the crystal method interview

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.