For most of his life Ryan Crosson has been dedicated to showcasing the finest of underground rare groove house and techno from his native Detroit to his adopted hometown of Berlin and beyond. Producing and promoting a staggering amount of next-level music both as a solo artist and under the notional Visionquest banner with his wolf pack Shaun Reeves, Seth Troxler and Lee Curtiss. And while they bestow some of the most daring, dreamily emotive dancefloor weapons out there, Ryan keeps cool in the flurry of it all continuing to do what he has does best by keep taking risks.
He'll be doing just that this Satuday night, returning to his number one Room One spot next to Lee Foss, Benoit & Sergio (live) and Carsten Klemann. On his way back from Ibiza and in the middle of a hectic summer schedule, we pinned down Ryan to talk in length about Detroit, who turns the wheels of Visionquest and why he's toning down his wild party spirit. All of this, plus we get news on future remixes from Carl Craig and his full length album collaboration with Cesar Merveille out in November.
Hey Ryan. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us when we know you're flat out. How are you enjoying yourself at the moment? What parties have left you speechless this summer?
Hi, Hi! Summer has been good so far but probably the fastest I can remember. There was a lot of back and forth between the States in June and I was moving house so that made things quite blurry for a few weeks. Speechless, hmmm... not sure I’ve had one of those this Summer. DC10 has been very good a few times and our ‘Need I Say’ more party in Detroit was the biggest it’s ever been but not sure if I’ve been left speechless. Detroit was probably the closest.
You were in Detroit for Movement this year so what sort of emotions come to you returning to your home town and how does the city still inspire you as an artist?
It’s the highlight of my year, every year no question. I've only missed one year and don't plan on missing another for long time. It's always nice to come home but for festival it’s much more. The decline of Detroit as a city and of dance music in the city is extremely unfortunate and brings about a whole bag full of emotions so when coming home for fest it's like "This is our weekend for music and we're gonna let it all out!!!!" You see all the old faces again that used to be just from the Midwest and maybe NYC. Now there are so many international artists and friends coming for the weekend as well it makes it that much more special that they are coming to the place that gave you your education.
What sort of mischief have Visionquest been up to this summer?
We’ve been apart a lot actually or at least it seems that way. I'm almost worried that we've toned down our wild spirit to some degree but maybe that's just me being tired. We’ve done our normal gigs and travel but I feel this Summer has been quite toned down. Seth and Shaun are living together in Ibiza for the season so they are seeing each other quite a bit I assume. Last Wednesday, August 1st, we teamed up with the SGP crew to transform the interior of DC10 for our yearly one off party. I thought it went down quite well seeing that we only had about 2 weeks to plan all of the design. Really really looking forward to next year already so we can twist peoples brains a bit.
Since its inception two years ago, how has your role developed in the day to day management of the Visionquest label? What advise can you give to others wanting to start their own label?
I’m doing a lot of the day to day stuff with our label manager but as said before in other interviews, no major decisions get done without at least three people moving things along...especially A&R. I know that there are rumours that it’s one persons label or it’s the others. I know bigger DJ’s or press people think that Seth waves a wand and magically does everything but that’s just not the case. We’re all kicking in ideas and making the wheels turn. I actually just looked at our past release list and I can pick out exactly who from the four of us was pushing each track to be signed. You'd be surprised who really wanted what it's not as obvious as you would think.
Sure some people may be contributing more than others from time to time but that’s just the way it goes and that’s the beauty of working with close friends. You don’t mind picking up the slack for someone because you know they’ll be there for you later when you need it or when you’re away touring or visiting family, etc.
As for advice for others, I’m not exactly sure what I can say. We’ve only been doing this for less than two years so I don’t think I can offer too much because I’m still learning every day. I guess I would tell them that you should surround yourself with people who are dependable. That’s a big one when you’re dealing with party people but it’s so crucial. Things need to get done and you need reliable in your corner and hopefully they have some experience to offer because there are a lot of things to learn. And a big one would be DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS, NO MATTER HOW STUPID THEY SEEM. Anyone worth their salt has asked questions and received help from others along the way. Take chances and don’t be afraid to make mistakes but when you do make them try to learn from them. Sounds a bit cliche’ but all of that is quite true I think. If you play to trends and not take risks you could miss out on some next level music and then you’re just floating in a pack of people that all sound the same.
How much time do you get to scout new talent for the VQ label, like with the Mathew Burton & Kate Rathod and Life and Death releases this year - how did they find a home at with you guys?
We receive a lot of demos from different people but still tend to try and sign music from people we know and with whom we have built a relationship. We met Matthew & Kate in Berlin via Club der Visionaere and things grew slowly. I'd love to get more music from them asap. Life and Death are a by product of our relationship with Tale of Us and Manfredi. Through them we met the Thugfucker boys and the record was an immense hit. We've got a remix EP in the pipeline featuring Carl Craig and Jamie Jones plus another special guest. More extensions of friends and family.. It's nice to see things interconnected in that way. I like the idea of building a tight group and watching each member grow and possibly collaborate with others on the label.
However, we're always looking for new music from new artists to add to that family! There are a few younger people out there I really want to release but they have been finishing school or travelling and the time just isn't right yet. The past month has actually been great for demos from new artists as well as people who have been around for a bit, some album demos too which I am particularly excited about! That's an avenue we're just starting to walk down and could lead to an interesting 2013. Albums can provide such an opportunity for someone to expand an idea to its maximum capability or explain a certain mood or experience that they have carried with them for a while.
How much time have you had in the studio since your release with Cesar Marveille on ‘DRM EP’ earlier this year - we heard a part 2 is on the way?
I have not had much time at all unfortunately. We finally got all the mixing done in June and are still being delayed by the artwork! I’ve had a bit of time with Tale of Us at their place and two weeks ago was working quite a bit on my live set before Global but that’s all, nothing concrete set for release. The good news is that the album is finally done and track list is set in stone. The second single will be out in September followed by the full length CD in November. In total it will be 9 tracks, lots of music great for home listening and a few after hours gems in there as well.
What’s your favourite way to spend your time behind closed doors in the studio and get the creative juices flowing freely?
It used to be loads of coffee, now I've switched to juicing which is more healthy but I like the hyper feeling coffee used to give me. Bill Patrick used to come by the house loads and whip up a pot and that would be like crack to my system. I may have scared him away with some of my actions. Other than that I'll try to zone out to some kind of music other than dance music.
What is really exciting you about music at the moment
Festivals. I've been to a bunch this Summer, not just electronic, and it's really sparked something inside me again.
Can you tell us more about your ‘Birds & Souls’ project on Spectral Sound?
Birds & Souls is a collaboration between myself and Sergio Giorgini of Benoit & Sergio fame. He and I have only released one track so far on Spectral but we are no way limited to just working on that label. We have one more track finished and few others that need to be tightened up. Once those are ready they will be released on Visionquest. He and I are on different schedules so it’s been tough to get into the studio and make something extraordinary happen on the spot. I have a tough time manufacturing ideas when I have a fixed amount of time. If it’s like “Ok, we meet on Thursday for 3 hours.” That just doesn’t work for me. I need to sit there with someone, hang out, noodle around and then it will come. Some people have their formula, stick to it and can knock out the same type of track, the same bassline over and over in 2 hours or less. That’s not me. I’d rather put out less stuff and know I’m really trying to push myself each time. I think Sergio is the same way.
How do you keep your head straight and feet on the ground amongst the non-stop partying and constantly being in the limelight?
Limelight? I don’t think we’re there yet. I’m actually enjoying not partying so much right now I can’t believe it. Maybe it’s just I haven’t been to a good afterhours in a while or maybe I’m getting old, quickly but I’ve really enjoyed going home when the club closes lately. Not staying out like a zombie really helps you with work the following week and keeps you productive.
You’re playing in Room One next Saturday with Benoit & Sergio and Lee Foss. How are you looking forward to returning to the disco and if you could tell us three of your favourite tracks you’ve ever heard on the Room One system what would they be?
It's always great to return to play in Fabric. I think the last time was in March for the Visionquest party and I primarily played live that night so it will be good to come back and DJ. I'm excited to hear Carsten Klemann again as well. Last time I heard him play a proper dance set was at LoKee a few years ago so I'm looking forward to it.