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A Brief History Of Chris

Chris Strellis

I was born in the summer of 1969, the youngest of four children in a town called Benfleet in the south of Essex, England not too far from Basildon, the town of Depeche Mode and Yazoo. I first became aware of electronic music at a very early age of 3 thanks to Dr Who and all its wibbly wobbly sound effects courtesy of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. This was reinforced by my eldest brother Paul's playing of Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of the Moon around this time. Also I remember an early appearance of Kraftwerk on Tomorrow's World and there were plenty of dodgy 70's Sci-Fi around which used electronic sounds.

My first real encounters with synthesizers was in 1981 at the tender age of 11. Paul, used to play in various prog rock outfits and once brought home an EDP Wasp. I had a little play with that and despite the toy like appearance and tiny speaker you could coax some full on sounds out of it.

I also use to go to Honky-Tonk Music, a shop in Hadleigh, Essex, UK during lunch breaks from my Secondary school and drool over the Moogs, Rolands, Sequentials, Korgs, Yamahas, Teiscos and a Wasp Deluxe that they had there and that I couldn't afford.

My next door neighbour at the time, Martin Henwood, was interested in electronic music and introduced me to Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze. He bought a Roland SH-09 and a TR-606 Drumatix finally adding an SH-101 and an MC-202 to the line up. This was the start of a lifelong passion of listening to and making electronic music.

Not being able to afford the synthesizers mostly because they were expensive and also because I was a young teenager, I resorted to building little modules myself. I was no stranger to Maplin the electronic component shop based in Westcliff-on-Sea near Southend. At the time it was the only Maplin shop. The modules included drum synths (E&MM SynTom and SynWave) and a (Phonosonics) Ring Modulator plus a spring reverb unit. I also built a sampler for my ZX Spectrum (ES&CM) and used a Cheetah SpecDrum and a RAM Music Machine.

Further gear lust was amplified by being allowed to play around with my brother Paul's prog rock band K-Mosaic's keyboard gear. This included the ubiquitous Yamaha DX7 and Roland Juno 106 but also a chance to fiddle with a white face ARP Oddysey, an ARP Pro-DGX and a Mellotron 400. There was one other synth here that I played around on - a Yamaha CS-10. Funnily enough I actually bought this very same synth from the keyboard player, Dave Thompson, quite independently of knowing that. I still have that synth although I have modified it. You can see it on my CS-10 page. Augmented by a Casio MT41, my brother Matt's SH-101 and the Yamaha CS-10 I was off making music. Later I persuaded my mum to loan me money for a Casio CZ-1000. My musical noodlings from this era can be heard in my 1986 excerpts page.

Chris Strellis

I also fooled around, in various guises, with fellow Sixth formers getting the chance to play with a Juno 106, an Ensoniq Mirage, a Yamha CX5M music computer, a Korg MonoPoly and a Poly 800. This culminated in my first and last live performance in a pub as "Just Once" supporting an equally terrible Sixth Form band "Satori".

Later my brother Matt added an Atari Steinberg sequencer combination, a Roland TR-505 and a Casio FZ-10M to his own setup. Borrowing these broadened my sound palette. Some interesting Electronic Body Music type songs were written with this gear but nothing brilliant.

University put a halt to much of my music making between 1987 and 1991. I still dabbled a bit from then on getting a Casio RZ-1 sampling drum machine, an Emu Drumulator which I still have, a Korg 707 FM synth and another CZ1000. I made a number of tracks using a Creative Labs AWE32 with 8MB of sampling RAM. These tracks can be heard in my 1996 tracks page.

Work, marriage, mortgage and children stopped a lot of my time, energy and enthusiasm for making music in the late 1990s and early 2000s. However, thanks to eBay I rediscovered my desire for hardware gear and also my muse. Now I had some disposable money and I could buy the gear I wanted but couldn't afford as a young man. An Emax SE, Emax II and Ensoniq EPS16+ samplers started the ball rolling. The rest is not history as they say - it's an obsession.

Chris Strellis

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