A sense of anticipation filled the air. Dozens of stars twinkled in the sky, while lamps hanging from the trees and soft lighting at the tables gave the beach of Huvafen Fushi a warm glow last Friday.
People lounged about in the ultra comfortable seats, casting glances at the DJ console standing almost at the edge of the deck that stretches out to the sea.
At Huvafen Fushi, a luxury retreat managed by Per AQUUM Retreats, high end luxury and top notch service blends with the stunning natural beauty of the island.
World Famous French DJ Charles Schillings is the star of the evening. Dressed casually in a black T-shirt and cut-off jeans, Schillings arrived, stopping to chat with those present along the way.
Despite being one of the top names in the world of DJing, and with three self-produced albums to his name, Schillings comes across as an extremely down to earth guy, interacting with those who stop by his console, and grooving to the music he plays.
Artists as diverse as Prince, Jackson 5, Lenny Krevitz, Dustry Springfield, Black Eyed Peas and Beatles are played alongside lesser known names.
He blends different genres and different epoques of music as effortlessly as a master weaver would weave a tapestry.
Under the starry night DJ Schillings played, giving a whole new ambience to the island resort.
Minivan News obtained an exclusive interview with DJ Schillings.
Aishath Shazra (AS): When did you first become interested in music?
Charles Schillings (CS): I was watching a Jackson 5 cartoon back in the 70s and a DJ was performing and Michael Jackson was dancing to his tunes. I was nine then and I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
AS: Which musicians have influenced you over the years?
CS: I grew up listening to various genres of music and bands, and especially the ones from the early 1980s from the post-Punk period. I was mostly inspired by Talking Heads, Shriekback, Depeche Mode, Karftwerk and the Jackson 5.
AS: You are renowned for reading the pulse of the audience, and your ability to keep them on the floor – what’s your secret?
CS: I keep the venue, the party’s theme and the surroundings in mind. I also experiment with different genres depending on the mood of the crowd. The most important thing is to see and gauge the crowd’s reaction and then zero in on the music I want to play! Funky and groovy elements with a lot of contemporary tunes.
I am also not afraid to surprise my audience as inside my music people may find a beat or a sound to relate to. Watching people move their shoulders tell me a lot too!
AS: Are you familiar with any Maldivian music, and if so, what are the chances of it (Maldivian music) making it into your playlist, or one of your mixes?
CS: I’ve been to Huvafen Fushi for the last four years now and I’ve been introduced to the beats of the Bodu Beru. I find this really the most interesting cultural expression of music and would love to work with it one day. I have heard of Zero Degrees too, but have never met them in person.
AS: You have said Maldives is one of your favourite places to perform, why is that?
CS: Huvafen Fushi is like my second home. Performing in the Maldives is like nothing else out there. I’m closest to the people here, it’s very personal and I have amazing interaction with the crowd. I also play under the stars with the beach literally at my feet, so I’m not complaining!
AS: Having played all over the world, do audience expectations vary in different cities? Where would you say is the best place to DJ?
CS: It’s not the place really that defines an expectations. It’s the crowd, the people that attend my parties that makes the difference. It’s their harmony and my music that brings it all together. So no matter where I am, being with my audience is the best place to be.
AS: Being a sound designer to Karl Lagerfield, spinning for famous designer’s events, to playing at hip clubs around the world, to playing in front of thousands in cities like Tokyo, and London, what has been your most memorable event so far?
CS: Actually, one day while mixing at a Karl Lagerfeld fashion show, I was asked to allow someone into my DJ booth. Now, that is a request I usually entertain. But I agreed this time and to my surprise, it was Mick Jagger! He stayed with me for the whole show.
Kylie Minogue also requested a song from me when I was playing at Dita Von Teese’ birthday last year, that’s definitely memorable. But the most memorable to date is when I met my girlfriend, Sophie, at Lotus in New York eight years ago.
AS: You’ve been DJing, compiling albums, producing and making your own songs, and now producing the soundtrack for a sci-fi movie. What’s next?
CS: I would really like to mix the soundtrack to a big Hollywood movie.
AS: How would you describe your latest album “Like a Radio”? How’re are you feeling about it?
CS: ‘Like a Radio’ has many firsts for my, my first experience with pop, working with only one vocal was also a first for me and it was also my very first double album. 14 tracks on the first CD and 14 remixes of the tracks on the other. It’s really quite interesting to hear how the tracks sound on radio and the remix sound at a party.