For their inaugural Free Music Archive release, Studio 11 founders Alex Gross and Dan Scalpone caught up with James Curd, international house D.J. and creator of Greenskeepers Music. Alex comments (orig blog post here),
The history of Studio 11 and Greenskeepers dates back over a decade. As young pioneers on the Chicago music scene, Studio 11 founder Dan Scalpone and I would find ourselves at bars and pickup jams with the likes of original GK members Coban Rudish and Mark Share. So naturally, when the band needed some work on their 2005 release “Pleetch”(OM Records), Studio 11 was an obvious choice. The album was completed in Chicago and New York, and off the band went to tour the world. It wasn’t until 2006 that I caught back up with the guys. Having completed their 2006 release “Polo Club”(OM Records), the band invited me out to New York for their album release party at Love nightclub in Greenwich Village. The performance was a showstopper, highlighted by classy costume wear and righteous onstage swagger. Of notable memory was Nick Maurer’s Sgt. Pepperesque stage coat, sunglasses, and sarcastic antics.
- James Curd And Alex Gross In The Studio
Following this, time and difference reinvented the Greenskeepers. In recent years GK founder James Curd hashed out a new sound, lineup, and workflow with a majority of the material being completed in Chicago at Studio 11. Additionally, James aggressively expanded his D.J. career, completing releases and remixes for the likes of D.F.A, Drop U.K., Groove Armada, Hercules And Love Affair, Mos Def and Lenny Kravitz, Colette, Derrick Carter, Gene Farris, Om Records, and more. I can’t say enough good things about working with James in the studio. Not only is he one of Chicago’s most innovative musicians, he is astoundingly prolific – with releases totaling in the hundreds.
Dan caught up with James for an interview:
Tell us when you started DJing?
I started DJing when I was 15 years old. I used to play at loft parties, raves and clubs in Chicago and other midwest cities.
Vinyl vs. CD/MP3 – what is your preference?
Vinyl for sure. I have more fun DJing and the sound in the club is way better. The problem is a lot of clubs don't keep the turntables nice and many labels don't make vinyl anymore. It's rare for me to be able to play an “all vinyl” set.
You recently moved to Australia – how are the audiences different than the US?
Australia has a crowd that is really knowledgeable about music. Electronic music is on mainstream radio and there are festivals all summer long dedicated to electronic music. It's nice DJing here because people are really supportive and young. It's got much more energy then a lot of places in the world.
How did the swing house sound evolve?
I have always loved jazz and swing music from when I was young. It was a natural progression to incorporate it into my songs. My roommate at the time was a sax player and always had old jazz records playing so every now and then I would hear a bit that I wanted to sample.
It seems you are DJing more than performing live with Greenkeepers; do you plan on putting together a live set anytime soon?
I'm really focused on the songs I am making and releasing right now that are not Greenskeepers songs. When the time is right to do a new show I will do it again. It just depends on where the music takes me. I may be doing a live show but it might not be Greenskeepers.
One of Greenkeepers most popular tracks was Vagabound which was released on the Grand Theft Auto 3 sound track, tell us how that track came about?
I submitted a bunch of songs to the music director at Rockstar and he really liked a rough instrumental our old keyboard player Mark Share had made. I took that and worked with Nick and J-Dub on laying down vocals. I added a few bits and pieces and gave it some structure. I was originally going to submit two versions. One with Nick and one with J-Dub. Then I put them both together in the same version and it really worked out. The two voices really complemented each other and Rockstar loved it so much they used it for the TV ad.
What projects have you been busy with in the studio recently?
I am working on Ziggy Franklin, writing new solo songs, and doing remixes. I just finished a remix for Poolside, Hercules And Love Affair, Firefox AK and I have an EP coming out this month on Permanent Vacation.
You recently released No Need to Fight About it with Ziggy Franklin; what was it like to work with Ziggy?
Ziggy is really creative and fun to work with. He has a very unique approach to writing. Sometimes songs happen really quickly and sometimes it's more of a process. He is really a great guy and besides singing he is an actor. I'm excited to get him up on stage for a live show. I don't think the crowd would know what to expect because I'm thinking about it now and I don't know what to expect myself, but I know it will be fun.
What’s next on the horizon for Greenskeepers?
I'm going to keep making songs and collaborating with other artist. I have a GK folder on my desktop and I'll drag songs into it here and there during this next year that I think suit GK. When I have enough songs in the folder I'll see what kind of album I will have!