An essential component of the Wolf + Lamb family, Deniz Kurtel is an artist with more than just a single creative outlet. Before the music career that now has her touring globally and releasing productions under reputable labels, the Columbia University graduate began with LED art installations. It’s clear her eyes and ears alike define their own aesthetics.
Art Basel in Miami calls for innovative artists like Deniz, and she’ll be giving us a spoonful of her talent at the Get Lost party, Art Basel edition, at Electric Pickle Dec. 4. Not only is she part of the weighty lineup that also includes Damian Lazarus, Lee Foss and Danny Daze, among others, but she’s also building a big-scale LED piece to be unveiled during the international art show.
mybeatFix linked up with Deniz in New Orleans last month at the Déjà Voodoo is Verboten after party of the Voodoo Experience. We discussed her art, her upcoming projects and her close relationship with Zev and Gadi of Wolf + Lamb. Read our interview below and click here to buy tickets to Get Lost at Electric Pickle.
Your start in music is somewhat an unlikely story. How did you get from an Ivy League education to the music world?
I was still finishing my masters when I met Zev and Gadi. We just clicked immediately. We went to Burning Man that summer, I moved in with them and we just became very good friends. I was always into this kind of music and I started getting involved in their parties. First I was doing LED installations.
Tell me a bit about your LED Installations. How do you think your work as a visual artist contributed to your music career?
I built an installation that responds to my music. I know about programming and that really helped. It was a lot of teaching myself, which is a very important skill you learn in graduate school. It’s a very important skill to be able to pick something up and figure it out. That’s how music happened too. I was lucky to have Zev and Gadi really close. Whenever I had questions, they were there to help me out.
How has your sound changed or evolved as you got better and better at producing in the last two years?
I started very freely. I didn’t have an agenda. I wasn’t a DJ. I didn’t even know what was appropriate for DJing. It’s a strength now that I see the whole picture. A lot of DJs who become producers are caught up in worrying about what’s dancefloor-friendly and what’s good for the DJs. That makes it difficult sometimes when you’re trying to be totally creative. I see it as an advantage that I was completely clueless and doing what I wanted to do. My first album was pretty cool. It had a wide range of different styles.
Your debut album, Music Watching Over Me, came out last March. What other productions or collaborations do you have coming up? Any other albums your working on?
I’m almost done with my collaboration album that’s going to come out on Wolf + Lamb. All the tracks are someone else and me. There are a bunch of tracks with Gadi and me. There’s are tracks with Wolf + Lamb, Voices of Black, Tanner Ross, Pillow Talk, Greg Oreck from Thugfucker, Guy Gerber – I’m really into it and really excited about it.
What’s your relationship with Zev and Gadi of Wolf + Lamb?
I used to date Zev. We had a pretty open relationship, and we’re really good friends still. We broke up about three years after we met. I was still hanging out with Wolf + Lamb, and oddly enough I’ve been with Gadi for the last three years. But that didn’t affect us at all in a bad way. We’ve always been super close and open with each other.
What can we expect of the Get Lost party in Miami at Electric Pickle for Art Basel?
I’m actually working on an LED piece for that. I’m building it inside a trailer that’s going to be parked in the backyard of the Pickle. I haven’t done such a big scale piece in a while, so I’m pretty excited. I’ll be launching it during Art Basel.
The Get Lost parties in Miami are always amazing. I’m expecting a similar vibe than the one during WMC. It should be really special.
My friends are obsessed with Burning Man — and I’ve never been. What can you tell us about your experiences there? How has it brought you closer to the Wolf + Lamb family?
That was one of the first bonding experiences we had. It opened my eyes to this whole amazing, free and creative vibe. It’s why I got interested in pursuing LED art. It played a huge role in getting me into art in general. I think it’s something that everyone should experience.