Crizzly on How He Hates Subgenres, Doesn't Do Drugs, and Loves "Big Booty Bitchezz"

Christopher Lee Marshall admits he's been more than a little tired lately, which isn't surprising, considering the EDM artist's busy tour schedule. In the past year alone he's crisscrossed the country, toured with influential dubstep producer 12th Planet, and played some of the biggest festivals in North America - including Electric Daisy Carnival (natch) and Electric Forrest.

Tonight, the artist known as Crizzly will add Sound Wave to his ever-growing resume of festival appearances, as he's scheduled to perform on the Wakiki Beach stage at 7:30 p.m. He'll be sure to dial up the energy for his gig, Marshall admits, since he digs causing a big reaction from his crowds and feeding off their energy.

Marshall was plenty exhausted when Up on the Sun spoke with him by telephone earlier this week, which allowed him to be quite candid about his career, people's perceptions about him, and why he hates subgenres or doesn't do drugs.

You've only been DJing for four years or so. Is that why you consider yourself a work in progress? Yeah, because I feel like I'm learning how to produce every day. I learn something new all the time. I almost feel like I want to do something bigger as far as like maybe have a more live element or something. I always feel like there's something more to do. I mean, DJing its so simple [that] I don't really feel like I'm doing as much as my full potential.

How did you get into EDM? I'd say Daft Punk was the first thing that got me into it. I just listened to pop stuff on the radio and I liked the dancier stuff. I'd also say that Dim Mak Records, Steve Aoki's label, kinda helped out. He had a lot of indie rock bands that transitioned to dancier stuff while it was booming and I kinda transitioned with those bands and was following them as they turned their sound into a dancier type thing with remix albums. I think the Internet was my biggest influence, just being able to look up whatever I wanted was helpful.

How did you come up with crunkstep, which is a combination of crunk and hip-hop, correct? Yeah. I guess it started with a hip-hop remix that I did. I felt like that was the thing that went off in my sets the best, anything with like hip-hop because people could grab on to that super easily. I think the crunk element is the energy part, which is something that dubstep lacked a lot at the time whenever I was trying to create [crunkstep]. There wasn't much high-energy stuff and that's the sort of stuff that I really liked. I know I heard a couple of tracks here and there, but I'd rather play a whole set of just high-energy than one track, so I just decided to make a lot more jumpy, hyper stuff. And that's how it kinda came along.

How would you describe crunkstep to someone who's never heard it before? Let's see...without using drug references...

You can use drug references if you want. Nah, I don't use drugs, so I wouldn't know in the first place. It's like Lil Jon yelling in your ear while the stampede in Jumanji chasing you at the same time. Its a lot different things at once but mostly a lot of yelling, a lot of loud noises, chainsaws, stuff like that...pancakes. I like pancakes.

Why are you drug free? I really don't even know, to answer that question. No one really talks about it. I don't tell anyone...people ask me to smoke and I just no thanks or whatever. I don't think about it much. I would experiment eventually that's something that I'm looking forward to. But I'm not really doing anything right now, and I don't know why.

One of your more infamous tracks is "Big Booty Bitchezz." Do you, in fact, have a love for big-booty bitches? Oh, most definitely.

What's the best thing about 'em? Just everything, there's no one bad thing and there's a million good things. It's all encompassing. It's the fruit of life.

Any other subgenres you'd like to invent? Nah, I actually hate subgenres. I'd rather just call everything dubstep. Subgenres create a lot of arguments and that's never fun. I mean, I love creating new styles and new ideas and my friends do it too, since there's a lot of creative stuff going on in EDM. But I don't want to coin anything. I'm fine with what we've got so far. I think I can uses slashes or hyphens to pretty much describe anything now.

In previous interviews and videos, you've tended to have a certain attitude or hyperactive energy. You're a much more mellow right now, however. Is that intentional? Oh yeah, I've definitely been more mellow. I took a pretty hard hit at the beginning of the year and it's just affected me. Not a whole lot, but I'm definitely a lot more tired than I used to be. You gotta pace yourself, that's the thing. I'm just some dude, but I think a lot of people kinda build their own idea of what I am or who I am. They kinda just make up what I could be, cause its kinda hard to tell who somebody truly is with just text or whatever. A lot of people also think I'm black.

How come? Well, the hip-hop, mostly.

What misconceptions do people have about you? There's a million different things that people think I am. In reality, I'm really boring.

What was the hard hit you took at the beginning of the year? I had the 12th Planet tour and just doing a lot of one-offs and constantly flying and not really knowing how to pace myself. I mean, I still do pretty good, but man its just so hard. Right now, I didn't get to sleep last night. There's just so much to do. That's part of having a career. You know you have a career when you have more on your plate then you can handle. It's not like a job where you're waiting to get off for the day or wasting time. A career is about having goals and deadlines and all that stuff. There's just so much to do. I think what it just comes down to is that I just love sleep and don't get enough of it.

Why do you dig it so much if you've go so much to do? Waking up with energy. What hurts me the most is not having enough time to sleep and I still have to go do thing and play a gig. It adds up over time.

Is this your first time in Phoenix? No, I played previously for a rave with some friends earlier this year.

What do have planned for Sound Wave? I might get go some "Hot Cheetos & Takis" and throw 'em out because I like throwing it out during my sets. I kinda want to remix it, but I just mash it up into some other songs. I feel like a lot of people have heard it, but it confuses people who haven't. I always look forward to playing festivals because I think what I bring to the table is unique.

What do dig about playing music festivals like Sound Wave? I get excited about playing stuff that not everybody else is playing because when I go to festivals I hear a lot of dancey type stuff. I just love the reaction plus seeing people's faces when I drop their favorite hip-hop tune plus some heavy dirty bass because it makes them extra excited and they start dancing. It's also a good feeling when they don't know who I am and I leave a great impression.

Crizzly is scheduled to perform tonight during the Sound Wave Music Festival at Big Surf. Admission starts at $60.

Follow us on Twitter and friend us on Facebook

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.