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  Sean Cusick
by Damon Fonooni
Photos by Lei Vishnu

Although he hasn't headlined many parties in Atlanta, Sean Cusick is an artist who has been a very significant figure behind the progressive movement. Along with his partner and friend, Jimmy Van Malleghem, they were the first to bring Sasha and John Digweed to the United States for their Northern Exposure tours. As a DJ originally from Orlando, Florida, he most recently held a residency at the infamous Twilo in New York until its closing, and as a producer has released tracks as half of Freelance Icebreakers along with Jimmy Van Malleghem, half of Second Hand Satellites with DJ Three and under his own name. He is currently a very busy man, so busy that at a request to Balance Promote Group for an interview, he could only do an interview via email between jet setting around the globe and recording in the studio.

The questions that I chose to ask were partially based on curiosities not necessarily fulfilled by the average interview, some more opinionated and some more technical. After this interview and briefly talking to him in person before his set at Eleven50 on February 22, 2002 (click here for an event review), I feel that he is a very sarcastically funny and intellectual person-which makes a nice change. My thanks to Balance Promote Group for setting the interview up, but most of all my thanks to Sean Cusick for letting me pick his brain.

Sean Cusick at Eleven50. Lunar: So you know that you're on your way to play in Atlanta, what's going through Sean Cusick's head?

Sean Cusick: BEER.

Lunar: What is your opinion of Atlanta and the audience, now that you've been through Atlanta several times?

Sean Cusick: They are young people, much like young people anywhere else on the earth, except they say "ya'll" a little bit more than people in other places.

Lunar: I know you have a busy schedule, so where does your itinerary take you in the near future?

Sean Cusick: Denver, Buenos Aires, Miami, etc.

Lunar: Do you have anywhere in mind that you would like to play that you haven't had the chance to yet?

Sean Cusick: Moscow.

Lunar: Where's your favorite city in the U.S. and across the world to play in?

Sean Cusick: U.S: New York World: Prague

Lunar: How does Atlanta compare / contrast with that answer, if it is not here?

Sean Cusick: Atlanta has a great club culture. Comparing your city to others encourages a sort of geographic racism. People are always happiest where they are not, etc.

Lunar: Where do you see the music going next?

Sean Cusick: Music never goes anywhere, that's a myth.

Lunar: Just more cities, or growth into smaller towns as well?

Sean Cusick: Hopefully nobody in Montana will have ever heard of me.

Lunar: How do you feel about the state of dance music in the U.S.?

Sean Cusick: There's a WHOLE state of dance music now? Wow.

Lunar: You have traveled extensively; do you see bigger legal roadblocks for the U.S. promoters, venues, DJs and fans than people outside the U.S.-given the stigma of dance music?

Sean Cusick: Yes, this is America god damn it! Any red-blooded American should take up arms against these reckless and carefree kids dancing to their hearts' content at all hours of the night. For shame, for shame.

Lunar: Are there any projects in the works for you?

Sean Cusick: Sean Cusick on Vicous Disc, Second Hand Satellites (w/ DJ Three) on Hallucination, Freelance Icebreakers (w/Jimmy Van M) not signed to anything specific, and myself and Medway (unsigned).

Lunar: Do you have any plans to release a mix CD, and how do you feel about mix CDs?

Sean Cusick: I would love to do a mix CD; they are great, sometimes.

Lunar: Who are your favorite producers (at the moment and all-timers), and who do you listen to?

Sean Cusick: Andrew Weatherall and Sasha.

Lunar: Other than yourself, of course, who do you consider to be possibly the most talented DJ?

Sean Cusick: Three from Tampa.

Lunar: I wouldn't ask you to label the music you play, because it combines so many types/genres, but for those who aren't familiar with the Sean Cusick sound, how would you describe what you play?

Sean Cusick: Sexy, Psychedelic House.

Lunar: And what direction do you see your style moving toward?

Sean Cusick: Toward women who are drunk and have strayed from the pack!!

Lunar: What direction do you see the current genre of music that's a fusion of deep tech house/percussive/minimal/breaks (I just call it house or good music) going in?

Sean Cusick: "Straight to Hell."

Lunar: Looking back on your musical past, what connection or residency would you say has really put you in the limelight for success?

Sean Cusick: It was the connection I made between the world I lived in and the world that music existed in the first time I heard the song "The End" by the doors around the age of 12 or 13. As for residencies, Twilo didn't hurt me any.

Lunar: How do you feel about joining the ranks of the superstar DJs (internationally)?

Sean Cusick: "I wouldn't want to be a part of any club that would have me." - Woody Allen

Lunar: As an artist, what equipment do you have in your studio, and which would you call your most essential?

Sean Cusick: I still love samplers and a real analog mixing desk is important, although the one I have is being loaned to me (a Soundcraft Ghost, 24 track). I'll have to buy one when that one's gone. Also, analog filters like the Sherman or the Mutator.

Lunar: Do you prefer hardware or software?

Sean Cusick: The best music I hear today uses a combination of the two.

Lunar: Are you an artist who thinks that a PC is really that inferior to a Mac for music purposes?

Sean Cusick: No. If the desire to make music is there, anyone will find a way with any equipment they can. Progress is a myth. You can make music with either or neither. "Mistakes are hidden intentions." -Brian Eno. You can make great dance music with a hardware sequencer and many people still do.

Lunar: What is the key to success or even just being noticed to breakthrough as artists and DJs?

Sean Cusick: I wouldn't consider myself "successful" yet. DJing is a great hobby, but there are only about 20 people in the world that it is truly a career for, etc. Make and play the best dance music you can get your hands on. Play it with conviction, care and passion. Denounce things that are an insult to what you love, etc., etc.

Lunar: For example, I was told that to get on a roster such as Balance, which you are closely tied with, is through productions and original works and not just sending off mixed CD promos. Was that pretty accurate advice?

Sean Cusick: I'm not sure. I don't know what the criteria they use to take on new DJs is, but they have way too many progressive DJs on their roster, but I think they're aware of that and are doing what they can do to change that. Taking DJ Three onto their roster is a good first step.

Lunar: Do you guys really listen to people's works that they send you, granted that you are busy as hell?

Sean Cusick: I try to.

Lunar: And last, but certainly not least, will you play one of my songs if I send it?

Sean Cusick: I'll try to.

Related links


Norther Exposure from Northern Exposure, vol. 1
Mixed by Sasha & John Digweed

Track Listing:

  1. Satellite Serenade - Suzuki, Keiichi
  2. Cascade - Future Sound Of Lon
  3. These Waves - Young American Prim
  4. Raincry - God Within
  5. Out of Body Experience - Rabbit In The Moon
  6. I'm Free - King, Morgan
  7. Ultraviolet - Kites
  8. Obsession - Fuzzy Logic
  9. Water from a Vine Leaf - Orbit, William
  10. Liquid Cool/Deep Forest Ice Cold [Equator Mix] - Apollo 440
  11. Last Train to Lhasa - Banco De Gaia

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