TiD&B Interview: KrustPosted by Lady V on Wednesday, September 7th, 2011
The last couple of years have seen Krust take a step back from the forefront of drum and bass where classics such as ‘Warhead’ and ‘Kloakin Device’, as well as work as part of the groundbreaking group Reprazent and legendary label Full Cycle had firmly placed him. Although still playing out on a regular basis, and teasing us with gems such as ‘Transparency’, previewing the magic he’s currently conjuring in the studio, much of his attention has been focused on a new project, Rebel Instinct.
In time for the Rebel Instinct label launch taking place at The Nest, London, tomorrow night, we caught up with Krust to find out more about his latest endeavour as well as the other creative projects he’s been exploring, including his musical alias George Kurtz…
TiD&B: Rebel Instinct has been a name buzzing around and associated with your work for a couple of years now, with the launch tomorrow night, can you introduce us to the project?
Krust: Rebel Instinct is a project I have been developing over the past 4 years. I got to a point in my career where I wanted to start another label but do something different with it, I’d obviously run Full Cycle and similar projects, and I didn’t want to follow the pattern of making records, putting them out, making more records, putting them out and so on. I wanted to do something which encompassed all aspects of my creativity, including interests beyond just music. So Rebel Instinct began as a home for my creative interests; at the moment I’m working on a book consisting of photos I’ve taken over the last 10 years, I’m also learning about making film and of course making music too. Setting up the project has allowed me to be more free with my creativity and how I explore different art forms. From it’s roots as a personal project, it has naturally grown and now become a platform for like-minded artists’ work.
TiD&B: Can you tell us more about these artists and who will be performing at the London album launch night?
Krust: Meeting the people involved in Rebel Instinct has happened in a very natural and organic way. For example, Benjamin One who’ll be doing a live show, won a recent remix competition we organised. He’s an experimental hip hop artist, established in Bristol and the surrounding areas, who creates music at varied tempos, very different stuff but very exciting! I’m very much looking forward to promoting his sound.
I’ve known the label’s MC, Nick Toots for several years now, he contributed to the Rules project and has also been working with me on my new album. Mark Day is a friend of his, also from Bristol – he kept sending me tunes and over time has developed his sound which I’m really happy with and looking forward to putting out. Then with Need For Mirrors, I’ve hooked up with them for a forthcoming compilation project coming out soon on Rebel Instinct.
A big priority for me is to build a relationship with the artists on the label, not just, as I mentioned before, provide a platform to put out their music – I want to explore the creative process with them. In addition to that, I’m not interested in restricting their art form, which is why there’s scope for different styles of work within the project – as long as their work is phat, on a vibe, that’s what matters, I don’t care in what form it manifests itself. However, on Thursday, at the launch, we’ll be focusing on the music side of Rebel Instinct, showcasing that part of the project.
TiD&B: A lot of the artists on the label have a Bristol connection, have you moved back there? Is that where you’re currently looking out for talent?
Krust: No, I’m still based in London. But obviously travelling a lot, you meet many people, get given tracks, and also hanging out with friends and other artists can lead to meeting like-minded people. It just so happens that quite a few are from Bristol. Obviously the city is a wonderful hotbed of talent. But I’m not sticking to one city, I’m letting the process of recruiting artists remain as organic and natural as possible. Furthermore I’m not being restricted by style or sound, let’s dissolve barriers – I’m looking for enthusiastic and creative artists, people who don’t stick to norms and aren’t afraid to experiment with their creativity. No categories, just people who make good music.
I had to choose a winner for the Back 2 You Warhead remix competition we ran, and actually ended up selecting a techno track – I thought it was great, completely stepping outside the box and illustrating a depth of creativity – that’s what I’m looking for!
TiD&B: What are you working on at the moment? As you mentioned before, Rebel Instinct began as a project for your own work…
Krust: I’m switching a lot between several different creative processes. They change every day; one day I’ll be working on music, the next I may write a poem or edit photos. I’ve got a short attention span, but actually being able to explore different art forms is what’s exciting me as it keeps things moving. I am very lucky to have an outlet for all these different projects.
Music-wise, I’ll be playing a lot of my new material at the label launch, showcasing what I’ve been making which has become quite experimental, I’ve adopted the attitude of anything goes!
TiD&B: Talking about your music outside the realms of 170bpm, are you referring to your George Kurtz project? Can you tell us more?
Krust: George Kurtz is an alias I’ve created. Krust is a name which is drenched in the jungle/D&B sound and it got to a point where I felt at times, it limited my work in terms of creativity. So I created an alter ego, one which can do anything, like Batman or Superman, haha…I like the idea of being anonymous and under that alias, I feel there’s no set rules, no restrictions on what music I make. I don’t have to worry if it’ll work on a dancefloor or has the right sounding bass. I’m free to create anything and explore my interests in music.
The George Kurtz project actually came about a few years ago when working on a library album and I was allowed to work with no rules; it didn’t matter how long or short the pieces were and I made a lot of music, crazy tracks but it was such as freeing experience. It completely challenged the way I was used to making music and inspired a totally different approach which I’ve now adopted. It was very much a eureka moment as up until then I had been working in quite a mechanical process, not really pushing myself as an artist, but all of that went out of the window and I found a new sense of fun in what I was doing. I realised I had to let my work breathe, and allow space for it to be created naturally – something very important to the Rebel Instinct ethos and also an important point within the creative workshops I run.
George Kurtz ‘Never Far Away’
TiD&B: We’re looking forward to hearing these new sounds! It’s also fascinating, and very refreshing to hear you focus on discussing music as an art form, something which is not often mentioned in conversation with electronic music artists…
Krust: I’ve always been the odd one out. Even from when I was a kid at school, I looked different to everyone else as my mum used to make my clothes. I come from a very artistic family; I have a brother who is a photographer, another is a designer and my other brother is a rapper and makes music. As we grew up we were always encouraged to be ourselves and follow our passions, the things in life which excited us, and for me, that’s being creative. Music is one way of expressing myself, that’s why I see it as a form of art, it’s my process of creativity. For me, art is about projecting a message; what’s within you, what comes from your heart.
I was out shopping with my wife, and came across a book of Alexander McQueen designs – I’m not at all into fashion and know nothing about it, but happened to look at it and was completely captivated. As I was looking at the designs, I saw music, it was so inspirational, I took out my phone to make notes about ideas for tracks. His work resonated with me, I’d never got or understood fashion, but that was an example of creativity at the highest level and was totally wowed. That was art.
TiD&B: Unlike a lot of artists in the scene who often use social media to talk about what they’re up to or their latest adventures on road, you usually refer to inspirational and thought provoking quotes; are these the kind of things inspiring your creativity at the moment?
Krust: I read a lot and every day I try to learn or do something new. I’m fascinated by anything to do with self-development, from books about philosophy to spirituality, the power of the mind and even business concepts. Self-development is key to what I do as I believe that things don’t happen over night, you need to explore, learn more and build upon your work to find it. I guess that’s what attracted me to the b-boy lifestyle and mentality; it’s all about being an individual, and priding yourself by who you are, but at the same time being inspired by others and wanting to be better…not copy them, but take things to the next level. That’s the exciting thing about being creative, there’s always scope to progress.
Secondly, the job of the creative is to look out into the horizon, explore and then interpret what you find to then share with others…but the beauty of that logic is that you can never reach the horizon as whenever you think you’re getting closer to it, it gets further away. Everything is a work in progress.
After doing Full Cycle and making jungle, I was left a bit confused as to what to do next, and then I realised that actually I needed to take time out to find my own head-space, develop and nurture my own interests. Since then, about 10 years ago, I made it a priority that everything I do has to be done so with a meaningful point of view. So as you mentioned, yes I do post more philosophical quotes on Twitter and pose questions on Facebook, but that’s because I don’t want to waste time copying people, I want to stick to my values and be myself, be direct. It’s important to inspire, and I’m aware that the social networks are a platform to express thought and creativity, so I will.
TiD&B: Does this also come through to when you work with artists on Rebel Instinct?
Krust: Absolutely. I never say ‘the label wants this or that’, but instead have a conversation with the artists, discuss different methods/approaches to creativity, always making them question what they’re doing so there’s space for self-development, which is something I also think is crucial to longevity in one’s career.
TiD&B: Who else in the drum and bass scene would you say has a similar approach to music as this?
Krust: Apart from the Rebel Instinct guys…I’d say anyone who is not afraid to be original, take a risk and step outside the constraints of a genre. I’m totally aware of how easy and appealing it is to fall into the trap of copying other artists and making similar sounds, as society makes things difficult for people to be themselves! But it’s counter-intuitive.
I’ve been spending time with Need For Mirrors, and Mosus is really on a level, putting real depth in his music. You can also really hear the soul and passion in dBridge’s productions and he’s always one step ahead, making something different but that’s because he’s being himself.
TiD&B: With so many exciting projects on the go, what should we be keeping an eye out for in the near future, from both yourself and Rebel Instinct?
Krust: I’m currently working on a new album, which I have been concentrating on for the last 18 months. The only way to explain it is that it’s going to be totally different to what I’ve done before and what’s out there at the moment, you know, as I said earlier; I’m not interested to fit in, I want to be creative and be excited by my music. In addition to that I’ll be having a live show coming up too. I’m also still presenting workshops, with a college tour taking place at the beginning of October.
Label-wise, we have the launch on Thursday and we’ll also be doing a Bristol launch on Friday 23rd September at the Bank of Stokes Croft with the same line-up.
I mentioned the compilation earlier; the artists are currently finishing their work and for this project, I asked each producer to write a track and also an accompanying piece in an art form outside of their usual field, whether it be a poem or photo – so that will be very interesting when completed. Following that, 2012 already looks pretty packed with a heavy release schedule.
But to hear previews of that and what we’ve been up to at Rebel Instinct, come and join us at the launch party this Thursday 8th September at the The Nest, London.