A Sit Down With Crankdat At Breakaway Music Festival – Michigan

Photo by Tyler Church

Interviewed by Cheyanne Powell

Turning his running shoes in for music, Christian Smith has done everything but stopped running. Most know him by his DJ name, Crankdat. A twenty year old DJ from Ohio who turned away a full ride scholarship for track and field because he gained potential in the music industry. Spring 2017 was the first semester Crankdat did not return to the classroom and since then, he has completed a tour, released original new music, and performed with some of his biggest inspirations. This past weekend Crankdat performed at Breakaway Music Festival in Grand Rapids, MI. Crankdat tells us how his life has transformed in just over a year and what he has in store for the future.

Photo taken from Crankdat’s Instagram page

Festival Squad: “Twenty years old, from Ohio, with the opportunity to take a full ride scholarship to Kent State University for track & field. How were you able to decide to pursue a career in music and walk away from the scholarship?”


Crankdat: “Ultimately, it just came down to me realizing I didn’t really have a happy future with what I was doing. I was going to school for business management and that wasn’t even the major I wanted to do. I wanted to do computer science but it was just too much of a workload to do track, computer science, and also trying to get better at music which is what I wanted to do. So when the opportunity came about, ya know, potentially drop out, get an agent, and start touring, I was like if this has the potential to become a career then that is what I need to do. There is no point in being here when I can do what I actually want to do.”

FS: “Right, for sure. So is this the first year you did not go back?”

C: “This is the first year. Spring 2017 was the first semester that I didn’t go.”

FS: “Even though sports and music are two different lifestyles, there is no doubt the two both have hectic schedules. How did your lifestyle as an athlete prepare you for the music industry?”

C: “In almost every way to be honest with you. It is the same fundamental concepts that go into both. As an athlete you need to be determined, you need to work really hard, you need to give it your all. Really stereotypical shit. But as a musician, if you want to succeed, ya know, you want to grow, not only better yourself but grow in size, expand your fan base, you have to do the same things. You have to work really hard. You have to practice every day. I’m in the studio any day I’m not touring. I’m trying to work either on a new song or work on something I’m not good at so in the future I can do a song I am not prepared for right now. It’s the same. Same concepts go into both.”

FS: “Your music career really launched within the last year. With over 119k followers on Soundcloud..”

C: “120k as of yesterday. Yeah, I was blindsided. I was on the phone preparing for Dollars to drop and we were like, Oh shit, Soundcloud just hit 120.”

FS: “Ayyyooo, I stand corrected. Then with 120k followers on Soundcloud, touring for festivals and shows, explain the emotion and success you gain realizing your music is touching others? Did you ever picture yourself this far so quick?”

C:  “That’s a tough one. To answer the first part of your question, it feels great. I’m really happy that a lot of people enjoy my music and that they like what I do. They support what I do. That means the world to me. Aside from that I’m always looking to do more and touch more lives. Affect more people. I want to expand my fan base. The second part of your question, how does it feel to get there this fast, I mean it’s really cool but also a tossup for everybody. Every artist grows differently, I’m fortunate enough to be here with who I am right now. It’s a good reflection of my natural god given ability as well. The work that I put in. I am blessed to be doing what I am doing right now. Two years ago I was just a name on Soundcloud freshman year of college and now I’m playing festivals and stuff. It’s really cool.”

FS: “Artists you once listened to through your headphones are now artists you are making music with such as your recent release, “I Hold Still.” What is it like for you working with artists such as Slushi and Jauz?”

C: “It’s awesome! Sam’s my dude now. It’s really cool. For example, I thoroughly studied the way Slander and NGHTMRE operated when they got their start. I actually remember reading one day on Facebook, I believe it was Scott but it may have been Derek, posted a picture of them leaving work. Just quit their jobs to do music full time. I was like, holy shit! That’s crazy! It’s actually real. So the fact that I’m friends with them now and like working with them, it’s really really cool.”

FS: “You recently finished your tour, Gear Up. What are some of the biggest moments you are able to take away from the tour?”

C: “There’s a lot of really cool things. I got to play at some venues that I looked forward to playing for, for a very long time. For example, I did Avalon in Los Angeles. The show did really really well. It was one of the first venues I ever knew of within electronic music. One of the first venues I was made aware of. You know, that wasn’t in Ohio. So getting to play there and actually do well, it was really cool. Likewise, I was just in another interview, I had a really cool moment in Sacramento. The duo, Goshfather & Jinco, they split up I think a little bit over a year ago. They both came out to my show in Sacramento and we went back-to-back-to-back. That was the first time they had played since they split however long ago so that was another cool moment to experience while on tour.”

FS: “With Dollars just released today, what is next for Crankdat?”

C: Since I just signed with the label, Asylum Records, it’s going to be really consistent from now throughout the rest of, honestly, until next summer. I have a ton of stuff I’ve been working on. I was just waiting for the right home to put it in. Now that I’ve found that it’s just a matter of time before they all come out.”

FS: “So do you have a time limit on when you want to release new music now that Dollars just dropped? Or in the works?”

C: ““It’s honestly really hard because I have so much. It’s hard to map it out and figure when is the proper time for all of these. But it’s probably going to be an original every two months”

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