Electronic duo The Crystal Method takes on the big beats

Christina Walker

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Musical entrepreneurs Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland formed the electronic duo The Crystal Method long before electronic dance music had earned its recognition in the U.S. Known as one of the best selling electronic acts in America, the duo has spent the last 15 years crafting their trademark sound of variety and big beats. Scott Kirkland told The Summer Northwestern about how the two broke into a now booming genre (no pun intended) and also his expectations for their show in Chicago.Excerpts:The Summer NU: First off, can you tell me about the background of The Crystal Method? How did you and Ken meet and form the group?Scott Kirkland: We met years ago when I was working at a grocery store in Las Vegas. I happened to bring in a drum machine one day, and I was playing around with it on my break. We just started talking and he asked me how long I’d been working on music. He told me about the singer he was working with and I had written some songs, so we started working together with a singer in Las Vegas. Ken moved to LA and eventually just started working more on production and things like that… His knowledge of the inner workings of the studio, he was a recording engineer in LA once he got here and worked on some big records; my love of electronic music and my love of heavy metal and what limited skills I have on the guitar, keyboard, and bass, put all those into the blender and you get the results of The Crystal Method. SNU: When did you know you were ready to move to LA and make music a career?Kirkland: At the time we had no real aspirations of making a living off of it. We had hoped that we’d have some limited success, maybe get a remix, have some sort of career overseas. At the time, ’92, ’93, ’94, it wasn’t really a great few years there for electronic music in the states. Bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam were leading the way. Things like dance music and eclipsing were frowned upon, not really looked at as a legitimate music scene. It just so happened we had a little success over in UK with our first single “Now Is The Time” and then that started to build… We went and played every city we could. Took all of our gear by ourselves, set everything up, played the show, took everything down, back to the hotel, go to the airport, and do the same thing over again. It was a lot of hard work for love of what we were doing.SNU: Do you feel like your style has changed since then?Kirkland: Yeah, I think it’s natural. Every person is different. In many ways I’ve changed, I’ve started a family, and my wife and I have two kids. Just the overall experience that I’ve had, the music that I’ve enjoyed, the slight changes in lifestyle, getting older, the places I’ve been, everything affects what it is creatively that is done by artists like myself. It definitely has evolved a bit, but I think to our core we’re still interested in hearing the same type of sounds, not necessarily the same tempo or the same sort of structure or the same style of music but methodically what we want to hear is still here – our drums, our rhythm, bring a lot of melody to the table, dynamics. We definitely have evolved since the early days, but I think in a good way.SNU: How do you decide that I want this type voice or I want that guitarist to go along with the song? Do you suggest it, does Ken suggest it, or does someone come to you saying I think you should check this person out?Kirkland: It’s a combination of all the things… On the last record, Divided by Night, I had come across a track by the guys LMFAO and I thought it’d be a fun idea to take a group that was really playful and kind of silly but just has a different fun vibe to bring them in the studio. [We’re] always trying to find a way to create something that’s different and special, that’s new but also make it work for both artist. Each artist has a real vested interest in making the track sound good.SNU: How is the tour going so far, I know you’re going to be in Chicago soon. What are your expectations with that?Kirkland: Chicago is one of our favorite cities. We’ve been playing Chicago for 14 years now, and we just really have a great relationship with the town. We love the town, we love the vibe of the city, and the food is spectacular. We’ve had great success at many different venues around town. It’s a city we always look forward to playing… We feel that Chicago is in the top five, 10 cities that we’ve played as artists.christinawalker2013@u.northwestern.edu