With more than twenty years and nine releases between them, Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland are still as excited and inspired as they were back in ’97 for their epic debut album Vegas. With the obvious changes to the electronic music scene in the last five years, the duo wanted to put out an album that would appeal to both longtime dedicated fans of The Crystal Method but also attract the newer, younger crowd of “ravers” born from the onset of EDM.
The band is on the bill for this weekend’s two-day Escape Music Festival, which will take place at Governors Beach Club, the only man-made beach and beer garden located in NYC. Brooklyn Radio’s Lara Gamble got a chance to talk with Ken while he was in the studio in L.A. about the album and what projects he and Scott (who made a surprise appearance at the end of the interview) are currently working on.
BKR: What do you have planned for your set at the Escape Music Festival this weekend?
Ken: It could be the first time we’ve played Brooklyn. I’m not sure, but I’m excited about that. We’ve got friends in New York, but I would kind of like to explore Brooklyn more than Manhattan since we’re always in Manhattan.
BKR: You have to. Brooklyn is so much better than Manhattan.
Ken: I saw early on – I don’t know if it was sponsored by or if it was just listed – something called Brooklyn Vegan or something like that. I’ve got to find some vegan restaurants there because I’m vegan.
BKR: We have a lot of those, so don’t worry.
Ken: Okay, cool.
BKR: I was at your show at Webster Hall a couple years ago. Do you prefer the smaller, more intimate venues or the large-scale outdoor festivals?
Ken: Well, I mean, there’s pros and cons to both. With the big, big festivals, you get a lot of people. Generally, there’s big sound and big lights and screens and all that stuff. But, generally, on those big ones, you’re really far away from the crowd, and I kind of like to be up close to the people who are trying to watch you. So, that’s always better in smaller settings.
BKR: You guys released your self-titled fifth studio album earlier this year. How do you feel it’s been received by your fans?
Ken: We’ve got a really good response from it. So yeah, we wanted to make a record that sounded new and that sounded like The Crystal Method but without sounding like the Beatport Top 10. So, I think we did that. We’re really happy with it. In the end, we’re always making records for ourselves. We have to live with it and be proud of it. So, we always go into a project thinking that rather than how much people may or may not like it.
BKR: It has served you well so far. Why release a self-titled album now with this being your fifth album?
Ken: We never did the first one. We didn’t call it The Crystal Method. The first one was called Vegas, and we thought now with so many new electronic music fans and with EDM being so big, it might be a good way to introduce the band to a lot of the young people who have just recently come to the EDM scene.
BKR: You’ve got a couple guest vocalists on the new album. How did you come to work with Leann Rimes on “Grace”?
Ken: We first met Leann when we were doing brass for that RE:GENERATION film. So, she did a collaboration with Pretty Lights for RE:GENERATION. We met her during that, and when we watched the film, we really liked the Pretty Lights track, but we noticed in the film, she was doing these super awesome falsetto vocals. They were just so beautiful. Those vocals that you hear her recording in the film didn’t get put on the record. We were just like, “Wow, what an amazing voice.” So, we just started talking. And then randomly, one day, I think Scott was on a plane from maybe Aspen or Denver back to L.A., and they were on the same flight. So, he gave her an early version of the track, and then she really liked it and came over and sang.
BKR: Were you guys excited when “Sling the Decks” was chosen to be featured in Lucy?
Ken: We were excited! I mean, I was excited about the film. I really like ScarJo – Scarlett Johansen.
BKR: How did that happen? Did they reach out and say they wanted one of your tracks for the film?
Ken: I don’t know exactly how that went. I think that was pitched to them before the album was out because it’s sort of a hybrid version between an earlier demo and then the finished album version. So, when you hear it in the movie, it isn’t exactly like the album version. So, we never know exactly how those things come to be. But we were happy to be in that film.
BKR: What can you tell readers about the Community Service radio show on Soundcloud?
Ken: Yes, well it lives in a delayed form on Soundcloud, but we do it every week new for SiriusXM, and then after a few weeks, we put it up on Soundcloud. It airs every Monday night and Wednesday night on SiriusXM. So the show debuts at 9pm EST every Monday, and there’s a repeat that must be at midnight on Wednesday nights.
BKR: Have you guys already started working on new stuff?
Ken: Yeah. We’re always working on new stuff, and we’re working on another kind of secret project right now as well. We’re always pretty busy in the studio.
BKR: With more than twenty years under your belts, what do you have planned for 2015 and beyond?
Ken: Well, I don’t know. We never really plan. When you’re working on an album, you kind of know, “Okay, it’s going to get done at this point.” And then it’ll get released and you go on tour, but we still really enjoy making music, and we know we’re going to continue doing that and probably always still put out full-length albums, and maybe more film and television. And Scott just walked into the room! You should join us. This is Lara.
Scott: Hi, Lara.
BKR: Hi, Scott. You came in at a good time because I was just going to ask if there was anything you guys would like to share or promote or discuss.
Ken: Crystal Method Tequilla! Oh no, we don’t have that yet.
Scott: Our American Girl designer clothing line? Ha. We just want to promote good times.
BKR: Okay. I think you guys do that already.
Scott: Have they locked down the venue?
Ken: Is it the Governor’s Beach or whatever that is?
BKR: On Governor’s Island, yeah.
Scott: Is it really an island?
BKR: Yeah, it pretty much is. You have to take a ferry or a bus to get to Governor’s Island, and I think last time I took a bus over a bridge to get to Randall’s Island. But yes, it’s an island. Most of New York – we are islands.
Scott: So that’s different from Randall’s Island?
BKR: Yes, that is. Governor’s Island is south of the city. Randall’s Island is east of the city. Randall’s Island is where Electric Zoo is held every year….
Ken and Scott: Ohhhhhhhhh. Okay.
BKR: So, I know you guys are playing the festival and then you have two or three more dates on the calendar. Are you planning a more full-blown tour next year?
Ken: Anything’s possible. We’ve been wanting to do a live show with some of the performers we had with this show at the El Rey at the beginning of the year. But, yeah, with us kind of exploring all the film and television stuff, it’s one of those long-term plans. But we definitely would like to do something towards travelling and touring.
BKR: Nice. Thank you both so much for talking with me.
Ken: Thank you so much. Sorry I was late.
BKR: No worries. Glad you could make it.
Scott: Thank you!