Gone, Not Forgotten
Don Crescendo is one of those people who has more going on than his Bandcamp page suggests. In the last year, the South Carolina native released plenty of remixes of popular tunes and a couple outliers like the nearly 20-minute experimental music project “Displacement Dissonance.” Crescendo, who landed on the local scene in 2016 with a string of strong lo-fi pop albums titled Rough, Raw and Ready, moved to Chicago in 2018.
After trading the Holy City for the Windy City, Crescendo began a series of collaborations, started the Function Network DJ show and dropped a long list of remixes including one of Solange’s “Almeda” which landed on DJ setlists around the globe. After he released “Up//Down” his “remix of a remix” of Madonna’s “Up Down Suite” on Sept. 4, we got in touch with Crescendo to catch up on his latest music and his next phase of original tunes.
City Paper: Your latest music is a lot of club and dance remixes. Has the atmosphere of Chicago influenced that at all?
Don Crescendo: I think that it has. I’ve always listened to club music. House music generally is one of the big inspirations for my music. So, being a part of the Chicago scene and being somewhere where clubbing is a bigger part of the nightlife experience, I’ve been exposed to more sounds and inspirations. I can hear more techno or dancier influences and it sounds more club-oriented, but it sort of has that pop approach, but also punk approach. I think the most interesting thing I’ve noticed recently is sort of still having that Don Crescendo feel to making club music … It’s been inspiring to see how people fuse together all their influences and everything they listen to into one, and that’s helped me reimagine how I see my set-up.
CP: Do you think fans of Rough, Raw and Ready will be surprised by your latest material or do you think it’s a natural fit?
DC: Outside of the club stuff, I’ve been really interested in exploring more funk sounds and punk sounds. I feel like this is going to be a little edgier than Rough, Raw and Ready. The stuff that I’ve been creating in the past year, it’s still spacey, it’s still danceable, it’s still all the things that you enjoy, but I feel like there’s a little more emphasis and urgency in the music. If you liked Rough, Raw and Ready — if you liked the lushness of it, you might be in for a little bit of a treat, but if you still like to dance and you want high energy, I think that’s coming your way.
CP: You took a two year gap between those albums and your remixes. What was going on in those two years?
DC: A lot of the pauses for music was, I was so eager to put things out, but I had really been interested in taking my time. A lot of Rough, Raw and Ready — the irony of those titles is that as much as it is a pun, it is a reflection of where I was as an artist and personally at those times … I was so eager to put stuff out but I was realizing that I wasn’t polishing it or taking the time with it that I really wanted to. I think when I get to the point where I release an official album, I want it to be a standalone piece instead of a series or a lead-up. I have enough stuff to lead into an album, but when I want to make my statement, I want to make it whole.
I’ve been really excited and really proud and I just think there’s a level that I can go. I think when it’s ready, people will understand why the wait was so long.
CP: It sounds, to me, like you’re feeling the new songs more than the old ones. Is that safe to say?
DC: I like a lot of the old ones. I think a lot of the old ones were where I was at at the time. It’s very funny because I think that the songs that I perform a lot from the Rough, Raw and Ready era can also be its own album. I’m excited that I did it because I got to show different facets of myself and it’s cool to have so many songs that I don’t have to play the same set twice. But I think with the new stuff, I’m really excited about it because it’s showing an evolution. I’ve grown so much that I want to be able to just show the growth as much as possible.”