When it comes to techno and house, Curtis Jones is an old school guy who has them both covered. We’ve seen him perform live as both Green Velvet and Cajmere, and were not disappointed with either alias. After starting off as Cajmere in 1991, he wanted to try a new sound two years later in 1993, which was when Green Velvet emerged. Among the classics, two of our own favorites are “Laser Beams” and “Flash,” and we asked him about some others. Unfortunately we didn’t think about touching his hair, but we did ask about his shades, the last time he used a percolator, and the process when switching from old to new technology.
What’s the main difference between Cajmere and Green Velvet, and can you describe each sound with three words?
►Cajmere is more house-y, Green Velvet has more energy and techno. Three words for Cajmere: funky Chicago house. Three words for Green Velvet: what in the world? (That’s four.)
You’ve made so many classics – like “Shake & Pop” and “La La Land” – have you gotten sick of any?
►No. It’s fun because when you’re producing, it’s a lot of work and it’s good when you do something that sticks around for a bit of time. I love it.
What’s your live setup?
►I normally have three CDJs, a mixer, headphones, an SD card, a little champagne, and that’s about it.What percentage of your live sets consist of your own work?
►I think I play 20 percent my own and 80 percent other people’s stuff.
Between DJ’ing and producing, is there one you feel more comfortable with over the other?
►I love the both. It’s good to be in the studio but it’s also good to see people in the clubs reacting to the music you made and the music you’re playing.
Photo by Frederik Jaeger
►I have no idea; I have no idea why it’s even popular. That summer it started to catch on in Chicago and the next year it was huge.Do you have a favorite remix of it?
►There are a couple of remixes of it – done by Claude VonStroke, Jamie Jones, Riva Starr – I like what they did as far as remixes.
When was the last time you used one?
►[Laughs.] I’m more of a tea person. I haven’t used a percolator in a while.
What do you listen to when just hanging out?
►I listen to a lot of gospel stuff, funk, soul, and 70s stuff.
When you started making music, technology was in a totally different place than it it now. Do you miss the “old days” with its technology, or do you prefer the new stuff?
►I can’t pick one because I love them both. I love the technology we have now as far as being able to record. Back in the day, we had to go spend money in the studio or do something on a 4-track. It’s way easier to record quality music now, but I still love the old school analogue synthesizer stuff. I still use those too.
Did you find it easy or a struggle to go from old technology to new?
►It was a process for me because when you’re used to doing something one way, it does take some time to learn a new way and leave the old way. I’m glad I’m at where I am now because it’s a lot easier.
Are there any skills aside from DJ’ing and producing you think are essential to an artists’s success?
►Artists have to be able to believe in what they’re doing and be passionate because there are times when you’re like, “ehhhh, ehhh…” But if you have passion, you’ll always stick with it.
►Any specific reason you wear those shades?
►I like DJ’ing with my glasses on because they keep me in the zone. Today, the lights in the club are really bright. I’m old school and used to one little strobe light, so these help keep me in the zone.
Photo by Bruno.D.Capture
Can you recall the point in time you realized this would be your career?
►When I did “Percolator,” for sure.
What are your goals for 2014?
►I’m doing a lot of collaborations and have a lot of compilations coming out on my labels, Relief and Cajual.