Artist Profile: Chris Stussy

Chris Stussy is becoming a household name for electronic music lovers with his unique style that seems to change the landscape of any dancefloor he touches. Rich textures of jazz, disco, and the raw energy of early house music, all while mixing in that smooth Chicago sound that has become his signature. His rise into the electronic music industry all started in the Netherlands where he was born and raised. He had been heavily influenced by his native area since it is a place that has a rich history in dance music culture. From an early age, he was interested in the world of dance music and showed innate talent for mixing records and also selecting tracks that were beyond his years. He is extremely talented behind the DJ decks, but his real talent is the infectious energy he knows how to curate at a show, mixing soulful music with driving basslines and also giving nods to classic Chicago house. With a keen ear for music production, he began crafting his own tracks, each release showcasing his evolving style and deepening his imprint on the house music landscape. Recognizing the importance of creative autonomy, Chris founded Up the Stuss, a label that not only served as a platform for his own music but also showcased the work of emerging and established artists. Under his guidance, Up the Stuss has become synonymous with quality, innovation, and the cutting edge of house music, reflecting Chris’s vision for a sound that is both forward-thinking and deeply rooted in the genre’s rich heritage.

Stussy’s style of production is very unique, with elements of live synth, complex rhythms, emotional resonance, and the grooviest basslines. Chris has a distinctive flair for sampling, a technique rooted in the very foundation of house music. He sifts through old records extracting fragments of sound that he then manipulates into something entirely new. This process isn’t just about finding a catchy loop; it’s about distilling the essence of a moment into a sound that can transcend genres and eras. His ability to breathe new life into forgotten rhythms and melodies is a testament to his deep respect for musical history and his skill as a producer.

Another hallmark of Stussy’s production style is his sophisticated use of synthesizers. Whether it’s crafting lush, enveloping pads, punchy basslines, or shimmering leads, he wields analog and digital synths with equal prowess. His tracks often feature a blend of sounds from iconic machines like the Moog for its warm, fat basses and the Roland Juno series for its rich, atmospheric pads. This synthesis mastery enables him to create soundscapes that are as rich in texture and rhythm.

While house music is inherently rhythmic, Chris Stussy elevates this to an art form. He layers drum patterns and percussive elements in a way that adds depth and complexity to his tracks without sacrificing their danceability. By playing with syncopation, polyrhythms, and unexpected breaks, he keeps listeners engaged. This complexity is balanced with an innate sense of groove, ensuring that his tracks are both stimulating and swinging.

I personally got to catch three of Chris Stussy’s sets all in completely different environments last year, and each one left a lasting impression on the possibilities with dance music and crowd energy. My anticipation to witness his productions and mixing style live had been building, especially after hearing tracks that felt like they were crafted for the dance floors that I love to be a part of. When I saw him on the CRSSD Fall ’23 lineup, I knew it was destined to be my first live encounter with him on the decks. The venue, with its idyllic setting directly on the water, seemed tailor-made for his fast and groovy basslines. As the sun began its descent, painting the sky with hues of orange and pink, Chris Stussy took the stage, and instantly, the atmosphere electrified.

From the first track, it was evident that Chris was in his element. His music connected us all, creating an intimate connection despite the open-air venue. Each bassline was a call to movement, each melody seemed to entrance the crowd more than the last. What made this set stand out was not just the track selection but how Chris seamlessly wove them into a story told through rhythms and beats that resonated with the entire crowd.

After this weekend was over I already wanted more of what he did on the dancefloor and would bite at any opportunity to see him again. To my surprise, he was headlining Time Warp NYC which is an event hosted at the Brooklyn Navy Yards. This was a Jurassic change of scenery and the bar was high from the set I had already seen in San Diego a couple of months prior. It changed from a scenic waterfront open-air venue to a massive industrial warehouse. This set was a testament to Chris’s ability to not just play to his audience, but to play the venue itself, using its unique characteristics to amplify the experience. The industrial setting lent itself to a heavier, more immersive sound, allowing him to delve deeper into the techier side of his library. He opened for GOLFOS that night, and he set them up perfectly slowly building the energy until it was time to let the subs go to work.

I also had the pleasure of seeing him that next morning at 99 Scott, which goes down as one of my favorite after parties to date and hands down my favorite set from him that I have seen in person. From the moment he took to the decks, it was clear that this set was going to be something special. Perhaps it was the intimacy of the venue or the afterglow of the night before, but there was a sense of connection in the air that was almost tangible. Chris tapped into this energy immediately, weaving a sound that was both uplifting and deeply moving. His selections were perfect for the afterparty environment, a seamless blend of deep house grooves and soulful melodies that spoke directly to the heart of the afterparty. The true beauty of this set was its ability to capture the essence of the moment. As the first light of dawn began to filter through the windows, casting soft shadows across the dance floor, the music seemed to swell in response, creating a sense of unity and shared experience that is the hallmark of an unforgettable set.

His ability to adapt and thrive in different environments, from the serene waterfront to a warehouse rave, underscored the universal language of music and its power to unite club goers. With each show he showcased his versatility while also staying true to his sound that they are continuously evolving over at Up the Stuss. Also, I briefly mentioned before these sets have a narrative built into them he plays with the tension in the crowd and the tracks selected are meant to curate a certain feeling which in the end will bring the crowd closer together as well. Chris Stussy stands out as a masterful producer seamlessly blending the old with the new to create a sonic universe that’s uniquely his own. From the waterfront of CRSSD to the raw industrial of Time Warp NYC and the intimate sunrise at 99 Scott, his sets are more than just music; they’re immersive narratives that captivate crowds. His deep respect for musical heritage, combined with an unyielding drive to innovate, is evident in every track he produces, each set he plays, and the visionary direction of Up the Stuss. Chris Stussy’s creations are part of a continuing story of house music, one that’s constantly being written with each performance and production.

– Kai McNaught: IG: @kai.mcnaught 

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