It feels like artists are getting younger and younger these days, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less talented than their older counterparts. It should come as no surprise, then, that 20-year-old Crankdat is a force to be reckoned with and shows no signs of slowing down in the year to come.

Crankdat, also known as Christian Smith, dropped out of Kent State on a full-ride athletic scholarship to pursue his career in music full time, which ultimately paid off, as he just performed at Electric Zoo. His music has over 150 million streams and his newest single is out on Spotify.

I had a chance to sit down and talk with Christian after his set at E-Zoo this year, and you can read the interview in full below:

Congrats on your new original “Dollars”! Can you tell us a little bit about it and what the process was like making it?

Thank you! I made “Dollars” as soon as I got back from my Asia tour. It was my first time ever going to Asia, and obviously I was out of the studio for some time because I was actively touring. As soon as I got back, I’d built up a lot of experiences and emotions and had starved myself from working. When I did finally get access to the studio and I was able to go in and start producing again, it all just channeled itself and came out naturally. “Dollars” was the product to come out from that.

Awesome! What was your favorite part of Asia?

[sighs] Everything. It was all great. I can tell you my least favorite part of Asia. I got the flu when I was in China. That was not fun. I was in bed all day, taking six mega-hot baths trying to sweat it out. Luckily as soon as I got back to the states I was good to go. Obviously I did a good job sweating it out.

You dropped out of Kent State with a full-ride athletic scholarship to pursue a career in music. What’s that been like?

Of course it’s a big transition. I have no regrets. I love what I do. That’s ultimately why I made the decision. I was ready to proceed to the next step of my life, and do what I realistically was going to try to do after I graduated from college anyways.

Fortunately for me, I was blessed with the opportunity before graduation. I just had to take the leap of faith and accept that and move out of where I was and onto where I am right now.

Are your parents supportive of your decision?

[emphatically] Yes. One hundred percent, they were behind me the whole way. I’m actually really glad they were, because if they weren’t, I totally wouldn’t be where I am today. They understood the situation and knew that my passion wasn’t with what I was doing, it’s with what I’m doing now.

What were you studying?

I think it was business management. I obviously wasn’t interested too much. [laughs]

You are playing clubs and shows that are 21+, but you’re still underage.

Yes! I’m only 20.

What’s that been like?

It’s interesting. For example, when I played Hakkasan, they have a very strict policy for anyone who isn’t 21. As soon as I’m done playing I’m escorted out of the building very quickly. I can’t even turn around and give my agent a hug or anything I gotta jet straight on out.

I think it’s because they can’t bring alcohol into the booth until I’m fully out of the building, so whatever artist is after me can’t have their stuff until I’m out of there. Obviously they want to have fun, so I have to leave.

Crankdat

You’re from Ohio originally! Are you in Cleveland now?

I fly in and out of Cleveland, and tell people I live in Cleveland, but I actually live in Youngstown, Ohio. It’s about an hour southeast.

Do you have any favorite spots you recommend?

Honestly there isn’t a whole lot going on where I live, but that’s kind of why I like it. There’s a couple really great food spots near by. There’s actually a great pizza place called Rise Pies. It’s founded by a guy who lives in our area. It’s the best personal gourmet pizza you will ever have. Period. So if you ever wind up in the Youngstown area, hit me up. I’m going to send you directions to Rise Pies.

You’ve had breakout, massive success with your remixes, like your “Trap Queen” remix. Do you have a method of choosing songs to remix?

No real specific method—there is always a purpose behind it, whether it be a song that I really like or previously really liked, or a popular song that I know will get good exposure. Also, a song that I think needs a good dance remix, that will do it.

How do you discover new music?

Well… I have SoundCloud. I’m not really that good at discovering new music anymore, I feel really bad about it. I just got Spotify Premium like three weeks ago [everyone laughs]. I figured if I have a song that’s going to be on Spotify I guess I should probably get that. [laughs] I had the Apple Music free trial back in the spring of my freshman year, but that was two years ago, so…

Yeah. I’m not as good at discovering music as I should be. I pretty much listen to old jams when I was in middle school on Pandora. That’s my stuff.

Dream collabs?

Of course I do. I’d love to work with people who I really look up to, like Calvin Harris or Zedd. DJ Snake is the ultimate homie. As far as people that aren’t alive anymore, I’d love to work with Michael Jackson. As I’m sure pretty much anyone would.

Your favorite thing about New York is 99¢ pizza at 4 AM… 

100% it is.

Do you have a go-to flavor?

Just cheese. I’m an easy guy, nice and plain. Besides, it’s way cheaper if you just get cheese. If you get pepperoni and stuff, it’s, like, $1.29. Who wants to fork up 29 cents? No one. Absolutely no one. It’s not my style.

Anything in store for in the next year?

As far as 2018… There’s a lot more original music to come out, finally. I’ll probably continue touring, doing my thing. I’ve only been touring for nine months religiously, so I’m excited for what’s in store for the next year.


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