Meet Cristoph: the next icon in progressive house [Interview]
It seems strange to consider that, in the overall scheme of progressive house, Cristoph is a relatively recent arrival. The Newcastle native has been all but ubiquitous in the scene over the past two years, and his well-honed arrangements indicate the experience of a seasoned veteran producer. Stunningly, however, less than four years have passed since Christopher (CJ) Costigan released his debut record, The Harry K EP, near the end of 2013.
Costigan’s evolution in the years since is apparent through the esteemed labels which have invited him to contribute EPs. His stylistic trajectory is apparent from his deeper releases for Tube & Berger’s Kittball Records in 2014 and 2015 to his widely-celebrated debut on the coveted 8-Track series for Hot Since 82’s Knee Deep in Sound last year.
After beginning 2017 in the techno realm with The Sign EP on Coyu’s Suara imprint, Cristoph has been welcomed into the pantheon of progressive house’s most venerated legends. The iconic pair of Sasha and John Digweed have both recognized the British producer’s talents: in the past year, he’s released EPs on Last Night On Earth and Bedrock, the latter in conjunction with fellow burgeoning talent Jeremy Olander.
Yet, none of Cristoph’s achievements in the progressive house realm have solidified his reputation as momentously as his alignment with Eric Prydz. One of electronic music’s most revered figures, the Swedish juggernaut is discerning with who he deems worthy of his mentorship. And, if the events of the past several months are any indication, Prydz has proudly taken CJ Costigan under his wing.
2017 has thus far proven to be yet another banner year for Prydz, and Cristoph has been present for almost every significant moment along the way. When the progressive hero debuted his unprecedented, holograph-laden EPIC 5.0, he selected Cristoph as his opener (it’s worth noting that, as of this writing, there has yet to be a second performance of this show, so no other DJs have taken this mantle). Throughout the summer, Cristoph performed on the main stage ahead of the most critical nights of Eric’s Hï Ibiza residency, including the closing and opening parties and both of its deadmau5 b2b sets.
Most notably, Eric Prydz chose Cristoph to provide the first release on his newly-minted Pryda Presents imprint. Launching the anticipated brand in June, the British artist’s Balearic-primed “Feel” preceded the label’s yet-unreleased sophomore single, “Trippleton,” composed by Prydz under his Tonja Holma alias. Once again, Costigan laid the groundwork for the Swedish artist in a pivotal moment.
Now, Cristoph has received yet another honor in this vein by becoming the first-ever artist to take over Prydz’s EPIC Radio series with his own mix.
Detailing each of Cristoph’s accomplishments of the past year can become exhaustive — even just those which are related to his revered Swedish ally. However, for those who devotedly follow progressive house in its truest form, his story is an important one to watch. Though CJ Costigan’s success in the realm has skyrocketed in an incredibly short timeframe, he’s anything but a flash in the pan.
Cristoph is being groomed by the genre’s most well-respected veterans with an unprecedented ardor. The artist’s acceptance among the progressive pantheon comes from skills that he’s demonstrated on his own, and across less than half a decade. With the support and mentorship of artists like Eric Prydz, Sasha, and John Digweed, Cristoph isn’t just primed to become a superstar. Rather, wheels are being set in motion for CJ Costigan to bring progressive house to new, unforeseen heights.
Read our interview with Cristoph below.
Earning the inaugural release on a new Eric Prydz imprint as well as the opening slot for his EPIC 5.0 debut is no small feat. Can you tell us the story of how you came to meet Eric?
We first met at the second charity show which Eric had put on for James Lillo at Sound Nightclub in LA. I was originally meant to have been playing on the Monday at same club a week before those two shows but sadly the gig was cancelled whilst I was flying across due to reasons out of my control. With it being my first ever time touring the U.S I was keen to play as many shows as I could to try and get my name out there to as many people as possible. So when the opportunity arose to support Eric I jumped at the chance as I’m a huge fan of his. I had to cancel flights, pay for new ones, pay for accommodation etc but still I looked at it as a great chance to strike up some sort of relationship – an investment in my career kind of thing. A week or so before that gig he had played my track ‘Catsy’ on his EPIC Radio show son I had already pre-planned to play that record just before Eric was about to start to help initatiate a conversation. Luckily enough it did. He told me how much he loved the track and after I spoke to his team about attending EPIC 5.0 with them and maybe even playing it. Things just went from there really, word got back to me that enjoyed my set and was a fan of my music and it all started to progress onwards.
Opening for Prydz before he debuts something as momentous as EPIC 5.0 has to be a humbling – and perhaps nerve-wracking – experience. How do you go about planning a show that will set the stage for one of the world’s biggest performances?
It was incredibly nerve-wracking yeah. I was lucky enough to have some of my close friends/family there and mine and Eric’s team to help settle the nerves and install some confidence before I played. Self confidence is something I lack in at times so it’s always good to have people close to me around to help. Planning wise I had an idea of some of the stuff I wanted to play and a few new tracks I had finished that I wanted to test out. Other than that I tend not to plan an exact set or anything before a gig. I always think you need to be ready to change incase something doesn’t work out in your original plan so I try to be as open minded as possible and try and gauge what will work with what crowd and at what time etc.
Outside of Prydz, you’ve been featured by two of progressive’s biggest icons in the past year, with releases on Sasha and John Digweed’s imprints. As you become an influential figure in the scene in your own right, what do you see as the future for progressive house and techno? Curious to hear your thoughts on both its stylistic development and potential for increased appeal.
It’s been an absolute honour to release on those 3 labels and a very surreal feeling. Progressive house is the genre I really fell in love with so it’s great to see it coming back to the forefront of the scene. Techno is very strong at the moment too, I think more so than progressive house and it has been for a while. What I am trying to do, both with my productions and also my dj sets is merge them together – basically to take the listener(s) on a journey. I believe they will both continue to grow. The tech house stuff is still the leading market but for me it’s gone stale. A lot of the productions are very similar which could be a sign of complacency but for me it gets too boring listening to the same thing over and over. That’s why I believe the melodic, driving stuff will grow and grab people’s attention more and more. I would love to be considered part of the ‘new breed’ or even a pioneer of the progressive and techno scene that’s why in my productions I try to merge different elements. I’m always looking to improve so will be sure to think outside the box in anyway I can in future tracks I make. All in all though I’m just happy to see people making great music and enjoy themselves whilst doing so.
Do you have any future projects planned with Prydz, Sasha or Digweed?
Release wise I think a lot of my new stuff will be on Pryda Presents. Gig wise I still have 3 shows at Hi, Ibiza with Eric and there’s other shows alongside Sasha being spoken about too which will be in and around Europe.
What other big projects do you have in the pipeline?
We are in the middle of finalising a tour of North America towards the end of the year with Eric and a fair few other shows with him. As I mentioned there’s more originals forthcoming on Pryda Presents, aswell as a remix of one the Pryda back catalogue.
Who do you think are some of the most underrated talents in progressive and techno currently?
I’m really enjoying stuff from Kastis Torrau, Dmitry Molosh and Cid Inc in amongst others at the moment.
If BBC tapped you for a Cristoph Essential Mix today, what would you choose as your opening track?
Oh that’s a difficult one. In all honesty I would probably write an opening myself. However, if I had to pick a track right now I would choose ‘Fernando Ferreyra – Learning To (Gebio & Guido Elordi Remix)’ or maybe the Ripperton remix of Beanfield – Tides