There isn’t much introduction necessary for someone like the popular DJ Chris White aka Whiiite, his résumé precedes himself. From music to nightlife and beyond, it seems he is pushing the boundaries on what we should expect from an electronic music producer, better yet entertainment experiences in general. As he merges his skills to provide a completely polished multimedia experience, he is seemingly doing everything right on his way to the top. See what he has to say as we ask him about his music, visual concepts, and more…
Thank you for taking the interview and congratulations on all of your success!
Thank you so much man I appreciate that, thank you for having me.
Sure, so before I did music I was in film school. And unlike a lot of people’s beliefs who think film school, and people think cinematography and special effects, but I was studying story. So I studied screen writing and advanced screen writing. When I made the transition from film to music, I didn’t want to leave that part of my life behind. So, when I started producing my own original music I wanted something that was a little bit different. I think with a lot of the music that I grew up loving, there was always the music that I loved, but visually there was always a lot there. Whether it was Hip Hop or Marilyn Manson or The Prodigy, there was always visually something to feel. So that was the initial nugget of an idea of thinking ‘OK how can I incorporate some sort of story into the music that I am writing’. And I really loved what bands like the Gorillaz were doing, where they created this virtual band and there was just this whole other visual side to the project outside of the music. So, that’s where it started and this is where we are now.
Yea and with that you pretty much went in and answered my second question too, which was: Your music sounds like it has a lot of diverse influences, what genres of music did you listen to growing up and how did they affect your music? I know you mentioned Marilyn Manson, Hip Hop, and The Prodigy, was there anything else that you think had a substantial influence on your music?
Yea, I grew up in a really small town in Pennsylvania and we had MTV and the radio there. We didn’t have that much underground music, but I feel like I was always into Hip Hop. And then there was music that was outside of Hip Hop that was different, like Aphex Twin, The Prodigy, and The Chemical Brothers. Then in the early 2000’s here in L.A. I really got into the Electroclash movement. So [I was into] bands like Miss Kittin & The Hacker, Fischerspooner, so sort of on that kind of vibe. And then I found a record called Waters of Nazereth by Justice. Once I heard that record, for me, it’s kind of what made me want to produce music, because it was just so different and it was just crazy distorted and there was nothing out there that sounded like it at the time. And it had all the things that I really liked, just sort of wrapped into one record. I would say that it really was that record that kind of started everything for me.
…Waters of Nazereth by Justice. Once I heard that record, for me, it’s kind of what made me want to produce music…
Wow, that’s actually really awesome. How about now, with how you’re maintaining such a well developed brand and consistently putting out high quality music. That takes a lot of effort within itself. What’s your secret to balancing the time between the branding and the music? Do you ever feel overwhelmed, because it’s so much work?
Sure, that’s really a great question, because I think that for producers, or for DJ’s, or usually a lot of guys in the music industry, it’s not like you’re just sitting in the studio making music; or it’s not like you’re just on the road and you’re touring or DJing. You have to be wearing multiple hats and I think the secret would be scheduling, to be really Nazi with your scheduling. And I study a lot of books on business and philosophy and I think that’s something that I learned early on. That you can schedule your entire day down to 15 minutes. Just think about how many times you get lost in the different social media platforms, where you’re just like ‘Oh man 2 hours just went by’. But within those 2 hours if you have strong results that you’re going for in your creative fields or your different businesses that you’re trying to do, the more Nazi that you are with your schedule, I feel, the better and the faster things can happen.
That’s definitely a great answer, because you can easily get lost in social media. And you definitely wear a lot of hats with everything that you’re doing. As far as the music production, what’s the most important aspect of music production? Whether it’s the melody or sound design or whatever you think?
Sure, I think everybody has a thing that they love. Specifically I have a lot of friends who love sound design. They like to turn knobs and run things through different filters and I think for me it’s more about the idea and kind of finding the idea. Whether the idea is an other track that’s out and I’m like ‘Oh I’d love to remix this’ or a sample that I find, because I was a vinyl collector since I was a young kid so a lot of my records start with just listening to old records and sampling old songs and then remaking something new. But I think that’s my favorite part of the whole process, it’s the idea and coming up with the idea. Then, it’s also really fun for me, because I have such a visual brand and concept, I’m thinking: ‘how can this idea then play into the visual side.’ Like with this song that I’m writing, how could that play into the story that were writing on the graphic novel front. Or even vice versa, the story that we’re writing comic wise, what kind of dance music would we score to this.
Yea, going back you had mentioned that you began DJing with vinyl. I think that right there is an upper hand for DJ’s, because you had to experience the mixing in a different way. Where now, a DJ can start out and there are so many programs that could mix the songs for you.
And I think with vinyl man it’s a whole other culture. Like when I was young, even before I was a DJ the vinyl culture and collecting records it was very much like sneaker heads. It was that same sort of mentality where it was like ‘Oh I got this record and you just can’t get this record, because I found it in some bin in some random spot.’
I feel like I have an idea of what you’re talking about. I used to DJ a long time ago in a different life, so I know what you’re saying as far as searching through the crates [for a rare record]. So, in reference to Control at The Avalon, being able to have built it up over the years is an accomplishment within itself. How do you hope to expand from there after doing so much?
Thank you, yea we actually we expanded a few months ago. We expanded to San Francisco, so now we’re in San Francisco every Thursday. San Diego very soon, and there’s some plans for other cities. I can’t say which cities yet, but in 2015 you’ll see Control in a few new spots for sure.
Well I’m in Miami if you need somebody! So, you’ve performed with a lot of talented artists, do you ever get intimidated by them or do you just focus on the art that you’re bringing to the table?
I don’t think so, I think that I have an overwhelming amount of respect for art and music. And so I don’t know if it would be intimidation as much as it’s just respect. I really know what it takes to create something new and different, really trying to push the envelope, and those are usually the guys that I have a lot of respect for. But I think that it doesn’t matter who the artist is, whether it’s a film maker, or a painter, or a DJ, or a musician, everybody started somewhere. If it was DJ who started playing in house parties or in small bars, it doesn’t matter if they’re now the number 1 DJ in the world, they started somewhere. And so, I think that if you keep that in mind, [you see] it’s a road that everyone is on. Just because somebody is a little further up the road, it doesn’t really make them any different as people. I definitely search out people that are more about the art or the music. I think there’s a lot that kind of goes with when something becomes popular. I look for people who are able to look past that and are more about the art and the music.
You know what, it’s not even an aspiring DJ, I think it would just be more for anyone, trying to do anything, anywhere. I know that’s a really broad way to start an answer, but I think the most important thing above anything is to know what it is you want. I think once you know what it is you really want… and it takes time, you have to try different things to see what it is that you like and you don’t like, and kind of honing in on things that you really love. I think that as soon as you know what it is that you really want, and it’s a very specific vision that you can see, then it’s just committing to the plan to getting there. And I think that’s where it can get tough, because it’s not easy. With whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish, anything worth doing is probably not going to be easy. It has to be clear what you’re trying to move towards. My wife has a really good thing that she says. I forget where she heard it, but she says that, “if you know where you’re trying to go and you can just get 1% better every day, then after 100 days you’ll be 100% better.” That kind of philosophy is extremely helpful in whatever it is you’re trying to do. That’s what’s crazy, say you want to lose weight, people will be like ‘oh I’m going to go run my guts out’, maybe you should just run to the end of the street, and then the next day you just go 1% further, that’s how you build!
The last two answers that you gave were broad in that they weren’t unique to music, but they were definitely deep. And you can tell by the way you’re talking that you’ve definitely built up experience in your life to know where you want to be going, and that you’re going where it is that you want to go and that’s awesome.
Yes sir. I’m very blessed. Thank you man
I’m sure you’ve been receiving a lot of good feedback from the music. I know you have. What are your plans for 2015?
There’s so many, but specifically music wise, just a lot of original music. A lot of the remixes are bootlegs, they’re just fun for me. I’ll be at a show or I’ll be driving here in L.A. and I’ll hear something on the radio and think like ‘Oh I want this for my set, but I want to flip it my way.’ I think 2015, especially within the first 6 months here there’s going to be a lot of original material. I spent the last 9 months working all sorts of original tracks and ideas. So the release of that we’ll see in the first quarter here. And I definitely look at being a music producer, as it’s a lot like being a fashion designer. It’s like with the great fashion designers, they have their style that’s theirs and you know that’s them, but every season they come out with something new. Like, ‘this is what they’re into at that moment’; but you know it’s that designer, because they use a specific type of material or colors. So for me, for this next collection of stuff that I’m writing, I’m very much in the season of Hip Hop. I think that I’m really inspired by classic Hip Hop and new creative Hip Hop. I’m very much in that space right now, but trying to bring it into the dance music world.
I’m sure whatever spin you put on a Hip Hop track will be great [as can be seen in the track to the right]. I love Hip Hop and I’m sure with your production quality behind it you’ll do it right. Last question, if you could have a collaboration with any artist dead or alive who would it be?
I’ve been asked that question before and it’s so tough because of how my imagination works. I should just have a go-to answer for this, but then I start thinking ‘what if I could make it happen’ and I could collaborate with that artist. I mean there are so many people, I feel the list would be too long, but I’m a huge fan of a lot of the incredible Hip Hop producers. So, Dr. Dre, Timbaland, Rick Rubin, Pharrell, I think that these guys are very inspiring to me. In the dance music world I love Noisia, Justice, Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Aphex Twin, those are all the guys that I’m a huge huge fan of. And then I kind of came up on The Doors and Jimi Hendrix, and so I feel like that would be incredible. Jimi is one that I have answered before. I feel like just doing something with him, because he was sort of other worldly, I think that would be incredible. And then can we get Jimi to play guitar and then just have Biggie rap, I think that would be something that I feel would be a dream track for me.
Definitely! Maybe one day technology will get there, but for now that track will be on hold. Thank you, Whiiite for the interview! Check out his music, merch, and follow him on social media:
Interview by: J