UK DJ, producer and BBC Radio presenter Chris Williamson, aka Crissy Cris, is back in town to wow local drum ‘n’ bass heads with another one of his acclaimed three hour sets. He speaks with JOSHUA HAYES about the upcoming show, his DeadExit dubstep project and being raised by legendary junglist DJ Kenny Ken.
Williamson’s last Perth show, at Amplifier in June 2012, was not only memorable for local punters, but also for him, as it was one of his first live three hour sets. “It was definitely one to remember. I kept telling all my people back home it was one of the best sets I’d probably played,” he says.
“I had to get dragged off to stop playing. I had a counter on my iPad, and I thought ‘Right, I’ll have it there so I know how long I’ve got left, I know how to play, what I can fit in’. And then that went out the window because the battery died, so after twenty minutes I didn’t know what the time was, and then, literally, someone said ‘You’ve got to play one more”, and I’m like ‘What? Is that three hours?’… Obviously time flies when you’re having fun.”
Williamson will be playing another three hour set this weekend at Villa, joined onstage by MC Felon. He says that he’ll be playing brand new material from Prolix, Ram Records and Rene La Vice, as well as many tracks from unsigned artists, who now make up a large part of his playlist. “It’s good for them, it’s good for me, because I’ve got brand new music and no one knows who it is,” he says.
With three hours to play with, he’ll also be going through the classics. “During the week [I was] going through some old Dillinja stuff that I’ve been pulling out, which really got me excited, actually, because I totally forgot about some of these tracks,” he says. “[The set will be] like a story, basically; we can go up, we can go down, we can go left, right. It’s gonna be everywhere man.”
Williamson grew up surrounded by drum ‘n’ bass, having been raised by his stepdad, DJ Kenny Ken. “If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be a DJ. I don’t know what the hell I would be,” he says.
“When I was really young, I didn’t know what Kenny did, I just knew he had a room with lots of records, a computer, and a mixing desk, and he just plays the loop all fucking day long and it’s annoying; it’s right next to my bedroom, it’s all I know,” Williamson recalls. “When he’d go out, I’d jump in and try to pretend like I’m him and press all these faders and put a record on, so that’s sort of how I got into it, and then he’d come back the next day and his needles would be broken and I’d be the number one suspect.”
Williamson was shown the basics of mixing at a young age, and by 12 was hosting his own show on pirate radio station Kool FM. At 13, he played his first gig abroad, in Mannheim, Germany, and international gigs became a semi-regular occurrence while he was in high school. “Sometimes I’d have a Monday off [school] because I didn’t get back til Monday morning from being abroad, and my friends would be like ‘Where have you been?’. ‘Oh, I’ve just been on tour in Canada’. ‘Oh whatever Chris, you’re talking shit mate’,” he recalls.
He also began dabbling in production as a teenager, and released his first album, Give You The World, with Youngman in 2010. Although his life had been devoted to drum ‘n’ bass, Williamson also produced dubstep tracks that attracted the interest of the genre’s kings and led to his new side project, DeadExit.
“A lot of guys like Skream and Chase & Status and Benga were playing my tunes, which I thought wasn’t really worthy, but they seemed to like it,” he says. “It sort of got to a point where I started doing dubstep gigs, and a lot of people were turning up to see me play drum ‘n’ bass, and vice versa… [Now] all drum ‘n’ bass is Crissy Criss and all the dubstep is DeadExit. It makes it easier then, people know what to expect.”
Williamson formed DeadExit in November 2012, along with fellow DJs Craig Lee and Sammy P, and the group have quickly gained a strong fan base. “We’ve signed some tracks to a label, but I can’t say which label yet. There’s about four tracks which are really, really good, man. All sorts of different ones, something for everyone,” he says.
Williamson has also been busy working on remixes for the likes of Drum Sound and Bassline Smith and Tantrum Desire, in between working on a new Crissy Criss album. “With all the new people coming out and breaking through, I’m just listening to how the music is changing and what’s out there, to give me an idea of what I can add and what I can take away,” he says. “I’m just taking my time with that at the moment.”