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On The Trot

4 June 2012 | 10:03 am | Cyclone Wehner

Crissy Criss admits he's been waiting years for drum'n'bass to be popular.

Thomas Bangalter's father produced disco. Sebastian Ingrosso's papa founded an early Swedish techno label. And rising Brit DJ/producer Crissy Criss, aka Chris Williamson, was introduced to turntable culture – and drum'n'bass – by his step-dad, Kenny Ken (Ken Delsol), as a lad of five. Does Williamson, 25, still seek the jungle pioneer's advice today, or does he advise him? “A bit of both, I think!” the Londoner laughs. “I've learnt a lot [from him]. I used to go out to his gigs before I was even legally allowed in clubs and obviously explored the vinyl archives and taught myself the history of the music I'm just so crazy about.” 

Before long, Williamson was pursuing the same vocation. At around 10 years-old, he DJed in Delsol's place at a festival, then played his first club set at The End (at DJ Zinc's request). He started his radio career at 11 on the pirate Kool FM. Williamson soon came to the BBC's attention. He now hosts D&B M1X on the urban digital station BBC Radio 1Xtra. “It sort of just happened,” Williamson says of his profession. “Even since school times, when I was just sitting in class, I would be thinking about mixing or making tunes, thinking of melodies and beats, then writing them down in sequencer-style in my school books for me to remember and test out when I got home. My real Dad used to be a champion jockey in the '80s and '90s, so I've always liked horses, but [racing is] just not for me. [It's] too dangerous! DJing and music: there were really no other options or anything I would consider. It was that or nothing for me, so I had to make it work.”

Williamson's first EP (Crunch/Playing On The Motorway) surfaced on Back 2 Basics in 2004. He cut an album, Give You The World, with Youngman MC (son of Simon “Bassline” Smith) two years ago. Williamson is currently developing a label – a family concern. “I've just launched TheZooooRecords with my cousin NSD. The first release will be coming at the end of June or early July with the BlueScreens from France – great producers – and [it] is a banger! So watch out for more bass music being released on TheZoooo. I have a lot of work to do on it, but at least I can put out the stuff I've always wanted to put out now.”

On his radio program, Williamson covers the spectrum of contemporary drum'n'bass, including tracks he wouldn't necessarily play out. He considers himself an edutainer, teaching young listeners the history of the music. However, Williamson is also open to the upstart genre of dubstep. Ironically, the dubstep explosion has led to a drum'n'bass resurgence, with that pop megastar Tinie Tempah mining it on Pass Out. “I like it all – I don't care what anyone says, it's helped a lot,” a passionate Williamson says of the 'bass music' phenom. “Dubstep has given drum'n'bass an extra boost, and I've seen it worldwide. It's great that drum'n'bass and dubstep are getting number ones. We have been waiting years for something like this to happen, and now it's happening. Drum'n'bass is the most independent and underground music there is – and always will be. Artists who make drum'n'bass have the power to make number ones and then still make a filthy banger the next day. Drum'n'bass is like no other genre. It's special.”

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Williamson is looking forward to revisiting Australia, where he played Shape in Perth last year. “Australia was great the first time I came. [I have] a lot of good memories, the cities are beautiful, and [there are] lots of beautiful people, especially women. I'll probably end up marrying one. So ladies, if you could kindly complete the girlfriend application and hand it in, that would be great! Oh, yeah, the gigs – the gigs were sick. I can't wait to get back over. Hopefully, I've made some more Australian fans to make the upcoming gigs even more sick.”