Catching Up With...Deniz Kurtel (Crosstown Rebels)
Last year, we were wistfully swept away by the sensational debut artist album of Crosstown Rebels leading lady, Deniz Kurtel. Straddling the disciplines of New York's most sophisticated house and techno with ambient sweeps and dancefloor bounce, ‘Music Watching Over Me’ has left us tentatively set for when we’ll next get an entharlling glimpse into the greatness of Deniz's creative prowess.
So you can imagine our excitement when we speak to Deniz ahead of her highly-antipated Room One live show next Saturday, alongside Perlon's Sammy Dee and she tells us there's a collaboration album soon to drop on her regular staple spot Wolf + Lamb, followed by a second solo album where she hopes to feature her own lyrics and vocals. If it all seems too good to be true, read on to get the whole story here first.
Hey Deniz, how was your New Year, where and who did you celebrate it with?
I played at the Electric Pickle in Miami with Wolf+Lamb, Soul Clap and Tanner Ross, it was an amazing party both outside and upstairs. The Electric Pickle feels very homey to us since we've been in Miami both last winter and this winter and I have a residency there. We also had a bunch of our friends visiting from New York so it felt very special.
Following the huge success of your LP, ‘Music Watching Over Me’ - do you have plans for a follow up album?
Yes, I have a collaboration album coming out in a few months on Wolf+Lamb, with tracks I made with a bunch of Wolf+Lamb artist including Tanner Ross, Gadi Mizrahi, Wolf+Lamb, Voices of Black, Pillow Talk and Thugfucker. After that I'm gonna start working on another solo album.
We read you’re interested in writing lyrics and vocals, are these new passions or something you have always wanted to do. How are ideas developing for this?
No, I never thought of it before I made my first album. I really enjoy using vocals from other singers I think it adds a fresh element to the tracks when it comes from a completely different source, but I also want to try singing myself and write lyrics. I tried writing lyrics for one of the tracks on the collaboration album and tried singing on another one, that's about it. It will take some time to get it right but I definitely want to have more on my next solo album.
What’s it like having Damian as a mentor- what’s the best piece of music advise he’s given you so far?
He's been good at pushing me to reach my potential. When he signed my album I had no experience playing whatsoever and a few months after I started playing, even though I had wrapped up the album he suggested that I should make some more music for it with the experience of performing live and he felt like I would make a big dance track, and I made "The L Word" which did ended up being the most popular one.
What new faces on the Crosstown roster are you really excited to share with the rest of the world and what involvement do you have in finding/ welcoming new talent to the family?
There is a new artist on Crosstown named Amirali, so far I only heard one track from him but he seems to have a pretty unique sound. I just remixed his first single "Beautiful World", which had really cool, melodic elements. He also sings on it and has a really cool voice.
What was your favourite Rebel Rave memory of 2011?
I haven't been in that many Rebel Raves this year but the one in Los Angeles in August was one of my favorites, followed by the 12 hour road trip to Burning Man with Damian, Jonny and Kenny.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced so far in your career?
The touring part is perhaps the most challenging to me because I'm not so used it and it's a bit of a distraction from studio time. The traveling also gets a bit exhausting, but it's definitely worth it. Being in Miami with the Wolf+Lamb family the last 2 winters has definitely helped keep a level head for all of us, being in nice weather, eating healthy, enjoying each other's company.
We’re waiting in anticipation for the return of your live show in Room One at the end of the month. In what ways have you been developing the live project since we last had you with us? Can we expect another sensory overload from you?
Both times I've played in that room so far has been magic, so I'm really looking forward to sharing my new music there again. Since last time I've been incorporating a bunch of new material into the set, from new tracks and remixes and also some rework on older tracks. I really wanted to include a LED installation like I had the first time I played there but unfortunately I'm using all my LED supplies in two other projects at the moment so I won't be able to do that. Next time I play there I will make sure to time it right and bring a new LED installation!
Are there new plans to explore DJ sets or do you prefer to play live and if so why?
DJ'ing hasn't been a priority for me yet. I'm definitely interested but music production and my LED projects, together with the touring isn't leaving enough time to get into DJ'ing. Hopefully next year I'll have some time.
Are you consistently working on your LED installations? What’s new and exciting you about your very special and personal project?
Yes, I've definitely been working on more LED projects this year since I finished my album. I've built a LED installation inside a trailer, which I showed at the Electric Pickle in Miami for Art Basel and NYE. I'm planning to go on a road tour of the US with it in April as part of my album tour, starting in Miami with WMC, ending in California. I'm also designing a new club in Istanbul which is scheduled to open in February, for which I'm building a bunch of new LED pieces.
In your attitude and artistry who do you always look to for inspiration in life and in the music world?
I look to my mother a lot for inspiration, who has played a huge role in shaping my artistic approach, and musically I feel very lucky to be part of such talented group of friends that are constantly inspiring each other.
What projects do you have in store for us in 2012?
Main projects I have in store are the collaboration album, the Trailer project, the club project in Istanbul, and a bunch of new exciting remixes.
Finally, if we left you on a desert island tell us five things you couldn’t live without..
Food: coconut water
Companion: My family
Book: Beast and Man