Continuing to decimate dancefloors worldwide with his chest-rattling, pizza-tossing, crunkstep-laced beats, the 24-year-old Texan known as Crizzly continues to impress with his ability to work crowds into a heaving frenzy. With no fear of crossing genre lines and focused almost exclusively on making music that gets the heads moving, Crizzly has a sharp ear for what works on the dancefloor and an almost encyclopedic knowledge of music in all its forms.
With his love of hip-hop and dubstep forming the foundation of Crizz’s signature crunkstep vibe, there’s no denying that the scene seems to have finally caught up to the sound that Crizzly has been pushing since day one. With the Los Angeles crew still reeling from the destruction he brought to the Bassrush Thanksgiving takeover of the Exchange LA last week, we managed to squeeze in a quick chat with the young producer before he jets off to Brazil to drop a little thunder at EDC Brasil this weekend
I’m ready for it to just be so confusing that people just stop thinking in terms of genres. That’s a good thing that will hopefully just lead to people making music without worrying what kind of box it fits into.
We feel kind of bad that we kept you away from your family on Thanksgiving. What kind of dinner would you have had if you had stayed home?
Oh man, if I was back home, I’d definitely have had some turkey, cranberry sauce, more cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, more pumpkin pie, I really like stuffing. Ham’s really good, too. My grandfather used to work at Hormel, so he’s pretty good at cooking that sliced ham. Instead of pumpkin pie I had pizza pie.
What’s your usual pre-game ritual? Are there certain things you always do before a set to get yourself in the zone?
Man, there’s almost always not enough time to do anything ritualistic besides shower and then get to the venue before I miss my set. I guess sometimes I’ll do some push-ups, jumping jacks, suicides or whatever, just to get the heart rate up, because usually I’ve been sleeping all day on a plane.
Do you still get nervous before gigs?
Only if something’s going wrong. There’s not a whole lot that can go wrong but if something’s messing up or like just recently my MC Damaged Goods$ didn’t make it to EDC Orlando because his flight got in late. That made me nervous because I was like, ‘Oh wait, where’s my friend, where is he?’ I’m playing by myself in front of 20,000 people. That was one time I got nervous and it was weird because it hadn’t happened in a long time. I was like, ‘Wow, I’m actually nervous right now.’ It took me back. But other than that it’s pretty second nature at this point. It’s all muscle memory—just go and do it.
Do you ever get a chance to stop and reflect on how far you’ve come from those early days?
I did last week, actually, [when] I was driving through San Antonio. I played in my hometown at the same bar that I started at while I was still going to college, while I was still working at WalMart. I was driving down the highway and it was just like I used to go up and down that highway every day when I was growing up from like age 3 to age 20. I hadn’t been there in a while and it was really trippy to look on either side of the highway and be like, ‘Oh look, I remember that building.’ Everything’s still recognizable, all these little details that I remember picking up as a kid looking out the window.
What was it like growing up in Texas? For those of us looking in from the outside, it still seems like a scary place full of Republicans and cowboys.
There’s definitely a huge misconception of Texas. It’s not as bad as people think it is. I mean, it is Republican and some people wear cowboy hats but the cities are just like regular cities. I love just getting barbeque and hearing country music every now and then. I also like the traditions that go along with the place. Southern hospitality is a big thing and you could look at it like it’s a bad thing that people can carry guns or whatever, but at the same time there’s probably more people just down to be nice and open and from my experience that’s not that common to the rest of the world, so that’s something that I think of as being special to Texas.
How do you describe what you do to your family?
They know that I DJ and that’s about the extent of it. They’re not very musically inclined. I don’t even know how to describe my family or where to even start. My grandma listens to Frank Sinatra and my mom is like straight out of the middle of Mexico from a farm. I mean, she gets it, she knows how a DJ works but other than that, I don’t think they’d really understand if I explained it to them.
So you haven’t really gotten around to describing what crunkstep is to them then?
They know hip-hop, so I guess I could start there but that’s about the extent of their knowledge of dance music.
Speaking of crunkstep, is this something that’s been evolving for you as well?
I feel like it’s pretty much the same. I like experimenting with a lot of different things but I still play the same tracks that I made a while back and I still believe in those tracks. I have a lot of work in progress that is on crunkstep vibes and with my T.I. remix that I did, I felt like bringing back some more dubstep to that. There’s a lot of trap right now but the main root of crunkstep is dubstep-sounding, harder, fatter sounds. I’ve been trying to take it back to that style and writing a lot more like that while at the same time writing a lot more hip-hop. Crunkstep is still that sound I created in my bedroom a while back but I don’t know, right now I’m just making music. Having fun with it.
That kind of seems where we’re at on the larger scale of things; genre-lines are blurring and subgenres are popping up left and right. Where do you see us going from here?
I’m ready for it to just be so confusing that people just stop thinking in terms of genres in general. I think we’re really close to that as genres are getting really blurred and you almost can’t keep up with all these subgenres coming up. It’s all getting kind of mixed up right now and that’s a good thing that will hopefully just lead to people making music without worrying what kind of box it fits into.
Where do you see yourself headed from here?
I think one of my favorite things I’m working on is building a team around me. My roommates, all the people in Austin, all the local DJs, we kind of have a gang going together, #slicegang, and we’re all just trying to elevate each other and that’s just a fun project I’m working on. Just seeing all my homies succeed is really cool. Whenever I see other bass music artists at EDC or any other festival, we all run into each other and it feels like one big family. But then there’s my actual Texas family—I see them every week and that’s my legit hometown family. They definitely push me the most and inspire me and they’re just as creative as anyone else and that’s where I started. We’re all trying to make it.
What do you have to say to some 15-year-old kid out there who’s just starting to mess with beats? What kind of advice can you give them?
Just do what you love, that’s all that matters. I think a lot of younger kids from this generation are used to seeing people on Facebook and Instagram posting how good they’re doing and that makes you jealous right off the bat. It’s kind of a negative thing to see people posting all the time about their successes as it puts people in a position of looking up to other people and wishing they were there. I never started doing this because I saw other people and went, ‘Oh, I want to be there.’ I just did it out of love and a lot of people lose sight of that. It’s a labor of love and you got to fall in love with the work and not where it’s going to take you. It’s about putting in and not expecting anything really.
Your next stop is EDC Brasil. What are you looking forward to checking out the most while you’re there?
I’ve never been there, actually. I’m just looking to play and see what the crowd’s like. Other than that I have no expectations. I’m really bad at traveling. I just usually hang out at the hotel. I’ll try different foods for sure—eating is something I’m definitely good at.
Any final shout-outs before we let you go?
Shout-out to Bassrush for being an awesome supporter of crunkstep all these years.
What about to all the crew that came to watch you throw down on Thanksgiving?
I can’t really find the words to say what I feel. I need like a GIF or some emoticons or something.
Just text it to me and I’ll figure out a way to get it in the final piece.
Okay, yeah. That’s a great idea.