Gemini Chris has brought his musical influences to over 50 countries across the world. He’s contributed to chart-toppers, international successes, and some of the most exclusive parties on the planet. Intrigued by his success, Niji sat down with Gemini Chris to learn more.
You have been DJing professionally since age 16, describe the moment where you decided music was a career you wanted to pursue.
When I was growing up my family owned a Bar/Club that had live music three times a week, my bigger cousin was the DJ, and every weekend after school I use to run home did all my house duties so I could be allowed out for a few hours at the bar before everyone started arriving. I use to help him set up the sound system and then watch him play, I was too short to see the turntables properly so he would tell me to stand on a beer crate, those crates that they use to store the beers in, I would use an empty one and sometime he would let go play this way.
My grandmother had a standalone record player in the sitting room, I use to save all my lunch money at school, and on my way home I would go into the record store and buy a new song a few times a week, my grandmother found out that I wasn’t eating at school and I was in trouble at first, but after a few months she realised that I really like music so she would ask me to do more home duties and she would give me pocket money, I would save it until it was enough to buy a few new songs. That was over thirty years ago, now here I am making music and travelling the world. I couldn’t be happier, thank god for that, and bless my grandmother. RIP.
You’ve been a DJ, you’ve been a presenter, you’ve been a promoter, and you’ve been a producer, which one of these roles would you say you had the most fun in so far and why?
Easy really (laughs), Promoting And hosting your own events is definitely an invaluable thing and the experience you gain from it is priceless—it helps you to grow and establish yourself as a musician. It’s hard work but if you are up for it, it’s so beneficial in so many ways. I made my breakthrough in the Dancehall and reggae scene this way. I was in a group and we were well known and very popular. Music production is fun, it’s an amazing feeling when you create a new track and play it to a few hundred people in a nice club or a few thousand at a festival, as a musician this is great. It also sets you apart from most DJs who can’t produce their own records.
Finally, and without a doubt, the most fun by far is performing as a DJ. There is no comparison here. As a DJ every time you play you get that indescribable feeling and buzz, just seeing people’s reactions and the way they respond to every button you press and every nob you turn is amazing. Plus, I absolutely love travelling and we all know summer parties on the beach somewhere far away in the tropics is my thing (laughs). So yes, DJing definitely.
When you began working in music, you did so in New York/Jamaica where you grew up, what made you decide to set down roots in the UK after beginning your journey on the other side of the pond?
Well I was very young but also a very clever boy–so I’ve been told (laughs). I started doing music young, I also was a minor and my family wanted me to have a good education. As they keep telling me, music can only get you so far in life, you need to have a good education because no one can take that away from you. I was between New York and Jamaica at the time–two parents from two different places–so I got the best of both lovely worlds. My grandmother passed away when I was 17-years-old, she was living in London at the time, I came here so all the family could be together for the funeral. I had every intention of going back to New York, that was the plan, but we all know plans can change.
I was really good with computers at the time. My aunt, who is an NHS nurse, said to me, “You are very good with technology you should consider studying here for a bit because with qualifications here you can work anywhere in the world.” I thought about it for a while because I wasn’t sure. At the time I found England very boring and dark, always raining (laughs). In the end, I decided to do a year of studying. I started from the bottom, at foundation level, and passed that year with distinction. By this time, I was getting used to it raining all the time. I decided to go for a second year, then, long story short, I ended up in University and am now a college professor. I know what you’re thinking, a DJ and a college professor, what happened there? (laughs) So you see, life has a way of creating a path for you, sometimes you just must go with the flow. Hardly anyone knows my story, it’s a little unusual.
Tell us about one of your most memorable moments as an industry professional thus far.
Because I have been around a while now, I have been lucky enough to have a few Wow moments over the years. I’ve visited 75 countries and DJed in 50 of them, which is a double wow. I have ghost-produced a lot of songs, three of them were in the charts, one went all the way to UK number one and billboard Top 10. I have also Played In pacha Clubs a few times, one of which I was opening for David Guetta and a house of other Top names. And of course, my headline Shows in the Middle East and Asia. I also have to say releasing an album is a wow moment in my book for any artist, big, medium or small.
Last but not least, and probably the most important, a few years back me and some friends started a DJ program–we wanted the youngsters to have something to do after school. A few years ago London was very very bad with guns and knife crimes, we wanted to be a role model and an example to the younger ones so we started a DJ program where young people could come and learn how to become a DJ and learn other skills in music. At the time, we only had one workshop running twice a week in Lambeth.
After a few weeks, it got popular, so we had to add an extra day. It got so much positive feedback from the council that the TV stations came down to check out what we were doing. It even made the news a few times. This is a wow factor for me and the other two guys that started it. We were actually investing all of our free time, money and using our own equipment, but we did not mind because we just wanted to help the community and the younger generation so they could see that there are lots of fun and positive things to do in life. You don’t always have to turn to crime. The council quickly realised that this was having a positive impact, so they started to fund the program. We started to buy a lot more equipment and started opening new workshops in other areas. We had to even ask other DJs to work with us. Since the council started funding the program, we could now pay others to help us.
Most of these boys and girls are now all grown up. I see some of them from time to time. They always come over and say Hi, some of them even have children of their own now. One of them came up to me and said, “Hey Chris, thank you.” I said, “For what?” He said to me, “Most of my schoolmates are dead or in prison now, if I didn’t come to that DJ workshop, I would probably be one of them.” This is a wow for me but at the same time very sad. Unfortunately, we could not help everyone, but we did help the majority so that’s a positive. I believe music has this incredible power to change people’s lives for the better and that’s why I do this. I don’t care about fame and fortune–I think I have already got enough–so I’m always happy to help others.
At this stage in your career, you’ve performed and worked in multiple countries and at many venues, what has been your favourite place so far and why?
Wow this is very hard. All the countries I have visited–all 75 of them–are all unique and beautiful in their own way. I think it would be unfair if I started comparing them by physical appearances or location. When I performed in Dubai, there were always Lots of wow moments, but then I would go to Singapore and think wow I’m coming back, and very soon (laughs). I definitely enjoyed playing in Europe too, but if I have to choose, I would say Asia. Why? It’s so chill there. Everyone is just doing their own thing. You can party seven nights a week there and still have energy because of the atmosphere and the people (laughs). For a DJ like me, who loves music, this is heaven. And of course, I’m from a tropical island so it’s a no brainer.
Who are your biggest musical influences? Why do they motivate you to do what you do?
To be honest, I’m influenced by a few different musicians both in EDM and other genres. The thing is, because my music taste is so varied, I don’t really have anyone in particular that I would say “I really would like to emulate this person or that group.” I look at musicians and pick one or two things I like about them and that is enough for me to say I will listen to your stuff. You motivate me. It’s always better to be you. Nobody can be you like you. So, it’s good to have people to look up to but in the end you have to create your own path. I like musicians who inspire, help, and motivate others. I also like musicians who are humble, as I’m a very humble person, I admire musicians who are like this. Plus, I grew up on totally different music from what I’m making now, most of my influences are either dead or not doing music anymore.
Whether deciding on tracks to spin or creating your own music, tell us about your creative process. Where do you draw your ideas from?
It depends, for DJing I decide on my selection during performances. I do some preparations at home or in my studio–I’m a big fan of making a well-known track into your own–this makes my performances a lot more interesting. I would go into my studio and edit club songs that I think I will play, flip them into my own style, this technique always works.
It also depends on the type of event as to how I would prepare. I never plan my DJ set ahead of time, I’m not sure how some people do it, but I can’t, everything has to be in the moment. When I’m in my zone, special things happen. Once I go on stage, I feel the energy of the crowd, I feed from that energy and this is how I get my ideas on what to play when I’m performing. As for making my own music, this also depends on how I’m feeling and where I am at the time. believe it or not, I have made a lot of music whilst travelling.
I have made a lot of songs on airplanes and in hotel rooms/lobbies. There is something special about flying and making music, I get inspired. I will get on the plane, we would take off, I turn on my Mac, open my DAW, put on my close back headphones and that’s it, ideas start flowing. I will take a break but not to eat, just a toilet break now and then (laughs).
I remember travelling from London to Latvia where I did a set at the Radisson blu hotel in Riga. I finished at 5 or 6 AM, went to the airport straight afterwards, flew to Russia, did my stuff there, then flew from Russia to Thailand. I think I only had one meal on all those flights, I definitely didn’t eat anything on the flight from Russia to Thailand I know this much. I spent most of my time pencilling in ideas and creating. Back at my Studio, most of the time, I just mess around with different ideas and sounds until I find something I like. I also look up singers that I really like the sound of and create stuff that suits their style and collaborate with them. Most of my songs don’t have credit features because I tend to use artists that are signed to major labels, so you can’t use their artist name but that suits me just fine.
You’ve travelled all over the world, not just for music, but also to adventure. Tell us about one of the most disastrous trips you’ve been on. What happened and how did you recover?
I would say Thailand. This was the same trip that I went on via Russia, as I may have mentioned previously, I absolutely hate plane food, regardless of the airline. I have travelled with some of the very best in the business, still don’t like the food. I have even done the first class and business class thing when I went to Singapore a few times. I’m not saying the food is not better once you upgrade, I just don’t like the food. So long story short, I didn’t eat anything on any of the flights to Thailand. In the end, I was a little hungry. When I got to my destination, the first thing on my list was food. I ate so much seafood and other random stuff that I ended up getting a little ill.
My tummy wasn’t happy at all for half of my trip, right up until the day of my DJ set. I remember playing and thinking man I have got to get some medication. I don’t know how I ended up finishing my set, but I tell you it was a miracle and I don’t believe in miracles. The energy and the love from the tourists and locals helped me a lot. I think this was my hardest performance to date.
After my set I went all over searching for medication. I had stuff that I brought from London, but I wasn’t sure if it would help me. There weren’t many options so I took what I could find. The next day I had a trip booked to visit The James Bond and other islands by speed Boat. I was thinking, “hmm. Today is going to be a very interesting day.” On the way there I was fine, felt a little unsettled but not too bad. On our way back, we had some sort of storm with heavy winds, Rain, and very choppy water. Most people felt sick, but the driver had to keep the speed up for various reasons. I’m not sure how I managed to cope but, in the end, we got to our destination safe and sound. I have seen and experienced a few things on my travels, but I think this was the worst.
If you met someone on the street who had never heard of you before and you could only show them one project for them to get a taste of who you are as a music industry professional, which project would you direct them to and why?
Wow, this would be tricky because my style and sound cannot be defined by one project. I’m always changing and evolving. I don’t think it would be a project it would most likely be a link to a website or page. Once you leave that link or page, I feel you would have had an idea of what I’m about. This is purely because of my versatility. So, by saying here’s a Song, I am a producer of electronic music would be selling myself short.
No artist should want to be defined by one project, one song or moment. I’m not saying everyone needs to be versatile, but you need to be adaptable and not predictable, this is my opinion. Everyone is different.
What can we expect from Gemini Chris in the near future?
Wow I had so much planned for this year, from performances in Miami, to going back to Asia. But I think we all know why this will not be possible this year. On a positive note, I did release my album, FALLING, so I’m still very proud and happy and grateful to be alive. I have a few new projects with names that people will be familiar with. You can expect a lot more new music, a lot more Collaborations, as well as local and international performances. I also will try to work with some UK-based singers. I think collaborating locally is good. I tend to keep going overseas, but I will try to balance that a little.
Falling is available now via all major platforms.
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