Last Night a DJ Saved My LifeAlthough rave culture today differs vastly than it did a dozen years ago, there’s still hasn’t been a better electronic act to define the scene than The Crystal Method. The group’s debut album Vegas changed the music scene with its medley of hip-hop and funk over rock n’ roll beats in 1997, and its musical impact still resonates in many genres today.

While people might know the duo best from hits like “Trip Like I Do,” their recent single “Sine Language” with party rockers LMFAO, is an example of how they have  kept in touch with the evolving scene while still paying homage to their original sound. SF Station got a chance to speak with Ken B Jordan about it all. Playing a DJ set at Ruby Skye, see and hear what’s been on their radar on April 8th.

[Photo by Maura Lanahan]

How do you guys manage to stay relevant in an ever-changing world of revolving genres?

We’re inspired by music we’ve listened to growing up and simply solid club music with all the elements we like, like distortion, big drums, deep bass and harmonics. If we tried to chase every new fad, like make a trance or a tech-house song, and try to keep up with what currently was hot, we would fall behind and lose our way.

From the beginning, we have had our sound and what we do best, so we try to stick with that. We try to work with different people to make thing interesting, but most of our sound is rooted in hip-hop, rock and old funk.

Your latest single is a collaboration with LMFAO. That’s quite a departure from your previous sounds, since they are quite the poppy-rap group.

KJ: The first song I heard from them was that Miami song, and that was three years ago. We invited them over to the studio and in two visits we got to working on something. We played them a few things, and they liked the darker tracks we played for them. I thought it would be interesting to see what they sounded like over something less poppy. They’re great guys, and we’re happy for their success.

In the past 5 years, much of your production has been by commission, from London to Nike to the XGames the movie. How do you approach this type of project versus creating an album from scratch?

We have a great deal of fun doing other things besides making albums. Right now we’re working on a project for a big movie that comes out this year. We’ve done video games and scored a movie. It’s a challenge to do something that doesn’t normally come easy, and we find challenges make things a lot more rewarding in the end. If we find something that’s different from what we’re used to and we have success with it, we have a great time. We’ll still be making albums and singles and all that dance stuff, but lately we’ve had lots of opportunities to branch out and do new things.

I see you guys have also done a remix on the Tron Remix soundtrack.

That was interesting. We got to choose a song we wanted to do, and normally that freedom doesn’t come with a remix. We had a few days to put that one out and everyone seemed to like it.

What did you think of the movie?

You know, I have not seen the movie. Isn’t that ridiculous? I did see the original one, which I’m sure is quite a different movie. But we had a great deal of fun working on the remix for the soundtrack.

Being such huge part of the rave scene and seeing that SF is a mecca of the rave culture, do you think it’s changed a lot? It’s been quite the source of controversy here.

Definitely, especially with all the difficulties of recent events. It’s made the rave culture difficult to enjoy. A lot of people lose track of the music and do things they shouldn’t be doing, but then again, they would be doing those things at home. I find that if you give people a place they can go and enjoy themselves, most people would do the right thing.

It’s easy to put raves at the Cow Palace on the news with all the eye candy that’s provided, and for all-the-stay at home viewers to shake their finger at. I find that big acts like DeadMAu5 and The Chemical Brothers that do legitimate shows, still manage to incorporate that rave aspect into their shows. It’s hard to ever imagine it disappearing again like it did a few years ago.

You guys will be at Ruby Skye doing a DJ set. Since you’ve been dubbed “one of the best live dance acts,” how do you approach DJ sets?

The one thing about playing a place like Ruby Skye is that they have an established reputation where people’s money is well spent. That part is nice not to worry about. We get there, get a couple drinks, and get into the night. We make a living playing music, so we try not to take that for granted. We’ll be playing some new things we’ve been working on, some remixes of some new tracks, and it’s definitely one of our places to play. San Francisco has been one of our favorite places to play since 1996, so we’re looking forward to it.

The Crystal Method performs at Ruby Skye on April 8th. Tickets are $30.