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Crystal Method

May 6, 2010
Hans Fink with Crystal Method

left to right: Ken Jordan, Hans Fink, Scott Kirkland

I have always had a love/hate dynamic with electronic music. But groups like Crystal Method remind me of the things I love about this particular genre.

Last month, I invited the Crystal Method, consisting of musicians Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland, to come shoot a series of video interviews against the green screen of the studio in Burbank for a company who shall not be mentioned. Ahem. Being the good sports that they are, the duo humored my request, and brought with them their little pal, Norm Trooper.

Norm Trooper

Norm Trooper

Norm Trooper is an idea that has grown out of control. The inception of Norm Trooper is, in my mind anyways, the real story. For those of you who aren’t in the loop, essentially, Scott Kirkland, who is one half of the duo, was setting out to leave for a tour, and his son handed him a Lego storm trooper and told his father that the storm trooper would protect him. Kirkland took the little Lego space infantry man with him on tour, and, similar to a running gimmick from the French film Amelie, took pictures of the little Lego man posed in the places he traveled to, or with the celebrities he met, including Leonard Cohen and Jeff Bridges. From there, the institution of Norm Trooper evolved into an out of control and compulsive sensation, spawning a Norm Trooper page on FaceBook, laden with hundreds of pictures of the now iconic clone. To me, though, the beauty of this story is the simple fact that it started as a way of bonding between father and son. Call me cheesy, sentimental and even schmaltzy (holy shit, spell checker didn’t highlight it, I guess that’s actually a word) but being both a father and a son myself, I can’t help but appreciate that story on those levels.

To backtrack a little to my opening statement, Crystal Method, like the Chemical Brothers, Massive Attack, Tricky, or Nine Inch Nails represent to me the a spirit of honest experimentation in a genre that lends itself to normally repetitive clichés. Beyond the indistinguishable house DJs and overly repetitive themes inherent to Electronic music, these artists have each carved a distinct sound for themselves while simultaneously embodying the ideals limitless possibility.

Crystal Method in particular has been around a long, long while, and as such, has deeply influenced subsequent generations of artists while still maintaining a very strong and relevant presence in today’s mercurial musical climate. I see them being to this genre as Metallica is to heavy metal (dear Metallica purists, please spare me any analogies that have to do with any of Metallica’s current body of work or any remarks about their haircuts, I intend to stand by this analogy until I think of a better one).

Simply put, I like them and I was stoked to meet them. And Norm Trooper.

Crystal Method being interviewed by Madeline Meritt

Crystal Method being interviewed by Madeline Meritt

While I did not personally interview the Crystal Method, I did have the good fortune to hang out with them and converse with them, and I did sit in and watch as the video interviews with host Madeline Meritt were being filmed against the green screen. During this process, the duo dropped an excellent piece of advice for all aspiring musicians, which of course, could be applied to any sort of creative endeavor.

This is not a verbatim quote, but here is the essential message:
“Be true to your sound. There is no sense in trying to be the next big thing and emulating the sounds of what you hear around you or what you think the next big thing is, because by the time you break, something else will be the next big sound. Just be true to yourself, and be willing to experiment and define your own style and sound.”

Till next time, loyal readers… um… wow. That was supposed to build to a clever sign off, but I don’t have one. So… Bye.