6 questions for Scott Kirkland of The Crystal Method
Many ring in the New Year with the ball drop in Times Square. This year, however, at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, it'll be some bass drop rather than a ball drop that'll be taking center stage as we greet 2016.
Potawatomi is hosting a huge New Year's Eve party on Thursday night, beginning at 8 p.m., complete with a 2,400-square foot dance floor and live music provided by electronic music mainstays The Crystal Method, also known as the duo of Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland. Before the clock strikes midnight, OnMilwaukee got a chance to chat with Kirkland about the state of electronic music, future projects and his own New Year's resolutions.
OnMilwaukee: This being a New Year's show, it only makes sense to start off by asking if you have any typical New Year's traditions.
Scott Kirkland: I think we've only had about only two or three New Year's Eves off over the last 20 years, so mainly we're always doing a show. The few times that we are home, we just stay home. One or two times, back a long time ago when we didn't do any shows, we went out, and it was a disaster. If we're not playing, we're staying in.
OnMilwaukee: Do you have any resolutions in mind for the upcoming year?
Kirkland: Basically, whatever I do on New Year's Eve, I'm going to try not to do as much of in 2016. It's not necessarily a New Year's resolution, but being a little bit better with my schedule and getting home at a decent time. Because I have two kids and a wife, and the studio is like a time warp. Five hours is like an hour, so sometimes it's difficult to maintain a consistent schedule. So that's one thing I'd look forward to.
OnMilwaukee: You'd talking about being in the studio. Is another album in the works or some other stuff?
Kirkland: Hopefully we'll be doing some scoring. We've been doing some demos for some TV shows, and there's always a bit of the next album being developed within the ether of everything else that we're doing. But yeah, it's one of those things where we're trying not to do as many shows on the road and trying to work on the scoring aspect of our career, but all of those things are up in the air. That's one of the great things of being able to do what we do: The daily routine is never usually the same. We're always trying to change things up a bit, and the music we do is constantly evolving. It's always something we've appreciated about the opportunity we've had.
OnMilwaukee: You guys have jumped into soundtracks and scores, and obviously many other groups have done that too, whether it's M83 doing "Oblivion" or Chemical Brothers doing "Hanna." Why do you think it is that electronic music has become so appealing to movie scores – and other scores – and vice versa?
Kirkland: Yeah, those two that you mentioned were really great. I really liked both of those scores. I think our music in particular has a lot of dynamics; I've always thought about our music having a sort of visual aspect. Sometimes, when we're writing, you use your sounds to antagonize other sounds, just like characters antagonize in the development of a story. Not a lot of it has vocals, so it sort of lends itself to scores and soundtracks.
And just speaking for Ken and myself, it's a lot of fun to have another narrative in the studio. As the band, we're making music for us, but we've always been conscious of our fanbase and what our sound is, and sometimes that can … the term I've used before is "paralyzed by options." There's so many different things – what tempo and what direction – so scoring to picture, basically the roadmap is in front of you. You know a little bit of what the story is and the energy is. It's kind of liberating to have that laid out in front of us.
Of course, having a great story and visuals and working with people who really are doing creative and inspiring things in the world of TV or cinema is really important. There are many people who do zombie movies and horror movies, but that's one of those things I don't think I could get into as far as the darkness of that other stuff. For us, it's the opportunity to do something within our world but in a different way – and hopefully work with people that we're into. And those people are hopefully into what we're doing, so you go down that same path and create something hopefully different.
OnMilwaukee: As electronic music mainstays, how have you seen electronic music and industrial music evolve over these few years – for better and worse?
Kirkland: Having gone through a period of time where people were buying records and then having each of our albums fall, I wouldn't say fall victim, but become part of what would eventually be this drastic drop in the way people consume and appreciate music. Before, it was always you had the radio and your CD or vinyl. You had limited opportunities, and if you were really liked a band and really were passionate about a band, it was something you participated in by going out and purchasing the album. A whole different way of consuming music. I remember when it was a big deal when you had a six-CD changer in your car, and "Wow, I can put six CDs in there!"
For us, the thing that we miss, as far as the way people consume it, is making and listening to an album from beginning to end. Now, people are just making EPs, and the sequence isn't really that important. Lots of times, you listen to an album, and the way that the songs move between make you appreciate certain songs even more. It's like setting up a joke or telling a story. Now, everything is full-on, two or three songs on an EP, and repeat that every six months. That's not something we've really adapted to because it's not necessarily the way we've done things.
And of course, the electronic music scene is a whole different thing. I've got no issues with people finding their way to electronic music and appreciating it. One of the great things about being able to have the freedom what you like, and people have overwhelmingly decided over the last five to eight years that music with a beat is something they're really into. I definitely understand what they're feeling because, for the last 25 years, that's what we've been into. But it's a whole new world, and those who are navigating it with success are the ones who've figured out how to deal with the different changes – or probably didn't have to deal with any changes.
OnMilwaukee: Even someone like a DJ Paris Hilton?
Kirkland: (laughs) I don't know about DJ Paris Hilton. There's that celebrity aspect of what's happened under the electronic world umbrella is something that's new – or at least wasn't something that you really saw a lot of. If you wanted to DJ, you had to work your way through the clubs and get an audience and get a crowd and get songs and make music. Very rarely were there artists who were just playing music.
But that's one of those things where Paris Hilton, I think that's more based on celebrity. If she went to go sign up for a New Year's gig and did spoken word and ate tacos, people would find a way to go because she's a celebrity and people gravitate toward her celebrity.
I don't blame her for wanting to DJ; it's a lot of fun.
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