One third of the mighty Visionquest, Ryan Crosson is one of those guys we always love to go and catch when he’s playing in London (or anywhere else in the world if we happen to be there). As you might expect Ryan is constantly on the road with his fellow Visionquest members Shaun Reeves and Lee Curtiss, while also running their label and getting busy in the studio. Some of his first original works in a long time are due for release very soon, so we grabbed him for a little chinwag. Check it out below…
So what’s happening with you? Visionquest EP due soon.
Yeah it comes out next Monday – I’m stoked because its my firstly truly solo EP in forever. I shouldnt’ even say… It’s not even truly solo…
Yeah Cesar’s involved [Merveille]
He stuck one in there damn it! But ah, yeah it’s good – I’m happy about it, it’s faster. One track’s at 131bpm, though it doesn’t sound like it, another tracks at 129, and then ones at 124 – so it’s a cool change up. There’s a little bit of chopped up minimal weirdness, then there’s another one that’s a little bit proggy and theres another that’s more like loopy hypnotic techno. I’m pretty happy with it. Happy to get it done and have original music out because been doing a lot of remixes again which I tried to get myself away from but then I got sucked back into it again so it’s good to get some original stuff done.
How come its taken you such a long time to get a bunch of your own stuff together and put it out?
One, I’m hyper critical of the original stuff I tend to put out. Two, I tend to take on too much work and then it will work out with my travel that I’m a bit behind – it’s always been like that – I keep telling myself stop taking on so many remix requests or stop doing favors for friends when you know you don’t really have time but I always end up doing that and continue to put my original music on the backburner. Maybe I should stop doing that. It puts a dampener on stuff but in a way it’s still fun; you are always working with friends, you’re taking tracks you like and trying to rework them a bit – if that’s a hindrance on putting out original music, at least I’m doing for people I like and with tracks I like.
How do you manage your time? Are you strict with yourself and getting yourself in the studio?
I try to be. Only so much strict is possible. I never try to (I did it a little this week) get into the mode of dawdling around with a track and if it’s not happen I try not to tell myself, ‘Oh well you’re not feeling creative today’. I feel like making music is… If you really want to do it it’s going to take… I mean some people really shit out tracks, I don’t. It’s about sitting there and really working out if something’s not a good idea – work out the idea more – or if there’s something sitting in there that you don’t like don’t be afraid to delete or start a new project without that element in there to help keep you going along. Some people like to start with the groove, or fuck with the bassline to start. If you are focusing on one part try focusing on a different part. Or go out for a coffee. Coffee normally works pretty good. OK you’re at home, you’ve been away for the weekend, you are going to be lazy on Sunday hang out or whatever, when Monday kicks around get on top of your emails in the morning and then focus a little bit – don’t dick around on the internet, be on Skype or do the twitter thing. If that really takes you off track, try and curb that. At least make an attempt and an effort to keep pushing forward. Some people say “its not happening today” or “I’m not feeling creative today” but I’m not like that. I like to sit up there and tinker around and see what I can get done.
[youtube id=”uSAvQKZkh7k” width=”620″ height=”360″]
So besides the EP do you have any other original stuff that’s ready to put out there?
Yeah you know how we started the Brachune label the digital label right? I’ve got one of those set and ready to go we’ve just got to master it. Although you don’t really want to release a vinyl plus a digital around Christmas time or mid December I think with Brachtune. It’s a digital thing so we will plan that for the Monday before Christmas and maybe do a free track or special giveaway with it. That’s set and ready to go. That will kinda cap the year with everything giveaway track too. After that happens, its get your head down and go right back into it. I want to do another EP.
Me and Cesar have already started the second album. That will be the focus for the first couple of months. November to February that will be the heavy focus
How do you guys work together? Do you work remotely or send as much time physically together?
We do both. Last album we would just do long sessions – we would really kinda go balls out and do long sessions. But those sessions were so few and far between that’s why it took so long. While we worked away from each other we’d dink around. When we worked together we switch it all around and get a lot done. With the new album we’re going to do more of the same. Even though we’re getting ideas remotely – this album’s going to be based more around gear and about jamming. Doing a long jam and editing that long jam. We’ve got a couple done already working with that process and it’s working well for us.
We also want to get the live musicians back into this album. So that will take us being together. We’re going to put a proposal together for Red Bull Music here in London and also a proposal for Red Bull Music in New York as well as I’m going over there November and December. I’ve got a chelloist in NY already. Paulus is there already obviously and then I want a couple of vocalists. Start with that – get those recordings. That will give us a lot to work with. A lot to play with especially if we have some backing beats already there. I’d want him there for that. The ideas are like, ‘What do you think of this noise or this sound?’, then we really have a nice 10-hour session and chunk it out that way.
Do that once in January and once in February and then we should be ready to rock – as far as release goes.
How important is it for you to incorporate hardware and outboard stuff into your production process?
It’s becoming more and more important for me now. Lately I’m getting more and more of a feel for and enjoyment out of using analogue kit. I’ve had the Juno for a long time I’ve had my SE1X for a long time but this year I’ve added more stuff like a FX pedal and stuff. It’s a lot more fun I think – going back and reworking that stuff. When you can get your board right and moving and working everything together it helps the process go a little bit more quickly. That’s why I think getting this solo EP together for Visionquest didn’t take me as long as in the past just because I was working with gear that was fresh and giving me more idea than the same software I’ve been using for five or six years. Incorporating the newer gear, I mean it’s not new gear its old gear but it’s new kit to me, to play with – that helps certain things go a lot quicker – as with the remix I did earlier this year.
Cesar’s on this huge modular tip right now he’s buying all these modules and everything. I don’t want to go down that road – I don’t want to start obsessing over getting this one little filter to work properly. It stifles what you were doing in the first place. Incorporating gear has helped me exponentially. Ideas plus workflow I think has been great.
Yeah, you can hear it coming through in the music.
Good that’s a great thing – that’s a positive.
[youtube id=”XepOv58_VUc” width=”620″ height=”360″]
Is there anything at the moment or in the last year that has inspired you in particular?
For some reason this year, I don’t know if it’s the places I’ve been playing or the times slots I’ve been play, but playing a little bit bigger venues has made me want to make music that’s a bit more ‘peak time’ or more dramatic music. Maybe that’s rubbed off on me a little bit. This year for some reason I’ve listened to a lot less music. Seem odd to me because normally I’m listening to a lot of music that’s isn’t dance music when we’re making dinner and things like that.
I was looking through my newer records and it was very dance music centric this year – so maybe that had an impact on how and why I’m making the tracks that I’ve been making. I noticed a sharp decline in the jazz I’ve been listening to and I’ve been buying hip-hop records again. I haven’t bought hip-hop records and R&B in like forever! Weird. I can’t really explain why I’ve made what I’ve made apart from that I’ve been listening to more dance music for the first time in a while
When I was still living in Detroit and still had a car, I was listening to a lot of mix CDs as well as artist albums in addition to everything else. Once I stopped having a car my electronic music spectrum went down a bit but my jazz and my rock and classic rock went back up again. Whereas this year my electronic music spectrum has gotten higher again and gotten wider. It’s strange but its definitely a good thing. Obviously with my work it’s the most relevant genre. But everyone goes through phases of listening to one thing more than another.
What have you been picking up hip-hop wise?
Buying a lot of old stuff – I love The Roots stuff to death so picked up some of their old albums. I’ve picked up some stuff for these west coast group called Little Brother who came up just after Jurassic 5. A couple of D’angelo albums. . Some of the old J Dilla albums. Stone’s Throw. Peanut Butter Wolf, Mos Def. I went back home and saw my parents and they had a load of old crates of mine and brought a few things back including Prefuse 73 etc.
Tell me a little bit about the artwork – the picture of you with a flamingo on your head?
We were trying to work out where do we want to go with this as far as artwork is concerned. We’ve done the whole esoteric thing to death. John Cook was doing a lot of the art direction for us last year. He was doing a lot of cool work with photos and design with photos and fonts. But we like to switch gears. We were on a schedule of switching designs every 10. We had Pilah Zadar was doing the geometry stuff with shapes a bit surrealist stuff. Then we had Petra Peterffy who was doing a lot of digital stuff with vectors combined with really glitch artwork. Which we thought was cool and then we moved on to John Cook who was doing straight photo art. Sometimes he was matching up really well with the music and sometimes he was going in his own direction. January we had two records when we weren’t really sure where we wanted to go with the artwork so we jumped into a new thing photos of artists. I hate photos of myself.
You know Kim Booth right, Kimmy loaned me this hat at a daytime party at Burning man and I was rocking it. I was looking through some photos and saw this with the blue sky and the pink flamingo I thought it was a nice stand out image. We are probably going to do a few more of those to round up the year.
We’ve got this new guy Joe Miller from Chicago – we’re going to do a new thing – he’s going to do a series of 9-10 hand drawings or paintings. It might even end up being that when you put the 10 together it will create a big collage. We might bring back a one off insert to have posters of that collage. We’ve got him working on that right now. That will probably be our next switch again.
[youtube id=”uATSF1AgyN4″ width=”620″ height=”360″]
It’s Visionquest 5th birthday next year?
Well we’re leading into the 5th birthday. Old Ryan jumped the gun on that! I wanted to do a five year celebration where it all culminates with the fifth birthday. So we’ll be in the fifth year. All the guys were like, ‘Whoa whoa whoa – lets not jinx it – let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot. I know you’re itching for this buddy but let’s calm it down’. It was going to be that but they put the old kibosh on that. When it hits 2016 that’s when we’re going to start the five yr celebration stuff then. Gives us more time to plan. I’m still going ahead with certain bits of merchandise just for the hell of it – like I want to do these collector boxes, some hats, that will be the precursor to the actual birthday.
What does next year hold for Visionquest as a crew, collective and label?
I want to set up a couple of key events and bring production back into the fold. Not massive production but work with some promoters that we have an understanding with and really good relationship. We don’t want to set a number on it but talk to to these people and say we want to x y z amount this year. We don’t always have to be the biggest and the baddest and have multiple thousands of people. Maybe just we want to do a special afters, little things that we like to do best.
Maybe we do a whole party where it’s just the emerging artist. We’re there but we’re not even playing. Maybe we’re working the lights. I’d like to do a couple of joint label events at fun spots like Club De Visionaire – maybe with the Apollonia guys or with the Wolf + Lamb guys. Just have the diversity to decide we’ve made it this far. The good thing is we’ve got a good handle on.. we’ve got three or four places in the UK who are always up for it. Maybe Visionquest could take on the after party role attached to a big festival. Germany, France, Belgium… we’ve got a nice foothold on both sides of the pond.