Spotlight On: Ryan Crosson
We’ve looked up to Ryan Crosson in both the music and business worlds for several years now. As a producer, he’s put out entrancing minimal music on respected labels such as M_nus, Wagon Repair, and Supplement Facts. As one third of Visionquest, Ryan – along with Shaun Reeves and Lee Curtiss – consistently delivers high quality, eclectic releases featuring both fresh and established talent. His professional and completely personal mentality carries over into everything he does. We had the chance to catch up with the Detroit-born, currently NYC-based DJ/producer before he makes the trek back home for Movement Festival.
RP: Hi, Ryan! So happy to get a few minutes out of your busy schedule. What are you up to today?
RC: Editing an album and finishing my next EP. I’ve bought a few new pieces of equipment so I am learning those as well. Spring is hitting New York now which makes it tough to stay inside.
Movement Festival is right around the corner. You must be extra excited since you’re native to the city. Going into something like that – do you map out your DJ set at all or do it completely on the fly? Are you spinning vinyl?
I pack a bag of vinyl like I always do and take into account the time of day I’m playing and the stage or club. I have a few favorites that I like to slide in there when I come home if the feeling is right. I also have digital files on USB sticks. My set will be early in the day on Sunday so it will probably be house music for the festival set and a little tougher for my after party set.
What are a few things you have to do every time you’re in the city?
See my parents. Have a Lafayette Coney. Those are the only “have to’s.” When it’s not festival weekend I like to take it easy and try to see some old friends from childhood that have nothing to do with dance music.
You guys’ Need I Say More party is on its 11th year! Can you reveal any details of it? Is the crowd mostly the same year after year or do you see a bunch of new faces?
It’s been really crazy the past few years. It’s more organized but more people have also been coming each year. A lot of the same faces but many new ones as well. It’s a constant shuffle all day. I can’t believe the party has been going on this long. We always keep the lineup tight until about 12 hours before doors. The people seem to trust us which is a great thing.
Also on your summer schedule is Secret Solstice in Reykjavik. I just read the lineup – and said holy f**k out loud a few times! Do you think you’ll change up your track selection at all since that’s a broader audience than most festivals you play?
I have different types of music for different situations. I may change up tracks but I’m not gonna change my sound essentially just because there is a huge crowd. The tracks might be heavier, more techno or faster but they won’t be outside the bounds of what I play to other big crowds or festivals. I think people who listen to a podcast or see you play deep at a club assume you play that way all the time. Those people or promoters need to get out more and listen more. DJs should play appropriate to the setting that they are in while still staying true to what they do. If you listen to any good DJ they should change up slightly depending on the setting. Playing blistering techno at an afterparty with 20 people in a small apartment wouldn’t make sense.
Are you a fan of Radiohead, Deftones or any other bands on the list and is being a fan of music still important to you? Do you ever actively go to shows you’re not involved in?
Being able to go to gigs/concerts/shows is one of the perks of living in NYC. I love it. You have access to jazz, funk nights, rock, hip hop, all of it. When there’s something good around I like to go out and listen, regardless of genre. I’ve been a Radiohead fan for a long time. Last time I saw them was at Optimus Alive Festival in Portugal. That also had a ton of bands and was pretty good all around. Also looking forward to St. Germain playing live. I really think Secret Solstice is gonna be killer though. We’re taking a few days before to explore Iceland a bit, outside of Reykjavik, and see what the nature has to offer.
You just played the MDRNTY Festival and their new label just put out your EP. How did you get connected with them? Why did you choose to release those tracks on that label?
I played the festival a few years ago and we got along quite well and just formed a natural relationship together. Alejandro Mosso is helping run the label and I’ve known him for about 10 years now and he reached out to me about sending over some music. They were gonna do a V/A EP but I asked if we could do a three tracker of just my music. Thankfully they agreed and we were able to get the music out for the debut of the label.
You have a very dynamic sound that’s almost raw and polished at the same time, MDRNTY001 is a prime example, and you’ve produced with people who are all over the map from the super emotional and spacey to the super stripped down and synthy. How does your approach to making music change when you’re solo vs with others? What characteristics do you feel you always bring to the table?
It doesn’t change so much other than that I think ideas and execution come quicker when working with another experienced person. I think I’m at my best in collaboration with Cesar because there are really no rules and we don’t care whether a track is for a dance floor or not. We just play and work it out. Whatever happens, happens. This is my favorite thing to do. I think sometimes there is an obligation to put out a record for the dance floor or if you want to change your style you have to create some alias so people will listen. Agents sometimes complain that they don’t have content to work with even though you’ve been touring for 10 years and it’s tiresome. I understand their point and they’re trying to help but sometimes that’s just not what’s on your mind. I would love to not write any dance music for a year. Just get deep inside and see what I can pull out of my brain. I always want to play with little layers or textures and nondescript sounds.
Visionquest and its sisters Brachtune and Visionquest Special Edition are 3 of your babies. Do you have a bigger role in one over the others these days?
Same role across the board for the most part but Shaun has stepped up quite a bit to help with getting designs in order and is taking lead with VQSE. He’s gonna move it away from the various artist format to solo EPs but still vinyl only. Each week is focusing on new EPs or projects and seeing how they fit under the umbrella. We’re getting more particular on what we sign to each which is a great.
On top of working on several musical projects, labels, and touring, you’re married and you guys have moved (to different countries even) a few times in the last few years. That’s quite impressive. How do you make it all work? Does your wife love your music?
She’s a fan of all types of music and understands me very well.
Follow Ryan on Soundcloud for fresh sounds. Photos by Brian Park.