Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Deniz Kurtel - Exclusive Interview with another Rebel

The grounds of New York are already rumbling with anticipation of the Crosstown Rebels “Rebel Rave Tour” thundering through Pacha this Friday. To say this event will be epic is an understatement. The tour will also mark the debut of new Rebel member, Deniz Kurtel who will be performing live for the first time accompanied by a self-made LED installation. Kurtel’s name first surfaced after her Whispers EP was released by Wolf+Lamb in November 2009 and has been on the radar since her single Yeah leaked out shortly after (officially released yesterday!). For someone who went from dabbling in production a year and a half ago to being signed onto UK’s most innovative underground label points to a promising career for this gifted lady. In this exclusive interview a modestly spoken Kurtel talks about being a part of the Wolf + Lamb family, her upcoming album and why it took two master degrees to realize the academic life wasn’t for her.

Let’s start with a little background. I’ve seen you at the Wolf + Lamb parties and I know you are a core part of that family. Can you tell me a little bit about your history with Zev and Gadi [Wolf + Lamb]?
I actually came to one of the first Marcy parties [in 2005] and that’s where I met them. We just bonded immediately and we’ve been together since. We went to Burning Man together [that year] and we’ve been going every year since then. At the time I also started getting into my LED art and I’ve been doing installations for almost all Wolf + Lamb parties so I was involved with that, besides the friendship. And about a year and a half ago I started making music.

I’ve been familiar with your LED art for awhile, but I’m curious about how you started making music. Can you tell me a little more about that?
I’ve always been really into music and you just get inspired being around producers and DJs. I’ve been watching people making music and just thought I could give this a try – it looked like something I could figure out so I started working on some really simple stuff for about a month before I asked anyone for help. I just made sure I went through a really frustrating time and after that it’s much easier to learn when you’ve had a couple frustrating experiences. I have a bit of a musical background in classical and piano training. I guess I have an ear for music and the basic science of scales. For production that’s an advantage but I’m still learning. I’m at the very beginning of it.

That’s pretty impressive. I also understand that you are from Turkey. What brought you to the States?
I came here for college, to Georgetown. I had nothing to do with music education, I was studying economics then I went to New York for graduate school and got two masters – one was in quantitive methods at Columbia and the other one was public policy at NYU. I had this whole idea of a different career but then I decided it wasn’t really exciting for me. The art world kind of sucked me in. I’m glad it worked out that way.

How do you feel about your musical career exploding?
Right now I’m a little nervous. Everything is developing very fast and I feel very lucky that it is happening this way but it’s also very new to me. You know, I really got into the production of it and I didn’t really see myself playing outside of that. I mean I don’t DJ and I don’t think I will anytime soon, but there are all these new things that come with being a producer in this scene, like going on tour and playing live. I’ll see how it feels, it’s all very new to me and I just hope that it will work out.

I can’t believe you are performing the first time at Pacha!
For example that! All my friends are saying it’s an anomaly and that they’ve never seen something like that! That’s a lot to think about but I’m trying not to think about it.

What kind of programs will you be playing on for your live set?
Right now my set up is very basic. I’m using ableton and sub controllers that are made for it called the Akai APC 40 Ableton Controller. Basically my focus has been to give this production an artsy touch with my LED installation. I wanted to bring it all together so a big part of my set up is my actual LED installation. It’s this big thing that’s going to be behind me. There’s some pre-programming stuff in it and it’s also responding to my music. This is something I’m doing for the first time and hopefully it will work it out nicely.

I’m looking forward to seeing that. Can you tell me a little more about being a part of Crosstown Rebels and working with Damien Lazarus in particular?
I’m still not sure how Damien found out I was making music but one day he asked Gadi for one of my tracks. There was a bunch of album material tracks that I made that wasn’t really appropriate for Wolf + Lamb at the time and he was really into it. We met a couple of times and we really clicked. He’s been super professional from the start, really supportive and it just felt right, like it was the right move for me at the time. It’s been a really good relationship. We’ll see how it goes. My album is almost finished but it will take awhile for it to come out maybe sometime in the summer.

What projects do you have lined up for 2010?
For now I’m really committed to this tour and the album. I always have new projects but right now I’m not really thinking about anything but this tour because it’s really overwhelming already! Gadi is also starting his own label so when I’m done with my commitments with this tour and the album I’m sure we’re going to have some really exciting projects. It’s called Double Standard and their first release is actually coming out pretty soon. Pretty productive time! Hopefully 2010 will be a good year.

Rebel Rave Tour kicking off this Friday Feb. 12th at Pacha with Damien Lazarus, Jamie Jones, Seth Troxler and Deniz Kurtel. Don’t miss this one. More info on the party here.


  1. Hi, arrived via Resident Advisor . . .

    Nice interview; great to hear about the electronic music/art combo; this is something I've recently been working on for myself and other artists.

    Happy to find your blog, cheers from Canada,

  2. Nice article, what great talent is on this tour and time in electronic music. Cheers. ALX-T

  3. Thanks for the comments guys! Stay tuned for more exclusive interviews and music :

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