Hot on the heels of his double weekend feature at Coachella, Chris Lake brings his freshly worked set to New York City. The Grammy-nominated producer and DJ officially ushers in the summer season with his explosive set at the Brooklyn Mirage. During the venue’s highly-anticipated opening weekend, Chris kicked it all off with two back-to-back performances. With appearances from his Black Book Records friends (Franklyn Watts, Joshwa, Bruno Furlan, Tobehonest, among others), this two-night takedown went down as one of the venue’s most legendary opening weekend’s yet – selling out the 8000-person capacity venue within a matter of days.
Backdropped by the Mirage’s iconic views of the Manhattan skyline and mesmerizing 200-foot LED video wall, both nights were filled with good music – and the vibes to match. When the clock finally struck 2 am, Chris took the DJ booth, amping up the crowd for the night’s final pièce de résistance. Featuring thunderous beats and captivating vocals, Chris brought down the house with his intricately-crafted mixes. There’s no wonder why the platinum-selling artist, who originally hails from the United Kingdom, has become an unwavering staple in the house music scene all these years later. Throughout his two-decade music career, Chris has become known for his ability to adapt and innovate, constantly churning out something fresh and different for his audience – and these sets at the Mirage were no different. Not only did he debut new work (“Beggin” with Aluna), but his most namesake older tracks (“Turn Off the Lights,” “Deceiver”) were reimagined like never before, sending the crowd into a dizzy until the wee hours of the morning.
A day after his set at the Brooklyn Mirage, we caught up with the chart-topping producer, who, to our surprise, was already in Las Vegas. As he geared up for his residency at Marquee, he reminisced on his two nights in New York City.
V Magazine: We saw you opened the Brooklyn Mirage for the season. How exciting! Curious how you prepared yourself for those two nights in New York?
Chris Lake: There wasn’t really that much time. I think I was the last show that was announced for the season at the Mirage. There was talk about me doing it, but it was quite last minute. And it’s just really been a case of – the whole beginning of my year is really just preparing for the shows for the summer season. So I’ve been preparing for the last four months. The first big show before this was Coachella – I did it with FISHER. There was a lot of work that went into that. So the shows afterward benefit from the work that was done for Coachella, last month. But yeah, what a vibe, what a great venue.
V: Yeah, I’m sure. And as you were on the stage, how would you describe the energy of the Mirage? What’s it like to perform there?
CL: Yeah, it’s a special venue. I don’t know who came up with the idea, but there’s some magic there. It’s so much fun to perform at. It feels different. It feels like a courtyard for a castle or something, with all of the all the walkways around the edges. And there’s fire as well, which is mad [laughs]. Some of my best memories are having the fire tower shooting up and capturing pictures of that. For me as a performer, it’s just a great opportunity to have an extra special connection with my fans. It’s quite a great reward for me, when I put a lot of work into those songs, and then play them in situations like that.
V: I feel like the Mirage is also special because it’s outside and even though the show starts at night, sometime you’ll catch the sunrise. So that’s a magical moment as well.
CL: Absolutely, the outdoor environment definitely adds to the experience. You also notice all the planes flying over too. And then there’s something about being up all night and then the sun coming up – it just makes you think, “I’ve been a bit naughty.”
V: Literally [laughs]. I know you went on from 2 AM to 4 AM. So I’m curious how do you get revved up for a show? Do you sleep in that day?
CL: It really depends. It’s not always easy to sleep on demand for me, so I try my best to be prepared. But it normally involves copious amounts of coffee. I don’t drink alcohol or anything, so I just drink coffee. I drank loads for the first night and then couldn’t get to sleep after the first show, so I slept really badly between night one and night two. Night two, I was pretty tired. But I had to come straight here to Vegas. I was meant to fly out last night because I was set to do the day party here – from 3 to 5 PM, but I ended up playing until 6:30 PM.
V: That’s crazy, but I feel like summer would be the time to do it. Have a crazy summer and then recharge in the winter. It’s like hibernating.
CL: Exactly [laughs].
V: How do you take your coffee?
V: No cream? No sugar?
CL: Nothing. I’m actually waiting for my coffee now. So if the doorbell goes while we’re on this call, coffee is coming.
V: Copy, will make that mental note [laughs]. And hot coffee? Or iced?
CL: Hot every time. My manager drinks the cold brew. He probably needs a little bit more energy than me to cope with all the things [laughs].
V: Of course. And as you talked about Coachella last month, can you tell us about that experience? How was it different from your two nights at the Brooklyn Mirage?
CL: Coachella I did with FISHER – and that comes with its own excitement, its own challenges. Challenges as in putting up with a human that has far too much energy for his own good [laughs]. But he’s one of my best friends and it’s great fun to do these events. We both have a massive love for that festival. It’s a multi-genre festival, so it attracts a different crowd. So whereas if you go to a festival like EDC that’s electronic fans, across the board. They want to hear powerful bass most likely, and that’s their thing. And so a few years ago, when we first started doing this and felt like there was something special with what we were doing, we had a target. The target was that we wanted to perform on the Outdoor Stage – we wanted to close the Outdoor Stage at Coachella. We just had this vision of doing it. And we knew that it would be difficult because not only is the multi-genre festival, the stages are really designed for bands. We knew as soon as we had it confirmed that we had to do a lot of extra work to try and bring the kind of experience that you had at The Mirage. So we spent a lot of time trying to figure out how we wanted this all to come together and didn’t really know how it would all turn out. But, it turned out absolutely fantastic. We had a huge turnout – that was the biggest shock, that we had such a big turnout to the stage. And yeah, it’s just been fantastic. And we both got to drop tracks that we’ve both been making through the winter. FISHER’s got one of the hottest records on the planet, and there’s only two people that have got it and that’s me and him. It’s crazy. And this week, I played it at The Mirage and everyone’s singing the words because they picked it up.
V: Such an incredible turnout. I was there Weekend 2 and saw your remix of “Rumble” as Four Tet, Skrillex and Fred again… were set to play the day after. How did you decide to include that in the setlist?
CL: So I actually asked Skrillex for the parts. I’ve been hearing his album for about four years, and then when I heard “Rumble,” I’m like “Dude, you’ve got such a big record here. You’ve got to give me the parts so I can hear what I want to do with this.” And I ended up doing a remix. I was never really happy with the remix – I ended up doing three versions, and that third version was the one that we started the set with at Coachella. I also played it on Weekend 1. And then when I found out that Skrillex, Four Tet and Fred again… had been added to the lineup for Weekend Two, I called up Sonny and was like, “You know, I’m opening with your track.” And he was like, “I don’t give a shit, play it. Do it. It’s going to be amazing.” But yeah I just wanted to check with him because if he was like, “I’m going to be playing on the main stage later. Don’t play it.” Then we would have changed it, but he was cool with it.
V: And then they played “In The Yuma,” later. Were you watching their set?
CL: That’s Four Tet’s remix, which is really exciting. We’re going to release that soon. It’s fantastic. We only finished it like a week before that, so it wasn’t planned that he was going to be playing that show. It just worked out and was a nice surprise.
V: And as you bring up your new music, I also want to talk about your song “Beggin’” with Aluna. How did that collaboration come to be?
CL: It’s been funny. I mean, I’ve done a few interviews about this song, and it’s so weird. Aluna wrote the lyrics, so the meaning of the song, the meaning of the words, holds meaning more to her. But for me, it’s more about the feeling of the song. And that was the thing that I was more focused on. That was the first time I’d worked with Aluna. One of my team members said, “Aluna’s in town, and it might be a good idea for you to try and do a session with her.” I was like, “That’s fantastic, I love her stuff.” And when we got in the studio, I went from liking stuff to being a very, very big fan. She’s unbelievably talented, a great person to work with. And that was the first idea that we put down – “Beggin.’” And the part that I was most focused on was the “oohs” section. I spent weeks trying to get the sound of that just absolutely perfect. I was going around the bend working on it, but I was determined. I just thought those “oohs” were so special. So I built the song pretty much around that. That was like my focus. But yeah, I definitely hope to work with Aluna again. We’ve actually got another song coming, which is so exciting.
V: Yeah, love the track. And did you guys make it in LA?
CL: Yeah, we made it in LA. She came to my house to work on it. And I basically had a calendar mishap. I forgot that the session was happening. And then there’s Aluna at the front door and I’m like, “Who’s this?” It took me a second and then I was like, “Oh, shit!” It was such an awkward first meeting. I spent the first hour apologizing. And it ended up being really, really good because we were making fun of me so much, it kind of broke the ice.
V: I think I saw that Instagram and thought it was so funny. Last question for you, I know that you’ve got a ton of tour dates this summer. How are you feeling as this is unfolding? What are you looking forward to?
CL:‘m looking forward to everything. I’m just going to look after myself and keep myself happy and healthy – that’s the main thing. So I’ve just got to eat well, keep making music and enjoy the moments. We’re a third of the way into the year, and I’m feeling really, really good and excited about everything that’s happening. It’s good times. It’s a very nice feeling to have an audience to play the music that I create and seeing it make people happy. So I have many opportunities every week to up my energy.
V: How do you curate the setlist for each show? Does it change ever night?
CL: I don’t really plan anything. I just turn up and read the room, so to speak. I often have an idea of a track I’ll start with, or some options of tracks that I’ll start with and I have a rough way of wrapping up my shows. Everything else in between is based off the vibes. I just figure it out.