INTERVIEW: Christian Burns (ADE 2013)
With the release of Simple Modern Answers, Christian Burns has collaborated with many of EDM’s top producers – Armin van Buuren, Jean Claude Ades, Paul Oakenfold, Paul van Dyk, and Ferry Corsten – just to name a few. It feels like a natural progression for the singer of the band BBMak who went on to be in a rock band before Tiesto discovered him on Myspace and asked him to collaborate on some tracks. The resulting “In the Dark” set him on this new path, and he has since worked with the likes of Benny Benassi, Richard Durand and BT. With this album, he has created a cohesive musical statement showcasing his vocal and songwriting skills while bringing his powerful spirit to brilliant EDM tracks.
RS: So I listened to your album today and the first thing that struck me, aside from how great you are vocally, is that you have so many amazing producers on it. A lot of times producers will want you to sing on their track but they won’t give vocalists a track to work with. How did you swing getting so much top flight talent?
Christian Burns: I think it’s just the British charm. It’s great to work with so many great producers, and I do understand what you are saying. I think they just like to work with me and it was really flattering and amazing that I got so many great producers and DJs on the album.
RS: For most of the tracks did they send you tracks that you wrote to or did you go in the studio with any of them?
Christian Burns: Some of them I go in the studio with, some of them send me tracks, and some of them I’ll write the whole track and I’ll send it and they’ll change it. So it’s different every time really.
RS: Which ones did you go in the studio with?
Christian Burns: I was in the studio with BT, Chicane, and Marco V. BT and I have got a great relationship and we’re working on loads of other things. That’s the great thing about technology and the internet, it makes the world a small place and you can work with people all over the place.
RS: Aren’t you doing a ‘80s album with BT also?
Christian Burns: Yes. BT and I are working on a project called All Hail The Silence and we’re really excited about that. We are working on it at the moment and we’ve got about three more tracks to finish on it. It’s kind of like its 1983 again and it’s like early Depeche Mode stuff. It’s really minimal with slower analogue and pop beats and dark lyrics. So yes, I am super excited to finish that, but that’s going to be out next year.
RS: Sorry to milk the BT thing. I’m just imagining going in the studio with him, he’s such a perfectionist. What’s it like working with him?
Christian Burns: It’s amazing, the guy is a musical genius and I’ve learned so much from working with him. He’s a really close friend of mine as well so we just love it and we spend days in the studio together just working away. He’s got all of this amazing analogue stuff and all this gear. So yea, it’s great working in the studio with BT.
RS: Awesome. One of my favorite songs on the album so far is the one you did with Protoculture, “Knife Games.” What is the story behind that one?
Christian Burns: It is basically a love song, as 99% of songs are. It is about that moment when you meet that special someone and everything changes. It is one of my favorites on the album as well and I am hoping it is going to be a single in the future.
RS: I also love “The Enemy.” It reminds me of a Howard Jones record.
Christian Burns: I’ll take that as a huge compliment. I love all of that stuff from the ‘80s so thank you.
RS: Vocally, it sounds like you’re channeling him.
Christian Burns: Not intentionally but I’ll take that.
RS: How did you go from the boy band BBMak to the EDM world?
Christian Burns: Well we split up in 2003 and I took a couple years off to figure out what I wanted to do. I had a rock band called The Bleach Works and Tiesto found me on Myspace and he sent me an eMail that said “I love your voice and I want to do some stuff together.” That was 2006 and I haven’t looked back since.
RS: What does the title Simple Modern Answers mean to you?
Christian Burns: Well all of the tracks on the album are basically answers to something at some point in my brain and in my life. Each one of them is an answer to something so Simple Modern Answers is just a twist on it. That’s it.
RS: The official first single is “Bullet” with Stefan DaBruck. What is the next one?
Christian Burns: We’re working that out right now, we have a few choices but we don’t know yet. We had a little chat about it today so I would like to say that we’ve got a few favorites to pick from for the next single.
RS: If it was your choice what would it be?
Christian Burns: Maybe the track I did with Marco V, “Frozen Heart” or maybe “Throwing Daggers.”
RS: Are you going to be touring with this album or how are you promoting it?
Christian Burns: Yes I am going to be touring. We are just working out the dates at the moment but we are going to be doing a Simple Modern Answers tour next year, and I’m also going to be doing some shows this year for it as well. So it’s going to be a busy 2014.
RS: With dance music it seems like the focus is always on the DJ touring. How are you going to do an artist tour per se?
Christian Burns: Well, I am just going to do my thing. I’m just going to go out and sing to the people and enjoy it and put on a great show. At the end of the day I am lucky because I can do many different styles of dance music and use my voice as a kind of glue to bring everything together. So it’s going to be interesting that I can go out and I can tour and I can do some deep house and just change it up so that’s a great thing.
RS: “As We Collide” is one of the biggest records of the year and I’m wondering how you, JES, and Paul Oakenfold got in the same room together, how did the collaboration come about?
Christian Burns: Well, JES and I were on tour with Tiesto on the Elements of Life tour. I loved her voice and I said to her “after this gig, why don’t you fly to England and come to my studio and we’ll write a song.” And we did. So we wrote that a few years ago and then about a year later we got together with Paul and we sent him the demo, and then he totally changed the chords and the track and turned it into the song it is now.
RS: Very cool. I saw a picture on instagram of you wearing a suit with an expression on your face. What was the story behind that?
Christian Burns: I was in L.A. recently at Nadia Ali’s wedding. We became close friends when we were touring with Armin together. So I was out there for a week and I did some writing and I went to the wedding. It’s not very often that you see me in a suit, once a year if that.
RS: I’m having a blonde moment; did you do a song with Nadia Ali?
Christian Burns: No, I didn’t do a song with Nadia Ali. Actually I did, on stage at the Armin tour, it was not recorded though. We have spoken about doing some writing together. I am a big fan of her voice and I think she is great so we may do something in the future.
RS: Who would you like to collaborate with that you haven’t collaborated with yet?
Christian Burns: Well I really like Deadmau5’s stuff. I would really love to do something with him. You are really putting me on the spot now, I mean, all my heroes are dead. So if you’ve got a shovel and I can dig John Lennon out, I’ll do something with him.
RS: So if your fans want to follow you, what is the best way?
Christian Burns: Well you can check out the website and all the tour dates are on there and I am also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can follow me through all of the usual channels but if you go to the website it’s like a hub and all of the social links are there.
RS: What would you like to say to all of your fans out there?
Christian Burns: I would just like to say thanks to anyone and everyone who have supported me over the years. I’m happy to be doing this, I love it and I can’t wait for you to listen to the album!
Interview conducted during ADE 2013. Special thanks to Armada for arranging this interview.