We just caught up with Ryan Crosson before the Visionquest set at Bijou Boston. (Lee Curtiss’ flight got in late so we missed him.) It was refreshing to hear about the start of Visionquest – in first person – and the struggle of juggling that while properly representing everyone’s music. He also talked about traveling alone and the festival experience when it’s in your hometown. Oh, and we found out who came up with this year’s Need I Say More artwork.
You were recently live with Mixmag in Brooklyn, and just played in Puerto Rico.
►I was in Puerto Rico last weekend, but I’ve been in New York all week. I’ve been living in Brooklyn for two years now; we’re doing Output Sunday. That will be a good one. I played The Panther Room once there on a Sunday and it was pretty nuts.
And you arrived here today. Did you get to explore the area?
►Just walked around and went over some music. Didn’t do much. I played at Middlesex Lounge a long time ago, and I know Lee has played at Bijou before.
►Why isn’t he here right now?
He was supposed to get in but he’s coming from LA now doesn’t get in until 10:30pm or so. We’re supposed to start at 11pm ‘til 2am, so it will be fine by the time I’m done and then he can start.
11 is early for a headliner start here.
►Closing at 2am is very early for us, but that’s the way it is in the States and other places. Other than New York, Miami, Chicago, and LA, that’s what it is.
But you’re originally from Detroit, where the scene also seems to be pretty good. I was just there for Movement, but you know all about that.
►Yeah, I’ve never missed a year. Actually, I missed one and I’ll never miss one again. It was the third year [doing] Old Miami.
And you just had another old miami party.
►Yeah, this was our 12th year.
So about that artwork…
►Seth has done the artwork every year. He always wants to push it and do crazy shit, and he nails it pretty much every year.
What else did you do at Movement weekend this year?
►I played at a Paradigm party B2B with Nitin, and Cassy and Dusky played, and the Tied Collective guys from Chicago played. I went to the festival for the most time I’ve gone in recent years. My parents still live in Detroit so i usually just come in, go to see them, head to the festival Sunday, play Sunday night, and Monday I’m there. But this year, I was at the festival Saturday, all day Sunday into the night, and played my party Saturday night, so it was nice to be there for an extended period of time and take in the festival and not be in a rush to do a lot of different things in a short amount of time.
Being from there, do you still see a ton of people on the grounds you know or who know you?
►I think there are old faces I run into, but there are just so many people. I’m 35 now and there are a lot of young people who don’t know who the hell I am. Even when I was living in Detroit, I wasn’t like a known person. So when I go back, I run into the people I run into and it’s just enough. Anything crazier would be too much, I think. I get to see Chicago, LA, other midwest people. In the past five years, there have been more international people coming, which is great, because there are more international people playing and international party people coming over.
Downtown is really coming up, too.
►There was a lot more activity this year; it’s getting better and better and better. When I was leaving this past year, I saw they built this big circular park with concerts and movie screenings. That never existed in downtown Detroit.
I want to hear the Visionquest story from you.
►We all met through partying in Detroit. I was Seth’s first customer at the record store, and Seth knew Shaun (Reeves) through partying, and then I came to know Lee. Seth and I were good friends, then Seth moved out of a place and when he had nowhere to go, he moved in with Lee. And it turned out Lee lived a half mile away from where I lived, and we all started hanging out. Shaun lived in Europe already, so we all moved over to Europe, and while we were together there, everything kicked off. Visionquest started as we were all doing remixes. Me, Seth, and Lee, we did three remixes for Jeremy Caulfield’s label, Dumb Unit. Dumb Unit doesn’t exist anymore. Then when we were moving to Berlin, we brought Shaun in because it seemed right, and we continued on that way. Then Shaun, Seth and I were living in Berlin together and Lee moved back to Chicago, but Lee stayed with us and was still doing events with us.
Was it hard juggling your own music careers while launching Visionquest?
►The thing is, everyone thinks we’ve been this DJ collective that plays together, but it was never that. We did shows together and played B2B together, but we didn’t just operate as Visionquest as this group. We’ve always been our own individual people, but promoters wanted the brand and the group of us, and the booking agents wanted to book the group of us because it was a bigger thing. Then eventually Seth took off and became this superstar. So it’s not that we were not our individual selves, but we would get lumped into these things and that’s how it worked out for a while. The thing we’ve always struggled with was not doing too much. There was a hype for a while and it blew up and got nice and fat and everything, then it was like a little too much and we realized maybe we’re not doing things the right way or representing our music properly, so we pulled it back a little bit. And now here we are.
So you must travel a lot by yourself, then.
►Yeah, most of the year I’m by myself. When I go to Europe, I’ll stay with Shaun or I’ll stay with my good friend Cesar who i work with a lot, but most gigs I’m on my own. This weekend… tonight I’m with Lee, tomorrow I’m with Shaun, Sunday we’re all together, and then we go fishing up in northern Michigan where Shaun grew up because it’s his birthday on Monday. We’re going up near his parents’ place for five days, then we play Detroit together, and then Shaun and I go up to Montreal. So this is a nice two-week stretch, but other than that, we’re elsewhere.
Any fun travel stories?
►At the end of Detroit this year, we were all kinda on our last legs after Old Miami. It was me and Lee and Seth’s tour manager and we were partied out. We ordered an Uber and were trying to find this lady forever and she said she was in front of the entrance. So we saw a car and jumped in. This lady was scared half to death, the poor woman. I think she had a child with her and us monkeys jumped into the back of the car and she was like, “What are you doing?” Obviously that wasn’t our Uber. We’ve got a lot of graphic times and stories from over the years, but I don’t know how appropriate they’d be.
Do you get to run on your own schedule, for the most part?
►You get picked up and moved around. But I read, go over music, and sleep a lot. Today it was nice to walk around. When I have downtime I do that, or if i know the promoter I’ll go do something. It just depends what time you go in, and how well you know the city and promoter.
Do you ever struggle with language barriers?
►I mean, yeah. Not everyone’s gonna know English and know it well. There are times it’s a bit difficult. Mouth noises and hand gestures get you very far. You can get there, you work through it.