Moogfest in Review: An Interview with Musician The Josh Craig
by: Andrew Cheek
Moogfest 2018 has come and passed in Durham, though its energy wave is still reverberating. From workshops, where participants learned to build their own synthesizers, to multi-media installations and keynote speeches about the future of Art and Artificial Intelligence, alongside numerous luminous performances, highlighted by KRS-One and Midori Takada, Moogfest provided Durham a unique blend of music, science, research, philosophy, and applied creativity across communities.
During the festival, I met up for an interview with a Brooklyn-based musician, photographer, model, and programmer named The Josh Craig. Contemplative and quiet in nature, we spoke under the awning next to the Durham errr, DURM, based Runaway Clothes.
Nicknamed “The Mayor of Greenpoint,” Josh played a nearly four-hour set at Durham’s iconic Surf Club on Saturday night (the 19th of May) as a part of Moogfest.
Cheek: What kind of music do you create?
Craig: I like to make a lot of experiments with soul music, using a lot of different instruments and different places, different sounds, to create different atmospheres for people to enjoy themselves. So, I guess you could say there are a lot of vocals, synthesizers, drum machines, and also session musicians, like, my friend is on the bass and on the piano.
Cheek: How did you get started making music?
Craig: My Mom and my Dad are both musicians and so I was always around records, my Mom always had 45s in the house – there was always music around in some sense so it was pretty much instilled in me. My family was always about the sounds. They are very groovy people; so, I was always around the groove.
Cheek: Who would you say your music is for? And how do you feel your music and art as a whole translates into the world to inspire and promote some sort of change?
Craig: My music would be for anyone who is willing and in a position to have a conversation. And anyone who is willing to go places, because a lot of my music is prone to make people move and a lot of it is prone to make people think, because it’s very spacey and abstract in a sense, but it’s also very polished – it’s maneuvered well. It’s for those types of people – if you’re moving or if you’re moving somewhere to go sit down and talk to someone.
Cheek: What messages are you sharing through your music?
Craig: The main message is to use your imagination for anything and everything. To think about yourself when you do things before you even try to do anything else because if you can really attach and find the beauty in a single idea, then anything that you give out is going to be awesome.
The main thing that I like to do in my music is I like to get very heady. I like people to get in their heads so they can get outside of their bodies and deep inside their minds a little more and think about stuff. Maybe think about stuff they wouldn’t have thought about if they were in a different position, so, it’s really to make people get deep. It’s all about getting deep.
Cheek: What technologies and/or instruments are you using and have you been incorporating into your art recently?
Craig: I always use a sub-37 (Moog of course). I use a lot of Korg gear, like minilogue and monologue and some of the volca beats. I use a Juno 106, I’m a big fan of my own voice, and then always a Technic 1200 MK2 Turntable (two of those), and some Klipschorn speakers. I really love my music on analogue speakers, so yeah.
Cheek: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Craig: Yeah, I love the city of Durham! It’s an amazing place. Clarion Content, the first time I was out here, they were nice enough to interview me and have me on their podcast. I’m really, really grateful to be back in Durham, and to connect with the good people here – Runaway, the Raundhaus crew, and everybody here. Moogfest is awesome.
Craig also works for a computer company called Looking Glass Factory which designs sound reactive visuals and interactive holographic displays.
He was a finalist in a national Game Developers Contest. At the Controller Game Developers Contest this year in San Francisco, with “Doors to the City” a 3-d, interactive, a skateboarding game that he developed with his business partner. It uses a toy tech deck, copper wires, and an USB cable to let you perform skate tricks with your mini-board that your character acts out in real time in the game.
When he is in Brooklyn, you can catch The Josh Craig DJ’ing at Magick City, #37 Box Street. His show is called the TJC Takeover.
This interview has been edited lightly for punctuation and clarity.
Andrew Cheek is the Head Writer and Content Coordinator for Beaumonde Arts Agency. He graduated from North Carolina State University and is in process of polishing the manuscript for his children’s novella. With a background in literature and film, and a taste for half-marathons, Andrew’s inspirations range from Virginia Woolf to Wes Anderson to his Adidas running shoes. You can find Andrew on Twitter and LinkedIn.