Circles of Love

Three years ago, amid the sweltering heat, omnipresent 4/4 beats, and crowds rushing from nightclub to nightclub during that year's Winter Music Conference, Mr. C found true love. "I said to her the night after we met, 'Why don't you meet me on the beach,'" he remembered. "She came down to the beach with her friend and they could see me from so far away, because I looked so white I looked green."

A year after he met her, Mr. C whisked model Xochitl Marbach from the hellhole that is Los Angeles to his native London, where the two were married. Xochitl is what Mr. C lovingly terms a terricola, or what an alien would call an "earth woman" in Spanish. In turn she considers him an alien because he looks like, in his own words, "the whitest person I know anywhere in the world."

Here in America, though, the 38-year-old producer, DJ, and onetime MC first became known as one-third of the Shamen, the early-Nineties dance group behind "Move Any Mountain." Later he became one of the chief architects of "tech-house," a hybrid of deep house, breakbeat, techno, and electro. "Tech-house is a fallacy," he alleges. Which is true, to a certain extent: "Tech-house" has been bandied about by the music press since the mid-Nineties and has been used to describe everyone from New York funk phenomenon Armand Van Helden to German cult hero Thomas Brinkmann. For Mr. C, then, imagine a confluence of epic, synth-fueled Euro-house; steady, propulsive beats augmented by sweet bass lines; and edgy keyboard fills, and you'll come close to picturing what Mr. C's incarnation of "tech-house" sounds like.


Mr. C performs at Hope in Miami

Crobar, 1445 Washington Ave, Miami Beach.

The event starts on Friday, March 21, at 9:00 p.m. Tickets cost $30 to $40. Call 305-531-5027.

But Mr. C believes that his career is more than a list of accomplishments, though he's had plenty, including a long tenure as co-owner of the popular nightclub and record label The End with business partner Douglas Paskin and the latter's son, breakbeat DJ/producer Layo. Mr. C is something of an old-school raver, a survivor from a halcyon yet seemingly bygone era when rave parties, fueled by Ecstasy, house and ambient music, and holism, were celebrated as conduits for promoting peace and understanding in the universe.

Accordingly, when asked what DJing means to him, Mr. C speaks of it as a spiritual experience. "I don't use drugs the way that I used to," he begins. "But I still go into an altered state of consciousness, which I can do naturally just from the percussive sound. When I'm there, and I'm working, and I'm taking people on some sort of a magical journey, then that works. You can feel it in a club when the crowd just clicks in. You can feel that telepathic community, the essence, when everyone is feeling the same body temperature, smelling the same smells, seeing the same facials, hearing the same sounds. It kind of puts people in tune with each other."

Yes, there's an unreal quality to what Mr. C says. How can we give ourselves to the music, the experience, of a nightclub when all we've found before was heartache, hangovers, and bad sex? He argues that it's not just about resolving your hang-ups, but forgetting about them entirely. On the extensive CD liner notes for "The Club," a track from his just-released debut album Change, Mr. C writes, "Free love's inside. Come in and clear your mind!" Meanwhile the track features vocalist Robert Owens exhorting, "I want to be your face in the crowd/I want to feel the strength and the power."

So while listeners unwittingly lose themselves in the hypnotic tech-house sensual world that is Change, Mr. C uses the music to unburden himself of his own personal issues. Most of the album's tracks, he says, are inspired by events in his own life. Recently his mother passed away; shortly afterward, he broke up with his long-term partner. "I've always been looked after by women, so splitting from a twelve-year relationship and living on my own for the first time, you know, was quite an experience," he says. Around the same time, his group the Shamen split up and both his management and publishing deals ran out. Now financially and artistically independent, Mr. C says that not having a manager and controlling his own publishing means "I have to do everything myself that I want done to push my life in the direction that I want it to go in. That gives me absolute, complete control, and that's a very positive thing." That tumultuous period is reflected in Change and its "Ascension," a song he made after his father died "to get the last of my grief out."

The making of Change completed Mr. C's inner journey, leaving him to enjoy his new life. At the time of this interview, the two were planning to fly to Xochitl's native Mexico for a "traditional" second wedding with her family, complete with mariachis and a salsa band. "There's been so many changes in my life. Everything is completely different to the way it was five years ago," he says.

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