The Crystal Method: Past Success and Current Observations of EDM

12.17.2012

MUSIC

Regardless of if you fall into the category of an optimist, realist or careless in regards to EDM’s stability, its presence behooves you to acknowledge the genre’s global power. In 2012 alone, EDM has seen its share of controversies particularly the questioning of the legitimacy of a DJs live set based off of prerecorded mixes and has been trivialized to the degree of being labeled as a commercial sellout and a temporary trend. Is this really the case? Is something that was founded over two decades ago worthy of being pigeonholed as a fad? Though electronic dance music got its initial start in the late 1960s, its popularity, specifically in America, had its beginning during the mid ‘90s during a period of time that the genre was being referred to as “big beat.” In that length of time British electronic artists such as The Prodigy, Fatboy Slim and The Chemical Brothers, aided in the rise of interest in sharp synths and punchy kickdrums in England. No doubt these aforementioned acts have aided in setting the stage for the electronic music we hear today. Despite EDM’s unpopularity and ambiguity in America at that time, two fearless American gents emerged and are among the list of pioneers of electronic music artists: The Crystal Method. Here,  Scott Kirkland, one half of the Grammy nominated electronic music duo, incorporates his past successes, current observations and plans for the New Year in discussion of his viewpoint of EDM.

Life + Times: It’s been about three years since Divided by Night was released. Do you and Ken have any projects due to be released for 2013?
Scott Kirkland
: We are going to release a new record in 2013. We seem to fall in right after a presidential election. That seems to be our cycle. (Laughs) We have quite a few songs that are close to being done and a collection of songs that will definitely be a part of an album that’s due out in the spring of 2013.

L+T:  Subsequently, there will be shows scheduled as well, right?
SK
: That’s all kind of in the works right now. Our management team has allowed us to focus on the album. We’re in the studio everyday making noise and hopefully making something worthwhile. It’s fun. We’ve been doing this for so long, touring and we have kids and family and all that other stuff. It’s fun to still get a chance to go in and just make music and do things that so many people wish they could do. We’re very fortunate and very excited about the new stuff.

L+T: All of this is really awesome. I’ve been keeping up with Community Service on Sirius XM. Will that be a continuous effort as well?
SK
: We had a show on a local station called Indie 103.1 on Friday nights. It’s a station that changed its formats probably three years ago now. We had so much fun doing that show. We had hoped to do something similar on Sirius and we haven’t been able to figure that out, but we do have a great deal of fun with the show, playing new music that we’re into. We definitely try and do something different every week, change the tempo up and not just play an hour worth of car music. It shows that it’s live on the air and it’s not just something that’s cookie cutter or thrown together. It definitely has some structure that makes the show unique.

L+T: It shows variety. I completely understand what you’re conveying. So, let’s rewind back in time. When you got started in the big beat era in the ‘90s when Fatboy Slim, The Prodigy and others were huge on that scene, what would you say was the most difficult part of establishing yourself as an electronic act in America? Especially since you and Ken were the only Americans that were major players in electronic dance music amid a list of European based artist that made their mark in big beat overseas.
SK
: It was all difficult, but it was all kind of easy because we didn’t feel we had anything to lose. We had so much love for EDM. We pulled together some gear and went into the studio about sixteen years ago and started working on the first album. It was so much fun. It was difficult to get radio play, but we didn’t really care because we understood from the beginning that you had to tour and we were lucky we had a couple of tracks that got some attention. We would do more live shows. That was difficult because of all the travel and we were our own tour managers. Then again, it was a time where we had a love for what we were doing and all of the energy and all of the passion. We were very hungry and prepared to work hard until we succeeded. We had an understanding of what needed to be done. It just all fell into place. I think what’s difficult about if you’re starting now is to find the whole visual scene. The whole package before, there wasn’t any radio stations playing it or video channels playing electronic music. Now, people can make music in their bedroom, but they also kind of have to create their image. We were kind of mysterious with our crazy name. I think navigating through social media and being on top of all of that is the new model. Obviously, touring is important, but doing all of that stuff is difficult for some that spend a lot of time in the studio making music. We’ve had the opportunity to go and play, thankfully, it has all paid off.

L+T: It has! Some of the new producers and DJs that have come out have actually cited you guys as influences. Who were some of the muses for you when you first started out?
SK
: The album that definitely changed the way we thought about electronic music was Leftfield’s Leftism; I think that came out in 1993 or ’94. Also a band called Fluke had a great record called Six Wheels on My Wagon. Moby was also influential. He’s a great artist. At all of the clubs and the raves the tracks that we would never find out the track or the name of the artist of the song, we just heard it and would go back into the studio wanting to create something with that vibe and that energy. Just the whole scene, the DJs that were playing in L.A. was so unique and so inspiring. It was built on love for music and appreciation for the community vibe, the collective good of all to come together with different types of people with different backgrounds. It was like an awakening.

L+T: Vegas came out a couple of years after the Nord Lead was released in ’95. How integral was that synthesizer in the making of that particular album?
SK
: The Nord Lead had all of the convenient functionalities. It had the analog type sounds. It was something that we used all over Vegas and over the last few records. We took the Nord Lead II out on the road and had a lot of fun with it.

L+T: Do you think the obsession that America currently has with EDM now will eventually die out?
SK
: I can’t see it fading away anytime soon. I think just like everything else, it’s going to evolve. There’s going to be great new artists that do things outside of the EDM sound that will become the next thing. In my generation, it was metal. There were rock bands with explosions…and bands like Metallica and Judas Priest that spoke to me and my generation. I think a lot of the producers that are doing really well now, they’ve grown up with a lot of that nu-metal and hip-hop and influences in electronic music as well. I think those influences are coming out in what they’re making. I don’t think it’s going to go anywhere. It’s going to evolve and have different flow to what the producer or to what the artist is into. Right now, EDM and this entire scene is this generation’s thing. People have a lot of pride and love for this scene. I don’t foresee it fading away, it’s going to continue to change and evolve.

L+T: Do you think DJs are musicians?
SK
: I think that anytime that anybody has complete control of an environment whether it’s 20 people or 2,000 people or 20,000 people, that person is doing something that is a great deal of skill whether it’s the understanding of the room or where to go next with a song. You can give two different people the exact same selection of music and can blow the roof off the dump and the other one can turn the place into a dump. (Laughs) It’s one of those things where the people that are up there have a great deal of talent. I think the term musician is evolving. A DJ definitely has an understanding of music and most of them are really good producers and have a good understanding of production. What definitely has happened over the past five years or maybe even longer, [I think the person]in the crowd just wants a great show and is not concerned with what the person is doing or what songs he’s playing or what songs the person has produced. It’s sort of one of those magical moments where you just want to go in and have a good time. You’re into that vibe at that time. People just want to escape and have a great time with their friends and listen to great music. I think that’s a very refreshing thing. Ken and I are happy to oblige.

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