Mutant electro music, tinged with ambient techno and afro-trans… DJ Christelle Oyiri alias Crystallmess handles the decks to decompartmentalize genres and break down prejudices. She will be at the Les Chichas de la Pansie festival, in Pantin, Sunday, October 10.
“We’re going to leave because the next set is going to be hip-hop, zouk, reggae…” Christelle Oyiri is about to go on stage, in a club, when she hears this sentence. A group of young people have just noticed that the next to go behind the decks is her: Crystallmess. This stage name has nothing to do with drugs (crystal meth), she regrets the reference that had not occurred to her when she chose it. “It was just a funny pun because my name is Christelle and I’m ‘a mess’ [désordre, ndlr], I lose my things all the time, ”she smiles.
Christelle is a black woman, born in France, of an Ivorian father and a Caribbean mother. She makes music. In fact, we expect her to sound hip-hop, rap, zouk, R’n’B too. However, the artist’s musical breeding ground was found elsewhere, in Detroit, in the 1990s.
First evenings at 14
The artist makes mutant electronics, tinged with ambient techno and afro-trans, the genre that makes you dance until late at night. She discovered this fascinating world of partying, as a kid, while she skimmed the evenings of the cult Parisian club Le Triptyque (now the Social club). “Not at all major! I was a baby, what was I, 14, 15? And without his parents knowing, of course.
She devoured the music of DJ Mehdi, felt the techno vibe of Detroit, danced at the legendary “So girls, let’s celebrate Christmas?” Without even drinking a drop of alcohol. Luckily, at the time, the bouncers “are not very careful” on the identity cards and let the young gang enter. The DJs she adores give her the impression that the dream of being on the decks is within reach.
As a black woman, who is not attracted to R’n’B or singing, I lack representations that would tell me: it’s possible, go for it!
Well almost. The equation is a little more complicated for Christelle, according to her admission: being a woman, being black, being born of the second generation of immigrants are three potential obstacles to dreaming. “I do not come from a family of musicians… To take an artistic path seemed complicated to me. Lawyer or doctor, these are reassuring professions, they can protect the family. I was not necessarily comfortable with this desire to make music. But even when I was little, I followed my cousin who worked for Générations radio, and you dream of looking like your elders when you’re little, don’t you? “
If Générations is very hip-hop, Christelle is more drawn to electro. In the 1990s, 2000s, the musical genre exploded on TV: Daft Punk, Cassius, Justice soared. Many men, therefore, and mostly white.
The other obstacle to dreaming is the lack of references that resemble it: “I think it’s easier when you have avatars. As a black woman, who is not attracted to R’n’B or singing, I lack representations that would tell me: it’s possible, go for it! “
The options are crisscrossed as in this phrase heard in a club: rap, zouk, hip-hop, which fit into the “black music” box. However, electronics are also part of black music, adds Crystallmess: “Techno was born in the 1980s in Detroit from the middle and black working class. The story got lost along the way because the majority of consumers of this music are not black, the authorship of the genre has been distorted. But electro is ‘black music’! “
I can find something hybrid, meaningful to me that comes from a mixture of cultures
As a young adult, she first opted for a brief career in writing and music criticism. Before this discovery which changed his plans, in the United States, precisely.
“From 2010 to 2013, I was quite in New York and I found myself at a party GHE20G0TH1K [qui se dit ghetto gothic]. For the first time, I see female DJs there who are not connected to better-known men, they have an offbeat aesthetic and they come from the Bronx. I tell myself that it is possible to mix your influences, to be a child of the diaspora who mixes the heritage of his parents with his present, that there is a bridge between the two. I don’t have to be in the caricature of someone who plays vinyls of Congolese music, I can find something hybrid, meaningful for me, which comes from a mixture of cultures. “
Electro as a sermon
Little by little, by dint of Myspace playlists and technical break-in sessions on the waves of Rinse, then installed “at the bottom of a cellar”, she gains confidence in her art and follows the trajectory that makes her dream: electronic music . The transition is not easy, her family does not understand everything she does. “But I send them videos, I show them the reception of people and it comforts them, they see that I am producing something. “
Her mother is seduced by his music, and her father is becoming more sensitive to his artistic actions, she thinks. Moreover, she is preparing to perform at the Les chichas de la pansi festival, in Pantin on Sunday October 10 at 7:30 p.m. There will be no electro, it will be a sermon, influenced by… rap this time!
Of course, that she knows rap, even if it is not at the heart of her project! “I grew up in a city,” she warns, “how can I miss it? In addition, France is a rap homeland, ”she adds. She listens to it, she loves it, she even sometimes uses it artistically.
The performance will be performed with a lyric singer and will consist of a tribute to a school of African-American spirituality developed in 1964: the Five Percenters. The movement speaks of the divinity of the black being. “It can be seen as something caricature, she admits in the preamble, but it is reconciling, for me. I live with the fact of being ‘an addition of all my oppressions’: but this is not an observation that allows us to move forward. Teaching the Five Percenters helps me find a way to go beyond that, to find my way over the legacy ”.