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Chris Fortier: America's Dance Market Is Huge and Growing

Author: Jonty Adderley & Angie Ng
Friday, 19 October 2001
Florida progressive house DJ Chris Fortier is one of America's most influential ambassadors of dance, whether through his relentless schedule of international DJ dates, or through his role in Balance Promote, the country's first significant import DJ Pool. Growing up in Florida, the former surfer discovered house music in 1990, taking up DJing and building up his own scene along the way. A long term contemporary and friend of Sasha, he's intimately associated with most of the progressive scene though looks beyond the genre's limits, both towards techno or deep house. Prolific as a producer and general industry player, he established Fade Records in 1995 and in 97 set up his DJ Pool, bringing records from Europe to DJs across America (alongside his brother Jimmy M.)

Passing through Kuala Lumpur on his way to Australia, Chris Fortier took time out to chat to Skrufff's Angie Ng about his road towards becoming an international DJ. Constantly touring the world for over 5 years, he remained calm about the new terror threat.

Skrufff : I understand that 95% of Americans don't have passports, making you one of the few to have really seen the world, have you come across much anti Americanism on your travels-

Chris Fortier: "Never- not even since September 11th. And that's the same even when you go to certain areas like Northern Ireland or Israel. Most people you meet aren't really involved in the conflict themselves. They usually say they don't care, and it doesn't matter what religion or from which country somebody is from. The only Anti Americanism I've ever seen has been on TV. And you have to take much of that with a grain of salt because sometimes it's not always the best perspective. . .(shrugging) I've been fortunate enough not to have had any problems."

Skrufff: You started DJing in 1990 what initially turned you onto dance music-

Chris Fortier: "The fact that I reached the age to go into clubs. I grew up surfing and used to go surfing everyday but then when you turn 18 you're allowed to go to clubs. In America, you have to show identification and when we were 18, we heard about this place where we could go and listen to dance music. Then we heard about another place that played it all night long so we drove for an hour to get there and it was magic! It changed my entire life.

I've heard guys say 'Oh I didn't like what the DJ was playing so I got into DJing myself' but for me it wasn't like that. I loved what they were doing and I wanted to do it too and that's why I started collecting records. At that time there was no such thing as a DJ circuit. If you were a DJ, you'd play in your own club, in your own area, and that was it. We just did it because we wanted to and bought the records because we loved making tapes for ourselves and for our friends. It just grew from there, I was making tapes for my friends in college and one of the guys knew a guy who owned a club and they were like 'hey, we want you to come down and play, you can do the whole night all by yourself and it'll be your night'."

Skrufff: You also set up one of America's first DJ Pools bringing European records to DJs, what prompted that idea-

Chris Fortier: "We set it up because we'd always meet people in different cities in America who'd say, 'Where did you get these records, we can't get them anywhere'. We thought if we could get these people the same records that we were playing as DJs then we could make our jobs easier when we returned next time, because people would be more familiar with the music. And we could also help to build and develop the sound as opposed to just showing up and then struggling through the night if people had never heard the music before. We approached labels we knew with the idea and asked them if they were interested and most of them said 'Yes'. It took awhile to really get going but now it's a key thing for any label that we use or goes through us. It's an important tool for the labels to get their records
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