Ahead of Trance Party 4, the Ellesmere Port producer drops an exclusive mix and explains why clubbing is totally meaningless and completely wonderful
Evian Christ is many things – a bass producer, contributor to Kanye West’s Yeezus, one-time trainee teacher, caged detainee at Leeds Festival and undisputed trance emperor of the UK’s northwest town Ellesmere Port. He’s also a nightclub promoter. Since 2014, Evian Christ (née Josh Leary) has been hosting "Trance Parties" across the UK, with some of the most forward-thinking artists of our time featuring as guests – Arca, Jam City and Sophie are just a few of the talents that have turned out.
The end of this month sees the fourth instalment of Trance Party hit Liverpool (29th), London (30th) and Sheffield (31st). To celebrate, Evian Christ has made an exclusive mix titled Evian Christ performs Global Trance Diva (Live): Trance Party 4: The Great British Trance Off Mix, including some unreleased material from the recently-signed-to-Warp producer. It’s an unrelenting assault on the senses, bedding Bieber with slices of mid-90s radio gear and aggressive gunfire drum sounds, making for a disconcerting, high-octane listen.
We caught up with Evian Christ to discuss the pointlessness of clubbing, taking inspiration from foam parties and getting into trance. Check the interview and the mix below (tracklist at the bottom). Buy tickets for Trance Party 4 – starring Total Freedom, Lorenzo Senni, Altern8, Venus X, Darko, Kablam and Nkisi – here.
How did you get into trance and what does it mean to you now?
Evian Christ: I got into it at at a ridiculously young age, when "Out of the Blue" came out. I would have been eleven. So I was pre-teen when I was really into trance music. It never really occurred to me at the time that this would be music people would dance to in nightclubs. I just wasn’t aware these kinds of places existed, but for me it was just the most otherworldly music that I had experienced at the time. I just found it really exciting and melodramatic.
What inspires and influences Trance Parties?
Evian Christ: I’m interested in all the excesses of 90s club culture and I want these parties to reflect the ridiculousness of an Ibiza foam party, just maybe without the foam. Those foam parties are just insane when you look at what it actually is – it’s pretty phenomenal. I’m inspired by the excesses of clubbing in that era, how hedonistic it was and how high the production values were. Trance being what it is, a foam party is going to ruin everyone’s expensive avant-sportswear, so we have to leave that. But it’s a hilarious thing to get a few hundred people in a room, blast loud music at them, fire lasers at them and cover them in alcohol.
Are you going to keep on doing it? Is it something you see yourself sticking with?
Evian Christ: I’m not sure, it’s an experiment for me. I would love it to reach a point where it’s a viable entity of itself where I can bring friends and people I respect to come to play good shows and we cut out all the middle men. If it can self-sustain in that way and I can build a presence in cities outside of London, it would be really just this self-sustaining entity that runs itself every year but whether that’s possible or not depends how receptive people are to this music.
Is Trance Party a reaction to places you’ve been dissatisfied with?
Evian Christ: Oh yeah, it’s extremely reactionary. It’s a reaction to all the festivals I play, a reaction to the way line-ups are put together that make no sense, a reaction to having to play a half-hour set because festivals booked too many people and can’t get their shit together. I’m the type of person that when I experience these kind of things I’m like, "Well, I’m just going to do it myself if no-one else can do a proper job of it." And if I fuck it up, its on me. So far I haven’t done. It makes me feel that running a good nightclub sounds simple and I wonder why people struggle to get it right so often.
Frequently I feel that the people who spend the money to go to these festivals are getting short changed because the experiences are so rubbish. And it makes me feel bad. It makes me feel bad when I’m playing at some festival and I know the environment isn’t the right kind of space for people to enjoy themselves or even experience something the way I’d like to present it and it gets me bothered and that’s why its nice to do Trance Parties.
Why are you so keen to move the party outside of London too?
Evian Christ: A kid came up to me at one of the Trance Parties and said, "Are you Evian Christ?" I said yeah and he said he’d come to see Arca and I thought fucking hell – people shouldn’t have to travel 220 miles to go to a good club night. It was the same with the last Trance Party, a few people came from Liverpool, and I was like fuck – they collectively travelled over 1000 miles to be in a space and just listen to music. It’s so ridiculous that everything’s so centralised.
Why do you think that is?
Evian Christ: I read an article about (UK band) Darkstar that said the government spends £69 a head on culture in London in comparison to £4.50 a head elsewhere. I think that really impacts on people’s ability to access cultural experiences that exist outside of the mainstream. Even more holistically, even if you don’t choose to go to these things, you don’t even imagine they exist. I think growing up in London, even if you’re not partaking in things, you’re more aware that they exist because they exist fourteen times fold there than they do in Liverpool. We’re not given any opportunity to have access to those things and then there’s frustrating assumptions that there’s no appetite for culture up North. Its because that appetite is never given an opportunity to develop.
How do you perceive club culture right now?
Evian Christ: When you’re dancing with your mates, covered in confetti, I think its important to acknowledge that these experiences you’re indulging in are essentially meaningless – you’re not going to find any sustainable answers within in this vague euphoria. Soon you’re going to be in your thirties getting a real job and everyone else in the room is trying to forget about these things, but you’re all in a room simultaneously experiencing this meaningless euphoria and that’s fine. At its best I think clubbing is that – a ridiculous, meaningless experience and simultaneously transcendental and depressing and blurry and confusing. You get to the end of it and nothing’s different. The world is exactly the same, you’re 50 quid lesser off and you’ve killed a couple of hours. It’s just a way for us to manage the purgatory of what it’s like to be in your 20s in 2015.
There’s moments when you’re in a club and you sort of pull yourself outside of the stupid hedonism of it and look around and think what the fuck is this? Why are we all stood here moving? And spending all our money on shots, whats the point of it? I’m interested in those moments more than I’m interested in the "this changed my life" aspect of club culture on which it’s built its legacy – that looking back on things and mythologizing them as something they’re not.
Do you think modern life feels like a purgatory?
Evian Christ: Yeah. I think being in your 20s now isn’t the same as it was for other generations. We’re kind of dragging on university lifestyle because getting onto the property ladder is now impossible. It can be quite hard to find work compared to the generation previous to us. Clubbing is a meaningless and vaguely acceptable way to try and make sense of what it means to be in your 20s and not have a fucking clue what you’re doing.
One last question, totally unrelated to anything. We did a Dazed sex survey and asked readers what their wildest fantasies were and one of the submissions was a girl who said ‘to be fucked by Evian Christ really hard while his music plays really loudly in my bedroom’. What do you think of that?
Evian Christ: Sure!
It wouldn’t put you off, having sex to your own music?
Evian Christ: Yeah it would. I don’t think it would be conducive to her aspirations but I would do my best for my fans!