Sandra Marron talks to seminal techno producer, remixer and DJ CJ Bolland as he guests at Relentless
CJ Bolland is a very busy man. DJing, collaborating, remixing and even recently turning his hand to screenwriting. The Yorkshire-born, Belgium-based lad is a one man creative machine who shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Bolland started his career in music at the tender age of 15 when his demo tracks were aired on the hugely influential Liaisons Dangereuses radio show where the Belgian new wave body music scene was being hugely championed. A listener sent a recording of one of his demo tracks to the techno label R&S and the rest is a pretty much a 15-year-old boy’s wet dream. He was signed up straight away by R&S, and over the following five years he released some of techno’s most revered tunes, including the floorfiller ‘Do That Dance’ and seminal classic ‘Horsepower’.
Living in Belgium at that time was the proverbial, ‘right time and place’ for Bolland and he has often wondered if things would have been different on the music front if he had remained in Yorkshire as a child. ‘I am sure I would have been into music because I was a little freak. I was always into this electronic sound and it was quite apparent I would be doing something with it,’ he explains. ‘Whether or not I would have got a break is something else. It might have been a bigger break, we don’t know, but it happened when I was 15 here. I suddenly got approached by this record company R&S, which, at that period of time ended up being the biggest, freshest thing on the scene and I was caught up right in the middle of it.’ He adds with a chuckle: ‘I know I am pretty happy I don’t live in Middlesbrough.’
After leaving R&S, Bolland had a pretty dark period where he and his newfound record label PolyGram ran into trouble over creative issues. He looks back with sadness. ‘We never really focused on the charts or whatever and did the music we loved and that was considered to be underground. Then this mainstream crossover thing happened and suddenly all the rules changed.’ The change in rules meant that the record company wanted his records to be more commercial. It culminated in Bolland recording lots of tracks and in the end releasing none of them. However it was during this time that he recorded a string of remixes for such luminaries as Tori Amos, The Prodigy, Orbital and Depeche Mode. ‘I can’t even remember half of them,’ jokes Bolland. ‘I did so many at a certain point in time, I must have done about a hundred.’ He looks back at remixing Depeche Mode with both joy and despair. ‘I was a fan of them, yet that was also the one I was most disappointed with. It kind of freaked me out because I used to remix people I had never really heard of.They were my heroes basically and when bands like Depeche Mode come up to you, you start freaking out. It was alright but it is definitely not the one that I am most proud of.’
CJ Bolland guests at Relentless at Sub Club, Glasgow, Fri 23 Mar