Chris Klassen – or Prince Klassen, as he’s known to civilians – got his first taste of DJing as a teen in San Antonio. Using his brother’s turntables, he started playing gigs at age 14; today, he is a fixture on Austin’s electronic music scene, and travels all over the country sharing his requisite brand of percussive, soul-inflected party tunes. He hasn’t done too shabbily on the publicity end of things, either: Fader, Wire, Texas Monthly, Austin American-Statesman, Austin Chronicle, San Antonio Current, Tribeza, and Spin have all tipped their journalistic hats to Klassen, so it’s about time The Deli did too. Below, thoughts from Klassen – who, were he not DJing, aspires to be a stone cold killer. Watch out, hipsters.
DJing. When and how did you start?
I started DJing in the summer of 1997. I started because of my older brother, for the most part. He would have me record a house mix show, "House Nation," every Saturday for him on the local college station back in San Antonio. From there, he got turntables and I kind of started to use them more than he did. Now here I am.
I’ve been hearing your name in Austin’s electronic music scene for years, it seems – and everyone raves about your spinning! How would you describe your sound’s style?
Well I think coming from San Antonio, there wasn’t too much going on at the time (plus I was a teenager), so my "style" comes from being isolated without too much outside influence. Reflecting on the people I was influenced by, my style seems to be an amalgam of them all. I can’t really describe my sound, but my good friend always says to me "that sounds like you, I heard this and it sounded like Klassen". So let’s say very percussive, and anything you feel the soul coming out of.
You are one of the DJs who has really embraced the blogosphere, by proactively sending tracks to bloggers to sample online for their readers. Over the years, do you think this effort has helped you in terms of exposure?
Oh that dang ol’ blogosphere. I have always embraced technology, whether if be for DJing, communication, or lifestyle. I do, however, feel that since DJing has turned digital, there is a weird shift currently happening that I am not too sure how I feel about. Blogs are great. I have two or three that I write for, but I feel that blogs have watered down actual personal flavor. I do know for a fact that they have helped spread my tracks/edits/name all over the world. I just wonder if people actually like the songs, or if they like it because it’s free, and you can have a bazillion types of music in your pocket/serato now.
What’s your favorite venue to play in Austin? Why?
Does my house count? Hahaha. That is a hard question to answer. I don’t know if I have one that I absolutely love. I love The Parish because they have the best sound in town, but I don’t play there regularly. I guess I don’t have a super favorite room at the moment.
What’s your favorite venue to play anywhere?
This is another hard question. I think the most memorable was one I played recently, which is First Ave in Minneapolis. It is most notable for being in Prince’s Purple Rain. The party I played is called Too Much Love, and my friend that runs that night has built a very solid crowd that is up for anything. You hardly see that anymore. The iPod generation wants to hear everything they know, and the DJ isn’t "trusted" anymore.
If I had a time machine, The Davenport in San Antonio was a big favorite to me. Again, it had to do with the crowd that was built around it. They trusted everything we did.
Where do you find the songs you sample, and do you have a method for putting tracks together? Or just kind of mix-and-match, and see what happens?
The tracks I usually put out are edits of long-time favorites for me. When it comes to DJing, I never create sets. I always just freestyle and see what happens. There are songs that always go together, but I never have a whole two hours planned. I think I would get bored because I know what is coming next.
In a recent internship I spent with XXXchange from Spank Rock/ Fully Fitted, he taught me a lot when it comes to producing tracks. Things I had never thought to try.
Fill in the blank. If I weren’t a DJ, I’d be a ______.
Less bitter person, stone cold killer, teacher/ professor, cultural ambassador.
Thanks for interviewing me, I truly appreciate it. I guess I can be this guy and promote new Fully Fitted releases from Pase Rock, XXXchange, and a group DVD mixtape. I have other edits and releases coming up as well.
(Editor’s note: Check out Prince Klassen’s latest projects on his MySpace page, http://www.myspace.com/princeklassen.)