#69 - Dan Curtin
Ladies and gentlemen we present the one and only…Mr. Metamorphic…Dan Curtin ! Yes indeed, Ohio’s Purveyor of Fine Funk joins the ranks of the EPM Podcast. And just like his incredible production output over the last 20+ years he straddles the world’s of house and techno with a mix that bumps and grinds its way across the dancefloor. From the housier end of the spectrum we get Mark Ambrose feat. David Holmes, Mirko Loko, TIJN and Spencer Parker whilst beefing up the BPMs we find messrs Ruskin & Broom, Ben Sims, Floorplan, Paul Mac and Orlando Voorn before we close out on the re-issue of Jay Denham’s classic Fade II Black ‘The Calling’ on Black Nation. A quality mix that encompasses the past, present and future of funk!
Dan Curtin’s musical quest began amidst the inception of the techno and house phenomenon of the early 1990s. From his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio Dan experimented with a vast number of styles, producing innovative sounds of every variety: from Chicago to Detroit to the East Coast. Dan’s considerably impressive discography dates back to 1992 when his first releases on Detroit’s 33 RPM Records and Belgium’s Buzz motivated him to launch his own production hub: Metamorphic Recordings. His unwillingness to commit to a singular style was instrumental to his continuously fresh releases on big players such as Peacefrog, Strictly Rhythm and Sublime, and Soma while his forward-thinking approach brought him tremendous support from the likes of Carl Cox, Carl Craig, and many more.
In 2003 Dan decided to focus on a ‘funkier’ production sound while his creative instincts provoked him to make a quick change to a the more fast-paced music scene of Berlin, a city powerfully cranking out fresh ideas and young creations. This creative move soon triggered a string of new releases on young, happening labels such as Bass Culture, Holic Trax, and Saved. Over seventy singles and nine albums later Dan is just as innovative and fresh as he has ever been whether recording under his own name or under one of his many aliases such as Purveyors of Fine Funk.
His refusal to lock himself into one style as well as his unique ability to collaborate with artists from a variety of genres has helped him to maintain not only his status as an individual amongst a world of ever-increasingly like-minded musicians but also his status as a legend over nearly two decades.
Dan’s prolific output currently shows no sign of abating. New releases and remixes include the ‘Space Pressure EP’ on Metamorphic Recordings, the ‘Selfish EP’ on Turquoise Blue Recordings, his remix of D Knox's ‘Out There’ on our own EPM Music, a re-issue of ‘The Path’ by his Prototype alias on The Healing Company, a remix of DJ W!ld's ‘Quand tu te touche’ on W Records, a remix of James Kumo's ‘Yellow’ on K Music, ‘The Waters of Mars EP’ on Seventh Sign and the ‘3rd From The Sun EP’ on Detroit Dancer. Phew !
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Q&A with Dan Curtin
1. One hour doesn’t give you the full range of DJ expression but would you say this mix is pretty indicative of your DJ sets?
Definitely, my sets are techno with plenty of organic and emotional influences, so you'll get a bit of house in there too. All about creating that atmopshere on the floor that is banging no doubt, but will take you places too.
2. What were your first experiences of dance music? When did you get the bug?
From hip hop and breakdancing. Music and dancing were one in the same to me when I first started becoming interested in music when I was in school. And the journey began with hip hop, which led to electro, Kraftwerk, new wave, house and techno which led to the clubs which led to obsession!
3. For some reason Ohio seems to be constantly referenced as some kind of cultural desert yet the history of music from the state is staggering. From Dean Martin and Doris Day to Bobby Womack, Chrissie Hynde, Pere Ubu, Devo, Dave Grohl, Boz Scaggs, Scott Walker and more recently The Black Keys and John Legend - music runs deep in its veins. So why is that?
Don't forget Zapp and Roger Troutman, a very important part of electronic funk. Cleveland is a major rock city, and there are other large metropolitan areas in Ohio like Dayton and Toledo that are just a short drive from Detroit and not too far from Chicago. Kent was a major player in the punk scene of the late 70's, and 80s. The bar JB's in Kent hosted all of the punk bands of that time, it's like Ohio's CBGB. So we're in between Chicago, Detroit, and NYC. Not realy isolated. But the great thing is that we are far enough away from these other scenes and cities to allow originality to grow, we do our own thing, and export that to the world. Cleveland and Ohio might get a bad rap, but that is only because people from the larger cities have a hard time coming to terms with the originality and innovation that this seeminlgy out of the way place generates.
4. Can you remember the first piece of studio equipment you bought and how much you paid for it?
It was a Radio Shack DJ mixer that I used for scatching and for my hip hop group when I was in school, I rode my BMX bike to the mall to pick it up, price was about $40.00 or something. But the first piece of “real” gear that I got was a Roland TR-505, which I at first didn't like, so I traded it to a guy who wanted more realistic drum sounds, for - wait for it - a TR-909, plus he gave me $50.00! He hated the 909 because the drum sounds didn't sound like real drums. He thought it was useless. Bonus for me.
5. If you could put on your own line up, money no object, who would be on the bill?
You know, money woulnd't matter because I wouldn't get the biggest and most expensive. They are already overplayed. At this point I'd go for something unique and lesser known and offer an all midwest techno lineup for a change, because this is something that hasn't been done yet. I'd have Titonton, Myles Serge Clark, Plural, Zach Lubin, D Knox, and people like that. Plus Jeff Mills! A lineup of individuals who rock with a unique perspective on music.
6. When you put out your first release on Metamorphic did you have any idea of the journey you were about to embark on?
No way! No clue. Looking back I really can't believe it, music has let me experience the world. Maybe releasing that first record under the alias Planetary had more meaning than I thought.
7. As a resident of Berlin now for some 12 years how have you seen the city change in that period?
I've watched it grow and repair after decades of neglect right before my eyes. When I first moved to this area of town in the east war damage was everywhere you looked. And now it's like a new city, new buildings are on every block, everything has been repaired and renovated. Tourism has exploded, the gritty and dirty Berlin that everyone fell in love with, and that created the Berlin techno scene that enabled the clubs to thrive in the first place, is sadly gone more or less. But in it's place everything, including the clubs, have been made bigger and brighter. More expensive and more popular. But I'm not going to lie, it's changing from Berlin to “Berlin World” the attraction. Inevitable. Like everywhere.
8. For me your early releases 92-95 appeared to attain a cult like status, as if a knowing clique of techno enthusiasts were onto something new that they wanted to keep to themselves. A kind of secret Dan Curtin club. Where you aware of your following at the time?
Not at all, and even now it's the same thing. When people show up at gigs with my records and ask me to sign them, when they bake me a cake with the Metamorphic logo on it for the after party, when they say things like listening to your music inspired me to make music I am blown away. Taken aback and amazed. Because I make the music purely for myself first, second to share, I sometimes forget that others might feel it too. Or even listen to be honest, I'm like, “really, you know that track?”
9. ‘The Silicon Dawn’ LP (1994, Peacefrog) was a pivotal album in the evolution of techno. How do you look back on that album now?
I just remember it coming together so easily, and having fun making it. It was the beginning of the exploration stage. Like Voyager leaving the solar system, it's saying, OK, now we are really on the way.
10. We love a list. So as Head of Ohio’s Tourist Board for the day what five reasons would you put down to go visit your home county?
- The Great Lakes. Our inland seas define our area.
- The State Parks. Rivaling any of the national parks.
- Cleveland Museum of Art. Worldclass.
- Our top 3 cities, Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinatti.
- The Great Serpent Mound. To remind ourselves of the civilizations that existed there pre-colonial times.
EPM Podcast 69 – Dan Curtin tracklist
1. Mirko Loko - Flash - Cadenza
2. TIJN - Raw - TIJN
3. D Knox - Out There (Dan Curtin Remix) - EPM Music
4. Orlando Voorn - Gain Upwards (Efdemin Remix) - Out-Er
5. Spencer Parker - Rights For Men (Adriana Lopez Mix) - Work Them Records
6. Ruskin and Broom - Council House - Blueprint
7. Mark Ambrose - Electricity feat. David Holmes - Bass Culture
8. Cochise - Radon (Cochise remix) - GND Records
9. DC - Space Pressure - Metamorphic Recordings
10. S-File - Bleaching - GND Records
11. Paul Mac - Jack The Dam Box - EPM Music
12. Dan Curtin - Selfish feat. Habida - Turquoise Blue Recordings
13. Ben Sims presents Ron Bacardi - Lucky People - Karlovak
14. Floorplan - Altered Ego – M-Plant
15. Fade II Black - The Calling (Reprise) - Black Nation Records