music sales is really miniscule. I’m happy long as a handful of people are listening to and loving my music and that I can get enough gigs to live from it.

Some people would argue that the last DJs to break into the scene purely based on DJing were Nic Fanciulli and James Zabiela. Do you feel you can break into the electronic music scene by simply being a DJ or do you now need to produce as well?

There are still people who break through primarily on their DJ ability. People like Ben UFO for instance. But for sure, production is still the easiest (not that it’s easy) way to break in. I’ve got a lot of respect for people who get through only on their DJ ability. It’s for sure the hardest path and they have earned it.

There is a lot of talk about the term EDM in the USA and across Europe. What are your thoughts on the term EDM and the way it is being used to label certain types of music?

I don’t care in the slightest about the EDM movement. It doesn’t impact in any way on my music. If people want to fill stadiums making that kind of stuff then more power to them. It’s not worth wasting time dissing them. There’s about as much relationship between EDM and underground music as there is between pop and underground music.

Lastly is there anything you can tell us about that you have planned for 2014?

I’ve got an EP coming up on Ovum in  January or February. I also just made an album which will be coming out under a different alias in May. Something quite different to anything I’ve made before. More details soon :)


About the Author

Director and DJ, Ian French (Naif) is passionate about every genre of music from Breakbeat, to Drum & Bass, to Techno and House. A man that lives in a world of beats and bass, and total confusion about life!