Madam X On Her Mission To Marry Wellness, Fitness, And Music | Features

Madam X is one of dance music’s ever-presents. Notorious for her di lei weird and wonderful DJ sets and trailblazing label Kaizen, Crissi Vassilakis started MDMXERCISE spontaneously in lockdown after requests from friends to reveal her exercise regime. After expanding on her hobby, 2022 finds the DJ combining her two loves di lei, the dancefloor and physical health, through a new clothing line with Luke Menikmati.

Clash spoke to Madam X about the new line, sticking to her exercise regime since resuming touring, top tips for those on the go and continuing on her “mission to marry wellness, fitness and music.”

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Hey Crissi. How’s 2022 been treating you?

Great thanks! Finally feels like things are getting back to normal. So happy to be gigging again.

How have you found adjusting back to the touring lifestyle? Have you noticed any changes post-pandemic?

I think everyone’s just super grateful to be back. Not being able to DJ for so long genuinely killed my soul a bit. I think if anything, I’ve just become incredibly appreciative of the job and don’t want to take any of it for granted. There’s something so nourishing about being able to express yourself through music and having that taken away from us for two years, was challenging to say the least. Every gig has been so rewarding and I couldn’t be happier to be back, doing what I love.

You recently unveiled your clothing line with Luke Menikmati. How did that come about?

I’ve religiously worked with Luke over the years across all things KAIZEN and fashion, and each time he goes above and beyond to bring my wacky ideas to fruition. He’s an absolute visionary and joy to work with. We were initially talking about creating resistance bands, but the conversation soon escalated and a year and a half later, we had a full-on MDMXERCISE clothing range!

What are some of the fashion inspirations and touchstones for the line?

I really wanted to honor my Greek heritage paying homage to my ancient ancestors, warriors and divine beings and blend them with Menikmati’s staple ‘Gothic Futurism’ aesthetic. It’s sort of Matrix meets the Goddess Athena, meets extra-terrestrial skinwear, designed to make you feel like an absolute badass when you put it on. It’s multi-functional, with the black, rubberised latex textures for added grip, fit for raving, fitness and movement.

All the patterns and textures of the prints in the garments are taken from silhouettes of designs and stencils in ancient Greek pottery, and the circular shapes and spheres represent the planetary movements and ellipses of the sun.

You started MDMXERCISE in lockdown. Was that a spontaneous idea or something you’d been planning for a while?

Totally spontaneous. It was born out of boredom and the want to connect with people whilst my sister and I were hiding out in the Greek mountains. I had loads of people asking me how I was staying so active in lockdown and what my workout routines were, so I just kind of put a poll out there on my Instagram to see who’d be keen to workout with me on Zoom, and the rest was history!

Never did I think we’d be launching a full on fitness community, but it was such a positive thing to take from the madness of the last two years.

I was looking through old interviews you’d done before this and I found a quote about how carefully thought-out your label merch always is. Did you approach the clothing line in a similar way? Totally. It was incredibly important for me to create fitness clothes that could withstand the test of time. It’s the worst thing when you buy a cheap pair of leggings that lose their support and elasticity after a couple of washes. I wanted something high quality, unique and stylistically breathtaking.

I wanted people to put the garments on, and feel empowered by them. Like they’re putting on a coat of armor, or power-ranger suit that lets them unleash their inner-warriors, and move their bodies free from judgment and doubt.

I literally see these pieces as superhero suits.

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There’s been some conversations around mental health in dance music in the last year or two, which feels really positive. Do you think discussions around physical health (and a greater focus on health in general) will follow?

I’d love to see more of this. I don’t think we talk enough about the effects that touring can have on your mind and body. Late nights, early mornings, time zone hopping, all the planes etc – it’s hard to find balance and stay grounded.

I think dance is such a positive form of movement and there’s a real negative stigma around club culture being synonymous with substance abuse and unhealthy habits. However, there’s actually an abundance of parties and communities that encourage sober raving like ‘Morning Gloryville’, ‘Ecstatic Dance’, ‘5 Rhythms’ etc, that bring this notion of conscious clubbing to the forefront. Would love to see clubbing and dance music celebrated more positively, so we can dispel these ideas that clubs are bad and DJs are messy.

I refuse to believe that the music I play can only exist with alcohol. I want to continue on my mission to marry wellness, fitness and music.

How did lockdown affect you, both creatively and fitness-wise?

I definitely threw myself into my fitness. It was super challenging not being able to DJ and tour and practice my art, so diving into my exercise was my escape. The endorphins you get from moving your body and exercising, was my saving grace!

I guess on the creative spectrum, what my sister and I were developing with the exercise classes and the routines allowed me to practice this part of my brain. I’m never one for sitting still, so I naturally just threw myself into what was providing me with immediate relief and comfort in lockdown. Hence – MDMXERCISE!

And have you kept to your fitness regime now you’re back fully touring again?

Deffo, it’s become part of my lifestyle. Even if it’s just a little bit of movement, or yoga in a hotel room, I use exercise as a way to zone out and give myself a bit of me time. It’s also the perfect opportunity to listen to new mixes and music. My regime’s not as gym-focused as it was in lockdown. I mix it up quite a bit now with Yoga and Pilates. I think it’s good to have a balanced routine, mix things up and honor where your brain and body is in the present.

Any top fitness tips for those, like yourself, who are on the go a lot and don’t have much time?

Pack Resistance Bands. They’re so light and easy to travel with and you can get a seriously good workout in with them. They saved me during lockdown. You can replicate a lot of the strength moves you do in the gym using your own bodyweight with those elastic bands. Don’t let their simple appearance fool you!

What are your plans, both musically and fitness-wise, in 2022? What can we expect?

Lots coming up! I’m back touring in the USA June-July, which I’m super excited for, and as well as releasing the clothing line, I’m looking to take MDMXERCISE live, offering classes IRL. Stage takeovers at festivals, more collaborations with DJs, and just generally spreading the positive vibes.

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Madam X plays Queen’s Yard Summer Party on May 1st 2022 and Outlook Festival UK on June 30th – July 3rd 2022.

Words: Lee Wakefield

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