Photo: Press (Cromby)
Two or three years ago, very few people had heard the name Cromby, even though Chris McCormick has been active as a DJ since the year 2012. Back then, he was mostly known as a resident of Belfast’s Shine club before relocating to the German capitol while honing his craft as a producer. After releases on Extended Play and Tenderpark, fellow Northern Irish producers Bicep released his Retribution EP, Denis Sulta got him on board for the inaugural single on his newly founded Sulta Selects Silver Service series and DJ Haus put a Cromby 12″ on his Unknown To The Unknown just last year. Apart from that, McCormick has been making waves as a versatile, yet uncompromising house DJ around town and played a few celebrated gigs at Berghain’s Panorama Bar, most notably one in Fall that went far beyond the floor’s usual closing time on Monday morning. It’s no surprise then that Cromby’s contribution to our Groove podcast is the type of mix you wouldn’t necessarily expect to play at an afterhours, even though it is specifically meant for to be enjoyed in this situation. It’s the kind of house set that really goes up to 11.
Daft Punk’s Homework was a very influential record for you. How did you first get to know about it and why did it have such an impact on you?
I’m almost sure my older sister bought it for me… either that or I “borrowed” it from her room, my memory is hazy. (laughs) I remember having it on repeat, “Da Funk” really stood out for me along with the swingy 909 hats in “Revolution 909” that I think have really stuck with me and still influence me today.
Belfast’s Shine, where you later would hold residence, was also formative for you as a young raver. How was it visiting the club first and which experiences did you make there as a DJ?
It was mind blowing, around 1500 people over three rooms of house and techno. I used to sneak in, use fake Ids or any means possible to get in since I was 16. Seeing the likes of Laurent Garnier, Dave Clarke, Jeff Mills play was a big eye opener. I started playing there regularly by the time I was 19/20. It was a great education warming up for the likes of Craig Richards through to Kerry Chandler.
Around the same time, you would make your first steps on Ableton but stressed in an interview that you weren’t serious about making your own until later. What made you change your mind and produce more actively?
Hmm, not sure – frustration, maybe. I was never patient enough in the beginning to learn about the final stages of making a track, or mixing. So I guess the more I did it the more confident I got, and the more it felt natural. Also I think I got a little bored working in the box. I stopped making music for a while and built up a small studio of outboard bits and started really kicking on again outside the box with my MPC and a few synths, its much more fun for me personally to get hands on.
The MPC plays a big role in your writing process and as a matter of fact, you have already participated in panels discussing the practice of sampling in hip hop and house music. Where does your interest in this technique stem from?
Its something that definitely drew me in at the beginning, I grew up loving people like Daft Punk, DJ Sneak, Paul Johnson et al, who used sampling a lot in their productions. I found out they used an MPC so that’s what I went out and got to try emulate them. What I discovered was something different, I barely use it for sampling. Its real power for me lies as a sequencer, I use it to sequence all of my synths and have it as the main clock, or the brain, so to speak. You could leave it running for days and nothing would go out of time.
How does your writing process look like, generally speaking? Most of your tracks put an emphasis on the bassline, thus underlining the Chicago influences of your work.
Yeah, usually I’d get something of a basic drum pattern going and try to write a bassline around that and develop it. Usually the rest of the track falls together quite easily if that foundation is solid enough to keep the groove going. But in general this is usually born through having a bit of fun and jamming quite randomly. I’m not the kind of person who can sit still and meticulously program something.
You have closed Berghain’s Panorama Bar twice last year, playing for something around ten hours each time. How do you prepare for extensive sets like these?
I organise my music by feeling, I think with long sets this is really important. I need to have everything organised in a way that when I’m in the zone, almost in a trance, I can go to whatever folder or section of my records and have something that I know will work for that particular moment whilst feeding of the crowd’s energy. I’ll always have a “rollers” folder, this is the main backbone that keeps the energy flowing at any main moment, then I’ll have a “deep”’ folder, a “big moments/sweaty hugs” folder, “sunrise”, etc., etc. There are a lot of different feelings and emotions on that dance floor and you need to be equipped to match the mood.
What was the idea behind your contribution to the Groove podcast?
It’s inspired from my last closing at Panorama bar in December, I wanted people to have something to listen to and get energised, whether it be pre-club or at an after party. This idea that afters mixes are all deep is nonsense, you’re at the wrong afters! It’s made up of a few cuts I recently picked up in Clone after a trip to Rotterdam and here in Berlin at one of my favourite record stores Bikini Waxx, along with some recent favourites from my sets and one of my own unreleased productions.
Last but not least: Where can we see you behind the decks in the near future and what are your plans as a producer? You have also talked about considering to start a label yourself – can you tell us more about that already?
I’m really excited back at Panorama Bar at the end of February, it’s quickly becoming a second home and they’ve been really good to me! I also have a tour of Australia coming up in March, which i’m super excited about, along with more club gigs and festivals over the summer. As a producer I have a few EPs worth of music finished that I’m really excited about. You can expect to hear them throughout the year. As far as label plans go, I’ll keep that one as a surprise! Thanks for having me, and I hope you enjoy the mix!
Stream: Cromby – Groove Podcast 242
01. Arpanet – Wireless Internet
02. Private Press – Tooms
03. DJ Haus – Modul8 (ItaloJohnson Remix)
04. Shanti Celeste – Infinitas
05. Fantastic Man – Sun Express (Emergency Mix)
06. Fio Fa – You Think
07. Player – 005 B2
08. Hymn – Upriver
09. Party Crashers – Work Your Ass
10. TR 727 – Blaze II
11. Vladimir Dubyshkin – Lady Of The Night
12. Shi Take – Mind Racin’
13. Hymn – Dirty Hypo
14. Cromby – Loving
15. Raff – Pain
16. Progression – Your Mind