Interview: Crystal Knives
Milwaukee EDM artist Crystal Knives has made his presence felt across America with notable large festival performances in the midwest such as Spring Awakening, North Coast and Jawbreaker.
Koss recently caught up with Crystal Knives to talk about his music, his motivation and his new song "Hotel California."
Tell us about yourself.
What's up! I'm Crystal Knives or also known as Spencer Mutsche. I grew up in Oconomowoc, Wisconin as a jazz drummer and avid metalhead. I’ve always been drawn to music and nature above everything else, and in high school I got introduced to The Glitch Mob and got my hands on FL Studio and started to learn how to make music, and from there slowly formed the vision of what Crystal Knives is today.
Tell us about your new song "Hotel California"
Hotel California was a very interesting process. It took a lot of versions and evolution to get from a VERY different instrumental to being the West Coast influenced future-pop vibe it is today. Kayla’s lyrics really inspired me to take sonic characteristics from old school G-Funk records like old Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and that very California sound.
How did you get Kayla Diamond involved?
Me and Kayla were introduced through my manager, Adam, and I sent her the original draft of the track - originally called Bipolar Love, that had a very different sound and energy.
She killed the vocal and sent it back to me in about a week and from there I started to shape the song into what it is now - not a short process, but one that was very important to get something that I felt truly was cohesive.
What is the process like writing a track like this that ends creatively so far from where it started?
It is a lot of experimentation. Even if I don’t have ideas of what needs to happen I will sit down and force myself to just try SOMETHING until eventually I get inspired and know where I need to take the record. Its frustrating sometimes, and sometimes involves stepping back from the song for a month or two at a time, but its all a part of the mental process.
How did you get involved with Koss?
I got introduced to your VP of Marketing & Product Michael Koss Jr. back a couple of years ago - maybe early 2017 - by my friends Tombz. Myself, Tombz, RCKT PWR and Wolfbiter all sat down with Michael to talk about what we looked for in a pair of headphones, what we do musically and just built a relationship between our local dance music scene and Koss.
I instantly loved the Pro4S Studio Headphones in particular, and those have been one of my go-to’s for recording, mixing and production work for years now, and I try to help introduce other local acts I believe in to the Koss team whenever I can.
What has been your biggest triumph?
If I had to pick, I think for me personally that would be opening for The Glitch Mob in the fall of 2018. It may not have been the biggest show I have ever played, it may not have been my best performance ever, but being able to share the stage with the artist that inspired me to make electronic music in the first place was incredibly rewarding.
What has been your biggest tribulation?
Getting out of my own way creatively. Between bad habits, procrastination, self doubt and everything else, the most important and most difficult part is just making sure that I am able to perform at my highest level no matter what.
What's one thing most people don't know about you?
Whenever I am not in the studio, I’m outdoors. Hiking and getting in touch with nature is really the biggest way I stay grounded and thats a side of me that only my close friends really see.
What advantage does does Milwaukee have as an up and coming city for musicians who live there?
As a city that hasn’t fully ‘blown up’ musically yet, artists and other creators in the community are able to really draw from each other to support and build something together. Since it’s a small pond, there are a lot of very cool opportunities through companies and promoters like Koss, Backline, Radio Milwaukee, Summerfest, Brew City Bass and all of the others making this cities creative scene move.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
To be honest, in 10 years I would love to score movies and television shows. TV soundtracks of shows like Stranger Things are a huge influence on me musically, so I’d love to be on the other side of that.
Concept to Creation: "Hotel California" - Crystal Knives