We started from the beginning. Christopher Port is a drummer, and producer, from Melbourne who has been playing for 15 years across a variety of genres. But he also has a keen interest in fashion; “I went to jazz school straight out of high school, and have been playing lots of different stuff since”, he began. “I started my own solo career two years ago and my interest in fashion as an art form really started when Raf Simmons took over the creative director role at Dior. I’ve been keeping up with fashion ever since. Fashion and fashion shows are now one of my main sources of creative inspiration”.
Christopher Port recently shared his ‘Everything In Quotes “DARK”‘ EP; Dark, brooding and subdued, it has a sound that’s best described as a refreshing take on UK Garage. Speaking about the EP, it becomes clear that the fashion influence is very much a present factor with his work. “The name ‘Everything In Quotes’ is taken from a lecture by fashion designer, Virgil Abloh”, he began. “He talks about architecture, creativity and fashion amongst other things. One of the most important things for me as an artist is being able to have a direct line to the listener. I want you to hear my music exactly how I made it, yet still be able to perceive it in your own way. To me ‘Everything in Quotes’ personifies this”
With the EP comes another visual. One which doubles as its own unique look book showcasing his fashion debut with his own brand of hand-sewn unisex shirts; “These tops are the tangible affirmation of the music from my EP ‘Dark'”, Christopher added. “This video for me is a process film that shows the creation of the prototypes that informed the finished pieces with four distinct sections that are based off the four EP tracks. The video also works as a visual response to the music by my long-term collaborator and incredible director/editor Hamish Mitchell”.
Speaking to Christopher Port about his creative process highlighted the juxtapositions of mediums he uses. Everything is carefully considered, and tailored to support a sense of ambiguity.
Hailing from London via Melbourne, Port hones in on the “amazing energy” in the city; “I was staying mostly around the Hackney area and it was incredible. There’s such a long history of amazing electronic music being made there. Just on that alone, it’s a great place to be. I spent a lot of time working on tracks late at night after going out, and mostly spending my days in record stores.
When we spoke more about the EIQ ‘DARK’ EP, he explained that he had been making a lot of dark tunes, and was playing with the idea of putting them onto one record. But perhaps it was too much. That changed when Hamish Mitchell convinced him otherwise; “I stripped the number of tracks back and honed in on the ones I thought were most cohesive. The ‘DARK’ EP is the first of two. I’m currently finishing the ‘LIGHT’ EP, which will be coming in the new year. It’s shaping up to be a bit clubbier than my previous stuff”.
The fashion line came as a want to make ‘merch’. For lack of a better term. “I’d been sewing a lot and I wanted to make something of my own from scratch”, he said. “So I thought what better way to do that than to design something myself and make it part of the release”. The tops he made were for the autumn / winter seasons. They are oversize, unisex, and black. “They have a darkness and an edge to them. I love music that has a sense of ambiguity. I don’t enjoy it when an artist tells you exactly what something means. My music doesn’t have a specific message at all. Of course my tracks mean things to me, but that’s mostly based on how I was feeling when I wrote them and what was going on in my life at the time. But that only relates to me”.
Christopher Port was us, the listener, to have our own experiences with the music and engage with it however we like. “The same goes for the clothes I make”, he continued. “I want people to wear them in different contexts, style them differently and create their own looks. I want my work to be for everyone, not just one gender or one type of music listener. Art that’s full of human emotion and challenging is something I like, I want it to be full of things you may not expect”.
Creatively, he doesn’t work with an audience reaction in mind. Rather, he tries to let an idea come naturally. “The times I’ve tried to push a track a certain way, like making it more or less danceable, it just kinda kills it. The track ends up going nowhere. I do however think of the audiences reaction when I play live or DJ. But I try to gauge this in the moment, and don’t like to do much planning for sets. I think the freedom to create what I want, when I want, is the most important thing to me as an artist. It’s such a privilege to be able to write and mix my own music how I want it and for it to come out unchanged. I’m so lucky to have Pieater and Future Classic allowing me to do this. I’ve very lucky”.
To create fashion as a response to music sparks many ideas and interpretations. Christopher Port’s fashion is a direct product of the cold, dark night theme that runs through the EP; “They are all black with some colour embellishments”, he reiterated. “So they’re pretty dark in aesthetic, but I wanted a little colour in there to tie in with the upcoming ‘LIGHT’ collection. I didn’t want the music on the ‘DARK’ EP to be too bogged down. There’s some shades of colour and emotion in there, coming mostly from the harmony and vocal samples. That’s how I relate the clothes to the music”.
“I like both melancholy and unease because they are very complex emotions”, Christopher Port said, thinking about music with these qualities. “I like the grey area in those emotions and I try to explore that side in my music. I like when melancholy doesn’t necessarily mean sad. Emotion is paramount for me when I’m creating something. I really like euphoric tracks that have a little melancholy in them. I’m drawn to tracks that have a sense of coldness and isolation about them, but at the same time have a humanness and fragility that’s really interesting”.
From public transport in cities, to every conceivable emotion, Port finds inspiration in the world around him. “I think the creative world is always moving forward”, he said when I asked whether he thought anything was lacking in creativity at the moment. “Demna Gvasalia and Virgil Abloh have built careers off of doing edits of other labels’ garments. Vetements did versions of Levi’s, Champion and Juicy Couture pieces. And Virgil Abloh has done versions of sneakers like Converse Chuck Taylor’s and Nike Air Max’s. Everyone is taking cues from everyone else. The age of being precious about intellectual property is kind of over. Once you put out music and clothes or whatever, it really ceases to be yours anymore. It becomes part of the wider creative consciousness that everyone is plugging into. I fully embrace and celebrate my influences, this is the best way to celebrate art and push forward”.
The idea of being true to who you are, can often be a tough concept to grasp. Who are we, really? Do we even know ourselves? It would though, seem easier to be true to your passions. Follow your heart, and pick up the cliché badges as you go. But cynicism aside, Christopher Port does believe you need to be true to who you are; “Trust that there are people out there that will appreciate your work. There is a place for every type of music, and art, and the quickest way to find that place is to stay true and back yourself”.
You have to work hard and experience as much as you can. “I’ve been very lucky to be able to play lots of different types of music”, he said. “I started out playing jazz, then African music, Indian music, Brazilian music, I could go on. There are lots of different genres that are really inspiring. Don’t just stick to listening to the type of music that you make. Take influence from everywhere”.