When you talk about Los Angeles drum ‘n bass, Chris Muniz, also known as Nightstalker is one name that has to be mentioned. Crawling through the night as one of Insomniac’s resident bass devils for over a decade, Nightstalker’s continuous flow of premier releases, dubplates and bass music anthems have cut through high end speaker systems like razor blades.
Also known for writing for the créme de la créme of electronic publications, including Knowledge Mag, XLR8R, URB, ATM, Rinse Mag, DNB Vault, and many more; Nightstalker is the editor-at-large for Bassrush and Insomniac.
When did you get your “lucky break” with Bassrush? What were you doing at the time that Bassrush called on you?
I don’t think there’s any one specific moment I can point to as being my lucky break. Having put in work since the mid-to-late-1990s in the local, stateside, and international scenes as both a DJ and journalist, I was what the kids today would call low-key famous in the pre-dubstep era of jungle/drum & bass – haha. As such I used to tour quite a bit and was also one of the early residents for the OG Funktion shows circa 2006. More recently, however, after a short hiatus where I dipped out of the scene to focus on school and life and that sort of thing, I have been fortunate to be back in the game in a major way. Right around the time Knowledge Mag in the UK folded (December 2014), I was approached to contribute to the editorial side of Bassrush.com and help with the relaunching of the site, which itself was part of a larger strategy to revitalize the brand. I think being an integral part of the team in that way and working close with Forrest, Derek, Tony, and Nick behind the scenes has been a huge part of my continued success.
What is your history with Bassrush? Favorite performances?
As I mentioned earlier, I used to play the original Funktion shows when they were at the Vanguard. Anyone who was there can attest to the strength of the Los Angeles drum & bass scene at the time and the massive amount of love events like that generated. So many lifelong friendships were formed during that era that continue to this day. In terms of favorite performances, opening up at Nocturnal last year and at the EDC Las Vegas bassPOD this past summer have to top it out – there’s nothing like stepping up to that massive sound system and stage and watching all the heads come streaming in when the gates open and brocking out.
How would you say that “The Bassrush Experience” and events like Electric Daisy Carnival have impacted the United States dance scene?
The largest impact has been a shift away towards multi-day festivals that just blow everything else out of the water production-wise. While pyro and lasers and legit venues may seem light years away from the days of renegade warehouse parties, you can’t deny that the resulting attention to quality sound systems has impacted every level of the scene, from dank underground desert parties to those held at the local bar all the way through to massive venues that used to be reserved for mainstream house and hip-hop shows. If the bass isn’t hitting, promoters will hear about it on social media without a doubt. No one complains when there are no lasers or smog machines though.
You’ve been the Editor-At-Large of Insomniac and Bassrush for quite a while now. How would you say this role propelled you as a writer and DJ?
Writing and DJing have definitely gone hand in hand over the years. When I first started out writing for URB, XLR8R, Rinse, ATM, and Knowledge back in the day, I did so mainly to get on promo lists and have access to unreleased tunes before anyone else. I started out with a weekly internet radio show at CalArts which eventually led to my weekly Primordial broadcast at the infamous Vibeflow studios (shout out to Kingpin, Phear, Zack Hill, and so many more!). Things just grew from there – as I became internationally recognized as a journalist, I also came to see my role as a tastemaking DJ whose selections became less about what I “liked” than about communicating, educating, and archiving the broader culture that I was fortunate to represent. In many ways, I see my work for Insomniac and Bassrush as the culmination of the fifteen or so years of work that preceded where I’m at now.
Any thought of producing your own tracks?
I’ve had some dope collaborations with Devoe and General Malice over the years and sat in on countless studio sessions but have always been hard-pressed to commit to that side of things when drum & bass is supposed to just be my hobby! How it took over my life I don’t know but whenever I had what could be considered free time, I instead have put that creative energy into working on fiction and my career as an academic. It’s a crazy double life! With that said, I’m at the point where not producing is a huge impediment to moving up the ranks as a DJ. The days of being a tastemaking DJ and traveling the world are no more, for better or worse. Luckily, technology has evolved to the point where the barriers aren’t as prohibitive as they used to be and am looking forward to flexing on that front in 2017.
How would you compare “getting a gig” now compared to when you first started as far as DJing goes?
I remember MC XYZ and I discussing artistic success back in the day and we were convinced that just sticking around and staying relevant was half the battle – haha. In so many ways that is still true! When you build relationships with people over the years, and I don’t just mean friends, but audiences that can remember partying with you in Rosarito or how that set you dropped at that DSC desert party back in the day blew their mind, etc., that means something and with it comes an old-school kind of respect or at least recognition that you’ve devoted the better part of your life to the culture and are therefore “legit.” I’ve never had an agent and never really pushed that side of things — I’ve always been fortunate that gigs come to me the old-school way – people just hit me up online and ask.
What’s on the horizon for the Nightstalker?
Am transitioning into a space where I’m interested in giving back and making sure that the most meaningful aspects of the culture continue to survive. Whether that’s shepherding through the next generation of journalists or trying to connect the dots between techno, house, bass, jungle and drum & bass culture within the span of a set, it’s all love for me at the end of the day. To have the opportunity to get in front of big and small crowds and share some vibes with people is what it’s all about.
What would you say are five drum ’n bass tracks that have changed your life?
- This is kind of cheating as it’s a mix but Dieselboy’s ‘Supreme’ mixtape from 1995 was the turning point where jungle/drum & bass took over everything. While I didn’t turn my back on other forms of electronic music (I’d been raving and partying in LA since 1991), that was when I felt like I had truly found a language that communicated with me on a deeper level.
- Splash – Babylon (DJ Trace mix pt. 2)
- Undercover Agent – Dub Plate Circles
- Decoder – Difference
- Makai – Beneath the Mask
What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen during a performance?
I don’t even know where to begin with that one… take me and XYZ out for drinks sometime and we will inevitably start in with some proper war stories.
Who are your favorite artists right now?
Too many to list! I would check names like Magnetude, Proxima, Hedex, Hybris, Current Value, Prolix, Mefjus, Phace, BSE, Kije, Lockjaw, Posij, Signal, the list goes on and on…
Anything else to add?
Shout-out to all the heads in the trenches pushing the culture at the local level! That’s where the real juice is at no matter which headliner is at the top of the bill! Much love to all my junglist family worldwide, especially those who were there during the glory days and those who laid the foundation for all that has since come to pass!