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The Crystal Method interview

Disclaimer: I was a kid when I wrote this so please withhold any judgements on quality :)

Dance duo The Crystal Method rode the commercial boom of electronica in the 90s and haven't let up since. Their music has appeared in more than 30 films and currently serves as the soundtrack to TV crime series Bones. Groove Guide magazine tries to discover the secret to making a decade of toe tapping beats.

By Jimmy Ness

Glow sticks and sweaty pill-poppers are the first things that come to mind when you imagine dance parties. But Ken Jordan, one half of iconic duo The Crystal Method, says there was more to the electronic scene in the 1990s.

"Early on it was kind of renegade. It was still a lot of raves. They were not that well organised, they were not at normal venues. You wouldn't even be sure the event was going to happen."

"For us, we were interested in the whole thing. Yeah there were drugs on the scene, but we were more interested in the music, the lights and the big stages. You have to make music that sounds good to sober people too."

Ken sounds remarkably grounded considering how far The Crystal Method has come. Before co-creating one of America's most popular electronic groups, he met music partner Scott Kirkland while they were working at a supermarket in Las Vegas.

The pair made their own studio dubbed "The Bomb Shelter" in a house they owned together.

"We built it inside of a garage. We didn't know how to build anything so we weren't very good at construction, but somehow those walls and the ceiling stayed up for like 13 years," Ken laughs.

"It was a real amateur job and it kind of looked a mess, but it sounded pretty good and it was soundproof. Early on we had no air conditioning. It was pretty rough in there, it was tough to invite people to come over to work."

Their first album Vegas came out four years after they started The Crystal Method in 1993. It was a breakout success reaching platinum status in the states with many songs used in film, advertising and game soundtracks.

Unlike dance acts who are good for a ringtone download and forgotten a minute later, they proved themselves to be a group worth knowing about.

The Crystal Method were invited to provide music for Hugh Jackman's latest film Real Steel and recently worked on a Nike soundtrack designed specifically for exercise. The group is also famed for their collaborations and have worked with Tom Morello, Scott Weiland and Pete Hook of New Order.

But what lead them to DJing? Ken says, in his casual way, that electronic music was "sort of like a natural progression."

"We liked Depeche Mode and stuff like that. It was just something you could do with samples, synthesisers and drum machines. So it just kind of lead down that road and then we went to some raves, and we were like wow this is great music."

The duo further ensured their longevity with a broad sound which included experimentation with rock and heavy metal influences.

Ken says that's not likely to change either.

"Rock is what we grew up listening to before we started making music. That's what Scott's dad played for him and my older brother for me. We love it then, we've always loved it and I think that will always be a part of our sound."

Sounds fair enough to me.

The Music Survey

First album: Space Jam soundtrack.

Space jam

 

I loved the movie so it made sense that I got the album too. My first introduction to Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes, LL Cool J, Method Man and D'Angelo, so not a bad start really.

This was my favourite track and I still know it word for word:

Note: Technically my first CD was actually the self-titled album by cheesy 90s group All-4-One, but my mother made me return it because it had subtle masturbation metaphors. I brought it because of the strength of this uplifting and revolutionary ballad. I was like eight or nine so give me a break.

First concert: Blindspott

I can’t remember exactly, but New Zealand nu metal band Blindspott played at my high school and I still remember the vocalist pretending to scream as a pre-recorded track played in the background.

Pathetic.

Last album: Big L: Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous

I had a big gap in my music knowledge so this album was on my to-listen list for a long time. Pretty entertaining album thanks to Big L's wordplay, despite the samey beats with shouted hooks.

Last concert: Kanye West and Jay-Z: Watch The Throne.

My first time seeing both of them and my first show at The Staples Centre. Say what you want about Ye's arrogance or the declining quality in Jay's music, but they are amazing live.

Favourite albums: A ridiculously hard question.

I’d say the holy Wu trinity: Supreme Clientele, Ironman and Only Built 4 Cuban Linx or Tool`s Anima album. Maybe throw in some Chip Tha Ripper, Vintersorg, *Shels, and B.I.G as well.

Musical guilty pleasure: More cheesy 90s R&B or power metal I liked when I was angry and 13.

If you're reading, share your survey answers!