Cristoph Is Never Going to Stop Reaching for the Top
It’s easy to feel motivated after that first jolting cup of morning coffee. But even when the caffeine starts to wear off, Cristoph never succumbs to the crash. The thriving Newcastle producer always seems to have the same drive and determination to take on the entire world. No matter how many props he gets for his productions—which have landed on Knee Deep in Sound, Suara, Truesoul, and more—none of it ever goes to his head. He’s far too busy trying to find new ways to better his craft and take things to the next level.
He’s in the middle of helping Hot Since 82 roll out the inaugural 8-Track, the brand-new label series aiming to explore each artist’s sound through eight offerings. It’s Cristoph’s first attempt at constructing a proper album, and it plays out much the same way he assembles his sets. A journeyman at heart, he’s far more interested in fabricating sonic stories than simply getting heads to move around mindlessly. It’s a trait he’s demonstrated from day one, and the very reason the underground can’t seem to get enough. Yet, in his mind’s eye, there is no such thing as enough.
Nocturnal Wonderland is being given a shot at seeing what he’s got, when Cristoph crashes the party next month. The thought of him going in has been getting us fully stoaked, which is why we decided to poke inside his head a bit before it happens.
You’ve been tapped to help Hot Since 82 launch his new label series, 8-Track. It must be quite the honor.
As soon as they came and asked, it was a massive moment. It was something I was immediately invested in doing and really wanted to be a part of. I’m a big fan of Hot Since 82, I’m a big fan of Knee Deep in Sound, so this project made sense to me—and I’ve always wanted to write an album. So, this was kind of my first insight to writing an album instead of writing just EPs or singles, and to get the structure of how you sit there and think of tracks in a different form.
What was that transition like?
It was a long, thought-out process. If I was to write a full studio album, I would have tracks in there that were maybe three minutes long—just pure synths, some sort of atmospheric sounds, and things where there are no drums. It’d be more like a proper album, and this one was something in between. It’s still a bit dancefloor-friendly, but also verges on the kind of more relaxed side of electronic music—something for the after-party, in certain senses. The whole idea behind it was to structure a set and then write a track for each part of that set. My sets are about going on a journey: starting a bit deeper, a bit slower, and picking up, and then ending on some euphoric track.
“The industry is the only thing I’ve ever known; it’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do.”
Hot has been an artist you’ve mentioned in the past as an artist you really look up to. How does it feel to have someone of his stature signing off on your work?
It’s really surreal, mate. Daley supported me from the start. I made a track a couple of years ago called “Guffaz,” and I just took the risk of tweeting him, and he must’ve had his phone in his hand, because he responded to the tweet and said to send it over. Within minutes, he emailed back and was like, “I love the track; send me everything you do,” and gave us his personal email address, and we spoke ever since. When I’ve seen that he was setting up his own label, it was another goal that I set for myself, another target, and I said, “I want to be on that label within the next year.” I think I was on it within a couple of months with the “Let It Go” release. He’s become a very good friend as well... I’ve got massive respect for him in like all aspects of life—not just within the music industry. He’s a really nice guy. He’s really helped nurture me through, and been very supportive, and given me some very good advice when I’ve needed it, as well.
It seems like your relationship came into place fairly easily. When you were originally trying to get on Defected, you were really chasing it, in the sense that you were going to all these Defected parties and endless networking.
I really do think the support from Hot Since 82 has helped get money in my bounce. A lot of people support them on live sets, which is always good. People see the track list and come through, and they start speaking. It’s crazy how it starts spiraling and snowballing, and I do kind of—not so much chase things—but I do like to get myself around parties, and especially at those where I’ve caught a DJ’s support in one of my tracks. I do try and create an opportunity to meet the DJ, if he’s playing somewhere, to try and organize to get backstage to meet the DJ, so they can put a face to the record. I think it goes quite a long way, because you’ll often find that they’ll start following you on the likes of Twitter, and then they’ll inbox you, asking if you’ve got anything for them to play. Before you know you it, you’ve got the likes of Joseph Capriati supporting your tracks, and people like that.
Do you think that hungry drive to put your name out there is something that's required only at the start of your career, or does it never really end?
I don’t think I would ever stop. At the end of the day, you’ve got a chance to go meet guys who are your heroes, who you’ve looked up to ever since you’ve been a little boy—well, that's the case for me, anyway. I never want to stop trying to improve and develop as an artist, as a DJ, as a producer—everything. I mean, the industry is the only thing I’ve ever known; it’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. So, going out and meeting DJs is the perk of it all, but I’m also going clubbing, which I’ve always loved doing, so it’s kind of like you're having fun while you're working, anyway. It’s something that I’ll always do.
What are some of the best memories to come out of these work and play scenarios?
I remember I was in Ibiza at Sankeys a couple of years ago with one of my good friends. It was just when “Guffaz” was coming out on DFTD, and we stood there, and Steve Lawler dropped it. I’ll always remember that reaction the track got. But some of the festivals you get booked at, you get the chance to go and see some amazing artists... Hot Since 82 is an artist who I would definitely go and pay to see no matter what, so being able to stand behind the decks and watch and DJ, or go out into the crowd and listen—it’s all a dream come true. I’ve got upcoming gigs with Eric Prydz, who’s another one who is a hero of mine. I’ll probably spend the three hours that he’s playing in the crowd on the dancefloor, because that’s where I want to be.
Do you think artists these days tend to distance themselves from the crowd, removing themselves from the chance of experiencing the music as a fan?
I don’t think any of them choose to do it. I do appreciate how tired they actually get, the traveling that some of them go through. I remember I spoke to Kenny Dope a couple of years ago, when I met him at a Defected show, and he was saying that he gets paid for traveling rather than DJing, because he commutes from America around the world every weekend. I think it’s starting to take its toll, like how many different time zones he’s in and out of within a week. So, maybe some of them choose not to go on the dancefloor, because they want to catch up on some sleep, or maybe they want to sit backstage and talk business. I would imagine they’ve all got their personal reasons why they’re not there. Maybe some are out there, and you don’t actually know that they’re on the dancefloor; they don’t make themselves known, or just stand in the corner and enjoy the music that way.
Going back to the beginning, your father and brother were the ones who originally showed you the way of the DJ. When did you surpass their skills, even with their head-start?
My dad was more of a Motown and Northern soul DJ, so he didn’t exactly mix and such. He more introduced records over the microphone. He would always say to me, “Use the microphone.” It's a different style of DJ, but still classed as a DJ. It was always a fun bond that my dad and me had.
As for my brother, he was an excellent DJ... He’s a good 9 years older than me, but he just enjoyed the party side of things too much. He wanted to go out and drink and party with his friends, instead of sitting in and practicing and learning, and things like that. He made his choice, but I think I’ve done them both proud. That’s all I want to do: just make my family proud.
I’m sure they are quite proud. Have you taken the time to realize your own success?
It's all sort of surreal... It’s nothing I step back and look at. I’ve got targets that I want to meet—I’ve got goals I want to reach in life—and maybe if I ever reach them all, I can then sit back and have a look at things. But at this moment, I don't take time out to realize where I’m at. It’s still a long way to go to where I actually want to be.
What goals are you keeping in front of yourself?
My idea is eventually to start running my own parties, and that’s actually starting this year. I’m doing one on Boxing Day in Newcastle, and then [I’ll] start to branch out from there. That’ll be maybe a twice-a-year party or something like that, where it’ll start off with me playing all night on my own and then branch out into me booking guests, and things like that. The aim is to make the party go worldwide, rather than it just being in the UK or in Europe.
Beyond that, I want my own record label. I know exactly what sound I want to be on the label, what markets I want to aim at... I want to be in the melodic progressive side—the nice, darker elements of techno—something which appeals to more of a crowd worldwide, rather than just in one area in the world. I mean, there’s a lot of great tech house out there, but it’s more aimed at the UK crowd than anywhere else. Once you start playing around the world, you’ll see there’s a bigger market out there than just that side. That’s why I’ve tried to go more melodic with my productions.
As for a DJ, I’ve just got to keep on getting on the right people’s lips, on the right lineups, alongside the right DJs, and hopefully promoters will start booking me from there as a headlining act. Just continue to climb the ladder. Them are the three main goals I’ve got at this moment.
Are you holding yourself to a certain standard of success?
I just want to be as successful as I can be, mate. I leave that up to God. I would imagine I just want to try my hardest, so I don't have any regrets. I don't want to look back on my life and think I could’ve done something different, I could’ve done something more. I want to cover all bases, so when I look back, I’ve done everything that I could to get to where I want to be, to get to the top, to be constantly touring around the world, to be doing sell-out shows and host my own stages at festivals, and things like that.
I always like to give myself targets. It keeps me active, it keeps me determined, it gives me drive and passion. I’ve always been that way in life. I don’t see the point in just settling for anything. If the top can be reached out, might as well aim for it. And if you don’t make it, at least you know you gave it your best shot.
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