part of the now legendary Liberator crew, Chris Liberator doesnt
just play techno - for him and partners Julian and Aaron their particular
brand of techno is nothing short of a way of life. Together theyve
played to crowds at free parties and raves all over the UK and beyond,
formed a string of labels - including Stay Up Forever and Cluster
- and released two best-selling F**king Aving It compilations,
blueprints for the acid techno sound. Chris himself has been responsible
for over a hundred records over the last decade and has just released
his debut album Set Fire, a compendium of acid techno, breakbeat
experiments and political monologues - the latter testimony to the
anarcho-punk influence that has shaped so much of Britains
sound system culture. Today, as both a producer and DJ, hes
busier than ever before, playing free parties and clubs. We caught
up with the man who hasnt had a weekend off for over seven
years to catch up on the story of the Liberator phenomenon.
Did you have musical ambitions from a young age?
Oh yeah - as far back as I can remember. Punk was the first music
that really grabbed me, especially the political anarcho-punk thing
- Dead Kennedys, Crass - as well as stuff on Rough Trade and early
electronic music like Cabaret Voltaire. I played bass in bands when
I was younger, between the ages of 17 and 23. Thats when we
started doing squat parties. I still really love punk, but in the
late 80s things got stale and I moved in more of an indie direction
with the band I was in. But I was always looking for a new direction.
When house music came out in 1988 I didnt really like it,
until the harder-edged Belgian techno came along - and early Underground
Resistance too, Shut Up & Dance... It was around that time that
I first met Julian.
When did you start DJing?
The first party we threw was in 91. It was the first time
the three of us all DJed together. That was really my first DJ gig.
Before that wed been going to the early Urge raves in London
as well as the Spiral Tribe and Bedlam parties. Meanwhile Aaron,
who was already DJing techno, had moved to London and heard about
us playing squat parties in his area, though we werent really
proper DJs at the time. He tracked us down and suggested putting
on a party together. Everything just went on from there. We started
playing parties all over the place. Then in the summer of 92
Castlemorton happened - it was the peak of all the sound systems
joining together in one place. That was the best party ever - along
with Lechlade a few weeks earlier, which never really got written
about all that much.
Why did you call yourself The Liberators?
We just did a party called Liberator, which a lot of people knew
us for. People began to know us as Chris from Liberator, Julian
from Liberator, Aaron from Liberator... eventually it just got whittled
down to Chris Liberator, Julian Liberator...
Does the name have a significance? What or whom are you trying
The names actually taken from Blakes Seven (cult British
sci-fi TV show)! They had this spaceship called the Liberator, and
we used the image of the spaceship for the initial flyer. Nowadays,
people assume its a political statement - which all ties in
with what we do! We kept the name when we realised its connotations.
How important is that spirit of punk liberation to what you do?
Very - were determined not to sell out. As far as Im
concerned dance music has sold out to the mainstream. Its
become corporately controlled, absorbed by the system, sanitised
and sold back to kids. People always called it faceless techno
bollocks but the whole point of techno was you didnt
have to have idols.
How does that affect the choice of clubs you play at these days?
Obviously, on a very simple level, the music policy is key. Techno-oriented
clubs tend to attract a more underground, less financially well-off
crowd - as opposed to something like the speed garage scene. This
weekend Ive played a range of parties and DJed for approximately
18 hours - probably two of the gigs were paid, but the rest were
free. I probably do two or three paid things a week - the rest is
just for the love of it. When I tour I play a lot of places that
other DJs dont go. Recently I played in Iowa City - the first
international DJ there. They were so grateful - thats what
Id rather be doing, underground things like that.
What made you start the Stay Up Forever label?
As the DJing thing took off, our idea of what kind of techno we
wanted to make and what we were really into got more focused. The
first tunes we actually finished together - me, Aaron, Julian and
Paul - was the first stuff we put out on Stay Up Forever - the Hardcore
Disco EP. Through that, Choci of Chocis Chewns heard
about us and we started doing stuff for him.