By Ryan Meehan
Hailing from Lexington, Kentucky, Rick Nielsen of the Corduroy Mavericks is quickly smashing the stereotype that the Midwest is lacking in prolific house music producers. With the quirky range of jazzy, soulful, techy, deep and funky house, New York, Chicago, the West Coast and other dance meccas have been put on notice via the sonic enthusiasm of a pair of Corduroy-loving trailblazers from the Bluegrass State. “Music is an integral part of our lives,” Rick says. “It’s the fix in my day that keeps me focused, energized and motivated. It’s a part of me the same way that my arm or leg is a part of me. I’m that guy that that listens to electronic music all day every day with a healthy sprinkling of funk, soul, jazz, swing and rock. These are all the influences that permeate our music.” When pressed further about their musical heroes, they quickly make note of the collective of the jocks out there hustling their sound. They’re drawn to producers they feel advanced the cause and created a unique sound within the industry, including artists and DJs such as the East Coast Boogiemen, Garth, Inland Knights, Mark Farina, Masters at Work, Miguel Migs and Joey Youngman, to name just a few. And we are pumped about having Rick Nielsen of Corduroy Mavericks as our guest on this Friday.
FOH: What’s the EDM scene in Lexington, Kentucky like? Is there any one genre that tends to dominate that area?
CM: Lexington is a small town and aside from some one off EDM shows, this is a top 40 town. It’s all the college punters and their idea of house…well…its not our type of house, if you know what I mean. There are a couple of guys starting to push EDM here but still, to get some decent heads you gotta travel out of town. Louisville would probably be the closest city that does some decent one offs.
FOH: Do you find that music fans who are usually tied to one specific genre (say for example heavy metal or country) take more convincing to become EDM fans? How do you think those people view the culture of house music?
CM: That’s a great question and one of the reasons that CMavs production tends to be on a sampling trend. It’s a fine line that you walk when you use samples…use too much and then its just a bootleg, use too little and people new to house might not connect with it. If you listen to our production, you’ll hear samples of hip hop, rock, swing, funk, soul, R&B, 80’s classics, etc. Its our way of bringing new people into the house fold yet still staying true to having that house boompty feel.
FOH: When you’re constructing your setlist in practice, do you ever have moments where you’re both sure that what you have as an idea for the next track is more bangin’ than the other? Does that ever cause any conflict or are you able to transfer that to constructive criticism? In other words, can that be healthy even though it might not feel healthy at first?
CM: I never do a setlist…sorry. A good DJ will spend some time finding out what the crowd is feeling and then will take the them on a journey from there. Different regions bump to different styles and, as a DJ, its your job to find out what that style is. I just played in Nova Scotia where the crowd of 1000 people lost their minds to the more full bootleg style of house. When I play in Chicago, its def a more straight up jacking, less sampled style. Being digital helps. You can show up with virtually every type of music needed and be ready to go.
FOH: Over the past 15 years, the technology that DJ use has changed significantly. What’s the biggest technological advantage that you have now that you didn’t have back then? Are there any disadvantages?
CM: Def pros and cons to both. The purist retro grouch in me still loves the feel in vinyl. But I don’t miss those days of carting crates around. Plus, your limited on the amount of new hot tracks being released as most are not coming out on vinyl.
Being digital has definitely changed the landscape. Most of the time i can show up with headphones and a jump drive and its game on. Even better is having my laptop and my Native Instruments controller for Traktor and it really opens up the flexibility of how you can play. I love the controller because it gets my head out of the laptop when scrolling through tracks plus i have 6 stackable effects that i can really get the crowd twisted with. The added bonus is that i prefer to play with Traktor vinyl so i get to satisfy my vinyl crave with my digital offerings. Its a win win.
Downside to digi? Having to hook that shit up, especially after another artist. And its digi…crashes do happen. Thankfully, I haven’t had that happen. Thank you MacBook pro 😉
FOH: Out of all of the variables that can contribute to a great performance, which is the most important in making sure the crowd experiences a really explosive show?
CM: It’s connecting with the audience. Any DJ will tell you that the best drug ever is when you and the audience share an experience. I fiend for that every time. Whether its 20 people or 2000. It doesn’t always happen but as an artist i have recognized that as your marketability and brand grows so does those times when your performance is an experience. People know who you are and are coming out to hear you play. They want to share that vibe experience with you and it’s easier to connect with that type of crowd.
FOH: What’s next for the Corduroy Mavericks in the twelve months to come? Any big plans? Playing any festivals?
CM: This would be a long response so ill keep it short and sweet. Tons more music is about to be released on various labels…Tango, Flapjack (both digi and a vinyl release), Soul Fuel, Inspected Music…just to name a couple.
On the tour front, ill be in DC, Naples Italy, Australia, New Zealand and back to some of my favorite spots around the US…keep tuned to the CMavs website or FB page for updates and tour dates
Don’t miss Colin’s Birthday Bash on August 11th at FourPlay SportsBar in the District of Rock Island with Corduroy Mavericks, and featuring sets by Mikey Velasquez, Andrew Emil, Mike All Night Long, and DJ THC.
Official Website: www.corduroymavericks.com
Corduroy Mavericks on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Corduroy-Mavericks/125592757456781 (join our fan AND group page to keep up on all the shens!)
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