Chris Cowie is one of the most respected and individual producers working in Britain today. So far, he has been responsible for some two hundred productions largely attributed to an array of world-renowned pseudonyms, including X Cabs, Vegas Soul, Dawntreader, Scan Carriers, Stonemaker and Landlord, to name but a few. If you had assumed these to be the work of an assorted cast of independent artists, think again, as Chris has amassed this remarkable body of work almost entirely through his own ceaseless studio efforts.
Recently, Chris has collected together twenty-two of his most definitive tracks for the universally acclaimed ‘Best Behaviour’ album – a retrospective of his career to date but with eyes firmly fixed on the future. From now on, Chris has decided to work entirely under his own name – the master of disguise now choosing to take credit for his own achievements rather than shade beneath anonymity. For Chris, this is simply the closing of one highly rewarding chapter and the beginning of a new and even more exciting one ahead.
Born in Aberdeen, Scotland, Chris became interested in music at an early age and, inspired by the early electronic sound of New Order, began writing music and playing guitar with his own band. When acid house arrived, Chris found himself hooked and began mastering the techniques of studio production, releasing his first record for Warner Bros in 1989. Around 1991, Chris established himself as a DJ, running his own highly successful club night in Aberdeen. A year later, Bellboy was formed as an outlet for the techno records he and a close band of friends had been creating. Soon after, the Hook label was conceived to cater for the trance sound inspired by the German Eye-Q and Harthouse labels.
Chris was at the fulcrum of many of these early Hook and Bellboy releases and achieved his first massive success in 1994 with ‘Neuro’ – an anthemic, brooding trancer under his X-Cabs guise which was licensed to Additive and went on to sell over 40,000 copies worldwide. Soon, the labels began attracting talent from around the world, with some of America’s foremost DJs, including Christopher Lawrence, Sandra Collins and Taylor joining the Hook roster whilst New York techno don Frankie Bones and Manchester’s acid house pioneers, 808 State, came aboard the Bellboy ship.
Chris Cowie had officially arrived amongst the big boys, though to many of the thousands who danced to his productions and label releases each week, his identity remained a mystery. Throughout the nineties he continued to build upon his reputation, with those in the know continually checking his tunes. As well as his prolific rate for his own labels, Chris had collaborated with Glasgow’s Tony Scott on his Havana and Percy X projects for Limbo and Soma respectively, as well as penning the seminal ‘Dominica’ as F2, described by music journalist Tim Barr as “One of British techno’s finest moments” (‘The Rough Guide to Techno’).
Chris’ accomplished debut album, X-Cabs’ ‘Chemistry’, was released in 1995, although it has been under the Vegas Soul moniker that he has achieved the greatest critical praise. ‘Pure’ (1997) and ‘Day by Day’ (1999) have been hailed as landmarks in the development of the loosely-defined ‘tech-house’ genre during the last decade; applying the intrinsic soul and groove of Chicago to the melodic nuances and technological framework of Detroit. Despite his intuitive ability to come out with a big-room stormer at the drop of a hat, this is where Chris’ heart truly lies and the reason why DJs from Jeff Mills and Laurent Garnier to Seb Fontaine and Danny Tenaglia regularly name-check Cowie as not only an influence, but an inspiration