Pitchfork interviews: Chrissy Murderbot & MC Zulu

chrissy murderbot

Chicago-based DJ Chrissy Murderbot (nee Chris Shively) has been making waves not only for his role in the juke/house revival but for his LP Womens’ Studies, released earlier this summer. Studies is a mishmash of dance influences, buoyed not only by Murderbot’s willingness to transcend styles and even decades on every track, but by a host of guest stars. One of the most notable: MC Zulu, whose reggaeton baritone anchors cuts like first single “The Vibe Is So Right.” Heave had the chance to sit down with Chris and Zulu at Pitchfork to talk about summer jams, Womens’ Studies and their wish list for show bookings.

When did you two first start collaborating?

Chris: The two of us met at Handlebar restaurant. That was what, like four, five years ago?

Zulu: It’s been a minute now.

Chris: Yeah, it’s been a while! And we knew each other for a long time, but we’d never worked together on anything, and so finally…we did? (laughing)

Zulu: We got into a big argument about music.

Chris: Yeah, a pretty big argument.

Zulu: And then he had the guts, to go…This is the kind of person he is. He sends me an email, saying “Look, we don’t always get along, but I wanna get you on this track.”

Chris: After that, we get along great! We’re both kind of loudmouths, like…

Zulu: Say whatever’s on your mind.

Chris: Exactly! We know how we work now, we got an understanding. But yeah, we’ve been making tracks for two or three years at this point.

Zulu: The first one was a “Bodywork” remix, that went over really well with people. As time went on, yeah, we just kept doing more. The next one is…”Limelight”? (looking at Chris)

Chris: Yeah, “Limelight” is the next one. We’ve done a few collaborations, and when I found out about Pitchfork, I just kinda called and said “Come get on this with me.”

What spots do you enjoy playing in Chicago, and are there any you haven’t yet that you’d really like to?

Zulu: I’d like to play the Pitchfork Music Festival. (both laugh)

Chris: Yeah, I’ll say Pitchfork. This was enjoyable. For places I’d like to play, I’ll say big places, I wanna play the Congress Theater.

Zulu: Oh, you’re thinking bigger.

Chris: As far as clubs…Smartbar, for my money, is the best club in Chicago.

Zulu: I love Metro. Every time I’m at Metro, I feel like I’m a part of Chicago history. That’s always the feeling I get from there. That was my first big show, years ago.

Chris: Metro and Smartbar are in the same actual building. It’s funny that Smartbar is just the downstairs of the Metro.

A lot of Womens’ Studies is great summer music. Current or all-time, what’re some of your essential summer jams?

Chris: (instantly) “Summertime,” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince.

Zulu: Man, you stole mine. (both laugh) Also, “Summertime” by Sublime.

Chris: All that old…like, new jack swing is my summer music, you know? Like Keith Sweat, and Bell Biv Devoe, and Boys II Men, and Ralph Tresvant, like (singing) “Don’t walk awaaaaay…”, all that stuff, that’s my summer music.

Zulu: I listen to roots reggae all the time.

Chris: Oh yeah! For real. Stuff like one drop reggae, roots stuff.

Zulu: All that.

Chris, I read online that you’ve sold off your entire record collection.

Chris: I did, I did.

How’d that come about, and was it hard to part with any of it?

Chris: Well, I used to have probably around 3,000-3,500 records, and that takes up a lot of room. There’d be a room, with just a wall of records, and I got sick of looking for new apartments and having to think, like, where am I gonna put these records, you know? It was like having a kid or something, man. (laughing) It’s one thing having a kid, where it’s a human being, but to have the responsibility of a kid, and it’s just a bunch of plastic in your house…after a while it just didn’t feel like a worthwhile tradeoff. So, I just started, I mean I encoded everything, and put it in my computer, so I have the music still, and I was kind of just selling the plastic, you know?

Zulu: Changing with the times, like Dylan said.

Chris: Yeah, so I sold them off, but I still kept all the music, so it wasn’t as difficult for me.

What do you guys have coming up in the later part of the year, or into next year?

Zulu: We have a new track that we’re going to be debuting, “Let Me Turn You On.” It’s kind of more along the, um…I was thinking of Colonel Abrams when I wrote it.

Chris: It’s almost like an old-school, 1992 house jam.

Zulu: I wanna see what we can do, make the most of that. And I have a new album coming out, called Electrotrack Therapy. It’s going to feature Chrissy and a lot of other producers I’m working with. We’re hoping to go around and play it out.

Chris: And I have an EP coming out, it’s called I’m An Asshole. (both laugh) Yeah, it’s the dumbest, filthiest thing I’ve ever made. It’s got a track on it called “I Nutted In You,” it’s like…

Zulu: Oh, that’s where that came from! I heard it play today, and I was like “Oh man, my nut is in?” (laughing)

Chris: I’m sorry about that, but yeah, it’s called “I Nutted In You.”

Zulu: I was trying to sing loud over it, when it came on. That’s going to be interesting when that drops.

Chris: Just staying busy, man.