There are those remarkably rare individuals; they bring out the best and the worst in you, but also make the most of everything. Out of nowhere, you meet them throughout your life and under strangest circumstances. Two of them call themselves Odd Parents. And no faking the funk — the first thing you start chatting about is a Givenchy diaper bag and weed.
Christine Maars: Weed inspires everything, that's my daily thing. I mean; I don't drink, I don't smoke cigarettes anymore. I like to smoke weed; it inspires me, it makes everything better. I have two modes — I'm not high enough for this shit, and I'm too high for this shit. That's it.
Brian Oswald: With the music, though, it goes hand in hand.
Christine: I think so too. My significant other [Eric Estornel aka Maceo Plex] is a talented producer. It's not very often that he has writer's block, but sometimes after just a little smoke something amazing comes out. Then you stop and go back to it the next day and then it is still amazing… You know how it works..
We live in Barcelona, which is now becoming very open. We have a lot of cannabis associations, almost like coffeeshops here in Amsterdam. I don't know if you hear the same thing, but I've read in a few articles that it's the new Amsterdam of Europe.
Brian: There's a ton of DJs in Barcelona and they are all involved in the marihuana clubs. Paul Ritch owns a club, which is an art gallery and cannabis association in one.
So it seems you feel at home in Barcelona. But originally you are from the US, right? How did you guys meet?
Brian: We were both local DJs in Dallas, even though Christine is from Jersey and I am from San Francisco. But we had a mutual promoter friend. I actually knew Christine before I knew Maceo, her husband. And she was dope then; this is like 9 -10 years ago.
Christine: Back then I had a small monthly techno night. My friend Maetrik would come over to play. Through the small scene in Dallas, we all knew each other. Later Brian moved away back to San Francisco and me and my "friend" started traveling a lot and moved to Spain. At some point we were looking for someone who could come over and work with us. We found somebody from back in the days, so yes, we hooked back up with Brian again and he moved to Barcelona.
Brian: I joined Christine with Odd Parents and we started DJing together. Last year we had our first release together on Ellum, Teach the Wind EP. Though right after we had a break — Christine is a new mom and for about a year I was going solo. But now we are back to DJing and working in the studio. Our next EP is coming out soon. We played our new track in the set today and it worked great.
From the outside, traveling and moving continents can be romanticised. But in reality it can be intense. Anything to give up, big or small, to get to where you are now?
Christine: Anything to give up — I can totally hit on that topic. Not in a negative way though. I've given up a lot of my personal goals and dreams, to an extent. However, I've definitely fulfilled many dreams and many goals being with my husband. I was always a DJ, but I used to have a career as a hair stylist too. But I quit and gave it all up, thinking we are going 100 % for the music, taking everything we have and dedicating our lives to it. If it doesn't work, we'll go home, but it all worked out. My husband is an amazing producer; sometimes I am very amazed just standing there for five minutes and watching him do his thing.
Brian: Maceo is the backbone of Ellum and he's doing his thing and bringing all of us for the ride.
But can I mention we gave up Tex-Mex; burritos, tacos, and Pho… There is amazing food in Spain, but I still miss America, for some of the food reasons.
You both seem shy mentioning the name of Maceo Plex. But I guess it is inevitable.. You guys mix it all, friendship, love and business…
Christine: It's difficult. We go through ups, we go through downs. But I don't want to overtake this conversation…
Brian: No, please, go for it!
Christine: Maceo Plex is a popular DJ. There are crazies out there. There are amazing people we meet as well. I do think you need to have a really strong character to be married to a big DJ or dating one. I know there are issues of jealousy that come up. That's just human nature. I've always been cool with it, to some extent. I am a bit baby crazy right now, which makes me experience these little pins of jealousy, and I don't know where they're coming from. But I'm human and they come out and we deal with them, we get over it and we move on.
There's always a handful of freaking crazy chicks. Like I don't know what is wrong with them?! And there's always this other group of girls, genuinely supportive, they love the music and how can I not respect that. I'd take the camera and make pictures of them together; it doesn't bother me. It's flattering when people are fans of Maceo Plex — it's everything we live for, it's our entire life.
We are a family and we were a family before all the fame started. We have a 14 year old Margaret and an 18 year old son Henry, who live in US. And we have a newborn Solar who is 4 months old and a definite inspiration for a new album of his father, which is coming soon.
Brian: It is special that we manage to keep the family feeling as we work together and do our own things. For the last couple of years I was also Maceo's tour manager. It is not the easiest job, you don't get a lot done… On the weekends you travel and are busy with the parties, then you get home and suddenly you have to leave again. I'm doing less TM'ing for now so I could focus on making music solo as Odd Oswald and together with Christine as Odd Parents.
That's a lot of "odd" going on…
Brian: Personally I find a lot of inspiration in horror movies. I watch a lot of movies and make Christine and Eric watch a lot of movies too. I get a lot of inspiration out of soundtracks, weird characters, that sort of thing. That's one part of the inspiration. I do post a lot of weird trailers on Facebook.
When it comes to the label, Ellum to me is not trying to be anything — it really is what we, the people behind it, are pushing. Even with the art, which is something I do for the label… But it changes a lot too. We listen to rock, new wave, disco, house, techno and everything.. and then put a thread through all the different genres, and it comes out on Ellum as the dance music tracks. Right now Ellum is signing new artists, getting new exposure and touring a lot.
I always find it interesting to talk to my fellow ladies on the scene about their experiences…
Christine: Being anything female in this industry is hard. Through the years of managing Maceo Plex people told me: "You're just a bitch!" It's fine that they think that, because that means I in some way stepped on their ego; I stopped something that they wanted from us or did not let them have their way. And it's only then that I am perceived as a bitch. When it's another guy, they are like: "Hey mates! Oh yeah, all fine, everything is cool!" But when I say it: "She's just a bitch." I am not here to make friends with anybody. I easily make friends with genuine people. And it's only when I say no, I become this horrible evil woman. I am really not. It is just a stern way, something women go through. It's okay, we just deal with it.
Brian: You just roll with it. You make a joint and you just roll with it.