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Chris Cowie: Techno's Greatest Unsung Hero Enters the Ring

Author: Skrufff
Friday, September 7, 2001
Master of pseudonyms Chris Cowie recently decided to ditch his long protected anonymity to claim his rightful place as one of the world's most accomplished producers of electronic music. Ever since launching his career 10 years ago, the Scottish studio expert has consistently flooded the world's techno, house and breakbeat markets with genuinely high quality dance records, under names including X Cabs, Vegas Soul Stonemaker. Nowadays based in London, he's recently released an excellent compilation of his work, Best Behaviour, which stands as a hugely impressive statement of intent. Seb Fontaine, writing in his latest column in Ministry magazine, made the collection his Big Album of the month, concluding his review with the simple word, excellent. 'It's kind of tech-house, progressive, with a bit of disco thrown in too- reflecting the best of where clubland is at right now," said Seb.

'I want a shot at the title. There have been a few DJs hogging the limelight for 5 years and it's time for some other guys to have a shot.' The Scottish producer who's currently best known as X Cabs or Vegas Soul chuckles as he outlines his ambitions for success. Speaking to Skrufff's Jonty Adderley on a cloudy summer afternoon in London recently, he was chatty and upbeat about his prospects following the release of Best Behaviour, which comes out shortly on Bellboy Records.

Skrufff: You've recorded over 200 hundred tracks throughout your career, how did you decide which ones to feature on the album-

Chris Cowie: "It was quite difficult because I cover quite a broad spectrum of styles, I've done trance, trip hop, hard techno, . . I wanted this album to be good for listening to at home so I tended to choose a lot of tracks from one of my aliases, Vegas Soul, which tends to be more melodic. I could do maybe 8 of these compilations, but we're not going to; we might do one more, perhaps called Even Better Behaviour. It's basically a launch vehicle for using my own name rather than all the pseudonyms. It's about me coming out of the shadows and letting people know it's me."

Skrufff: Was it a gradual decision to come out of the shadows with your own name-

Chris Cowie: "Yeah over about 8 years. The final decision came when we moved the label to London. I make no bones about it (I won't deny it);I really struggle to get gigs in this country for DJing. In fact, over the last 6 months I haven't had a single DJing offer. It's a completely different story abroad but I've not being going away that much, though now, I've decided to fully embrace it. If they don't want me here in the UK, then I'll DJ abroad. This is the same thing that happens to lots of DJ/producers who do the kind of stuff I do."

Skrufff: Why did you previously use so many pseudonyms-

Chris Cowie: "It was a necessity and also when I started using them 8 years ago it was kind of a cool thing to do. Chris Cowie, 8 years ago, wasn't exactly a very glamorous sounding name either. Sasha sounded glamorous, Paul Oakenfold had a ring to it, Danny Rampling, … but Chris Cowie-.. Hmmm. The necessity part came about because I was releasing so many tracks, at one point up to one a week. Nobody likes a smart-ass (big head) and you can get backlash. I didn't want to do press boasting 'I've done 200 hundred records' whereas now I'm like 'F*ck it. I am what I am, I do what I do, if people don't like it then fair enough."

Skrufff: You've produced tracks from trip hop to hard breaks to hard funky techno, what style do you usually play as a DJ-

Chris Cowie: "I've been thinking about this for a while about whether I should stick to techno or go down the tech-house route and I recently came to the conclusion that I'm just going to play what I like. It'll still be techno or tech house because I've never really liked commercial music, but I also need to have some soul in the music. Funk and soul is what's important to me- I don't mean funky music, rather it's got to have the right rhythm a