Sex, Politics and Religion with Chris V.

Photo courtesy of the artist
Words/interview by Erika J. Bock

By all counts, Chris “Chris V.” Vrakas is a relative newcomer to Milwaukee’s close-knit drum n’ bass DJ scene, but his tenacity and natural talent has fast-tracked him to regular gigs and residencies all over the city. Here, he spouts off about beat matching in relation to sex, politics and religion.

MP3: “Locked and Loaded”

How does sex affect your music?

It really depends on my mood at the given moment, who’s in the crowd, and what particular genre I’m spinning. The majority of the time, I spin drum n’ bass (DnB) and in the past, I’ve always leaned toward the intelligent and passionate side of the genre while still trying to incorporate as many hip-hop elements as possible. When it comes to intelligent “liquid DnB,” a lot of the vocals and bass lines definitely retain that emotional and sexually charged energy. However, the same goes for the dirty and dark side of DnB in the exact opposite way. Lately, this has been the focus of my sets…heavy dance-floor bangers…and with grimy, heavy bass lines, sex flows naturally.

How does politics affect your music?

I have no problem talking about politics with whoever crosses my path and it definitely has had a major impact in my life musically. I grew up listening to hip-hop and many of my favorite emcees have incorporated an intelligent and political element in their music. Politics, both positive and negative, will always be an integral part in music. Music is one of the greatest mediums of expression and artists want to be heard politically. This has definitely resonated within me over time and I think I’ve managed to learn a lot from it. Nevertheless, I don’t think politics are something that directs the music I play live…especially when it comes to EDM (electronic dance music). I enjoy good headphone music where I can really concentrate on the overall message of the artist outside of a club environment. Either way, politics is a broad term and can be construed many ways…it will always be an implicit aspect in music. I have a really dope DnB track I enjoy playing with a long MLK Jr. sample in it…that’s certainly political.

How does religion affect your music?

I think good music transcends time in a similar way that religion does for a lot of people — it’s one of the world’s oldest and deepest art forms and always has and always will be an integral part in shaping people’s lives. I pride myself on track selection for each and every set I play. In that sense, a lot of the tunes are just as close to my heart in a variety of emotional ways as religion is for other people … it’s timeless. I just do my best to make others feel the same way during live sets.

Do you do production work?

Currently, I’m doing my best to learn the basics of production and really start to take it seriously. I’ve been dabbling in Reason 4.0 but that’s about it right now. For me, DnB is one of the most intricately produced genres of music out there today. It’s a melting-pot of musical influence from a worldwide collection of sub-genres. I’ve been to 5 room DnB events where there were 1000+ people. One room will have kids moshing to some dark DnB and another will have a circle of breakers dancing to hip-step.

Residencies/favorite places to play?

I bounce around a lot and lately I’ve been experimenting with other genres of music that I hadn’t previously considered playing. DNB can only be played at a select few venues in this city. In the past, I’ve played everything from hip-hop to breaks, nu-wave disco, and indie dance music at venues like Decibel and Moct. I co-run the local Konkrete Jungle chapter and do shows at Three Lounge on the third Wednesday of every month. I also just locked in a monthly night at Mi.Keys on their Sunday S.I.N. night. Out of any venue in this city, I enjoy spinning at Three Lounge the most. Their sound system is hands-down the best in the city and everyone is there for the same reason — the music. FYI, I’m throwing a party on Wednesday March 4th at Moct.


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