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Feature Thu Jul 05 2007

Flosstradamus: It's a Midwestern Thing

Mixing up a super-hypnotic mélange of hip hop, house, rap, electronica, pop and rock, Chicago's favorite and most famous DJ duo—Curt Cameruci and Josh Young, aka Autobot and J2K, otherwise known as Flosstradamus, is today hooking up with electro funk masters Chromeo for the start of what is the latter's Fancy Footwork nationwide tour. Things kick off tonight at New York's Hiro Ballroom, after which the foursome jettison across the country touring, ending their collaboration on July 26th in Los Angeles. Midway through the tour, Chicago has the privilege of seeing them perform at the Empty Bottle on July 14th.



Like Floss, Chromeo is composed of two DJs — Pee Thug and Dave 1 (Dave Maklovitch) — two friends primarily interested their audience getting down and funky, period. Chromeo, based out of Montreal (where they are from) and New York, released the successful album She's Out of Control in 2004, followed by Fancy Footwork (2007), which does justice to both the funky grooves of the '80s and the robotic element of electronica.

Floss, by comparison, are Chicago's favorite party throwers — the twenty-something DJs who got their start in the summer of 2005 with a Wednesday night show at the Town Hall Pub in Boystown. In the beginning it was something they just did for fun — play music for their friends. The word caught on however, and their unpretentious vibe soon attracted crowds, MTV, the works. They've been affiliated with A-Track — the younger brother of Dave from Chromeo, and Kid Sister (ironically, Josh Young's older sister), have played Pitchfork and Coachella, and soon Lollapalooza (this summer). Flosstradamus' resounding success has come about almost magically — these two "kids from the Midwest" have relied on supreme taste in music, a network of friends and an unadulterated desire to get the party started. And still they are not using a shred of marketing or advertising — in their case, word of mouth is golden.

Catching up with Flosstradamus over the phone, we spoke to Josh Young, aka J2K, one half part of Floss, about joining Chromeo on their upcoming tour.

Gapers Block: How did the collaboration with Chromeo come about?

Josh Young: My sister [Kid Sister] is dating A-Trak, who is the younger brother of Dave. We've toured with him [A-Trak], and through him we got to know Pee Thug and Dave and all of us had dinner in Montreal, they told us they were interested in doing a tour with them.

GB: How is it going to work, with two incredibly good DJ duos playing together on the same night?

JY: We'll open for them, doing a 45-minute set, then they'll come on, then we'll close it out—the four of us switching back and forth.

GB: You guys already draw mega crowds, with notoriously long lines snaking out the door. Performing with Chromeo, don't you think it's going to be a little, well, jammed, in there, at the Bottle, which is not the biggest venue?

JY: We are particular about where we play, since we started at Town Hall Pub. We are looking for that murky dark place. We could play at Metro, but then people couldn't come us to us, high five us, and throw beer on us [laugh]; we're looking for a certain type of vibe.

GB: What do find in common with Chromeo? How do you guys differ from them?

JY: We're younger, they have a lot more experience, and they've been doing it a lot longer. But we want the same thing out of this—we want people to dance, and get down, it's not about the glitz and glamor, if they weren't doing this they'd be doing something else amazing and creative, they've been friends since childhood. With Curt and I it's the same thing — we've only been friends a few years but we click at the same level. If it weren't Floss we'd be doing something else creative together. We're always gonna be making music and Dj-ing but there are more important things at stake in this world, like friendships and family. When you're not battling egos it's easier for people to get along.

GB: How have you dealt with the shady aspects of the DJ business—the drugs and money?

JY: We were never involved with drug scene to begin with. Curt was a drum and base DJ, and although there were drugs involved in that scene, he never did drugs and was not in it for the money. So when we started Dj-ing together that's how it worked out — we are who we are up there, so we hope that translates to people. We're not about the glamorous shit, we're Midwestern kids — people here are raised differently, they're more friendly, open-minded.

GB: Who are your biggest influences, music wise?

JY: When it comes to performance and stuff — as far as what we play, it has a lot to do with family and where we came from. We're both from poor backgrounds — Curt is from Richland, a suburb of Kalamazoo, I grew up in Markham, a South Side suburb. We didn't have much, but my parents were really into music, my dad was into '80s funk; my mom was into bluegrass, my sister was into '90s rap and R&B. And Curt's brother was really into rap and metal. When we play out, we don't play metal, but we play stuff that our families had around the house.

GB: So how did you come to mix a song by Sigur Ross into one of your tracks?

JY: The Sigur Ros song — I first heard it in the film The Life Aquatic, in that beautiful scene. I had it in my iTunes library. Curt and I were in my room having a DJ meeting and he had put on a'cappella version of the song by Twister featuring Kanye West — "Overnight Celebrity"— and we mixed in the Ros song, "Star Alfur." We looked at each other and thought it sounded really good. We put it on our myspace page as our very first song, and the response was huge. It's still there — "Overnight Star."

GB: So that's basically how you guys create a track.

JY: We take a certain part of a song and loop it and put in another song, and the drumbeats are done by us, to create a remix.

GB: What kind of equipment do you use in a performance?

JY: We use four turntables, two mixers, two Serato boxes and two laptops.

GB: Serato scratch — is that the DJ software you use?

JY: Yeah — we put records through Serato and then mix them. Serato has those special records with timecode in them, and we use them to just switch the song. With the mp3 we're going to be working on, you can put another record on and start mixing, it's almost the same thing as Dj-ing with vinyl, but you still have know how to mix and how to be a vinyl DJ.


Flosstradamus: from left, Autobot (Curt) and J2K (Young Josh). (photo by Marzena Abrahamik)

GB: As two DJs from diverse cultural backgrounds, are you making a statement about the importance of defying racial boundaries in music?

JY: I have a white mom and a black father, and I definitely grew up with a decent outlook about defying racial boundaries. When we started out it was about having fun, but as it happened, our parties have a really decent mixed crowd — all types of nationalities, sexual orientation — we wanted everybody to be able to come out and enjoy the same things. Curt and I just play the music we enjoy — the stuff we listen to—and the fact that it brings all this different races and creeds together, is amazing, we didn't plant on it. It just happens.

GB: How has Chicago shaped your sound?

JY: We play house and juke—two things that originated in Chicago. I grew up around uncles who were house heads, cousins who were juke heads and DJs. Curt was surrounded by ghetto tech in Detroit. It's amazing, because juke will become something much bigger, house is huge — every remix sounds like a house remix.

GB: So house isn't dying?

JY: No it had that period in late '90s, early 2000 but in our scene, it has had a huge revival. The hipsters and college kids who were listening Gang of Four are now listening to house remixes of all types of songs. And it makes sense— if you look at '80s rock it was 4/4 beats, so the transition was easy. There was revival of that '80s sound in 2003, and a whole generation has switched to electronic—the 4/4 beat, sounds like Chicago house.

GB: So you see think the future of music is going in the direction of electronic?

JY: It's already happening. In Kanye West's new album, Graduation, he samples the Daft Punk song, "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger." Hip hop is the biggest music scene in the world right now, and for the biggest dude in the game to put out Daft punk as a sample, electronic is going to have second coming.

GB: When will that happen?

JY: Not even within the next couple of years, by the end of summer it will be very apparent.

GB: What's on your agenda after the tour and Lollapalooza?

JY: We're going to Norway for the Oya festival. We're playing some more shows in Ibiza, back to doing shows all over the country. We'll do a show in Florida with Kid Sister.

GB: And in terms of new mix music projects?

JY: We're doing a mix tape for the Cool Kids, a Chicago rap group. And we're working on doing an original mix tape of our own.

GB: Where you see yourself in five years?

JY: I don't know. We're just taking it one day at a time. How we've done it so far. As long as people are getting down, we'll keep going.

Flosstradamus and Chromeo perform at the Empty Bottle on July 14th.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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