Originally from Florida, Chris Roman is better known as 214 and has settled down in Seattle, Washington where he spends his free time constructing dark yet funky old school electro. He’s been making music for over a decade now, but in the last year he’s released EPs on labels such as Habour City Sorrow, Car Crash Set, and Outside Recordings each one delivering pounding 808 driven beats. These releases led to him being invited to perform at both Bloc 2011 and Seattle’s very own Decibel Festival last year. His hard work has not gone unnoticed with his sound firmly grounded in the past but eyes towards the future, he’s received recognition across the genre spectrum; his tracks have been played by the likes of Bok Bok, Peter Van Hosen, Boddika and Skudge. This year is looking to be his biggest yet with labels prepping releases from both his 214 and new J. Alvarez monikers. Given the momentum behind him we’ve asked him to take a moment to shed some light on his latest projects. If you need some material to get familiar with, his Soundcloud is a good indication of his production capabilities as there are well over ten tracks to be found there and quite a few mixes that include some real gems.
Hi Chris! How’s it going and what have you been working on over the last few months? “The last few months have been busy with production. I manage a day job and music so I’ve always been tight with time. I’ve been veering more towards the house spectrum over the last twelve months. I’ve been strictly producing Electro for a long time and have been feeling bored with my own productions and began experimenting with different styles. “
You’re obviously influenced by early Electro; what are some artists you grew up listening to that left a mark on you? “Kraftwerk, World Class Wrecking Crew, Mantronix, Hashim, Cybotron, Jonzun Crew, YMO, Two Lone Swordsmen, Drexicya, Elecktroids, Simulant, the list could go on really. “
You’ve worked a lot with Car Crash Set, a label who’s output over the last year or so has really helped define and bring new talent to the “scene” in North America. How did your relationship with them come about, considering how different your sound is from what they generally push? “If I recall, I met Will (Ill Cosby) via a music mailing list local to the Northwest, mainly Seattle and Portland. I moved out here from Florida without really knowing anyone so I wanted to get my music out to the local scene. He replied to one of my mixes and we realized we had a lot of common, both into similar music and growing up on the East Coast. I’ve sent him my tunes ever since.”
Seattle seems to have a very close knit musical community, any collaborations in future? “I don’t collaborate much, but I’m currently working on tracks with another Car Crash Set artist QP. And I’ve got another collab in the works with someone from Berlin, but until it comes to fruition I’d like to keep it unknown.”
Now let’s move onto a new project of yours. Tell us a little about you’re new moniker, what are your goals for this alias and what void is it filling that couldn’t be addressed with 214? “I mentioned earlier I’ve been venturing into the house spectrum over the last couple of months. I think it’s natural that when you stick to anything too long and it starts to become stale, creativity flourishes in other areas. I started dabbling in slower tempos, 4/4 patterns, and UK influenced sounds. Things came naturally and I was having fun with music again. I built enough tracks I was confident with and started sending out demos. Hypercolour was the first label to follow up with me and wanted to sign an EP. I knew of Hypercolour from their Maya Jane Coles EP and was really excited to be working with them as I knew they were going to be a label to watch in the coming months. Initially I was just going to use my 214 moniker, but I decided to create a new alias to separate the 2 styles of sound since they’re so far apart and most people just know me for Electro. So J.Alvarez was born. “
You’re slated to work with several established labels in 2012, can you give us any details? “This is the year I’m most excited for releases. I’ll be releasing 214 and debuting J.Alvarez 12”s. I’m unsure of the schedule yet, but I have an upcoming EP for Fortified Audio as 214, an EP for Frustrated Funk as 214, an EP for Hypercolour as J.Alvarez, and another EP for a well known label out of NY that I won’t mention for now because I’m working on one more track for that one. “
And now a few rapid-fire questions… Any upcoming gigs we can catch you at? “At the moment, I’ve only got local gigs over the next few weeks. Hoping I can tour once these EPs are officially out. “
What artist do you have your eyes on in 2012? “Maceo Plex and Boddika.”
What track makes it’s way into your dj sets the most and why? “Simulant – Wav Form. This is one of the best electro tracks ever written. Pure robotic funk.”
What’s the biggest tune in your bag at the moment? “Adonis – No Way Back. An absolute classic from Trax. Although this will probably change with each gig.”
In case you missed it, here’s a download for a freebie from 214.