[Exclusive Interview] Scott Kirkland of The Crystal Method Talks Music, Family, and Following Your Dreams
Formed 20 years ago, The Crystal Method is an electronic music duo out of Las Vegas, made up of Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland. Their work has appeared in many movies, TV shows, video games, and advertisements. Their 2007 best-selling album, Vegas, was certified platinum. Austin, Texas will be graced with their presence, as they perform at Euphoria Music & Camping Festival later this week!
I had the pleasure of getting in touch with Scott Kirkland and asking him a few questions. Check out the full interview:
Sensible Reason: First of all, I just wanted to say thank you on behalf of Sensible Reason and all of the fans out there that will be reading this. I know you are very busy, and we definitely appreciate you taking the time out of your day to do this interview.
Scott Kirkland: Not a problem!
SR: You guys have been pioneers of the electronic music scene for a while – How do you feel the massive growth of EDM has affected the genre?
SK: Overall, I think it’s a really great thing. Ken and I fell in love with the unity and collective celebration – the energy that was, in our minds, always positive. The scene has definitely taken over not only popularity-wise, not only the radio and airplay, but it’s sort of become that signature genre for the youth. It’s strange, my little brother is about to turn 18, and he’s talking about, ya know, critiquing DJ sessions from this past Ultra. He still has Metallica and kid’s posters on his wall, so it’s a strange but very positive thing for sure. We’re very happy to be a part of it still, and to have had a hand in the early days as well.
SR: Together you have created soundtracks for many awesome shows, movies, and even video games – how do these creations differ from your “normal” music? How do you approach these projects differently?
SK: Well when you’re doing something to the screen, to a picture on the screen, you’re following the direction of the producer. You’re trying your best to create something that works well for that scene. So a lot of it is following the action in the particular moment. For video games, the latest video game thing we did was for Riot Games, called “Lucian.” That was completely different because we were creating something that was a theme for a character that had not yet launched, so there was a lot of backstory. Each one was very different, but I would just always find the right vibe and energy for whatever the scene is or the character is. Whenever we’re in the studio it’s a whole different thing, because we’re starting from scratch. It kind of creates something that’s different but still sounds like us. It’s actually been a lot of fun to do these outside projects, and then come back to what we do in the studio, which is just us.
SR: You guys have been around and touring for an awesomely long time – almost 20 years – What are some of the crazier things you’ve seen on your adventures?
SK: The craziest things; uhh, there were moments where we’ve encountered people that were on certain things that were causing them to act certain ways. And ya know, at that moment it’s no longer a thing between fan and band, it’s human being and human being. It could happen to anybody at any job really. There was a moment right after 9/11 when we played a show in Houston, Texas. The show to us was very positive with good intentions and we had the, uh, we had the authorities – I don’t actually know what part or what jurisdiction they looked after. But yeah the authorities spent too much energy trying to break up a positive event, when you had so much negativity going on in the world at that moment. There were helicopters flying over, people screaming. There’s been a lot of really crazy, positive things, like being able to play to those huge 70,000 person crowds at RFK stadium. Playing in venues around the world, like Dubai, Moscow, Budapest, and Bulgaria, New Zealand, Australia, those are some of our favorite places. And also just coming back to places like Austin, where we get a chance to hang out with some of our friends in a city that’s always been good to us.
SR: What do you guys enjoy doing when you aren’t on tour or creating music, or what would we catch you doing on a “regular” day?
SK: Well, my wife and I have 2 beautiful children, we love to hang out with them. When I’m in the studio or on the road, it takes so much energy from my family. We’re actually just now driving back from Las Vegas visiting family. So it’s mainly just doing stuff for the kids, trying to get away from the touring and studio environment for as long as I can. I re-energize and hope to do better than we did last time [laughs].
SR: Do you enjoy festivals, like Euphoria, that are more about the overall experience and not just the music?
SK: We definitely enjoy festivals that take a broader look at the scene and the cultural impact of that festival has on the area. I’ve been to Burning Man once, and I believe it to truly be a mind- and body-altering experience, especially spiritually. When a person gets it all right, and they put these lights and sounds in the right place and take care of everybody that’s attending, ya know it makes for a very special event… Knowing that these events cost a bit more, sometimes a lot more, for a student or fan that can’t always afford that… So if they do go out and spend that money, the attention to detail in the event, and the overall cultural event, makes a big impact on the people. Having us be a part of it is a very big; we are thankful. We’re really looking forward to it. We just did a festival that was very much a culture and arts festival in New Mexico. Those are a great deal of fun because people aren’t just there for the music; people are there for so many different things. And I think the collective unity and the overall event usually make a big difference for people in their everyday lives.
SR: You have collaborated with some awesome artists in the past – Is there anyone you wish you could collaborate with, or anything you can speak of in the works right now?
SK: Well, there are definitely people we admire a great deal and that we would jump at the opportunity to work with. Lots of times, it doesn’t work out unless those same people jump at the opportunities to work with us. Sometimes you get people to come in and they aren’t totally into whatever is going on, so it’s for us. It’s mainly about finding people organically and creating something that both parties contribute to and have an equal part in. There are a lot of artists we really, really admire and would love to work with, but unless it’s reciprocated, it’s going to turn out disappointing. I have friends who we’ve been playing around and working together with, people who are well-known in the business, but it’s about getting the collaboration right and sending it out the right way.
SR: Your community service radio show seems hugely successful and recently hit episode 100. What does the future hold for the show? Will we see episode 200 and beyond?
SK: Yeah, you know, a lot of the shows that are on Sirius XM, some of them are live recordings from sets and stuff, and we’ve done a little bit of that. But most of the fun is going into the studio and coming up with a mix that is not a straight-forward club mix, something that has a little more dimension and depth to it. No, I definitely think we will make it to episode 200. The fine people at Sirius XM seem very happy to have us, and we’re happy to be a part of a big family over there. So yeah, I think we’ll definitely have another 100. We have a lot of fun doing it.
SR: What is your current core DJ’ing setup, and do you have any new gadgets or toys you’re using?
SK: Well, do we have these CDJ guitar things that are kinda fun. We took them out on the road with us for the Identity Festival. Basically, it’s a CDJ built into a two-headed bass guitar. So I could wear it out and DJ from the actual guitar, around my neck. But ya know, we love CDJs; we love Pioneer; we love the setup that allows us to put things on everything. Sometimes people have tried to convince us of going the way of the computer, and having some sort of other setup, like where you basically stream things from the computer. We really love the CDJ and the Pioneer mixer, and what we can do with them. You can really do a lot of fun and interesting things that aren’t just playing and mixing. Recently we did a show where we had a full band with us, which was a lot of fun, in Los Angeles at the kickoff of the new album. Hopefully we’ll get to do that again in the future as well.
The Infamous CDJ Guitar
SR: What have been some of your biggest struggles throughout this amazing 20 year musical journey?
SK: Hmm, that’s an interesting question. I don’t think we’ve ever had that question [laughs]. Well, ya know, I wouldn’t say struggle. I would say sometimes, early on, it was hard. First of all, for us to still be doing it, the same lineup, Ken and I have been the worst of friends and the best of friends. But we’ve always come back around and found a way to get through it. There are just lots of times you gotta reflect back, even when it gets “tough” or when we feel like we’re “struggling,” take a second and look back at the fact we get to do and what we do for a living. People who get up and work in coal mines, or drive tractor trailers, or teach children, those people are the ones that are doing work where times get tough and things get difficult. We get to make music and perform that music to crowds. We get catering and food and alcohol; people encourage us to have a good time and be ourselves while we’re doing our job. Although it’s a very good question, and I do think there have been times where we’ve felt things have been difficult, um, the struggles and difficulties of being us don’t really compare to anything else. We just have to reflect back and take a broader look at what’s going on. Family is definitely a tough thing now that we have families, being away from home. That’s probably the most difficult thing that has come up in the past 8 years. But, for the most part, we get to do a very unique thing, and, ya know, some people like us. It’s a great honor to be able to do what we do. I think our families understand that, and as the kids get older, we’ll get to take them to more and more events.
SR: That’s an awesome answer. I feel that could be very motivational for a lot of people, especially those who don’t currently do what they love. What are your thoughts on that?
SK: Ya know, I did the 40 hour work week retail thing. I would work on the tracks and all that. I was still working well into the 2nd year of the band. I worked as a video store manager, in a grocery store. That’s where Ken and I met actually, in a grocery store. But yeah, I understand the struggle and that sometimes it’s frustrating, and you feel like your passion isn’t going anywhere. I think you just have to persevere and be thankful you have a full-time job that pays the bills.
SR: We are extremely excited to see you guys at Euphoria in just a few days. Will you be throwing down anything new or crazy?
SK: We definitely have a lot of new stuff that nobody has heard, stuff from the new album, some remixes. I’m just gonna try to do more, probably 60-70% TCM [The Crystal Method] tracks. For the recent Community Service Episode 100, we did a 45-minute set of just TCM stuff. It was actually a great deal of fun, and I think we’re gonna, well actually I know that we’re gonna, kill it. The people of Austin are great, and this is the first SXSW we’ve missed in the past few years, so we’re ready to be back.
That concludes our interview with Scott Kirkland of The Crystal Method. Thanks for tuning in, and be sure to catch The Crystal Method at Euphoria Music and Camping Festival at the end of this week! Grab tickets here.