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In Session: Chrissy

Chrissy delivers a rave-ready mix and talks to Ralph Moore about his new album 'Physical Release' on Hooversound

  • Words: Ralph Moore | Photography: Mariah Tiffany
  • 27 October 2021

“I’ve always had a weird relationship to albums,” states Chrissy when asked about his attitude to long players. But watching the reaction to Chrissy’s new music in action has been all shapes and sizes of fun. Now signed to Hooversound for his concept album ‘Physical Release’, inspired by physical spaces from clubs and record stores to lofts and living rooms, this singular LP has already caught the eyes and ears of tastemakers like Mary Anne Hobbs and of course SHERELLE and NAINA, who signed Chrissy Shively (formerly Chrissy Murderbot) to their nascent electronic imprint for its first full-length release. ‘Physical Release’ is a testament to his time in the trenches and also his encyclopaedic musical brain, and sounds like exploring a particularly large branch of Amoeba on a Sunday afternoon: firm, steady and full of quirks and surprises. His music explores not just different club spaces but also different eras of dance music; the joy of the best Chrissy tracks is they could have been made in 1991 or right now in 2021, and sometimes it’s hard to tell when one era ends and another begins. Just check the heart-warming and celebratory opener ‘Lost In A Dream’ as a taster of his manifesto: “I’ll always remember!”. Cuts like the ’92 breakbeat-inspired ‘All The True Ravers’ then push the feeling on.

Read this next: Get to know Chrissy, the living embodiment of a 'DJ's DJ'

Over in London last month for a recent promo trip and to perform at fabric and The Cause, Chrissy’s new music couldn’t have dropped at a better time: while here in Europe, he hopped into radio stations aplenty and caught up with friends like India Jordan and The Blessed Madonna for cups of tea and depleted rave sympathy. So as those club spaces finally start to open up, it’s time to see Chrissy’s musical manifesto in action across the land. As the artist himself says: “I really hope people will take the time to listen to the whole album start to finish.” That shouldn’t be a problem for anyone who takes the time to understand the album’s message, an exploration of what our scene’s physical spaces mean and how they feed into important themes of politics, connection and – most of all – to transmit joy.

Check out our Q&A alongside his exclusive In Session mix below.

How important was it for you to make an album at this point?

To be honest I’ve always had a weird relationship to albums; I prefer singles, and I really dislike when an album feels forced or thrown-together, so I don’t usually think in terms of “let’s make an album” unless I get an idea where the songs themselves feel like they should fit together as one piece or tell a larger story than a single or EP. Working through COVID, and thinking about the future direction of dance music and our scene, kind of started a bunch of ideas bubbling in my head that made more sense as an album, so it felt important to honour that. At the end of the day it’s functional club music, so my first objective is to make sure the tracks work on a dancefloor or in a DJ set, but I also really hope people will take the time to listen to the whole album start to finish as one piece.

What are your aims and ambitions for the current record? Was having vinyl important?

My aim is for as many people to hear this record as possible! So I don’t feel like vinyl itself is important per se, but having this album available to everybody is what’s important to me, and records are part of that. I want it on vinyl, digital, streaming, etc., online and in brick-and-mortar stores, so that as many people as possible can have easy access to it in their preferred format and actually hear the album. And of course I love how vinyl harkens back to the history of dance music, and the way vinyl allows you to do cool things with the art and packaging (this album has a reeeeally cool gatefold sleeve by an artist I really adore).

Read this next: The vinyl straw: Why the vinyl industry is at breaking point

Tell us about your record collection: when did you first start buying music? Did someone influence your early music adventures growing up?

I grew up in a family where music was really important. My mom and my older sister were both showing me all kinds of cool stuff from a very young age. I got my first CD when I was five or so, and by about nine or 10 I started falling in love with dance music, actively seeking out new music, and thinking about becoming a DJ or making tunes. This was in Wichita, Kansas, so there really weren’t a lot of places to find that music — I was pretty much limited to things on Top 40 house hits like Deee-Lite or Crystal Waters, and things on mix tapes I’d snag from my big sister...

Tell us about a formative party you went to before the age of 21.

I started going to raves when I was about 13, and I remember the first party I went to was in a corrugated tin shed on farmland about 10 miles outside of Lawrence, Kansas (the college town where famed Beat poet William S. Burroughs lived). Dubtribe Sound System and Doc Martin were playing, and just being able to hear dance music with a soundsystem and a dancefloor (or anywhere other than my Walkman) was a revelation. The tin shed was a punk venue for a long time, and I believe it’s a strip club now...

Read this next: Downtime: Chrissy's slowed-down mix

How does Europe’s club landscape look all the way from the US?

By and large the audiences are bigger in Europe—I’ve always wished the states took the same interest in dance music that Europe does. But the US and Europe are both too big and multifaceted to make generalizations beyond that. I could go on about how the Midwest creates the best DJs, or the UK is always inventing fascinating new subgenres, or Germany does the best multi-day marathon parties, but even those generalizations are half-truths, with a million exceptions and counter-examples. I will say that I love playing in Europe, and I am really excited and hopeful to be able to come back more often.

What first drew you to Hooversound, and when did you see/hear Sherelle for the first time?

I first met Sherelle about four years ago—she reached out and asked me to do a guest mix for Reprezent Radio, and I thought she seemed like an exciting new talent so I kept watching as she gained traction. A little after that we met in person at Rye Wax in London and hit it off, and I’ve just been really impressed by the amount she has accomplished in the intervening years. So of course when Hooversound kicked off with a release co-written by Sinistarr (a really good friend and fellow Midwesterner), I knew it was going to be quality. I love that the label has a clear identity but is still willing to branch out and experiment with different sounds and styles. I was thrilled when Sherelle and Naina agreed to sign the album, and I couldn’t be happier to be working with them.

Do you genuinely feel different as we come out of all of this? If so - how and what’s changed?

It’s still too early to tell! I think we all had a lot of big hopes for how COVID might restructure the industry, or cause us to re-evaluate some of our priorities as a culture, and some of those sadly haven’t come to fruition. But I think the extended break has definitely made me more appreciative of parties, and my friends, and being fortunate enough to play music on soundsystems for other people.

Read this next: Between Two Coasts: Underground club music is thriving in America's heartland

Can you tell us what the support of The Blessed Madonna and Sherelle means to you as an artist and DJ?

Honestly, the support of anybody means the world to me. Getting played by big-name DJs on BBC is really exciting, and I’m thankful for the added visibility that comes with something like that, but I get the same thrilwhatl if I get a message on Bandcamp from a brand-new DJ who felt inspired by my music, or when I see a track of mine got played on a tiny independent radio station in Montana. Like I said before, I want this music to be accessible to everybody, and I still feel really honoured and lucky whenever anybody gets behind I’m doing or speaks out in support of my music.

The LP is focused around the scene’s physical spaces: why was this so important as a theme and topic especially?

Because I really missed them! And honestly, I just feel like physical spaces are so important to dance music...when you think about it, a lot of dance music culture is really a conversation about how music and bodies and physical spaces interact. When you try to explain this culture and lifestyle to friends who aren’t familiar with it, you almost can’t do it without talking about the spaces it happens in—clubs, warehouses, record shops...the music has evolved as this functional thing, made to be heard and enjoyed communally in specific kinds of physical spaces, and I wanted to make an album that examined that notion and honoured it.

Read this next: Why Minnesota's DJ mix culture is up there with the best

Can you tell us a little bit about what brought you to the artist who designed the incredible LP artwork and their own story?

I was introduced to Edie Fake’s work through a mutual friend (Mairead Case, who is a totally inspiring author and teacher), and was really drawn to Edie’s book Memory Palaces, which is a set of gorgeous drawings of long-defunct Chicago gay bars and queer nightlife spaces. I fell into a wormhole of looking through his past work, and actually sampled a couple snippets of speeches he gave on the album, so I felt like he was the obvious choice to reach out to for the artwork. The gatefold jacket turned out gorgeous, and I’m really excited for everybody to see it!

Chrissy’s album 'Physical Release' is out now via Hooversound, get it here

Ralph Moore is Mixmag's Music Director, follow him on Twitter

Tracklist:
Chrissy - Feel The Spirit Move You [Hooversound Recordings]
Pascale Project - Tonight My Dance [La Rama]
Yen Sung & Photonz - Grapevine [Alphabet Street]
Shy Rose - You Are My Desire (Remix Edit) [Fantasy International]
Strike - U Sure Do (Guest List Edit) [Fresh]
Maydie Myles - You Got Me Forever (Club Asylum Classic Vocal) [K4B Records]
Patrick Lindsey - Prepare To Jam [Harthouse]
Paul & Shark - T-800 Type Beat [Free Time Discs]
Chrissy - Fantasy Pt. 2 (Bolt Cutters & A Jenny) [Hooversound Recordings]
Hollis P Monroe - I'm Lonely (Edit) [Stickman Records]
Gadjo - So Many Times (Big Ang Remix) [unreleased]
Wendy - Fantasy Wonderland [Jumpin & Pumpin']
Sonz Of A Loop Da Loop Era - Peace & Lovism [Suburban Base]
Acen - Trip 2 The Moon Part III (Kaleidoscopiklimax) [Production House]
DJ Heartstring - Lost In Emotion [1Ø Pills Mate]
DJ Nasty - Sounds Of The City [Motor City Electro Company]
DJ Deeon - Go Bangg
Womina Wells - Get Up, Get Your Shit, & Get Out (DJ Bam Bam's Bomg Remix) [Abstract Music]
DJ Funk - Work That MF [Dance Mania]
Juketastrafe - Work Baby [unreleased]
Chrissy - Take Me Away (Again) [Hooversound Recordings]
DJ Jedi - Artificial Intelligence [Jedi Recordings]
Naughty Naughty Vol. 1 - I Need Your Lovin' [white label]
Noise Factory - Set Me Free (Drama1 Remix) [Kemet Records]

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