(Original Photo By: Adam Elmakias)

Everything’s bigger in Texas! In this week’s episode of YourEDM’s Aspire to Inspire series, we jump into things with none other than the Texas-born Crizzly, one of the fastest growing names in electronic music to discuss the journey of his career, how he got where he is today, and the inspiring moments he’s had along the way.

Growing up in San Antonio, Texas, Chris Marshall, better known by his stage name Crizzly, had a lot of room to grow as an artist. Back in 2008, his hometown did not have a very high concentration of dance music, which allowed him to find his own sound that was completely different from those around him and able to stand on its own.

While Marshall had a deep interest in music from a young age, he was not necessarily focused on dance music from the get-go. During his earlier years, he wanted to start a rock band with a bunch of friends and just play in the garage. But when that didn’t feel like the best fit for him, he invested in some turntables and eventually found himself a job as a wedding DJ. It wasn’t long until he started creating his own music and made his way into the club scene. As he got more acclimated with the crowd and played more music that he loved, his music career gained a lot of momentum and truly began climbing the ranks.

Growing up in a place like San Antonio, Texas, however, was also a key factor in the kind of music that Crizzly delivers today. In the early to mid-2000s, San Antonio’s dance music scene was sparse. It was difficult for him to connect with like-minded artists that were into the same type of music, but that certainly did not deter Crizzly from working hard and moving forward.

“I wasn’t really influenced by other people, I just really followed my heart and followed what I love. I went down a path that I probably wouldn’t have been able to, had I grown up in a city where there was more of a culture, as far as dance music goes. I was basically just listening to whatever I wanted and kind of being my own person or individual, which I really appreciate now looking back on it.”

It wasn’t until Crizzly entered his college years that he truly realized he was meant to be a musician. At a certain point, he found himself facing the choice of either attending his introductory college class or driving to Dallas to see Rusko perform. The more he thought about it, he realized that it was only a matter of time until he shifted his focus and devoted all of his time to music. While there are a lot of young people today that have similar feelings when it comes to pursuing their passions as an alternative to higher education, Crizzly still finds it incredibly important to have a good grasp on the idea of being realistic when it comes to making that sort of decision.

“At a certain point I just started failing, but it wasn’t because I wasn’t smart enough. I know I can go to college if I want to, but I just really had no passion to do it. For a lot of people, that’s how it is, you know? But I don’t want to tell people to just do whatever they want or just follow their dreams, because it’s really important to be realistic with your time and money. Working hard is the biggest factor as far as that goes. If you know you want to do it, you can work hard at that while still keeping a day job because you still have to pay bills—that’s just how the world works.”

A lot of Crizzly’s motivation to work hard in everything he involves himself with comes from the many lessons he learned from his Mother as he grew up. Watching her work as hard as she did without making a single excuse molded him into the driven artist that Crizzly is today. The chance to see everything his mother was able to achieve by constantly putting in the work that needed to be done and focusing on what was important, provided him with a clear and positive path to follow; eventually leading to his success.

Although Crizzly has such an ideal role model like his mother to look up to, there are of course fears and doubts that rear their ugly heads along the way. For artists of all kinds, the idea of personal creation not being accepted can be a scary thing to think about. As easy as it is for one to say, “just ignore it”, negativity can creep its way in from time to time. With Crizzly, sometimes that negativity pops up in a comment on one of his latest releases. It doesn’t necessarily mean that all of his fans feel the same as that one comment, but it certainly conjures the passing thought of not living up to their expectations.

“The fear of creating art is a struggle for every artist. Just like with writer’s block, you’re afraid to not do your best and it should always be about doing your best. It’s a struggle to put out your best work every time, and the expectation to put out your best work every time is always there.
…I have always put so much into my tracks that, every time I put one out, it’s been a month or two since the last one so people are expecting greatness or something better than the last. I always try to deliver and it’s fun pushing myself, for sure. But yeah, there is definitely the fear of creating something new that people haven’t heard and hoping they like it, because I care. I care about my fans and what they think.”

For Crizzly, it all comes down to hard work and staying true to the music that he loves to create. To him, one of the best ways to keep that going is by surrounding himself with friends and people who support his vision and let him have fun. Having a group of genuine people that don’t push their expectations upon an artist is the best recipe for creativity, and that is exactly what Crizzly has with the people in his life. Further than that, he returns that love and support by taking the time to slow down and truly appreciate all that he has.

“It’s really easy to get caught up in selling yourself out as far as EDM goes because it has been blowing up so much, but sometimes you just have to take a step back and just realize that you have to be thankful for where you are and not try to take too much. It’s good to just take a step back and be realistic with your goals and your dreams.

One example of something I’ve done to show how thankful I am for everything is that I play in Austin, TX every Tuesday with my friends. That’s probably one of the happiest moments of my week, even though I’m flying out and touring everywhere. I get to come back home and just be humbled by being around my friends playing a weekly thing at a small bar in the middle of Sixth Street. It’s the little things like that, that take time out of your day just to ‘take a walk.’”

With all of that said, artists need to be inspired. For Crizzly, that inspiration comes from the positive energy of his fans, and even more so from taking the time to learn and strengthen his education as much as he can. When it comes to the fans, it is quite humbling for the Texas DJ/producer to see them come to show after show in so many different places, having made their own ‘Crizzly gear’ from custom hats to pizza cakes. Meeting fans that are willing to show him around their city, even offering advice for things to do and see, generate experiences that he is incredibly grateful to have. When he has a moment to himself between shows and time in the studio, Crizzly will usually spend a lot of it reading, listening to podcasts, watching documentaries, and anything else that he feels he can learn something from.

“I love watching TedTalks, so I think that’s what inspires me the most right now. Sometimes I’ll be reading all these YouTube comments and I’ll get really depressed. Like, dang, society is really losing it. But then I’ll open up ted.com and watch an interview and be super inspired, like oh wow we’re actually making some progress in this world.”

When asked about how he would like to change the world, Crizzly breaks it down to these two major ideas: having fun, and education. At the end of the day, having fun is and always will be his goal. Doing so has made his life one of the most rewarding journeys one can create for them. Balancing that with a constant expansion of education will work wonders for the future of us all.

“Every single college degree will change the world. People getting their education is super important. But there are still so many things that could change the world. There isn’t just one thing. I think that once you realize that and figure out what you can do to work hard, you really can change the world.”

Watch Aspire to Inspire Live featuring Crizzly here: