Published Dec 03, 2018Having been in the game for 20 years, Chrissy Shively (or Chrissy Murderbot or often just Chrissy) has mastered a wealth of styles. He's released ghetto house on Sleazetone Records, delivered drum & bass via Mashit, and brought footwork to Planet Mu when most people outside of Chicago were still completely unaware of the genre.
Through his My Year of Mixtapes blog, which he ran until 2011, Chrissy solidified himself as an authority on vastly varying styles of electronic music. The idea behind the blog was to make one mix every week for a year, and not only did he succeed in tackling styles as disparate as happy hardcore, new jack swing, and NY garage, he also provided an in-depth history on every genre too. His knowledge is nothing short of encyclopaedic, but it all started in the discount bin.
"I grew up without a lot of money," Chrissy tells Exclaim!. "I remember going to the record store, there'd be all these new releases and maybe I could afford to buy one of them. But then there'd be the bin of records that were a dollar, and well, I could buy a bunch of those. So the records nobody else wanted became my obsession. And that's a really good way to learn about all of the genres of dance music that aren't necessarily fashionable in a certain place and time.
"Back then, I found so much freestyle, Italo disco, old electro and a lot of disco from Montreal — all of these genres that were kind of forgotten about at the time, that you could just pick up for a song. Those budgetary constraints pushed me away from new music and into learning about its roots instead."
With Chrissy's recent album, Resilience, it's the roots of dance music that are front and centre. Throughout the record's 12 tracks, the forgotten tropes of early rave music are explored in depth. Seminal Chicago house flows into '90s acid, which is soon followed by old school jungle. It's a veritable sonic time machine, going back some 25 years, but one that Chrissy thinks is fitting for the current musical landscape.
"I feel like it's a sound that people are ready for again. Right now feels more like the early '90s than any point since — just in terms of how racist, right-wing, paranoid and depressing the political scene is in the United States, UK and in Europe. There's a lot of parallels to the George H.W. Bush and Margaret Thatcher era. I think we're seeing a lot of the same rhetoric, only amped up.
"These were all the battles that we saw ourselves fighting as rave kids, and I thought that even though that movement died, in the long run, those cultural values won out, but it seems like we're having to fight for them all over again," he continues. "I see dance music as becoming political again, and moving back toward fighting some of those fights, which I think is really exciting. A year ago, if I played some rave tracks in a set, I'd get some weird looks from people, but now I notice audiences are on board and ready for it."
When jungle had its revival in the '00s, Chrissy was armed and ready with a slew of 160 BPM tracks; he was well into the juke scene before it gained international traction in 2010; and now he's saying that rave music is poised for a comeback. We'd do best to listen up.
Resilience is out now on Chiwax.