Hailing from Brooklyn, the multitalented three-piece band Tortured Soul is made up of bassist Jason Kriveloff (aka JKriv), keyboardist Ethan White and drummer/lead vocalist John-Christian Urich. Since interviewing them nearly three years ago for our first anniversary issue, Tortured Soul has clocked in a mind-boggling amount of tour dates and released their highly-anticipated sophomore album Did You Miss Me?.
From their inception in 2001 and their top-notch debut album Introducing Tortured Soul, they have won over audiences from not only the underground world of dance music but every facet of the musical spectrum as well. The album’s dominant single, “I Might Do Something Wrong” is a dancefloor classic, and their tracks have been remixed by big guns such as Osunlade, DJ Spinna, Alix Alvarez, Quentin Harris and Dimitri from Paris. Their live shows are high-energy and infectious, always guaranteeing a packed house no matter what country of the world they go.
Recently the TS crew passed through Double Door where I was able to ask (and receive not totally serious answers!) about their current album, their touring schedule and their choice of fashion.
Why don’t you tell us briefly about your new album?
JKRIV: Well, in a nutshell it was a long time coming. We were touring a lot so it took us a long time to get it together. Actually, as a result of all the touring we did, the theme of the songs kinda has this travel vibe – songs about being away from people that you love and different emotions that you go through and experiences that crop up.
Who was that about? All these songs are so extremely personal and I was trying to figure out if it was about all three of you or was it one of you in particular? I was guessing Christian.
CHRISTIAN: I’ve written a lot of the lyrics and it’s specifically about certain people. Sometimes we go into taking a little creative license as well, trying to make it more dramatic. But there definitely is a lot of personal stuff infused into it.
That’s what I’m thinking, it must be really hard to have relationships given the amount of time that you guys tour. How many months in a year would you say you’re touring?
ETHAN: It depends on the year. This year with the album it’s going to be several months. In our busiest year we did about 150 gigs.
How was Istanbul? I saw that you guys were just there!
JKRIV: This was actually our fourth time in Turkey so we’ve been developing it. There are a lot of different segments of the population, and there are a lot of young people who are certainly not extremely religious or conservative. A lot are just your standard young European people… or aspiring Europeans.
ETHAN: There’s a pretty thriving nightlife there. I don’t know if it’s necessarily the househead scene, I think it’s more of a general club life and live bands. It’s not quite as niche-y as it is here. They all just go out and they’re party animals.
CHRISTIAN: That’s one of the interesting things about what we do is that we’re not mega-famous or anything. When we tell people that we travel around the world, they’re like “Oh wow you must be international stars!” …And we kind of are…
CHRISTIAN: But in various cities all over the world we’ll have a thousand fans in one place, five hundred in another. It’s not stadiums, but there’s definitely a scene in various places that we go.
Your CD is licensed to Dome Records, but you also have your own digital label?
CHRISTIAN: Dome has the record for the UK, Europe and South Africa, all digital and physical… Columbia Japan has the record for Japan, and our label TSTC Records covers the rest of the world.
Do you see any value though in coming out with a hard copy CD or do you think it’s going to be obsolete?
ETHAN: Yeah! We’ve sold a lot of copies on this trip!
CHRISTIAN: A lot of people still seem to like physical CDs, and there are still people who have CD players in their cars. It’s doesn’t seem like it’s going to get phased out that quickly.
So what’s going on with your label? Is it just for your stuff?
JKRIV: For now we’re primarily just thinking of it as a way to release Tortured Soul and/or stuff that we are directly involved with. We’re just thinking of it as a vehicle to get our music out there in lieu of having someone step in and offer us… well…
CHRISTIAN: One Million Dollars!!!
JKRIV: …a major record deal in which, you know, could happen tomorrow!
Do you have more remixes coming out?
JKRIV: Yeah, we have a bunch on deck for the next single “Did You Miss Me” and we’ve got a few people working on them. We’ve got a Mark de Clive-Lowe remix which is really really nice, Scott Wozniak’s working on a mix, we have Didi Gutman and Aaron Johnston from the Brazilian Girls (a group that’s more of a pop group), and Tom Moulton who’s done a bunch of our stuff.
Talk to me about the burnout factor with all your traveling.
JKRIV: Are you saying we look tired or what?
No, you look very fresh! But seriously, how do you keep it from getting old?
CHRISTIAN: It’s tough – I mean it’s challenging. I think one of the best things is that the three of us have played together for so long, and also there’s something about how our chemistry together is pretty balanced. We know how not to push each other’s buttons too hard. And even when we do, we figured out how to get around it.
Who’s the cranky one?
CHRISTIAN: I wouldn’t say I’m the most cranky. I’m a little sensitive…
JKRIV: Very sensitive!
Have you guys felt the economy’s pinch?
JKRIV: You know, we haven’t felt it. Things are pretty much the same for Tortured Soul.
ETHAN: When we play shows people still come out!
JKRIV: There was a prediction that live concert sales were going to be higher than ever. Again, we’re a little isolated, we’ve got this little niche, this thing that we do that seems to be of value to people.
Didn’t I see you guys perform with a fourth person last year?
CHRISTIAN: Yes. See, it’s the economy, you know…
I didn’t like that as much for some reason. [laughs]
ETHAN: You didn’t?
CHRISTIAN: We get mixed reviews. He’s actually the guy who plays guitar on our records.
He did well, but I’m just so used to just seeing the three of you onstage. By the way how many of those white shirts do you guys carry around with you on tour?
JKRIV: Yeah they’re getting run down, aren’t they?
You guys have a very distinctive image, do you think you’re ever going to change it, maybe try a different style?
ETHAN: A different style? Hm, not really…
CHRISTIAN: Maybe. I mean, it depends. You know if we get sponsored by like Prada…
JKRIV: I don’t see us ever putting a Nike logo on the tie…
Tell me about your individual projects.
ETHAN: Actually Jeff (Craven) that’s playing here tonight, I have something that’s coming out on his label (Large Records.) It’s “Don’t Tell Me (That You’re Sorry)” by Tweek, the singer from The Rurals. Jay-J remixed it. I also have this other project, dunnEASY, with a Kenny Bobien track.
CHRISTIAN: Right now I’m kinda just focusing on Tortured Soul. The past few months I’ve been trying to write some new stuff for the next album.
JKRIV: I have two other little projects. One is called “The Moves” and we’ve released some Deep House stuff but not for a while. Another is “bgb” where we’ve also released some techier House stuff but lately we’ve been working on stuff that’s almost more acoustic-electronic and sometimes more pop-y kind of stuff.
What would you like to plug to our readers?
ETHAN: The new album!
JKRIV: And the new website!