He’s one of the most in-demand DJs on the worldwide house circuit, his productions are a must-check for any self-respecting house lover, and his remix talents are sought out by some of the biggest names in the music business. Truly Karizma is a man at the very peak of his game.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1970, Chris Clayton became fascinated by music from an early age. “My grandma used to go to flea markets and come back with all these records, and I was just OBSESSED with them!” he recalls, laughing.
But the real turning point for Karizma came in 1995 when he met up, through the Baltimore club scene, with another local DJ, DJ Spen.
There followed a string of Spen & Karizma releases on Basement Boys and other respected house labels, as well as remix work for some of the biggest names in the business, including such luminaries as Alicia Keys, Everything But The Girl and even Michael Jackson.
Karizma’s first solo release was ‘The Power EP’ on the UK’s Black Vinyl in 1999 and a number of other solo productions followed, including the ‘Shades Of K’ EP on Basement Boys in 2000. But eventually the time came to leave the Basement Boys stable altogether, as Karizma did in the early years of the new millennium.
Since then, he’s turned out a series of productions and remixes for some of the world’s most respected house labels. His own productions include the acclaimed ‘Ride EP’ for Defected in 2004, ‘4 The Love’ for Spen’s Code Red imprint in 2005 (a record which, with its “for the love of house/for the love of beats” vocal refrain, perhaps sums up Karizma’s musical philosophy as well as anyone could) and, last year, ‘The Kaytonic EP’ for UK label Hustle Music. Notable remixes, meanwhile, include his rubs of DJ Technic’s club anthem ‘Gabryelle’ for Defected in 2005, and of Liquid People’s ‘Son Of Dragon’ on Soul Heaven in 2006.
Karizma's talents run ever deeper than the tantalizing house he's been releasing for decades everywhere from Ninja Tune to Ministry of Sound. Beyond just being a more than capable producer, have you ever seen this guy on a pair of CDJs? As profiled in Resident Advisor's Art of DJing installment—not to mention this ridiculous video of him performing at Defected Croatia—Karizma is far and away one of the most technically gifted DJs to ever do it. While some artists merely go through the motions, Karizma plays decks like musical instruments—cue buttons become drums, faders the strings to his guitar. That's not to say that his productions aren't equally multifaceted and full of life. Case in point: his new gospel house anthem "Work It Out," which will appear on a split 12" for Lumberjacks in Hell alongside the label founder Marcel Vogel. Over email, he explained that the track serves as an ode to "my childhood and my faith"—its vintage sermon sample demonstrates the potential for ecstatic release that house music can offer