Flosstradamus makes its Asheville debut at The Orange Peel

CRATE TRAINED: How do Josh "J2K" Young, left, and Curt "Autobot" Cameruci of Flosstradamus find new music? Instead of crate-digging at their neighborhood record stores, the duo turn to SoundCloud, YouTube, Spotify and Pandora, whose algorithms prove beneficial in suggesting similar artists. “The Internet is the new crate,” Cameruci says. Photo courtesy of the band

Back in the day — 2005, to be precise — Josh “J2K” Young and Curt “Autobot” Cameruci began DJing parties under the name Flosstradamus. Armed with four turntables and two mixers, they packed out a tiny Grateful Dead bar in the Boystown neighborhood of Chicago with genre-blending, mash-up heavy sets. In the subsequent decade, the two have learned to produce and, with the help of intricately planned lighting and set design, expanded their shows to fit massive festival crowds at Coachella and Lollapalooza, but in their evolution they’ve been true to the mentality of their humble roots. “We’re still doing what we were doing back there, just on a grander scale,” Cameruci says. “We take Southern hip-hop music and dance music and fuse them together.”

Flosstradamus makes its Asheville debut on Friday, Dec. 19, at The Orange Peel, the latest in a legacy of live-wire shows. Key to that reputation is the duo’s use of the all-digital music software Ableton as opposed to physical media-based CDJs. That preference improves both the quality and complexity of the music (Cameruci likens it to having “infinite turntables”) and the duo’s interaction with the audience. “We wanted to make the performance more about actually getting energized onstage than to be looking like you were just DJing,”  Young says. “We felt like that took away a little bit from the connection when you’re actually sitting there, like, mixing out. We were like, ‘We want to jump around and actually get into the music without the risk of anything skipping and messing up.’”

Rounding out their stage presence is an emphasis on physical props as opposed to mere LED screens, which Young feels have become ubiquitous to a fault in the electronic dance music world. “We’ve definitely made it a big point to try to do something a little bit different and a little bit more three-dimensional,” Young says.

As for making the music, Young still lives in Chicago, but with Cameruci now calling New York City home, the two rely on the Internet to work together. Being on the road 200-250 days a year, however, provides plenty of face time, and they’ve recently been using those opportunities for more in-person collaborations. “We just finished a new tune with [tour mates] GTA on the bus. It was all four of us sitting in the same room just collaborating in real time,” Young says. “It’s kind of cool to get back to that more instantaneous, more spontaneous and collaborative production style as opposed to Curt making a beat and sending it to me, or me making a beat and sending it to him.”

Both approaches have resulted in a number of singles released online a la carte, which Young says gives them a lot of creative freedom. Still, the prospect of having a full-length record has been making its way to the front of his mind. “I just love listening to albums in general, like, not even Flosstradamus-related, just as a fan of music,” Young says. “I love sitting down and listening to someone, even if it’s just 30 or 40 minutes of whatever: this is how they wanted it to be heard, this is the sequence they wanted it to be heard.”

He adds, “The last thing we want is for [our album] to be a hodgepodge of singles that we just threw haphazardly together. Just like everything else that we do with Floss, it has to be curated by us to have that good flow to it. It has to feel organic and natural.”

Whenever an official album is released, odds are good that it won’t be on CD. Cameruci feels that particular medium is dead. Instead, SoundCloud, YouTube, Spotify and Pandora on a phone or similar device are far more prevalent among the duo’s listeners, which in turn affects how their own creations are shared. So far, Flosstradamus has made its collections available through a torrent (a computer file that stores metadata), a call-in hotline and the first smokable mixtape — a vaporizer pen with a 4GB hard drive. “I think our fans are all about absorbing the music the way that we absorb it, too,” Cameruci says. “We’re not releasing music on a CD, per se, but doing it a way that no one else has.”

WHO: Flosstradamus plus GTA and Curtis Williams with Two-9
WHERE: The Orange Peel, theorangepeel.net
WHEN: Friday, Dec. 19, at 9 p.m. $25 advance/$30 day of show

About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for ashevillemovies.com and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) and North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA). Follow me @EdwinArnaudin

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