CJ Crew

Dancemania-EX: Your biography lists a long and varied history in the music business. Is there any project in particular that you enjoyed working on the most?

Chris Bucknall: I think the thing I enjoy the most is being able to work in different styles rather than being limited to one and not really knowing where I’ll be or what I’ll be working on two months from now. I think that really helps with creativity and being able to take ideas and techniques between styles is also great fun.

DM-EX: Moving on to the subject of Runaway, how did a couple of British blokes end up on a Japanese dance compilation series?

CB: The relationship with EMI came about because John (Briley) had worked at EMI for around ten years and was the vice president of international artist development. I understand John had been instrumental in introducing compilations to the Japanese market and still has close connections to Toshiba EMI.

DM-EX: Did EMI give you a list of songs to cover, or was there some flexibility regarding the song choices?

CB: On the whole the tracks were requested but if I had time I would try out new tracks and submit them. I think all of those were accepted at some point.

DM-EX: Were songs produced at a “normal” speed first, then sped up later? And did EMI request a particular BPM for each song?

CB: I think all of the tracks were recorded at slower speeds and sped up with the exception of “Living La Vida Loca” which would have been too fast so the track was at the usual 170 BPM but the vocal had to be slower than the original. EMI loved the track but thought it was too slow so they sped it up to 200BPM! As a result it couldn’t be mixed in the album and had to be put on at the end.

DM-EX: Though you were mostly known for your covers, you also contributed a number of original songs to the series. “All About You” and “Another Way” were particularly brilliant and, in my opinion, among your best work. Was it a nice change of pace working on original material?

CB: For me the most fun was to work on the original tracks. It’s the one time when there is nobody to answer to and I get to try out anything I want!!

DM-EX: How did the Castlevania song come about? Did you and John Briley just work on the lyrics, or did you collaborate with Michiru Yamane on the music as well?

CB: The “Castlevania” music had been written and recorded when we were presented with it and asked by Konami to write English lyrics. The tricky part was that the music doesn’t have a clear format; different parts of it have various lengths and tempos, so we had to work quite hard but I think it was worth it!

DM-EX: One of your songs was credited to “CJ Crew feat. Duane Bucknall.” Any relation?

CB: Duane Bucknall was me on guitar playing in the style of Duane Eddy!

DM-EX: El Fez, Orff Key Ensemble, and Muff and the Munchers were just a few of your many, punny aliases. What was the impetus behind these pseudonyms? Obviously the Japanese were unlikely to catch the meanings, but a lot of us American/foreign fans always looked forward to seeing what crazy name you’d come up with next.

CB: I can’t take credit for many of the names they are the product of Mr Briley’s active imagination (genius I’d call some of them!).

DM-EX: Aside from CJ Crew, you were also quite prolific under the Nancy & the Boys alias. One can surmise that “The Boys” refers to you and John Briley, but who was Nancy? Was it a single person or a series of session singers? Can you divulge her real name?

CB: Nancy was different artists to the best of our recollection. I am currently working on a project with one “Nancy” so I’ll keep you informed.

DM-EX: Was “Nancy” also the vocalist behind “All About You” and “Another Way”? And was that Nancy pitched down for “I Fought the Law” and other songs?

CB: “All about you” and “Another way” used different vocalists. I don’t think either of them featured as Nancy.

DM-EX: One of the songs on Dancemania Covers 01, “Right Here Waiting for You,” was credited to “CJ Crew vs. DJ Kambel.” Was that a typo or did you really collaborate with DJ Kambel?

CB: The version of “Right Here Waiting For You” was a collaboration with DJ Kambell. By coincidence he lives a few miles from my studio.

DM-EX: Does MC Bygglz (reference to James Bigglesworth?) really have that Cockney accent?

CB: DJ Bygglz was a reference to a local MC who is an aeroplane fanatic and is known as Biggles. I think the accent might have been exaggerated!

DM-EX: Most of the other labels that contributed to the Speed series have since put up their tracks for purchase on iTunes/Juno Download/etc. Are there any plans to make full-length Runaway tracks available?

CB: With regard the Runaway tracks, since you emailed me we have been looking into releasing them. I am running a label called “Cubit Records” with producer Robert de Fresnes so I’ll let you know any progress on that front. http://www.cubitrecords.com/Cubit_Home.html

DM-EX: Any messages for your fans?

CB: I think a message to our fans is thank you so much for your support and keep your eyes and ears open for new releases coming soon.