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The Yak Goes One on One with Chris Luno

The Yak headed down to Mrs Sippy to grab an early morning pizza and some ice cream with music producer and DJ, Chris Luno when he popped in to Bali recently…We take a dip in the pool and get to know him better!

Chris Luno @chrisluno
Editorial @theyakmagazine
Art direction & styling @maycortazzi
Photographer @faruqadib
Make up & hair @nofihairandmakeup
Venue @mrssippybali

I gather you started almost simultaneously producing music as you were learning to DJ. Is there a constant tune in your head trying to get out? And how is the process of creating for you?
First of all – cheers for having me! Stoked to be part of The Yak. I started DJing around 8 years ago and when I mastered the fundamentals, I wanted to step up my game and learn to produce. That was roughly after a year of being a bedroom DJ. Looking at the current tune that’s stuck in my head: That must be „Charlotte’s Thong“ by Connan Mockasin. It’s not at all the music style that I’m playing out, but it’s just sooo smooth.

As a DJ, how do you handle the pressure of constantly having to keep up with new music trends and maintain your own unique sound?
To me, it’s not really a feeling of pressure. I think that I have the absolute freedom to play and produce what I want! I try to avoid hopping on any micro trend, but instead aim for tunes that are more timeless. I play a lot of deep house from the 2014-2018 era. There are so many great records that came out in those years… or maybe I’m biased because it’s the time I got lost in the rave cosmos for the first time, ha,ha!

During your last set, you played quite a few remixes, what’s the reason behind it and what’s your approach when remixing tracks?
Yess, I love remixes! Teasing the crowd with a sample they know, but giving it a different context is so much fun. For example, I love playing tunes that feature a known 90s hiphop sample. When I play tracks like that, I can see how the crowds energy rises and people start to pay more attention to the music because they hear something familiar, yet unknown.
Looking at producing, I love doing remixes/bootlegs of tracks that touch me in a way. Also, I tend to get into a flow state very fast when producing remixes.  However, I am quite critical of my own work and only take on remix inquiries if I feel a strong connection with the original track.

Stereofox says: “It’s his loveable charm, exquisite taste, and stellar locations that have millions of people returning to his channel to experience the unique vibes he supplies.” To who or what do you owe your exquisite taste?
I think taste is shaped like your personality, a part of it is rooted in your DNA, but most often it grows with your surroundings and experience. When I was around 18 years, I started to become obsessed with finding new gems and tunes that I could show to my friends, so that we can drive around in the car and vibe together. I still have that same approach when creating sets. I want to make the listener want to shazam every track. Only music that I absolutely love ends up in my sets, which is why I usually don’t post more than 10 sets per year.

Name some of the best locations you have been to and why do you think they stick in your memory?
Bali is one of the most beautiful and diverse locations that I’ve had the opportunity to record sets in. It’s just so easy to find good spots. When I first saw the Tegalalang Rice fields above Ubud, I couldn’t believe it was real. The way that the rice paddies looked during sunrise was so surreal and I knew that I had to record a set there. In the end, I went there five times to record the mix, as the weather in Ubud is unpredictable and my creative vision is ridiculously specific sometimes. Haha.

As someone who truly gained fame thanks to social media platforms, do you feel as though DJs are expected to have open-book personalities as well as be excellent musicians? How do you navigate that balance? What do you like to keep private?
You don’t have to be an open book, it really depends on your goals and where you want to go as an artist. I think being active on social media is giving fans more context to the music and why you are doing it. For example, I love memes and goofing around, so it feels organic to me to showcase that side on my IG/TT. I think that the content you put out should be authentic and in line with your personality. My social media game comes and goes in cycles though – sometimes I’m in the mood and do lots…

The nightlife industry was hit hard by the pandemic. As someone who’s been in the industry for a while, what changes do you see happening in the near future?
I sense a rise in streaming and people DJing online. Actually, I have received quite a few inquiries for playing live sets online and remotely. I have an interesting gig in London upcoming, where the show will be broadcasted live to a museum in France. In general, I have my doubts about remote DJing, as it’s impossible to create the same connection with the crowd, but I’m very excited to see how this is going to evolve in the future. Playing more shows online would make my job more environmentally friendly, that’s for sure.

What advice do you have for DJs trying to make the jump and cross over into the world of music production?
Do a challenge and produce a new track every day for 3 weeks. It’s the ultimate hack to level up your production game. That’s also what Kanye West did (next to some other weird shit). I just started this challenge the other month and had a 20-day production spree. I will release around 5-7 of those tracks, which is more output than I had in the previous year, haha. By the way, if you challenge a friend to do it with you, you can share your daily results with each other and hold yourself accountable.

You recently designed a Capsule Collection with fashion brand ‘On Vacation’. How did that come about and where do you see yourself heading in the world of Fashion?
That’s right! I’ve been wearing their gear for years now and was super stoked when they asked me if I wanted to do a collection with them. I’ve actually been working for On Vacation and Vertere Berlin 2 years ago, back when I wasn’t full-time into music. So it was very nice and smooth to work with the same people again, but this time sitting on the other side of the table. My next fashion project will be my own merch. But same as with the music, my goal is to create something that’s not only tailored to people who listen to my stuff, but also for people who might rock it without knowing about me.

Lastly, what’s the most outrageous thing you’ve ever done during a performance, and did it pay off in the end?
I’ve had my fair share of preparing mixes for hours, playing them out in front of incredible sunrises, finishing them with a great gut feeling, just to notice that I forgot to press the record button. That feeling is truly like nothing else.
Oh, and of course at every gig, I’m doing this one particular thing. But I can’t talk about that… You need to experience it live… Deal?

Deal!! Thanks for your time Chris – now let’s hit that dive board…

IG: @chrisluno
YouTube: ChrisLuno
TikTok: @chris.luno