In just a short few years, Berlin-based, UK-born DJ/producer Jenagan Sivakumar AKA Cressida has become a vital name to know in Europe’s hard-edged techno sphere.
With fans in the likes of Dax J, and uncompromising releases on labels such as VOITAX, LDNWHT, Syncretism and OSF, Sivakumar’s sound is characterised by haywire electronics and brutal rhythms with an off-kilter sway. His DJ sets at revered parties such Corsica Studios’ Jaded and at Reaktor x Monnom Black’s New Year’s Eve bash in Amsterdam, have become infamous for their fierce, relentless atmosphere.
To say 2018 was a breakthrough year for the producer would be underselling it. As he explains himself, it was a year replete with highlights.
“It was probably the best year of my life thus far,” he says. “Had a string of well received sets which was beautiful, and also got to tour Asia with the Voitax crew. Gigs back on home soil are always nice in London. Closed the year off playing b2b with Tommy Holohan for Reaktor x Monnom Black, which Dax J got me on with a lot of sick people over in Elementstraat, Amsterdam. Tommy and I only met for the first time like an hour before the gig, but when he dropped an edited, techno version of Benga & Coki’ 'Night' I knew he was a safe pair of hands. Also released a track on the Monnom Black compilation towards the end of the year, which was a treat.”
Despite his current place in the techno world, however, Cressida’s affinity for rhythmic complexity and intense bass grooves can be credited to a musical upbringing rooted in grime, metal, d&b and hip-hop, styles that he remains indebted to today.
“I grew up when the best way to get music would be through infrared,” he explains. “Phone to phone and most of the time downloaded via Limewire. Grime was the soundtrack to most of my youth, coming home and watching Channel U when I came home from school, alongside a lot of heavy metal via Kerrang, and also very importantly hip-hop. It was a lot later I discovered electronic music. I remember we would go to my mate house (shouts to Pete Wiley) to play Fifa and people would be spinning d&b in the background for hours when we were like 17 or 18 or, but I didn’t really get into it until a lot later. It was torrenting a copy of Reason 5 that got me started - and a few dodgy nights out.
Looking toward the rest of 2019, Cressida shows no signs of slowing...
“I’ve just had a release — ‘Romance to the Lonely’ — out on NURSE, a Berlin based label which has a pumping Bleaching Agent remix on it. Finished up an EP for Voitax which is a lot wonkier than my normal stuff. As a label they put no pressure or boundaries on me and seem to get the best out of me.”
For his Fresh Kicks mix, Cressida delivers an hour of raucous techno, relentless rhythms and electrifying noise. Check it out below.
Last track that blew your mind?
"'At It Again' by Demdike Stare from their latest album 'Passion'. These guys are fucking unreal. They seems to be able to mesh together everything and anything and make it sound like silk. The strings used in this track have been pulverised to fuck but still manage to sound so addictive"
Last film you watched?
"Mr G The Movie (in no relation to Colin McBean). It’s not actually a film, it’s just a montage on YouTube of every Mr G scene from Summer Heights High. Fuckin’ hilarious"
Last DJ that blew your mind?
"Not exactly a “DJ” but Giant Swan. Those two are on fucking fire. Live or in the studio, they always deliver. Caught them at Berlin Atonal last year"
Favourite album to relax to?
"I’ve listened to Grouper’s 'Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill' nearly every day for about five years now. I caught her playing last year in an old theatre in Berlin which made a lasting impression on me and further accentuated my love for her music and her persona. There’s a comment on a user-made YouTube video for my favourite song off of the album 'Stuck' which pretty much sums her up for me - 'Holy fuck this is the greatest song ever made and you're crying and you don't know what she's saying but you feel what she's saying and it's the most beautiful and heart tendering thing you've felt in your life'"
"There are a few. Honourable mentions obviously go to the Birmingham lot - Regis, Surgeon, Makaton, Female. Newer artists that have been tickling my fancy have to be Swarm Intelligence, Minor Science, Tzusing, Walton"
What record is top of your wishlist?
"Right now I have to say that Walton’s latest EP “Inside” on Tectonic is top. Only heard of this producer recently after someone from work gave me a heads up. Big ups Chungus on the tip"
What's the best club you've played at?
"Tresor was a lot of fun to smash out, the sound system and the institution itself has a lot to envy. Elementstraat in terms of the whole experience - the Dutch crowd are great too"
Who would you most like to play b2b with?
"10 hours b2b with big Mumdance would be my cup of tea"