The Crystal Method - conducted by Patrick Britton & Christian Amstutz  

The Crystal Method

June 2005

Comprising of Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland, The Crystal Method are One of electronica's most noteworthy groups. After recently releasing "Community Service II" on Ultra Records, The Crystal Method caught up with MVRemix at the Vancouver stop of their North American tour.

MVRemix: Which do you prefer? DJ'ing sets or mixing in the studio?

Scott: Well they're totally different. When we do our live concerts, it's definitely more rewarding; it's a bigger show playing all our own music. But DJ'ing can be just as much, but it's definitely more of a club environment. DJ'ing; we're spinning a lot of other people's music, as well as a lot of our own. So when we put out a mix CD it's more fun to do DJ'ing, but when we have an artist album out, it's more fun to do the live concerts.

MVRemix: What sort of music do you listen to?

Ken: We listen to a lot of different things. Obviously we have electronic/break-beat stuff with us too; bands like JDS, Elite Force, Hyper, Chemical Brothers. Outside of electronic music we listen to Coldplay, Mars Volta [turns to Scott] - what have you been listening to lately?

Scott: Queens of the Stone Age.

Ken: A little bit of Hip Hop... Just lots of everything really.

MVRemix: Do you guys ever listen to your own music?

Scott: We've never tried it. But sometimes, when you're recording the record you listen to a lot of it. At least I'm always listening to it to try to hear things that could be better or... When you go on a tour, like the one we did last year [playing all your songs over], you really don't want to hear them again. We hadn't listened to "Legion of Boom" in a while and I just got an I-Pod and was told, "You've gotta make sure you put all your songs on there." I hadn't heard so many of them for so long. So this mix cd, where we're playing a lot of the mixes out. I'm sure when we get back we'll stay away from those for a while.

MVRemix: Is there anything either of you would be slightly embarrassed to say you listen to, like Neil Diamond? Something we just wouldn't picture you listening to?

Ken: I like Kanye West...

Scott: That's not embarrassing [chuckles]

Ken: Elton John's first greatest hits record, although I didn't like "Tiny Dancer."

Scott: I've been contemplating getting Def Leppard's greatest hits just for that early stuff. But they're gonna have so much of that older stuff that maybe I'll just download that. All that Rock of Ages stuff [begins singing]

Ken: I like all that old disco.

MVRemix: With regards to downloading, it's known that studios sometimes put out albums with differences on the actual release as a means of marketing. Do you see downloading as a promotional thing?

Scott: When I say downloading, I mean with I-Tunes. Properly.

Ken: We love I-Tunes, we promote that a lot. But file sharing, some people are just so un-conservative. They're hungry. People are always asking me, "How do you get your music? How do you get your music?" "I buy a CD or I download it." And they're like "What?!? You use Limewire, right?" It was not in their realm of possibility to legally pay for music at all, anymore in their life. It was completely done. It was so foreign to them and completely eye-opening to me. Just how far they've gone.

Scott: I think if they'd just been more ahead with the curving, and legal download sites when these kids were 12, 13, 14... They would be locked into that. I'm sure all these kids have had families with computers by their early teens, and through word of mouth "Oh, check this site." Especially when you have all these artists who have albums which feature "Parental Guidance" stickers, it's so easy for them to just go find it on the internet. They don't have to wait for their parents. It's unfortunate that to get up on this so much sooner. But, I think by how creative I-Tunes have been with their outreach and their promotional setups that they'll turn some of them back from the "darkside" but you never know.

MVRemix: On sort of a lighter note, would either of you consider doing lyrics on a future album?

Ken: Would we sing? Would we be the vocal guys?

MVRemix: Yeah...

Ken: I don't see that happening. Unless there's... Only singing I know is on "I Know It's You" on "Legion of Boom." The little vocal part is me, but then technically it's a keyboard sound.

MVRemix: Something which is known about you guys is that you prefer to use live samples as opposed to using a drum machine. Do you see that as the future of electronica or are we all gonna go back to Snyths and that type of thing?

Ken: Some of our music we use samples. A lot of the drum machines you can load any kind of sample into the drum machines.

Scott: We really use whatever sounds good. We've used a lot of regular drum machines. We've got a 606 and a 909 - a lot of drum machines we've got are fun with a lot of quirky...

Ken: [interrupting] How come there was never a 404? You've got a 505, 606 - was there a 404?

Scott: I think there was... Later... Wasn't there a 404? There was a 202.

Ken: Groove Box or something like that?

Scott: Yeah, the Groove Box. Wasn't that a 404?

Ken: Nah, that was like an MC303 or something. But there was a 202, wasn't there? We had one.

[The Crystal Method continue debating whether a 404 exists]

Scott: We use a lot of things, but yeah... Getting back to your point, we like to sample real drummers, real loops and real songs because most of them are recorded with really great timing and feel within the tracks. Kicks, snares, crashes and so we will go anywhere to get a sound that we feel would work well.

Ken: We used to call him DJ Kick.

MVRemix: "Community Service 2" is a mix album - is there a song out there that you haven't been album to get your hands on that you would die to mix?

Ken: On the very first album, we really wanted to use this hybrid bootlegged mix of a Radiohead song "Everything In It's Right Place" and it was awesome. It sounded so great. We jumped through a million hoops and we could not get... Apparently the band liked it, but we couldn't get to the band's management. Similar situation on this album, but we prevailed because of the Smashing Pumpkins track "1979." We got it to Billy Corgan, he was totally cool with that and everything. So it wasn't being bootlegged, but a totally legit remix. Which was cool.

MVRemix: How do you feel about electronica kind of being in a bubble for pop culture in the States... Canada's into it, UK - forget about it - but in the States, what do you think has to happen to get it to be "the next Hip Hop"?

Ken: Maybe if the whole Christian-bibled up was lost in a horrible tornado or something, it would be okay.

Scott: It's never gonna have the sort of street cred, and it's never gonna have the appeal Hip Hop has. As far as what Hip Hop did a long time ago. It reached out and it brought a lot of those other genres in. Rappers and producers were really into the idea of expanding the sound. They were like "Lets work with this person... Lets work with this person..." Many, many years ago electronic artists were "We wanna be in our keep our little underground scene - those guys are sellin' out. We just wanna have this music to ourselves." That has really killed a lot of the growth. Especially with the late 90's where there was a lot of opportunity for expansion within the scene. There was all kinds of potential for electronica music. When I hear those Gorillaz records, I think of electronic experimentation because of the way they make the records, the way they sound - all the different elements brought in. It reminds me of Massive Attack or something like that.

MVRemix: If you weren't musicians, what would you be doing right now?

Ken: I guess I'd still be trying to be a recording engineer, and I hate that life.

Scott: I'd be dead or in jail or working as some fucking fast food manager or a really shitty job at some grocery store.

Ken: I'd be Bo Bices tour manager.

MVRemix: What's coming up next year? Are you looking at a studio album maybe? You'd mentioned you were looking to score a TV show or a movie... Do you think that's the future of electronica; scoring?

Ken: I don't know about the future, but I think Hollywood has kind of opened up to the fact that sometimes the best people to score films are not the traditional composer-conductor guy and it goes back far. Maybe to Danny Elfman because he was in a New Wave band, Oingo Boingo. They don't look towards the traditional composers and scorers anymore. Our music lends itself really well to film. So, there have been lots of films and lots of movie trailers. We've never limited ourselves to "We only do this," or "We only do that." We just want to keep our hands in as many fires [pause] are we supposed to keep our irons in the fire? I don't really wanna keep my hands in the fire. Keep as many irons in as many fires... Yeah, so we're interested in video game and movie scores. If we can totally bypass the TV scores and go straight to movie scores, which I think we're gonna do, then I think that'll do us.

MVRemix: How does it feel to have the scene in the movie with your song being the most memorable of the movie? Like with the "Replacement Killers"?

Scott: That's awesome. That stuff works really well. We put these records out - we wrote 'em and produced 'em ourselves in the studio and somehow somebody found another use for 'em from just listening to 'em. That's cool, I mean I feel if we can do some things outside of just artists recording studio albums. There's a lot of opportunities to work with different things, and we're very fortunate to have some of those opportunities.

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"Many, many years ago electronic artists were "We wanna be in our keep our little underground scene - those guys are sellin' out. We just wanna have this music to ourselves." That has really killed a lot of the growth."