Concerts

Cromby Is a Freak for Speed — and He Wants You to Know It

Cromby is embarking on his first North American tour.
Cromby is embarking on his first North American tour. Photo courtesy of the artist
If there's one thing DJ/producer Cromby (AKA Chris McCormick) can teach the populace, it's that calm hands prevail. That lesson becomes apparent when he streamlines through rough-around-the-edges tracks reminiscent of his old days raving in Belfast into a coherent mix. It's also evident in his paintings: brazen, vibrant streaks of acrylic glisten off a white canvas to the point it appears to melt.

Still, a steady hand can't compare to speedy footwork, which is why McCormick is embarking on his debut North American tour, which includes a stop at the Ground on Friday, June 17, for Otherworld's Sexoplex party.

"I'd say the audience can expect lots of great energy and keep it flowing throughout the night," McCormick tells New Times, speaking from his Berlin studio. In addition to the Irish-born producer, the Sexoplex lineup includes Antpuke, Winter Wrong, Pauli Cakes, and Chippy Nonstop to help turn the late-night hours into really late. "I'm playing along with Chippy Nonstop, and obviously, she brings the energy," McCormick says.

DJ'ing since he was a teenager, McCormick cut his teeth playing clubs during the country's initial rave boom that brought urbanities and villagers together to witness DJs like Carl Cox, Slam, and Fatboy Slim take the decks.

As Ian Maleney of the Irish Times wrote, rave culture was eventually cribbed by a "changing scene as it [grew] from a niche interest to a national panic leaving drug raids, warehouse raves, and dead bodies in its wake."

It was during this time that McCormick climbed the ranks and landed a residency at one of the longest-running nightclubs in Northern Ireland.

"I've been playing clubs in Ireland since I was 16," he says. "I would play the club every Sunday, then go to school the next day, and at 18, later becoming a resident at Belfast's longest-stand club called Shine."

In 2018, McCormick decamped to another nightlife capital, Berlin. The city took notice of his hot-pot track selection and he eventually secured a regular gig closing out the legendary Panorama Bar.
McCormick's mixes slide through timeless stompers like "Age of Love" and "Let The Bass Kick" toward new breaks and synths. "I've always collected different music and really influenced through the Detroit stuff," he explains. "I definitely put an old-school spin on it while trying to bring different flavors to the foreground."

More evidence of Cromby's high-energy ethos can be found in his latest release, Freaks on Speed. Released in April, the EP's four tracks all play equally — there is no soft ambient intro track, nor a bone-crushing, bass-heavy outlier to finish.

The first five seconds of opener "Fly Away" seep right into a pounding bass and blanketing synths crushing and retrieving with each thud. The closer, "Race (Speed Freak Mix)," waxes and scratches with spasming synths and tittering bongo riffs that overflow from the pot and inevitably scold the burner. The old sounds new, and the new sounds old — but that's intentional.

"It was a four-tracker signed to Craigie Knowes, a Scottish label who have been doing great things, from electro to progressive house, over the last five years," McCormick says of the EP. "I was delighted when they asked me for some tracks. I sent them some demos, and they opted for the pretty high-energy stuff. I'd say it's the most high-energy EP I've put out. Marcel Dettman and Objekt have played some tracks off the EP."

McCormick's music has also been released on Phantasy Sound, Feel My Bicep, and his own imprint, Potency Records.

Last year, he also began a monthly radio show with Refuge Worldwide, a Berlin community initiative aiming to strike a gender-balanced throughout the station, spotlight the representation of minority artists, and help artists get a head start in Berlin.

"It's a charity that helps refugees and maintains that ethos," he says of the organization. "It entails teaching people how to DJ as well as helping establish artists have a regular show. The show has been going for a year now, and I love it."

Still, it remains to be seen whether Miami is ready for Cromby's need-for-speed style.

Sexoplex. With Cromby, Antpuke, Winter Wrong, Pauli Cakes, and Chippy Nonstop. 10 p.m. Friday, June 17, at the Ground, 34 NE 11th St., Miami; thegroundmiami.com. Tickets cost $10 to $15 via eventbrite.com.
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Grant Albert is a writer born and raised in Miami. He likes basset hounds, techno, and rock climbing — in that order.
Contact: Grant Albert