Need To Know: Chrissy Murderbot & MC Zulu
By Courtney Nichols
Chrissy Murderbot and MC Zulu know Chicago and -- more importantly -- Chicago knows them. An expert on the Midwest house music scene, Chrissy Murderbot began DJing in Chicago in 1995 and has since dominated dance floors at over 400 events in more than 15 countries. Chrissy draws fans in with his unique rhythmic style, which he describes as 'booty-rave-jungle-house-bass-bashment-ghetto-garage-core' and his collaborations are just as diverse as his sound -- he's remixed everyone from Delorean to Lemonade to Nate Mars to Noise Floor Crew. Chrissy's most recent partnership has been with reggae artist MC Zulu, and together they blend Jamaican dance hall and disco into remarkably shakable beats.
The opening act of the second day at the Pitchfork Music Festival earlier this month, the duo managed to ignore the humidity and blaring sun to create a midday dance party like no other. Out chatted with Chrissy Murderbot and MC Zulu about mainstream success, dental plans, and why Chicago's drama is all about the neighborhoods.
Out: The Chicago dance scene has been around for quite a while. Why is it such a big deal here?
Chrissy Murderbot: Dance music is a part of this city in a way that it is not in other parts of the country. New York has hip-hop and L.A. has West Coast rap. Here we have house music. That is what Chicago invented and that is our urban music that transcends. It goes through a bunch of different scenes -- whether that is white people or black people or Latino people or straight people or gay people or whatever. It is for everyone! As a result of that, people take it more seriously and it persists. We also have this next generation of kids inventing hard house or juke or ghetto house. We always have this generation of 15 year olds inventing the next style of house music and dance music.
MC Zulu: He's actually an authority on this music. There are people who I knew personally, because I did house music before I got into reggae, and I did studio sessions with a lot of these people and he knew the kind of music and work they did. He has done his homework and gotten his credentials at the same time.
Chrissy Murderbot: I appreciate that!
MC Zulu: That is how I am for reggae. I live in Chicago but I was born in Panama and I am more of a fan of reggae than anything. I got my credentials listening to it and imitating. I wasn't part of the establishment and that is why I have no problem playing with a DJ.
Chrissy Murderbot: What's nice is being able to work on something that is a hybrid of sound system culture, Caribbean dance hall culture and Midwestern Chicago house. When you bridge them, then you have the biggest tunes and biggest bass and greatest crowd participation.
MC Zulu: It takes a certain level of expertise to know what is enough reggae and what is enough house music.
Chrissy Murderbot: It is all about mixing them in the right proportions.
Is the scene determined by the audience or the DJs?
MC Zulu: The only time I see a scene ever is when we play a show. That crowd becomes the scene but then it dissipates. I know that in Chicago there are a number of different scenes all over the place. It is a field of wildflowers.
Chrissy Murderbot: The scene here is great but it is completely fragmented. The footwork scene is determined entirely by the audience participation. The dancers are more important than the music. The traditional house scene is reliant on the DJ who sometimes picks up on crowd responses. There is so much diversity in this city that it can't be summed up.
A lot of interviews I read called you a contradiction because you are white. This seems like a completely outdated notion.
Chrissy Murderbot: Yes!