If you’ve caught the attention of legendary DJ/producer Eric Prydz, your name has also sent some extra ripples throughout the greater electronic scene. And these days, that certainly seems to be the case with Cristoph, the emerging prog-house talent from the north of England.
After delivering an opening set during Prydz’s massive EPIC 5.0 performance in London this past summer, the Newcastle-based DJ/producer dropped “Feel” (feat. Jem Cooke), as the debut track on the Swedish icon’s new imprint, Pryda Presents. Then, Cristoph followed up with “EPOCH,” a tight, tingly groover best suited for afterhours.
He’s no overnight sensation, however, as Cristoph (aka C.J. Costigan) has been releasing material since 2013 on revered European labels like Defected, Noir and Bedrock. Nonetheless, his recent alliance with Prydz has thrust the spotlight on him to some degree – he’s certainly not complaining. After all, as Cristoph readily admits, Prydz is his “musical idol.”
So, as Cristoph prepped upcoming dates during Miami Music Week (Soho House with Prydz’ alias Cirez D and Adam Beyer), at Arizona’s Phoenix Lights Festival and England’s We Are FSTVL, he connected with DJ Times.
DJ Times: When were you first introduced to the world of electronic music?
Cristoph: Growing up, I was exposed to music at a very young age. My dad was a DJ and was constantly playing music in the house, as was my mom, brother and sister. However, it was the Detroit techno and Chicago house coming from my brother’s Technics 1210s that really caught my attention. As I grew a little older, I found myself really getting into progressive house, trance melodies and ’80s music – and my passion really started to grow from there.
DJ Times: What is it that made you fall in love with the underground-house scene?
Cristoph: Although I listened to sets of my brother DJing, compilation CDs, etc., I never actually knew what the scene was like. That all changed first when I came across a channel on Sky [U.K. television], which used to air parts of club nights like Slinky and from venues around the U.K. Granted, the music was a bit harder than what I mainly enjoyed, but to see the DJs create that sort of euphoria had me hooked. At the age of 15 and 16, my brother and sister used to sneak me in to a night at home called Shindig. It was here I fully got to witness and experience what the scene was fully about. It was those nights which cemented in my mind that all I wanted to be was a DJ.
DJ Times: How did you first connect with Eric Prydz?
Cristoph: I first connected with Eric in December 2016. I was handed the opportunity to open for him at Sound in Los Angeles. I jumped at the chance, even though I was cancelling a flight home to the U.K. from Chicago, paying to fly and stay in L.A., and a new flight home to Newcastle. I thought to myself I may never get the chance to play alongside my musical idol again, so it would be an experience I could keep me with me forever. I had noticed he had supported my track “Catsy” on his EPIC radio show a week or two earlier, so I decided to play it as my last record to try and draw him in to a conversation.
DJ Times: Did it work?
Cristoph: Luckily enough, it did exactly that and before the night was over, his team had asked me to join them at EPIC 5 and numerous other shows to play alongside Eric. From here, it developed into Eric texting me, asking for music to play out, and then him signing tracks for Pryda Presents, and his manger signing me up to be part of the team. It all happened so quick and has been such a surreal experience, but one I am truly grateful for.
DJ Times: What was it like opening for Eric at his EPIC 5.0?
Cristoph: Both completely daunting and extremely surreal. I originally had a ticket to go, then after the L.A. show that I mentioned before, his team said if I was to go then, to chill backstage with them. This soon changed to them asking me to play. It was an absolute honor for me to play that show, something I will never forget, and also for me to be able to see the show after really was a dream come true.
DJ Times: What came first for Cristoph – DJing or production?
Cristoph: DJing, for sure. I have only been producing about five years or so now. I realized it was something I needed to learn in order to reach my goals and follow my dreams.
DJ Times: What’s your production process?
Cristoph: I literally just go into the studio and write what I’m feeling that day. It’s in a spare room in my house, so I have the luxury of jumping in there whenever I get an idea. If I’m touring I will start penciling ideas down on my laptop and then finish them up when I return home. I try to average two to four tracks a month. It was more a while back but I’m trying to make my records more complex and when you’re on the road for weeks at a time it does get difficult. I just want to keep learning and progressing as an artist.
DJ Times: And studio set-up?
Cristoph: I use Ableton Live for my DAW, although Eric has recently been making me want to try out Logic… so I think I will give that a go in the upcoming weeks/months when I go out and buy it. Hardware-wise I have a Moog Sub 37, Roland TR-8, microKORG and a Korg MS-20 mini. I went through a phase of getting into hardware, but I have recently returned to mainly using software with Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2 being my main go-to- plug-in.
DJ Times: Your original “Feel” was the debut release for Prydz’ label Pryda Presents – that had to be some nerve-rattling news.
Cristoph: Again, I was honored to be given that opportunity. To have someone I class as a major inspiration, an icon/hero of mine have the faith in me to give me the inaugural release on their brand new label truly was a proud moment. I’ve been sat on the record for quite a while, Jem’s vocal is stunning and I was very protective over where it would end up. When I showed Eric the track, he instantly asked for it and spoke about the new project of Pryda Presents and how he wants me heavily involved. It was then I knew it was the right move for me.
DJ Times: How would you describe a Cristoph production?
Cristoph: I have been asked this a few times. I generally aim for the track to have a bit of drive to it with quite a long main break to build tension/euphoria. This may not always be the final outcome. With vocal tracks, I like the lyrics to really grab people’s attention, so sometimes I write the lyrics or will use a vocalist who is on the same wavelength when they go in to the recording studio.
DJ Times: Where do you find your artistic inspiration?
Cristoph: I get a lot of inspiration from travelling around on planes and trains, etc. I guess just gazing out the window watching the world pass me by does something for me and I seem to drift away and imagine myself on a dancefloor somewhere and what I would enjoy to hear at that moment in time. TV shows such as “Stranger Things” have helped on certain records, as has certain things in my personal life and my day-to-day feelings. If I’m little down, I can end up writing something darker, and if I’m feeling really good, it normally leads to something more driving or euphoric. Also, when I’m actually DJing, I seem to get ideas in certain areas of my sets of a track I would like to create and play right there and then, I will quickly note it down in my phone during or after the gig and then get to work either on my laptop if I’m touring or in the studio when I head home.
DJ Times: Playing alongside Adam Beyer and Cirez D for their sold-out show in Miami, was kind of a big deal. What’s it like playing to a huge crowd like that?
Cristoph: It’s a true honor to be opening for them. The show sold out so quickly, so that tells you that these two are regarded as being right at the top of the ladder within the industry – and I fully agree. It will be nerve-wracking for sure, 4,000 clubbers in front of me, but it will be an experience I will fully enjoy and that I’m thoroughly excited for. Then I get to see them play back-to-back for three hours – perfect!
DJ Times: What else do you have in store for 2018?
Cristoph: I’d say 2018 is shaping up to be a great year. My residency has just been announced at Hï Ibiza, so I will be playing there 12 weeks throughout July, August and September. I am playing some huge festivals in the U.K., such as Creamfields and Parklife, as well as others around Europe, which are still to be announced. I just played EDC Mexico which was absolutely amazing. I have a couple of tours in North America already in the diary and more and more dates around the world keep coming in so I’m very happy. Release-wise, I have been making a lot of new music since the start of the year so the team and I are just starting to go through it to get the schedule sorted and start getting it out, so I’m looking forward to that, too.