Green Velvet: All about the love

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Curtis Alan Jones is a unique force in dance music. Trailblazing the Chicago house sound under his Cajmere moniker while turning out techno as Green Velvet, the man has remained invigorated since the ‘90s. The second half of this decade has seen Jones trade party excess for a devout Christian outlook, while continuing to collaborate with artists as disparate as Richie Hawtin and Basement Jaxx. ITM got on the phone to the shapeshifting star as he prepares his live show for Creamfields.

Having kept up a steady tour schedule, are you feeling positive about the state of dance music?
The club scene – no matter what – is very resilient. It’s always healthy. I’ve been going out since the ‘80s and playing at clubs since the ‘90s, and people keep claiming it’s over. But no – it keeps going, and gets better and better. Last year the guys that were really big were people like Chuckie and Afrojack, and you’ve also got the Major Lazer stuff. There’s a lot of interesting things happening. Even when we have parties now – whether it’s LA or the Detroit Electronic Music Festival – there are huge numbers of people.

What’s planned on the release front in 2010?
I plan to get a new album out this year. I’m supposed to be doing some collaborations with people like Fedde le Grand, Basement Jaxx, Afrojack – the new school with the old school. I also just did Richie Hawtin’s Plastikman album and a collaboration with Japanese Popstars for their album. The Plastikman track is more on the techno-y side, old school style. Richie’s very artistic and creative so he has interesting ideas. Working with other people keeps it fresh and interesting and fun. And I’m in it for the fun.

How would you assess the current mood in America politically?
I just think that what’s going on now is way beyond the political scope. The whole economic crisis in my mind has nothing to do with politics – it’s much bigger than that. Even if the Democrats and Republicans get what they want, the problem will still be major. A lot of it has to do with corporate greed in my opinion. The companies here didn’t continue to support the citizens, but just decided to outsource everything for their profit margins. So it’s bigger than politics – you’ve got the corporations and the banks. It’s a mess [laughs]. It’s truly a mess. I’m an optimist, so I see the good in it already. The good is that people aren’t being as wasteful as they were in the past. It’s about making sure all your money is well spent.

You made a track in 2007, Love Peace, Not War, in response to the Iraq war. Do you see any reason now for hope in that situation?
As far as Iraq…well, the current president got into the office because he promised to withdraw the troops. I’m just going to believe what he says. As far as I’m concerned, the war is ending in Iraq. That’s what I’m going to believe. Although, I’m one of the ones that believes there will be a major war between the west and China. I don’t want to be no doomsayer or whatever, but I think we’ve got way bigger things to worry about than Iraq. But that’s just my opinion. What do I know – I’m just an artist [laughs hysterically].

How do you think the ‘mess’ of the economic situation in America has affected musicians?
To be honest, it’s a really good time for artists. Music is one of those things that brings joy into people’s lives. What I do now people can really appreciate ‘cause they’ll be like, ‘Listening to your music just made a difference’. That’s what artists love to hear.

Has your optimistic outlook fed into your music?
Oh yeah, for sure. For sure. I just have to thank God for that. I see things in a different way. No matter what I’m going through or what challenges I’m facing, I’m hopeful. I believe that I can overcome obstacles.

Do you still feel electronic music is a good outlet for the kind of messages you want to put out there?
Yep. Because for example with house music it has always been an uplifting, inspiring, fun style of music. It’s all about the love. The electronic scene in the States has always been about the ‘love generation’. For example, I’m not trying to knock on hip hop, but it’s a different scene. Hip hop is more ‘bling bling’. I mean the messages might be changing, but it’s easier to come talking about love in electronic music. I don’t know how easy it is to say “I love you man!” in a hip hop song [laughs].

What can you tell us about the live set you’re bringing to Australia for Creamfields?
I do a lot of the vocal stuff in the show, and I’ve got this guy doing keyboards. We just get up there and have a fun time. We do some of the classic songs and also some new things. I have to do La La Land. It’s not like it pains me to do those things now. I still enjoy that. Australia is always good. No matter what, the people are always…intense. I love festivals. It’s great seeing that many people together having a good time. It’s a party and the more the merrier.

Green Velvet plays Creamfields around the country in May. For arena line-ups and anything else you need to know, head along to ITM’s festival page.

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