Since it’s inception in 2010, Detroit label, Visionquest, has made waves throughout the underground dance community. Founded by the supergroup consisting of Seth Troxler (biggup on getting the #1 spot on the RA Poll today), Ryan Crosson, Lee Curtiss, and Shaun Reeves, the independent imprint has played home to EPs from some of the best names in Deep/Tech House including Benoit & Sergio, Guy Gerber, Tale of Us, and more, but last month saw the first album release as a collaboration between VQ’s Ryan Crosson and Cadenza‘s Cesar Merveille.
In my chat with Crosson about the DRM project, he talks about how the partnership came about, struggling through 27 versions of one song on the album, and how its good to be unrestrained in the studio…
Gotta Dance Dirty™: Let’s start off by asking the obvious question. You guys first released the DRM pt. 1 EP in 2011 as 3 tracks on the Visionquest label. How did the collaboration come about originally? Was there a plan to make an album when you came together first on the EP?
Ryan Crosson: No, that wasn’t the plan at all. Originally we were supposed to make an EP for thesongsays but the label had to pull out closer to the release date. That turned out to be a blessing for us because we then went back over the music and decided to take it to album form. Cesar and I have been friends for 6 years or more now and working on music together just came naturally. We have similar tastes in non dance music genres such as hip hop and jazz and we both were stumbling around some more experimental forms of music as well which obviously rubbed off on us when we sat down to work on tracks.
GDD™: DRM will be the first album ever released on the Visionquest imprint. Ryan, what does this mean to you as a founding father of the label?
RC: Umm. I don’t know. I’ve thought very little about it being the first album on VQ but it does mean a lot to put out a project that I made with a close friend on our label. It’s still only been two years so I hope we can do a lot more in the coming years together.
GDD™: There are three collaborations on the album, including contributions from Arthur Simonini, Kate Simko, Greg Paulus, and Banana Lazuli. How was it working with these talented musicians? Was it a natural experience with them?
RC: It felt quite natural because we knew each of them to some degree before approaching them with our project. I’ve known Kate and Greg for years. Cesar has known Arthur for quite some time and Banana will be releasing a CD on Visionquest in April with a slew of remixers.
GDD™: Many of the songs from DRM are epic in length. Was it an active decision from the beginning to make each song a journey in a sense? Do you avoid putting constraints, time or otherwise, on yourself in the studio?
RC: It’s good to not put constraints on time and just let things flow a bit because you can always go back and chop it up later if you need to. We really wanted a dreamlike journey with the album and to tell a bit of a story. Not to have a collection of tracks.
GDD™: Of the 9 tracks that make up the album, which one was the biggest challenge to perfect to the point of release?
RC: FUCKING HELL! Again & Again for sure. We have probably 27 versions of that track or something around there. It really only came together after we went back to Greg’s trumpet recording a second time and then we had our Eureka! moment and then were able to sequence it properly. I think we had a big problem with letting certain original elements go and that prevented us from moving forward with the track.
GDD™: Much of the music on this album toes a narrow line between sophisticated dance music, like in “Again & Again,” and an ethereal form of electronica, found in “At the Seams.” How would you describe what DRM sounds like to someone who isn’t familiar with the sounds of Visionquest or Cadenza?
RC: It may actually be easier to describe it if they haven’t heard anything from the labels so that way they don’t have a preconceived notion going in to listening. I’d say its something near experimental electronic music with heavy influences from jazz, percussions and ambient.
GDD™: Will we see any collaborative live elements in the future from you two?
RC: We’re discussing that now but to take this to a live format is going to be time consuming. I don’t want us just sitting there behind our laptops. I’d like to incorporate more hardware and have some of the musicians travel with us and do only special shows and settings.