Ex NIN-er Keeps Despair Alive

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We always thought the Industrial Revolution started in Chicago, in the late 20th century. We weren’t wrong, we just differ from what many people think is the truth. But Marilyn Manson keyboardist and former NIN-er Chris Vrenna has found his own truth, behind the decks,  keeping despair alive, one punishing beat at a time. We spoke to Chris…

What tracks are working for you in your sets? The Boys Noize remix of Shiny Toy Guns “Le Disco” has been working for my sets, and I also play Combichrist a lot because his stuff reminds me of the old school Chicago Wax Trax Records days, with a bit of an updated twist—it mixes in and out of electro and some old school industrial really well.

Traktor Pro, right? I use Traktor Pro and the Native Instruments DJ Audio line. I also use Numark control surfaces, a very easy to understand combination. The Numark controllers have great pre-maps to everything in Traktor. I don’t really have to go searching for stuff. I like that it’s a very intuitive setup, and self-contained. It’s nice to throw a controller and my laptop in a bag and have the whole rig with me when I hop on a plane or head out of the studio.

You did a big remix for some Irish band, didn’t you? My biggest remix would definitely have to be U2’s “Elevation”. It was on the Tomb Raider soundtrack. The version in the movie and on the radio that won them the Grammy was my remix. That one was definitely my biggest in terms of sheer worldwide exposure. I like taking metal bands like P.O.D. and breaking things down into an Underworld style synth thing. It’s always fun to take something like a Slipknot out of their element and give it a whole new sound palette. I just did one for The Revolting Cocks that is straight up dance electro. It was really quirky robot type music. My most recent remix was for KMFDM. I did the track “Davai” from their album Blitz and gave it a really drum heavy EBM meets “Head Like A Hole” vibe.

Remix theory? I don’t like when a remixer throws away the band and only keeps the vocal. There are hooks other than what the singer is singing in the chorus. I like to sample off bits and pieces and give it a weird electro feel or some stomping four to the floor industrial vibe. I try to always be a blank slate.

What’s a blank slate look like? Huh?

What? No.

Us? Me.