Lee Curtiss fait parti du milieu de la musique électronique depuis une dizaine d’années. Aujourd’hui, grâce à un nombre considérables de projets avec des artistes comme Seth Troxler, Shaun, Ryan ou encore Guy Gerber, le producteur américain décore sa musique avec beaucoup d’imaginations et d’ambitions. Parler de musique avec un DJ/producteur de Detroit est toujours enrichissant. Interview.
Midi Deux : Hi Lee. What’s up today ? I may know you are in Detroit, right ?
Lee Curtiss: Today i am working on my live set for saturday. i dj on friday in LA at this amazing new loft party, then play live and DJ in san fransisco on sat, then dj again at an after party on sunday in san fran. Then, at 6.30pm i am going to see LCD soundsystem here in detroit!!!! wooo hoo
Oh great programm. You have already done some dates since a few time, often in the USA, how was it ?
Well, since I live in detroit, i am always doing shows while i’m home. the last show I played was at spybar in chicago. it was amazing, one of my favorite clubs to play in the US. I have shows coming up in LA, San Fran, Chicago again, Miami, NYC before i go back to europe in february.
Where will you play in Europe ?
I don’t have my confirmed schedule yet but it looks like BLOC festival and fabric in the UK, weekend club in berlin and the rest of the dates are being confirmed now.
Any possibilities in France ?
Yes I am playing in france. I don’t have access to my calendar at the moment. Can you email ed and ask him for the date?
Yes, I will do that. Since when do you live in Detroit ?
I moved to detroit about 6-7 yrs ago and that’s when i met Seth, Ryan and shaun. shaun moved to berlin shortly after i met him and then seth, ryan and i moved over as well. I ended up moving back to detroit after a short stay.
Detroit is a city with a big musical reputation with rap and techno. Is this reputation deserved?
Absolutely. From motown in the 50s detroit has somehow always maintained as a place where amazing music comes from. Detroit is also the birthplace of techno, not to mention madonna, the white stripes and several other amazing musicians are from the D.
What do you listen besides techno ?
Great question. i actually don’t listen to much techno or house music when i am not going through promos, preparing for a dj set or producing. I am a huge fan of almost all music. I listen to everything from old country like johnny cash and waylon jennings to 80′s and 90′s pop music like INXS and prince to indie rock and classic rock. I played guitar before i started producing techno and play bass as well, so my musical background is quite vast.
And why do you play techno now ? Since when ?
I’ve been listening to, djing and producing for about 12 yrs and doing it seriously for about 8. I really love dance music and all electronic music. i think some of the best music in the world was made in the 70′s and 80′s when professional musicians got their hands on cutting edge technology and synthesizers. music has never been the same since and dance music is the furthest extension of man and machine in music. I always loved how 1 man could produce what would take a whole band and team of producers and engineers to make with conventional equipment. Dance music was a chance for me to learn how make every part of a track and not just be limited to an instrument. And djing was just fun and always will be for me. Being able to pick out all of your favorite records and go move a crowd and take them on a journey.
You are playing techno since 10 years approximately, So maybe you could have been annoyed by producing techno. But you always seems like a music lover.
Ah good question. To be perfectly honest, i am not annoyed to produce techno but have grown to find it a bit restrictive in the last couple of years. i’ve attempted to start incoorperating more organic instruments like guitar, bass, natural shakers and tambourines and went back to learning music theory more. I have started work on a indie/ pop album this past year and with the help of my friends, hopefully have something to put out within the next year. Something that is truly not techno or house but still uses everything i’ve learned from 12 yrs of producing. I personally think that there will be a shift in techno and house music this next year. I think that you’re going to see more “songlike” structure and more attention to melody and music theory. I know that there will always be a need for good club music, but hopefully in the next years, some of the praise will come away from the dj and back to the musicians making the music.
Your reasonning makes me think of the album of Danton Eeprom, do you know him ?
I haven’t heard it, please send!
http://www.myspace.com/dantonrocks He produced techno tracks… but his last album (great album by the way) was more pop.
We (seth, ryan, shaun and i) are launching our record label in january of next year. our 1st 3 releases are already done and i think they are really going to start a new path for dance music enthusiasts and crossover and indie fans alike. I mean, actually… being from detroit, we’ve always had ghostly internation and jimmy edgar as well. Both that label and artist have that sort of outlook and music. Like i was saying, detroit has too many amazing musicians to count… both techno and otherwise.
Who produces the 3 releases ?
The 1st release is with our close friends benoit and sergio. they are also putting out a release on DFA. the 2nd is from this amazing group from montreal called footprintz. they’re a duo. Both of the 1st 2 releases are some of the coolest and more forward thinking music i’ve heard in the last couple of yrs and we are super excited to be able to put out their music. the 3rd is from our friends karm and matteo from milan, italy. they produce under Tales of Us. really amazing, melodic, trippy house music. we will be going in and out of conventional style dance music with this label. each release will be very unique but for most records that aren’t as club friendly, we are having remixes done by producers we admire so they will also be able to translate to the dancefloor.
I will follow it. Concerning your career, can you tell me more about the highlights of your career, the productions that you are most proud of.
As far as music i’ve produced, i think the spectral “black door” ep was a big turning point for me. i still like to listen to and play my track “smoking mirrors” and i usually am tired of my tracks soon after i finish them. After that i think i am most proud of the music i have done with the boys as visionquest, the “good voodoo” remix and the remix of dOP’s “prostitute” were 2 of my favs, but the biggest achievement production wise for me was the remix of “swimming” that we did on tracey thorn’s new album. we really worked together as a unit in the studio and it was our 1st departure from making dance tracks and in more of a pop direction. i couldn’t be more please with the results.
I find it cool that some artists think about an other direction for techno. With pop or Jazz… because, like you said, techno is actually a bit restrective. Regarding american people, in general, are they techno purists?
It’s crazy here. a lot of dance music culture is still very behind. there are a lot of drum and bass, techn and house purists here but on the other hand there is a HUGE crossover, hipster scene and they are not purists at all. they listen to whatever is hot that week.
I like to have a little speech on some counrties and for those who don’t really know USA, can you make a little speech on ?
well, i would start by saying, GO TO NEW YORK! they have more to do in a square mile than most cities do in the US.
The food there is amazing, some of the best in the world. the fashion and art scenes are really great too. you can find so many different styles of music there. great underground parties like wolf and lamb and black market (who have just opened a club) and cool after hours and sunday parties as well.
But as far as good dance parties go in the USA. other than NYC, i would say, spybar in chicago (chicago has amazing food as well), the standard rooftop in LA, movement festival in detroit and WMC in miami are the best places to be for electronic music in the US. there are plenty of other clubs, festivals and parties in this huge country, but those are the ones that stand out to me.
Thanks, I keep that in mind. So, to finish, I ask you now 4 little questions. First, tell me an artist with whom you would like to work?
I am working on an album with guy gerber and some more music with benoit and sergio. for non techno. i would like to work with any of the 80s and 90s artits that influenced me so much. billy ocean, lionel richie, love and rockets, howard jones,… although those may a bit harder to make happen. haha
What album impressed you this year?
I was impressed with the XX’s album. and for techno, guy gerber’s album was really amazing.
Favorite food ?
STEAK STEAK STEAK and my bbq pork ribs with seth’s secret family recipe bbq sauce.
Haha, real american. Last question, do you feel you are a genious ?
I defintely don’t feel like i am a genius. getting good at making music has taken me so long and i know that i’m not even close to where i need to be. music is a never ending, every changing school. You never get your degree, you never graduate and you’re only as good as your last record. it is, to me the ultimate challenge. And always makes me feel small and humble. we have all heard what geniuses sound like, marvin gaye, stevie wonder, prince, jimi hendrix, micheal jackson, quincy jones etc etc and on and on.
To return to your album project with guy gerber ? can you tell me more. Others big projects. You seem to be full of work.
I am totally overloaded right now. I have my own pop stuff i am working on and then album material with guy. Some of the stuff with guy will be more pop and some dance floor. Other than that, i am working with visionquest on the remix of “boy trouble” from benoit and sergio for DFA and also other remixes for our label. Then, the boys and i are going to start work on our EP for our label soon. It’s more than i can probably get done before i have to leave for europe again, but i will be in the studio in berlin with the boys and we’ll keep working.
I hope that everything wil be fine and I wish you good luck. So, very intersting to speak with a music lover like you, if you have anything to add, do not hesitate !
Great to talk to you too. good questions buddy, this was a really interesting interview. much better than a lot of the standard ones i’ve done lately. Cheers and thank you!