Introducing Flosstradamus: The Heartland's
The Future Beckons Chi-Town's Favourite Sons
100% All-Natural DJ Team
By Scott Wood
In the parking lot beside the Bourbon, Josh Young, aka DJ J2K, shakes his head while we wait for the other half of Flosstradmus, Curt Cameruci, aka DJ Autobot, to guzzle his drink. The streets around the Bourbon are littered with ready-to-party to scenester kids and homeless people. We are blocks away from Vancouver’s notorious Pigeon Park a drug-riddled shantytown on east Hastings Street. Even though Flosstradamus call Chicago home, Young is not used to seeing such rampant drug addiction so in your face.
Curt joins as another desperate soul passes by us. Josh shakes his head again. Flosstradamus are on tour, so I ask them how they avoid burnout.
Josh kickstarts the conversation. “Touring in general, any band, any DJ, any person who has lives on the road can tell you Floss' remix of Matt & Kim's "Yeah Yeah" has been called, "The perfect track for a 4pm office dance party." Curt chuckles, pleased to get the party started anywhere. "I've got the water coolers goin' nuts!" that it’s really difficult. And it’s hard try to practice any type of discipline, like self-restraint with drinking—and there’s drugs. Curt and I don’t do drugs. We’ll drink occasionally, but 99.9% of the time we turn down anything that’s put on front of us. And that’s the thing, in the club, it’s horrible, but this scene is very heavy into a lot of drugs, mainly uppers like cocaine and all that stuff. I’m not trying to say I’m high and mighty—like I know people who do it and don’t judge them for it. It’s just one of those things where it’s like, ‘if you wanna try and have longevity in this field, then you gotta try and maintain, and not get caught up in it.’ And a lot of people do.”
Curt weighs in. “Eat healthy. You can do a little bit of yoga here like my man over here Josh is doing.” He laughs as he gives up Josh’s secret habit. “But anyway. That’s the thing… We don’t mess around with drugs…”
A Panhandler interrupts: “Do you have any change?”
Annoyed, Curt is direct, but polite. “No. We’re actually doing an interview. Thank you though.”
Josh can’t believe the panhandler’s boldness: “Vancouver!”
Curt continues: “The crackhead who just talked to me?—We don’t want to turn out like her. So we’re just trying to do some positive things in the scene. Even kids who are like, ‘Yo you wanna ride the falcor dragon through the mist?’—AKA do some drugs? We’re just like, ‘You know what? We don’t do that.’ And we wanna influence them, being semi-role models in this game. We wanna show them that we can actually have fun—without doing drugs.”
From any other DJ duo, these Public Service Announcement-ready sentiments would seem more than a little disingenuous, but these two guys seem like wholesome guys who like their beer, but are more worried about killing on the dance floor.
Since Curt and Josh are obviously such a tight duo—routinely finishing each other’s sentences—I ask them what a duo can bring to the table vs. a solo DJ.
Curt answers like he is competing for a gig against a solo DJ: “Josh and I provide two separate things to the table. Even tonight, he started playing some hip hop and some really soulful down-to-earth stuff. I started playing stuff that was housey, dancey, four-to-the-floor type stuff. We have four turntables; we have a whole entire night. Josh and I have our own arsenals and we can kill the entire night and grab the crowd with whatever we have.”
Josh compares his Floss experience to his solo days: “Switching from doing it solo to doing it with a partner can be really difficult for a lot of people, but Curt and I seem to enjoy the same things. It’s very rare that he’s like, ‘Oh my God, this kills!’ and then I’m like, ‘Nah. I dunno if I like that.’ We both kinda see the crowd, read the crowd and have the same kind of points when we’re doing it. And sometimes we drop duds, and we look at each other, [Josh makes a sad-music-on-a-game-show sound effect] ‘What are you gonna do about it?’ And other times we drop crazy shit.”
“It’s a challenge, cuz he doesn’t what I’m gonna play next and I don’t know what he’s gonna play next, all the time. And we have to go off of that.”
When you guys are not DJing, do you have differing musical tastes?
“Oh sure.” Josh starts to laugh. “We were in the van and he’s been listening to a lot of jokey trance music. And he’ll be like, ‘Josh, man, listen to the synths in this.’ And I’ll just look at him and be like, ‘NO.’”
“But sometimes, you’re just in the headphones, and you’re just like, ‘Yeah. Yeah!’ Or like when you’re smoking a blunt—we don’t do any drugs, but back in the day when I used to—like, you smoke a blunt and you do something in the crib and you are like, ‘Oh my god, this is the best shit I’ve ever heard in my life!” And then you go on front of 1000 people and you are like, ‘Alright here it goes!’ You drop it. And everyone’s like looking at you, ‘What the fuck is that?’ Sometimes it doesn’t work out.”
“So of course there are times when we disagree on things. In the end, we are always like, ‘Ok. That was tested on front of people. It didn’t work. Let’s let it go.’ And we just move on.”
“We’ve been DJing two years together now. So we’ve got an overall feel of what to drop out of what. He plays
Curt and Josh from Flosstradamus don't need any psychic
friends to see a sweet futuresomething and even though I don’t know exactly what I’m gonna play, I’ll be like, ‘Oh ok. He’s playing this sort-of-whatever kind of music, I’m gonna kind of vibe off that and do it.’ But Curt would drop a live band version of a song where the BPMs go up and down. And I would be like [Josh makes an out-of-control sound effect] and have to work it out. So that’s the only example of where it’s hard to work out of it.”
Curt and Josh as Flosstradamus got their start doing a night at a small club in Chicago’s BoysTown in the Fall of 2005. Cameruci’s girlfriend at the time gave them a Wednesday at a club for their friends. Josh calls the night something they did “for our people.” It blew up from there, getting exposure on MTV and becoming one of hottest nights in Chicago.
“It became the night in Chicago as far as that kind of music goes. Like everything we just lucked into it.” Josh looks over at Curt to answer, but Curt is downing a bottle, so Josh continues. “But it’s been really good. We don’t do a night there anymore. It only holds 75 people. 5-or-6-hundred people started showing up to our shows, which was really dope. But it’s become a fire hazard, really dangerous.” Josh sighs. “Town Hall Pub rest in peace.”
I point the mic at Curt for his take. He laughs; he has finally finished chugging his drink.
From there, Flosstradmus decided to dabble in remixes and mash ups. Their first foray was a mash up of the acapella from Twista’s “Overnight Celebrity” over Sigur Ros’ “Staralfur.” The mash up was inspired, and got a lot of blog love.
“That was another natural thing too… I feel like I am endorsing Wholesome Foods or something.” Curt chuckles again. “That was Josh and I messing around in the house, just practicing… and then… ah… You threw on the Sigur Ros, was it?”
Josh completes his partner’s thought. “He put the Sigur Ros on as background music while searching for something else. It’s not something we would drop in the middle of our set, because it’s so mellow. But then I was kinda like whatever, fuck it, and I threw the acapella for “Overnight Celebrity” over it—and it sounded really fucking good. So the next day, we went into the studio, which was at the time Kurt’s bedroom at his other apartment. And he had bunk beds. So we went there and laid it down. It took like a couple of hours. It was our first song on our MySpace page. And we got a really great response, and it has been up there ever since.”
After that success, I ask them if they look for songs they can improve with the Flosstradamus magic touch.
“We totally do that. A lot of songs are really good by themselves and they shouldn’t even be remixed or anything. Sometimes we’ll take a song that’s just ok, like, Lil Jon “Act a Fool”… We took it and put… uhm…” Curt pauses to remember.
Josh completes his thought: “Zombie Nation.”
Curt chuckles. “Yeah, Zombie Nation. I almost said Darude ‘Sandstorm.’ But yeah, we put [Lil Jon ‘Act A Fool’] over [Zombie Nation ‘Kernkraft 400’]. Let’s make [the original track] more for the people we’re playing the music to, instead of the crowd that the track was originally made for.”
Josh offers his take: “And the thing with the “Overnight Celebrity” song is that the original beat was raw. Kanye’s ill. And that was a totally awesome track. It was the summer anthem. That remix happened 100% by chance. It wasn’t like, [Josh assumes a jokey falsetto] You know what? Kanye’s alright, but maybe we can do it better.
“We were just like, ‘ok, this is kinda funny.’ And Kanye ended up hearing it and Twista heard it. I guess Sigur Ros heard it. Sigur Ros liked it. Twista was like, ‘What is this?!’ And I think Kayne West liked it too, so it was good.”
From there, Floss have worked with Josh’s older sister Melissa, who is better known as the rapper Kid Sister. The crackhead who just talked to me? - We don't want to turn out like her. So we're just trying to do some positive things in the scene... We wanna show them that we can actually have fun - without doing drugs. And their latest remix—Matt & Kim’s “Yeah Yeah”—has done everything that a good remix should do. It has reignited interest in Matt & Kim; it has taken the song to a new level and exposed it to different audiences; and it has made Flosstradamus and even more sought after. One blogger called it, “The perfect track for a 4pm office dance party.”
That quote makes Curt laugh. “Matt and Kim are my friends. I’ve known them for a long long time. I used to be in a band called HyperViper. They used to open for us way back in the day. There’s some ‘top 8’ going on. There’s all sorts of love goin’ on.”
“We kinda wanted to encapsulate what they’re all about. They’re just kind of minimal. It’s just a drummer and a keyboardist—and let’s just do it. Make it dance floor friendly. I guess it’s got awesome parties going off at 4pm, I dunno.”
Josh hollers: “The water cooler’s going nuts!”
“Yeah.” Curt chuckles, pleased to get the party started anywhere. “I’ve got the water coolers goin’ nuts!”
The guys are certainly poised to step up their game to the next level. In April of 2006, URB magazine gave Flosstradamus their cover—along with Kid Sister—declaring the DJ duo part of “the next 100.” Certainly this adds more pressure to their natural evolution.
“Honestly it still doesn’t really effect anything. We started doing this just to have fun, and we’re still having fun doing it. So it’s all good.” Josh pauses to think for a second. “At first, we started feeling the pressure. We got on the cover of URB and it was a little bit stressful. It was like, ‘Oh no! We’ve been pegged as the next best thing!’ But then we started realizing that it was just fun. As long as we keep enjoying it, people will keep coming to our shows. So… It’s all good. I don’t feel so much pressure anymore.”
Curt agrees. “I don’t feel that much pressure either. It’s been all-natural this whole way. We’re just gonna keep going that way. There is the pressure, but we’ll just do what we gotta do.”
Tune in to the interview show with host Scott Wood, every Monday @4:30pm on CJSF 90.1FM for more interviews with your favorite indie artists. You can also listen online at www.cjsf.ca.