Inside CRSSD Festival with Lee K
With much of the country laid to icy ruin, just a few weeks remain until CRSSD Fest delivers a world-class musical experience to Waterfront Park in San Diego, California. With FNGRS CRSSD teamed up with Coachella masterminds Goldenvoice, and the lineup now fully revealed, San Diego is poised for a defining weekend in its musical history.
We caught up with FNGRS CRSSD resident DJ, festival artist and San Diego local, Lee K for her take on things to come. We’ll hear what she has to say about the event, the music and why CRSSD festival is landing on San Diego at the perfect time. Lee may be young, but don’t be confused, she’s no stranger to playing alongside the biggest names in house to grace San Diego. She can also slay techno that would make Ida proud.
If you need help charting your course for the weekend, you can check out my list of can’t-miss acts at the end. First, here’s Lee weighing in on house music in Southern California and what to expect at CRSSD Fest.
LEE K: FNGRS CRSSD RESIDENT
SA: My impression is that commercial dance music is very popular in San Diego, but that the city is in the growth stages of a thriving house and techno scene. What is your take on where the city is at right now, and where it’s going as a maturing music scene?
Lee: There’s no denying that commercial dance music is at the helm of the clubbing scene in the states. Every major city more or less revolves around that sector of music, but luckily you will nearly always find clubs catering to the house and techno side of things too. San Diego has definitely matured musically over the past few years. There’s always been a house and techno scene, it was just primarily underground before the music began gaining popularity. People are starting to discover deeper artists and labels, and they’re supporting the venues and promoters bringing those artists in. It’s great to see. That being said, I think commercial dance music and what we’re doing serve two entirely different purposes and markets, and I don’t think one is ever going to replace the other. There’s some overlap, but at the root of it, it’s different people looking for different things.
SA: Aside from the size difference of the two cities, what do you think is separating San Diego from LA’s music scene where, for example, you have Nicole Moudaber playing warehouse parties and down here that kind of techno is almost non-existent?
Lee: You said it yourself — a large part of it is the difference in size. It’s a matter of 3 million people spread out in San Diego versus 16 million in Los Angeles. LA has always been a bit ahead of the curve musically. But San Diego is doing itself justice given its size. I opened for Hobo and Victor Calderone last year – and both nights were fire. It’s not that San Diego doesn’t want it or isn’t ready for it — there’s just more room to do those shows in LA.
SA: How long have you been a resident for FNGRS CRSSD, and what can you tell me about the crowd from when you started to now?
Lee: I’ve been playing as a resident for FNGRS CRSSD for just over a year now. I’ve been fortunate to have had really great dance floors — and I don’t mean that I’ve only played clubs when they’re packed to the brim — I mean that even on nights when there’s only forty people on the floor, people are generally really receptive to what’s being played. I’ve definitely been impressed with how open people are to the larger umbrella of house and techno.
SA: In addition to your refreshingly techno-friendly prime time sets, you’ve also set the stage for some of big names in house music. What was the most memorable experience you’ve had and for whom are you most excited on the CRSSD lineup?
Lee: It’s difficult to pick just one. I opened for Eats Everything for the second time the other weekend and he’s always a wicked good time. Talented, down for the party and humble to boot. Some other favorite nights have been with Manik, Hobo, Tube & Berger…
To be honest, I’m excited for the entire festival lineup. Each artist playing is bringing something unique to the table. Definitely going to check out Damian Lazarus’ new live act (Damian Lazarus & The Ancient Moons), Hot Natured, and one of my favorite producers as of late, Shall Ocin.
SA: While CRSSD and Bang Bang have provided a weekly home for house music, techno heavy names like Jamie Jones, Seth Troxler and Maceo Plex are somewhat new territory for San Diego. What are your thoughts on how fans will react?
Lee: I don’t think names like Jamie Jones and Maceo Plex are as obscure in San Diego as they were a couple of years ago. Seth Troxler played Bang Bang in 2013 and it was well received. As far as the fest goes — judging from the response so far, the majority of the people going seem to be pretty in tune with the lineup and what to expect musically. I think fans will be satisfied with how the weekend turns out.
SA: After seeing the crowd’s enthusiasm at Eats Everything, it would seem like this festival is coming in at a highly receptive time for the local fan-base. What do you think or hope the CRSSD festival will do for house and techno in San Diego?
Lee: Given the response to CRSSD shows over the past two years as well as the response to the festival, I think this is happening at the perfect time. My only hope could be that the house and techno scene will keep expanding within San Diego and stateside as a whole. It’s heading in the right direction, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement. Hopefully it will keep trending away from soulless electronic music and the sliver of the scene that truly has their heart — and not money — invested in it for the long term will keep gaining momentum.
How does it feel to be playing this event in your home city, and what can we expect from your set?
Catch Lee K holding down the City Steps stage, where she joins a stacked list of artists sure to leave a permanent mark on San Diego. Here are a few more must-sees to help you conquer CRSSD.
CRSSD FEST CAN’T MISS ACTS:
Though set times have yet to be posted, these five CRSSD Festival essentials alone are worth the fare.
5. Pleasure State
With the recent formation of Pleasure State, Lee Foss and Anabel Englund are credited for saving MK from self-imposed house exile. In their interview DJ Times interview, Anabel had this to say of the group, “It’s our outlet. For example, [Lee Foss] loves hip hop, so he’s going to be rapping on the new EP. He’s wanted to do that but hasn’t been able to because that doesn’t fit the vibe of [Hot Natured]. This is a chance for all three of us to come together to create something we really like.” You can check out their first video for ‘Ghost in the System’ on Youtube. Pleasure State makes our list for curiosity factor but with Lee Foss anchoring and the Hot Creations stamp, expectations are high.
Maceo Plex rubs elbows with the most sought after artists in the techno-sphere and is not to be trifled with in any festival situation. When your name is regularly listed in the same size font as Richie Hawtin for ENTER. events, you have made it. If his hometown of Miami didn’t soften his vibe, San Diego shouldn’t anticipate pulled punches. Maceo Plex is known to bring the kind of deep, dark, warehouse-tough techno and house that you seldom hear this far south. FNGRS CRSSD deserves a sincere tip of the black hat for building on what they’ve established at Bang Bang, and deepening their exploration of the genre, booking ‘full techno’ acts like Maceo Plex. As we heard from Lee, the fans are ready–most definitely this writer among them.
The most exciting addition from the second lineup announcement is the new project from Damian Lazarus. With a rock solid following and underground credit from the warehouse to the desert, Lazarus is joined at the production helm by James Ford (Simian Mobile Disco, Arctic Monkeys, Florence). Ancient Moons brings together a wide assortment of vocalists, collaborators and players from around the world. Taking inspiration from Lazarus’s Lazpod series, Get Lost events and Day Zero festival in Mexico, this music for deserts, jungles and sunrises. Lazarus explains: “There is nothing that compares to DJing under the stars in the night air or being responsible for soundtracking the rising of the sun in the morning and I wanted to create an album that reflects these beautiful moments.” Hear their single ‘Lovers’ Eyes (Mohe Pi Ki Najariya)’ on Soundcloud.
With a sound so refined you might need a monocle to beat match, Hot Natured won a DJ Award for Best Electronic Live Performance in 2013. This house super-group, known for a preoccupation with spaceships and aliens consists of Jamie Jones, Lee Foss, Luca Cazal and Ali Love. Recent accolades have included massive singles like “Isis,” “Benediction,” and “Reverse Skydiving.” Interestingly, there are no live sets on the web currently featuring the full group. So you’ll have to wait. Jamie performing along with fronting a Hot Natured appearance in the same weekend is a surreal opportunity. One thing is for sure, Hot Natured is the champagne of house music and it’s about to get real bubbly.
Sure Troxler will undoubtedly add to the effect, but all you really need to know here is Jamie Jones. Techno ears might consider this a smart bet for set of the weekend. Seldom have 2 hours of music had such a lasting impact on me personally as what Jamie Jones put together in the All Gone Pete Tong tent at Tomorroworld. Shattering genre molds, Jones is credited as a pioneer in the new sound of house and techno. His Hot Creations label has a big role to play at CRSSD, and who better to lead the assault? From Ibiza breakfast to midnight thunder, Jones is a master of tailoring his sound to the crowd, setting and occasion. We expect him to flip CRSSD festival on its head.
With this hint dropped on the event page, it looks as though festival goers will have plenty to do outside the hours of noon to 11. Afterparty announcements are still forthcoming, we’ll have more as information becomes available. In the mean time, here’s another hint to tie you over: if you look from far away, you can read some of the blurred out artist names on the announcement.
Ready for CRSSD.
There you have it, our inside guide to CRSSD fest. As always, be smart, be respectful and be about the music. Bring your tan, leave the attitude and be part of a first in San Diego’s music history. Above all, we wish Lee K and the other artists, organizers and festival-goers a musically nutritious and unforgettable weekend. See you at CRSSD.