Established by veteran Swedish DJ/producer Christian Smith, Tronic has been pushing dance music into exciting new territories since 1994.
With its immense back catalogue and a plethora of sub-labels, some of the world’s most venerated electronic acts have been released via the imprint, including Wehbba, Coyu, Bart Skils, Pig & Dan, Carl Craig, Laurent Garnier, and countless others.
Despite his veteran status, Christian Smith has never been one to rest of laurels. He’s always striving to bring the most innovative of sounds to dance floors far and wide, and is now celebrating Tronic’s immense 400th release with the mighty electro compilation, More Than Machine 02.
A follow-up to the label’s More Than Machine compilation which was released earlier this year, the record sticks to its winning formula in featuring old school with new school artists such as DJ Godfather, Client_03, Marco Bailey, Carl Finlow, and more.
We caught up with Christian Smith to learn more about how he’s maintained his label after all these years, some of his favorite up-and-coming artists, and his plans for Tronic’s future following this milestone achievement.
Hey Christian, congratulations on Tronic’s 400th release! How does it feel having hit this immense milestone for your label?
When I started the label while at university in Washington D.C. I would have never thought that we would even reach 200 releases. The only reason we lasted so long is that we always signed music we were passionate about instead of what is popular. Our success grew slowly over time, and I am very happy about that.
You first started Tronic in 1994. Where did it begin, and how has the label’s sound and overall operation evolved over the years? What drove you to re-launch the imprint in 2009?
I was at university in Washington D.C. and started producing as a hobby. I was also DJing at raves on the side. It was a very exciting time because techno was still very new. Before I got into techno I was heavily into Chicago house music. So I wanted to start a label and release music that both house and techno DJs could play in their sets. I called the style “housey techno”. This was long before the term tech house existed. I ran the label myself, and releases were very sporadic at first. However, I got lucky early on and had a few releases that some big DJs such as Carl Cox and Jeff Mills picked up on. But it wasn’t until late 1998 that I became a full-time traveling DJ.
In running all of the label’s day-to-day operations and organizing its showcases around the world, what would say is one of the biggest roadblocks you’ve faced in recent years, along with one of your most significant accomplishments?
I think the toughest task is to build a line up that pushes new talent, but also sells tickets for the clubs. I tend to play at most Tronic events, and I always try to book some up-and-coming artists. This is very important to me because I feel that it’s my responsibility to help other artists whenever I can. The biggest accomplishment thus far is that Tronic had a successful 15 week season in Ibiza. Ibiza is a very tough market for techno nights, but we managed to have a successful first season! Hope to be back in 2022 after the two-year pandemic break!
Tronic is a passionate and diverse label with lots of genres. Can you tell us about the imprint’s relationship with electro?
I have always tried to be open-minded when it comes to Tronic. I have released house artists such as Harry Romero, but also tough underground stuff. During the pandemic, I had lots of time to go after my other passions in the studio. I always loved electro since I was a child in the ’80s. I love the broken beat 808 grooves and devoted a good chunk of my time producing electro. I was super happy that when I asked some of my friends to contribute to our electro projects, that everybody was really supportive. Our More Than Machine project has been the top-selling electro album on Beatport this year so far.
Who are some of the up-and-coming artists who you are most excited about at the moment?
I am a BIG fan of Client_03’s music. You can tell that this artist has deep roots in his music. I actually approached this artist as I felt the style was really cool, and fresh. As for other up-and-coming artists, I am a huge supporter of Japan’s Drunken Kong. Their music has great energy, they have their own style, and they are a great pleasure to deal with. I have been around for a while now and don’t have time for artists with inflated egos, and try to only work with producers that are down to earth and easy to deal with.
What are your hopes and plans for Tronic moving forward?
I will simply follow what I have always done, release music that I play in my sets, and always try to have an open mind. I have quite a few releases of my own lined up so you will see more “Christian Smith” releases on Tronic and the other labels.
Are you hoping to put on any new Tronic showcases in the near future?
I have a few confirmed right now in the USA. I’ll be doing a big tour there Sept-Nov with Tronic Showcase events confirmed in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Las Vegas, Atlanta, El Paso, Phoenix, Denver, and many more. As for Europe, we have a showcase in Amsterdam for ADE in October and some others in the pipeline. I am also looking forward to 2022 when hopefully the entire world will be open again for clubbing. We’ll do a full season in Ibiza next year for sure! Back to the hustle!
More Than Machine 02 is out now via Tronic.