Get to know: Karizma

We caught up with the Defected Mainstay ahead of his B2B with DJ Spen at Hollywood Forever Halloween

Carving out a solid career in production and DJing, Chris Clayton AKA Karizma is considered a veteran of house and techno with over thirty years touring the globe, while building up a fiercely loyal audience along the way.

Hailing from Baltimore, Kazima’s roots shine through his exemplary tune selection behind the decks, sharing a mix of New York house, bumpin’ Detroit techno and a twist of hip-hop thrown in for good measure.

Releasing on a range of labels including NRK, Defected, Ricanstruction, R2 Recordings, and his own Kohesive Recordings, the artist is no stranger to keeping his sound as diverse as possible throughout the years. Pushing his craft to the limit, 2017 saw a generous amount of releases emerging from the Baltimorean’s studio, signed by the likes of legendary label Strictly Rhythm to the hugely popular Defected.

Collaborating with respected artists including Osunlade, Rokaz, Deetron as well as his infamous B2B partner in crime, Spen, there’s no sign of Karizma slowing down anytime soon as he continues to churn out uplifting, chunky tracks both on the dance floor and in the studio. We caught up with the man himself ahead of his return to Egg LDN this Saturday for our Halloween special.

Thank you for joining us! Kicking it off, you’re born and bred from Baltimore (USA), who were you listening to as a child that gave you the music bug and inspired you early on?

Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye, Walter Hawkins, James Cleveland, Mort Garson, Afrika Bambataa.

Were there any key moments that steered you in the path of a career in music and did you realise at the time?

I was brought up in the church - I was in the choir ministry so that greatly helped. I felt I would somehow be in music but I just didn't know if I was going to sing or just be a musician.

A unique DJ and producer in your own right, you also enjoy a special relationship with DJ Spen and can you tell us how you first hooked up?

I think you can't be in Baltimore or any small city and not know the people in the arts, music and so forth. I knew Spen because of his group The Numarx and his radio mixes and I was a fan. Years later his wife at the time thought that we should get together and that’s how it happened. 

 You’ve produced tracks together, mixed CDs and also played numerous parties and festivals and can you share some of your best memories as a duo and tell us why they’re so special?

When we first did a gig together in Toronto is very special to me because we were on fire that night and we had Marc Evans providing vocals so for me it was One Of Those Nights I will never forget!

You’ve been sponsored by Pioneer DJ Japan since 2010 and can you tell us a little bit about your relationship with them and why their products make such a difference when being used in clubs and at festivals?

Our relationship has grown due to the fact I was one of the first to not look at the CDJ as just a player but an instrument. I think that caught their eye and we have developed a nice relationship based on that.

You’ve played at some big parties in your time can you tell us what’s been your most memorable one and why?

The most memorable would be my first Southport Weekender. I was relatively a new kid even though I had been producing and playing out for a while and I gave them a no holds Karizma set and to my surprise, they really enjoyed it. 

Pete Tong entered you into the “Hall of Fame” on BBC Radio 1 which must have been an exhilarating moment for you and I’m sure there’s many other accolades and awards that you’ve received. How special is it being awarded by your peers and any particular awards you’re super proud of and why?

Truthfully I don't really get too attached to awards. My biggest reward is meeting people iI wouldn't have met, and giving my friends/fans a piece of me when I play.

You and DJ Spen have produced lots of huge dance floor tunes, can you tell us how the creative process works between you and how you come up with ideas in the studio?

It was all organic at the time we were working together. I was more of the beat/sample guy and Spen was more of the Engineer/Music arrangement guy and sometimes vice versa. It just depended on the project and the feel we wanted out of it.

Known for being a technical whizz on the decks and in the studio, can you talk us through your favourite bits of kits both in and out of your studio set up?

These days I’m using Maschine, Ableton Live and the Toraiz Sp-16 along with some other vintage synths. I don't like to stick to one piece of kit because I like to mix things up. 


“Work It Out” has been one of this year’s big tunes, when you were making it did you think it was going to blow up and be such an anthem and be played by such a diverse set of DJs across the electronic dance music scene? Can you tell us about the support and some of your favourite moments hearing other DJs playing it and in which locations?

That record was a shocker to me because it was something I made for myself and I didn't intend on putting it out. I gave it to a couple of friends Seven Davis Jr being one of them and I believe he played it at a Dimensions Festival and Marcel Vogel called me the next day and asked about it and the rest is history. I never thought it would hit so many DJs the way it did, I'm really happy it resonates with people.

What DJ/Producers have got the bass bins pounding in your sets and can you name 5 artists that are currently on your radar?

Dario D'attis, Rocco, Tall Black Guy, Julian Gomes and Lay-far

Back by popular demand to headline the Terrace alongside DJ Spen at Egg London’s annual Halloween event, Hollywood Forever, what kind of a set can we look forward to?

Pretty much an across the board set - freestyling as we go and with stacks of energy to keep everyone on the floor vibed.