A debut solo album, a brand new label and a documentary series on matters such as mental heath and tinnitus are all expected to drop from Crissy Criss HQ in the coming months as part of his new project; War On Silence.
The 20+ track album will be teased out of a series of weeks, musically it spans from dance floor smashers to amen rollers! and will include collaborations with Teddy Killerz, Heist, FuntCase, Foor, Malux & Erb N Dub. Off the back of two of heavyweight remixes for TC and The Prototypes it features the ex-Radio1 DJ’s first solo productions since his Technique releases in early 2015.
Kicking it off with a track called AirLock featuring Malux & Erb N Dub then a massive US tour, when Crissy says war, he means war. We called him up to discuss battle plans…
Tell us about your debut album…
It’s called War On Silence. When I heard that phrase it made total sense to me, just hearing that gave me so many ideas, It gave me a massive kick up the arse. I had the fee88ling like ‘yeah that’s going to be the name of my album!’ and i wasn’t even thinking of making an album at the time but that started it all.
Where did you hear the phrase?
Me and my label partner were throwing around ideas for a name for something. I was like ‘wow that’s deep’. It meant so much to me as I’m always having problems finishing music and on a wider vibe it means no more silence about anything. We shouldn’t feel scared to talk about any problems we have. It means a lot to me and it’s got energy to it. It’s a statement that drives me.
It gives you parameters
Yeah, like what can be built out of it. It was the name of my album and became the name of the label pretty soon after. Myself and my good friend Josh Perrett who is somewhat of Instagram celebrity photographer are working on making short documentaries within the context of War Of Silence such as mental health and the effect of tinnitus on people in the scene and people not speaking out.
We’re moving in the right direction with matters like mental illness though aren’t we?
We are. A lot more people are being open and helping other people and spreading the message that it’s important to talk. People were too scared to talk about it. Including myself and my own anxiety. When I finished my show on Radio 1 I had a lot of messages from people, many who’d said my show had been helpful to them while they were going through some really tough times and suffering mental illness. So even back then I was starting to think we need to reach out and help each other more. Drum & bass is supposed to be a big family, right? I think we’re on the right path for sure. We’ve made great progress with more artists feeling they can talk about it and interviews like ones you guys have run yourselves.
Was departing from Radio 1 the cause of your own anxiety?
Well, being on Radio 1 was a huge part of my life. I started when I was 18 and left when I was 28. That was a hugely important chunk of my life.
You went as a boy and left as a man
I said that to Ben Cooper and Rhys Hughes when we had our final meeting! And yeah that caused a bit of anxiety for sure. But the main thing was that I was exposed, and still am as a DJ, to so much amazing music. It’s hard to make music when you’re sent so much and you realise how many ideas have been done. Trying to make something I felt was original started to become impossible for me. I don’t want to copy anything and that becomes a serious mindfuck. I know this is the case for so many artists too.
A lot of artists say they don’t listen to D&B when they’re making their album as they don’t want to be influenced by what’s happening around them
Yeah that’s why you don’t hear from certain artists for a while. They’re shutting themselves away and trying to write an album!
Did you shut yourself away?
Yeah I did by accident. I was so busy writing music, setting up the label, DJing and general life stuff that I did go quiet, certainly online – social media is just another job title in this game. But that was because I didn’t have time and forgot about the social media stuff you have to do to keep people engaged and up to date. But I didn’t shut myself away on purpose. I just had my head down!
You mentioned an album when we last spoke. How much of the album as it is now still exists from then?
In terms of ideas I’d say maybe half of the album was written around then, or the very basics of them. But I just didn’t feel I could finish it at all and just hated it. Then time went by and I kept coming back at it with different ideas and loads of different versions before things really picked up at the start of this year. I have a track called ‘Breathe’ which had my ex Radio1 producer Dan Moss singing on it. That’s survived from that time but it’s been through 30 different versions. Not even mixdowns but total rewrites. Four years after we first sat down to do the tune, it’s finally there!
What can we expect from the album musically then?
Firstly there’s a lot of tunes. I wanted to break the rules and everyone was like ‘keep it to 11 tracks’ or keep it to one style but I wanted the album to feel more like a mix with all sorts of flavours. I play 60-70 odd tracks an hour when I mix. Tunes of all different styles. So I wanted to reflect that with my album’s range. There’s the harder stuff, liquid, there’s a bassline track on there.
You were making bassline and garage on the sly right?
Yeah I’ve been outed now but it was a pretty well kept secret. Est1987. A bootleg got picked up and became too successful, it got plays on daytime Radio 1 and eventually the alias was uncovered… By me!
I sent the music out under my name and not my alias but when I did I realised how many DJs were playing the tracks. So yeah I got a bassline track from that on the album. The title track on the album also features Teddy Killerz, which is banging I must say haha. I’ve got a collaboration with ‘cant say right now’, as he’s being long with sending the stems back over for me to finish it! If you’re reading this you know who you are! Haha. I’ve got Inja on there, Funtcase, Heist, WideAwake, tracks with Malux and Erb N Dub, a couple other tracks with two really exciting producers who have been coming through ranks lately, which need to be finished. It’s packed full of flavours!
Great! So how does this roll out?
It’s going to launch with a track every few weeks from the album. I want to make the release last the test of time. I see so many amazing albums come out but people forget they’ve been made within weeks. It’s so frustrating and sad to see. I don’t want to long things out but at the same time I want to put value and time into the tracks.
Longevity. This music has so much time invested into it by the artist, it’s a shame when tracks just blow up and fade away
Absolutely. And the tracks build up to the end result. There’s the documentaries we’re working on, videos and touring and all kinds of things. It’s not going to be like the ‘announcement, video, release, bang there you go’ within a few weeks, it’s going to build over time with mini feature movies and different ways of promoting releases. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
Nice. So what’s next?
A lot of traveling and promo planning! I’ve just joined Primary Talent to take control of my gig diary so I feel more relaxed and ready to focus on the music which will start to emerge very soon.
The documentaries are also taking shape. I’ve had so much interest and so many messages from a post I put on Facebook asking for people to get involved. They’ve been very moving and overwhelming so I’ve been taking my time to get back to them individually. Some of them will be in the documentary, mental illness isn’t about DJs. It affects us all. But first the music, which starts with Airlock with myself, Malux and Erb N Dub. We made it a few years ago and have been playing it every set so it’s a great way to kick things off.
Catch him on tour in the US this month….