Visionquest, the Detroit-born collective of Ryan Crosson, Shaun Reeves, and Lee Curtiss, have come into their own as an internationally roving squadron of envelope-pushing minimalists. In particular, the members have gone to lengths to define themselves individually since the departure of de facto (see: assumed) leader Seth Troxler last year as they maintain a rigorous touring schedule and the furthering of an already impressive catalogue of music under Visionquest Records.
Ryan Crosson stopped by Vice Headquarters in Brooklyn recently to talk about his mature new EP, titled Bricolage, what it is that each VQ member brings to the table, and the circumstances around Troxler's departure.
First, the EP: Bricolage is a phrase with myriad meaning, often used in social science to refer to the mix-n-match manner in which modern identity is constructed. In this instance, it was in reference to the method in which Crosson brought together the sonics in the EP, sourcing sounds from the mundane and working them into his music.
Crosson explains: "I used field recordings from the street, sometimes people would be doing construction on my building, if a neighbor was pounding or something like that. We had a really good hailstorm in the fall and it was unbelievable…I normally don't record in noises. I'll have field recording noises, sure, but normally I use those in a much more subtle way."
The result is three tracks of dense and engrossing material that flit between house and techno, made with a DJ's knack for aesthetic and with found sounds taking a more pronounced role in the mix.
Having seen the crew perform in Los Angeles recently, I was curious as to the interplay between Visionquest members. "We're all kind of in the same vein," Crosson explains, "But I'm gonna go a bit more techno and Shaun is almost always gonna keep things a lot deeper. Lee's gonna go a bit more Chicago house sometimes – I don't wanna say Hot Natured but more of a bassy sort of house – that's how I would describe it."
I joked that Shaun Reeves appears so determined and serious when performing. "You're about the thousandth person I've heard that from," Crosson laughs. "He smiles a lot, he just has a demeanor when he's playing. He's seriously into it, but it's not like he's serious. All you gotta do is nudge him and fuck with him and he'll start cracking up."
"Seriously every time we go play somewhere someone says, "Why's your friend so serious?" He's not! Just listen to the music and quit watching him!"
Seth Troxler's departure from Visionquest last year could have made headline news in the dance world, but information on how it came about is scarce as it all happened with little ceremony. Now that the dust has settled and the VQ crew have successfully forged their own path, the topic has lapsed out of the taboo.
"We didn't feel like anything needed to be said at the time, but Seth made some comments, like 'Ryan's gonna take over as the head honcho," Crosson begins. "The thing with us, though, there was never a head honcho. Yeah, Seth had a higher profile, but we were all working together, we all had our own ideas, our own opinions and part of the beauty of Visionquest was that there were four minds working together trying to create something."
"At some point Seth was just like 'I wanna do my own thing' and that's cool," explains Crosson. "He made the choice to leave and, it was a bit of a shock at first, but I think it saved our friendship to be honest with you. Things were tense. Everyone was touring more, Visionquest '13 things were in full swing, there were a couple disappointments behind the scenes on things that happened. I think in the end, him going his way and us doing our thing – I think it's worked out. And I think he'll tell you the same thing because we actually had dinner two nights ago and we didn't even talk about work. No work, no bullshit, it was perfect."
Jemayel Khawaja is THUMP's Managing Editor - @JemayelK