What’s Good in the Music Scene? #13 – Dan Kurtz (The New Deal/Dragonette)

Q1: When did you first start playing music?

I was 5…violin lessons.



Q2: Who are some of your biggest influences behind the music you create?

The Beatles, Boston, The Police, Tower of Power, old school house music, Daft Punk, Cassius, 70’s Brazilian popular music, Italo, French, and American disco.



Q3: What did you enjoy most about being a part of The New Deal?

Playing with Darren and Jamie.  They are both incredible guys and musicians, and it was a real gift to be able to watch them so closely, and to develop a 6th-sense kind of playing relationship with them.



Q4: What were some of your memorable live performances that you enjoyed the most?

There are way too many to list, and they vary depending on what was important to us at the time.  When we were coming up through the scene, every milestone (selling out your hometown, selling out NYC weekends, playing Coachella) felt like a triumph, and most of the time those shows were also the best shows we’d played up until that time.  I’ve enjoyed so many shows that it’s hard to separate them individually from one big memory of what was my typical New Deal show–rock out really hard, finish happy and sweaty.



Q5: How did The New Deal come to be?

We started as a pick up band playing acid jazz covers on Thursday nights.  The revolving door of players at one point put me, Darren and Jamie (with a guitar player) into a couple of consecutive Thursdays playing together, and we all felt that we were really good together…kind of better than we’d played with other people ever before.  So, we decided to do a jam at an underground club where no one would tell us to get back to playing Jamiroquai covers, and the best musical accident of our lives took place.  That house soundguy Kevin took a really dubby approach to mixing us and made us sound really cool, and the best part was that we recorded the whole show to a cassette, which in turn became the master recording of our first album, This Is Live.  Kevin also became our soundguy from the new show we did, and was there all the way through.



Q6: How did Dragonette come to be?

When I got married, my wife Martina was trying to write songs for her second solo album.  It didn’t go so well (I think she wasn’t really into the genre she had found herself in) and so I finally convinced her to try singing over something I had been messing around with on the first synth plugin I had ever bought.  We wrote a song called “I Get Around” which I sent to a friend who was managing bands, and he asked me if we were starting a band, or whether we just wanted to sell the song.  We decided to start a band, so we wrote a few more songs and ended up getting a lot of very premature attention for our then-shitty band.  We got a record deal based on “I Get Around” and another song, and we went off the UK thinking we had made it.  We got that kind of wrong (our label dropped us before our record even came out in Europe), but in the years since we’ve ended up doing some cool stuff.



Q7: How would you describe the music you create with The New Deal to someone who has never heard it before?

3 guys playing real instruments, making up music that sounds like it’s coming from a DJ booth (most of the time).



Q8: How would you describe the music you make with Dragonette?

I used to say that I wanted us to sound like Blondie playing with Daft Punk.  Though our tunes are all over the place stylistically, I think at the core I’d still say I aspire to that holy combination.



Q9: We were lucky enough to be able to attend the two final headlining shows of TND in New York City at the Highline Ballroom and BB Kings on New Years Eve.  What were some of the highlights of the final run.  Is there a possibility that TND may ever tour again in the future?

I’m glad you got to see those.  They were great nights, and I’m sad to think that we won’t be doing more NYEs at BB Kings.  There are too many instances of Never Saying Never blowing up in people’s face, but I’m pretty confident that TND is RIP.



Q10: Dragonette recently won a Juno Award for “Dance Recording of the Year,” breaking Deadmau5’ streak for the past 4 years.  Congratulations!  What were some of the feelings going through your mind when it was announced that you won?

That there had to be a mistake.  I actually heard them say Deadm(ouse) when they were saying Dragonette.  The Juno really belongs to Martina and to Martin Solveig, as I had very little to do with the songwriting, but it was really great to see Martina get the recognition she deserved for that song.



Q11: Dragonette’s song that won the Juno Award called “Hello” has gone platinum in Canada, Australia, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, New Zealand, and the United States.  How does it feel knowing that the music you make so well received across the world?

It feels pretty great when we go to these far out places and play that song.  People literally everywhere in the world know and love that song, and that’s not something that happens very often.  The best part for us is that it opens people’s minds to the rest of our music, which is really exciting as we put out another album this coming fall.



Q12: What are some differences when you play with Dragonette versus The New Deal?  Does either project influence the other?

When I was doing shows with both DGN and TND, I felt that they very much informed each other (at least where my participation was involved).  I think my heightened sense of pop timing (that comes from writing 3 minute pop songs) had a big effect on the flow of songs and sets as they developed onstage with The New Deal, and it also made me want to start playing synth bass onstage with TND as well.



Q13: Dragonette has an upcoming tour throughout the US in September.  Which cities are you looking forward to performing in?

Lots of them.  I love touring the US, especially when it’s not Jan/Feb/Mar.



Q14: Looking back at everything, is there anything you would have done differently?

I wish TND started when I was 19.  I could have really enjoyed another 10 years with that band.



Q15: What do you love most about playing music?

The Great Escape…both while on stage, and also getting to tour almost everywhere in the world.



Dan thanks again for speaking with us today regarding your bands The New Deal and Dragonette.  Best of luck on the upcoming tour and the release of the new album this Fall.  Fans, visit http://www.dragonetteonline.com/ for more information!


~ by creativesolutionsmusic on May 5, 2012.

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