You may remember Christian Burns from a rather successful boy-band back in the early 90's called BBMak. I most certainly did. "Back Here" is still a pop classic. When I saw that Christian Burns was getting back into the music scene last summer with his collaboration with superstar Tiesto, my ears perked up immediately. Having toured all over Europe now with Tiesto, Christian Burns is posed and ready to unleash his new music project called "The Bleach Works" which is a fusion of rock-tronica and melody that has had me buzzing for quite a few weeks.
I got the chance to catch up with Christian Burns on the phone to talk about The Bleach Works, his days in BBMak and what it was like to collaborate with the world class talent that is Tiesto. Enjoy!
Hi Christian – How are you today – where are you calling in from today?
I'm calling from my studio today. I got back from an American trip on Monday and I've been trying to catch up on sleep and getting myself normal again. I was in Washington and Miami at the Winter Music Conference running around there.
Yes, I was missing me own bed!
Well The Bleach Works is a project I've been working on for a few years now. The sound has kinda evolved over the years into something that I'm really happy with at the moment. It's a mixture of rock music, electronic music and dance music – all the things that I've been working on and it's influenced by the sounds of today. The dance stuff I've done recently with Tiesto and Benny Benassi have definitely had an influence.
You got your name "The Bleach Works" from the studio you are recording in as well – Why does the name have a significance for you?
Well you know what, it's just hard to pick a name for a band or a project. You start pulling your hair out and you don't know what sounds right or wrong. I was racking me brain and I had lots of ideas but nothing was sticking. I wanted something a little bit different, something relevant and I decided to call the project "The Bleach Works" and that worked. That's it really. Nothing deeper than that – that's just it. Most of the songs have been written and produced here in "The Bleach Works" studio, so that works for me!
You're also re-doing "In The Dark" which you originally recorded with Tiesto last summer. What is different about your new version of "In The Dark" versus your version with Tiesto?
Well when I wrote the original version with Tiesto, it was a dance song – like 25 minutes longer as dance songs are! I had to condense it a bit, change the rhythm. I didn't keep anything from the original mix actually. I even re-did the vocals, but the melody is the same. I've done it in a whole new rocktronic style with big drums and more guitars. It sounds completely different than the original version though – it's turned out great!
I actually remember seeing the video for "In The Dark" in Sicily last summer and thought, wow – that's Christian Burns from BBMak! Do a lot of people know that you used to be a part of BBMak when they hear your new stuff or are you trying to deter from that?
[Laughs] You know what, I don't think people have put two and two together there besides yourself! In the UK, BBMak weren't as big as we were in the states. And Tiesto wasn't as big in the states as he was in the UK and Europe. Some people have sussed it out. You recognized me right?
Oh I recognized you straight away!
I used to have blonde hair in BBMak! [Laughs]
No I think what happened was, I was working on another project called Inhaler. I had a MySpace page and he found it and he loved me voice and me songs and he sent me a message saying "I really love your voice and the song – can I have the song for my album and record it and mix it". Then I said, well you can't really have that one because it's for my album so I'm not gonna give it to you! I really didn't know how big Tiesto was then – I could've shot myself in the foot there! But I said I was quite happy to collaborate with him and he said "ok fine" and that was it – we wrote "In The Dark" together. He sent a track over and I wrote the melody.
Totally – it's playing for a different crowd. I haven't performed since 2003 and I was a little bit apprehensive and nervous going out on stage on me own. But it was a great way for me to get back into performing and for The Bleach Works and stuff. I was remember I was a bit nervous the first night in Belfast in front of 20,000 people . After 8 seconds of being on stage, I was loving it again. We toured all over the place and I got to see some great places with Tiesto.
When we did our own sell-out tour in the states. We got to do loads of big stadium gigs with N'Sync, but the highlight for me was doing our own headline tour of 35 dates in the states.
Yes totally! Totally from back in the day. A lot of them are still following what I'm doing with The Bleach Works. It's great – they've stuck by me all this time!
The other guys are working on music too. Ste's got a band. Mark is writing some songs for other people too. They are both busy doing bits and bobs and I'm sure you'll be seeing more of them in the future! Keep an eye out for them too!
[Laughs] – It's nothing to be embarrassed about Raj! [Laughs]
Well it's a feel-good track I recorded in in San Francisco with a guy called Jeff Saltzman that produced The Killers record "Hot Fuss". I was a big fan of that record. It's one of my favorite records from the past 10 years – definitely. I heard the record and I really wanted to work with him. I got in contact with him and we came up with "Something About You" in San Francisco in Green Day's studio. We went in there and we recorded it – I'm really happy with it. I work worked with Alan Moulder too whose mixed a lot of stuff in the 80's like My Bloody Valentine and Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails. Some really good top rate people have worked on the record an I'm really happy with the way it's turned out.
"As We Collide" has more of a rockier edge to it. Is this representative of the new sound you're working on. Partly rock/partly electronic.
Totally – it's mostly electric sounding guitars on the record. But the record is not defined by one particular song. I can't say the record is going to sound one certain way. It's got quite a bit of different rock and electronic elements joined together in their own way I suppose. You know what, I love a lot of the older bands too like the The Blue Nile and Depeche Mode. I like new bands like MGMT, Muse and Friendly Fires. I think a lot of the 80s stuff mixed in with the newer stuff sounds really cool.
So I saw a video on your blog about "Golden Harps" and I couldn't quite figure out what that was about – can you enlighten us?
[Laughs] Yeah, well Tiesto was getting an award called The Golden Harp Award in The Netherlands version of The Grammys – total black tie affair. He was being honored there and every artist has a performance on the night. So we did something a little bit different for it and performed "In The Dark" mixed in with a song called "Traffic" with a live orchestra. It was great to get a chance to do that. I've never sang with a live orchestra before. It was really cool – I really enjoyed that.
When do you expect The Bleach Works record to be finished?
Well at the moment, I'm 70% there. We got a lot of the songs done and it's going really well at the moment. It's not going to be out until late summer or fall time – that's what we are aiming for. We have a couple of gigs coming up soon around London. I will keep everyone informed on MySpace and Twitter so you can all come down and check the new stuff out!
Are you embracing all the social networking that's important in being a musician today?
You know what – I'm totally into it! Years ago, it wasn't as big as it is now. But with all the online press that's happening it's the way forward. It's how you connect with people all over the world. It's great now because I can do a lot of things on me iPhone – it's massive. I have Twitter on the iPhone, I think it's great. I'm totally into it. It just gives people more of a sneaky peak into what's going on!
No worries Raj! Looking forward to seeing all you guys out in London soon!
Take a listen to some of the new sounds of Christian Burns and The Bleach Works.