Christopher Coe on musical origins, partnering with Carl Cox and Augspurger Monitors

Electronic producer and artist Christopher Coe talks breaking limitations with Carl Cox and Augspurger on their partner label, Awesome Soundwave

The journey from neophyte to having impact in the world of music is rarely a straight line. Greatness emerges at different times in unlikely places from seemingly unlikely people. For Christopher Coe, who partnered with Carl Cox on the Awesome Soundwave label, it began in Ireland. “I started recording music when I was in my teens in Ireland,” says Coe. “I learned to play the guitar when I was 10 or so, and then I decided that I would forego my formal schooling in order to become a super rock star, which I totally believed was truly possible.”

Coe morphed from fan into a fledgling producer as a pre-teen. “At the age of 12 or 13, I naively proceeded to start finding tape machines and playing music,” he elaborates. “I started recording music when I was in my teens. I found a love for the idea of being able to layer sounds and create a whole other different vibe with recordings.”

In his youth, he was mesmerised by the quality of sound from bands like Pink Floyd. “The Dark Side of the Moon, for me, was the greatest work of art ever created,” he states matter-of-factly. “A friend of mine down the country had a Tascam 16-track when it first came out, I think in around 1985. I was going to make another The Dark Side of the Moon. Of course, it came out sounding like crap, but at least I was doing it!” he says chuckling. It was that kind of drive that kept him creative and in the game on his own journey.

In those days, high quality equipment was hard to come by, he remembers. “When you're limited to one synthesiser or one instrument, you have to find a way of creating meaning by pushing through that limitation. Some people might disagree, but I do think that limitation is very much the mother of invention.”

Under the open canopy of personal creativity, Coe feels that very little can hold an artist back. “My limitation is time and imagination,” he admits. “I learned through trial and error, and having limitations and wanting to push beyond that and trying to get to that Pink Floyd moment. And then I’m also limited by my knowledge; I’m constantly trying to work around that to find a way to express something – I still find that to be very much the motivation for me.”

Then in 2017 a journey into nature led to an amazing musical experience. “I came back here to Ireland to create an album, which is called Mountains of Silence, based on the landscape of this part of the world.

“I wanted to make a deep, rumbling techno album,” he says. “Because to me, that's what the mountains would sound like. I was very limited in terms of how I did it. I purposefully limited myself to just working in a small room in a stone cottage, climbing the mountains every day and coming back with small recordings of the atmosphere and trying to turn them into gargantuan techno tunes.” For Coe, the exploration within the frigid mountains triggered musical expansion back in the studio.

Thinking back, he says, “I feel like in a couple of the tunes, I succeeded, but it was really a big struggle for me, because there was a lot of stuff that I still needed to learn about how to make that style of music.” He stuck to his vision and the results were more than just a new album.

“That album became the catalyst for Carl Cox and I starting our label, Awesome Soundwave together,” he reveals. “I went back to Australia after six months of making the record in Ireland. I was having lunch with him and telling him about the project I’d just done. I said, ‘Look, I know it's not for your label, but I want to release it,’ and he said, ‘well we’ll just have to start a new label together!’ Within half an hour of discussing it, it was happening, and suddenly there was a whole platform that I could release this work of art on, thanks to Carl.”

When I played the Augspurgers to Carl [Cox], he was just blown away by what he heard.

When Coe is in the zone in the studio he chooses the Augspurger DUO 8 monitors: “I heard about them first through a friend of mine, Robbie Dunn, who works with Dave Malekpour as a distributor for Augspurger in Europe,” he says. “At that same lunch that I mentioned, where Carl was talking about starting the label, he actually asked me to come down and look at a property of his and asked me if I would help him build a studio, which we did.

“I knew that Carl needed monitors that had the power to push decibels with a club feel, but still have clarity. Robbie told me it’s really the only system we should be using, citing a bunch of different people who use them from Snoop Dogg to Wiz Khalifa. I went to a studio in London and they had a set of the DUO 8s there. I listened to them and knew they were the ones straight away.”

The quality of the sounds from the DUO 8s became the cornerstone of their new studio, says Coe: “We built the new room around the Augspurgers. We ‘pretend’ soffit mounted them so that they were basically flush against the wall. Once Dave had come in and tuned the speakers to the room, I played them to Carl, and he was just blown away by what he heard.

“The Augspurgers are the workhorses of the studio every day; they're the ones we listen to, they're the ones we mix on, they're the ones we record with,” he continues. “Their sound and range is unmatched. With the Augspurgers, I find that I can get great clarity when I'm listening at a lower level, and this is consistent as you push the level up in terms of clarity and the frequency range.”

Coe tells Headliner that DUO 8s are important across all genres of music: “No matter what music you're doing, you need to have a flatness and consistency across the frequency spectrum,” he says reflectively.

“I’m also very excited about the label, Awesome Soundwave, because we have so many amazing artists that we're releasing this year. We're putting something out every two weeks for the entire year because we've got so much amazing material.

“Right now, the Awesome Soundwave label is focused on the live experience. Carl has just released an album of his own called Electronic Generations, which was recorded entirely in the studio on those Augspurgers. I'm also working on a whole bunch of new material myself, so it’s all ongoing. I think the live scene is the most exciting at the moment, and that's because it's very raw and new. The audience feels the difference in energy.”

Henge images credit: @fintan.friel