Curtis McLaw 




  • Curtis, let's start with your musical roots. How did you find your way to music?


Well, the way was quite simple. In times of Sweet, Slade, Deep Purple was clear: I needed a guitar. 
Already, the first student-band was established with 15 years. Of course, only titles were covered, but 
I had first to do nothing with keyed instruments. Furthermore, a guitar was truly cool at that time. 
And we needed that in the age. But we have practiced regularly. It was rather us than soccer, girls, 
or something other. As amplifier we used the old suitcase-radio in the school, 
since I first had no money for an amplifier. 
Of course, we played also titles of CCR and Elvis. The most important thing was LOUD at that time! 
Whether inessential matter was correct or incorrect play. But we were in our village at least 
the only band. And with it also the best.

  • When came the turn-around from guitar to keyboard?
As I drove 1989 to the music-fair to Frankfurt approximately to inform me about drumcomputer, that my mediocre guitar-game should accompany, I did the discovery that  the at that time newest technology of the keyboards could be loaded with the most different sounds (therefore also drums). Consequently, I only first-sometimes needed a keyboard with different sounds. Naturaly I  also tried the horns then, organ-sounds however also the fat, fat surface-sounds, that are also the basis of the backgroundsound of DANCING FANTASY 's music. 
Of course the keyboards were not yet so fat at that time, one hears the contrast to the first DF-CD. 

To the first keyboard, the second, third, fourth came and today I  proudly own 18 different  highcarated keyboards, from which everyone has its strengths. I get from the " Korg Wavestation " for example and the different Roland keyboards, JD-800S ect., the warm, fat surfaces, YAMAHA or the company EMU likes to stand for dry, percussive sounds to the disposal. 

It was clear, the guitars, FENDER-Stratocaster and GIBSON-Les Paul, must be put to the side. 
They decorate the entry of my studio today. And with Bill Flynn (from Montreal), I have the best guitarist for DF and BLUE KNIGHTS or?

  • Was Midnight Boulevard your first album?
Yes, previously I have done only commercial jingles  and small film-musics for fair-videos. Surprisingly heard Mark Sakautzky, possessor of the label IC-DIGIT, some of these musics and told me about USA, where such music on the so-called easy-listening-stations fills the listeners with enthusiasm. I could not believe that, but it was the first real chance on a contract, and then immediately in USA, Italy and Germany. 

I should look after another partner since this project should look like a band and not recognizable for all that it is a pure studio-production. So I choosed Chris W.Williams as a coplayer. Cause he was bass-guitarist and could play also some keyboardsounds, we bungled very amateurishly the first CD 
" Midnight Blvd ". 

With the CD, one clearly recognizes that we hadn't any direction. Fortunately the radio-people said us, which are the best titles, supposedly Cry Nature and Midnight Blvd. So, we had a coarse direction for further albums.
  • Well, 1990 Smooth Jazz was already in USA in full bloom: Los Angeles' KTWV The WAVE was the first broadcaster that transmitted Smooth Jazz 1987 systematicly and this with a coming through success. Was this music-style, that is assigned your music, to you already known at that time or would you consider yourself as a New Ager?
Concerning our first DF CD, I knew even nothing about the radio stations in USA. There was no Internet, where one can listen to the titles, there were only newspapers and that from USA, about which I was informed  by Mark Sakautzky (IC-DIGIT). 

I don't believe ,that we considered our music as New Age. In Germany, they called it instrumental music or, if it thinks a bad, "elevator-music ", that means, this music could run also at Karstadt (German warehouse) in the elevator or in the blockhouse on the lady-toilet. That would disturb no one. 
With New Age I reckoned Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream ect. . But we therefore run in USA under this category however also under "Easy Listenning", I would rather name myself an "Easy-Listener". That applies more. 
For New Age, as it is known in Europe, I am certainly too groovy. 

  • If you just mention Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream, were those your models or which music  has influenced you and your music-style decisively?
No those were no models. I have only some recordings. That doesn't mean however, that I don't estimate the music. 

Probably one doesn't know the name of the musician in USA,  I already  admired very early. It 's the German Martin Böttcher, who wrotes the sound track  for theWinnetou-films and that has contributed surely also a big part to it, that I do instrumental music. I have very many LPs and CDs of him and hear his music out of each film , where he took a part of the music. What kind of a hero! Of course, he had also done the music  for Edgar Wallace, Father Brown and many Derricks . 

  • Writing the film-music for a big film would that be attractive for you? On your new album of Soundscapes, you seem to tematicate the film-music. With Asian Fantasies and On No Man's country I hears echoes  to Vangelis  and Into The Deep Blue is a reminisence for me of Eric Serra's film-music to Le Grand Blue (The Big Blue).
Well clear, it would attract me. My biggest dream would really be to support musically series or a movieproject . At the moment, I also make that in the small. But a right cinema-film or a TV-series, that would it be. 
If one out-hears with some titles Vangelis, that wasn't intended, but it flatters me however very much. 
Of course, I  have seen "Blade Runner  several times. How incredibly however also the final-topic from 
Vangelis. Something is remained there certainly deep in my heart. Now, I must  betray myself quickly 
as philistine: I simply don't know Eric Serra. Nevertheless I wish him however a peaceful old age. 

  • On the second DF album,  California Grooves, your music already has an easily jazzy impact. Also the pictures in the booklet and the title of the album have a certain affinity  to Smooth Jazz. Had you heard music from this direction  and adapted meanwhile or was this development independently from the American music-market?
With California Grooves, we were still totally independently from the music-market in USA. Of course, we have heard the stations, that now and then played 2-3 titles from our first CD, in LA and San Francisco (KKSF). We had flight to USA to record some samples, that we had installed between the individual titles or into the titles.  Of course, we derived also pleasure from the music, that was played in the " Easy listening Stations ", but we continued at our production as we have begun it before the USA-flight. 

I think ony California Grooves mirrors  that, which ran in LA at that time. The title came to it actually. 

My favorite title  Good Morning America  was already played in days before the takeoff, however also the feeling returns what we have felt in America. The jazz-bases have crept in during the production secretely. That also benefitted some songs completely well. 

  • In the liner notes of your next album Moonlight Reflections one can read, that California Grooves was a concept album, pre-produced in Los Angeles and with a heavy Californian influence. Did you ever produced an album in USA or was this more a promotion gag? Are your albums more produced for the American than the German market?
The albums were all produced  completely in the studio 1 Brunswick. At that time, the company IC-Digit has probably meant by pre-producing that many of our sounds, effects, voices ect. were recorded  and processed in USA.We have produced the entire album here however. 
Meanwhile it is of course clear that the productions are rather organized for the American market  since this type of music isn't  promoted in Germany  neither in broadcasting nor in TV. The only supprting station is Relax Fm, that is to be received however only over Internet (http://www.relaxfm.de or over cables in the area of Munich. They play us often.  

Therefore, USA is the market for our music of course. I don't know as one had to would change this music for Germany at all in order to make it radio-like. Someday a clever businessman comes, procures itself a frequency  nationwide and establishes the first " Easy Listening radio ". How many years there will still pass, one will see.

  • 1992 was the year, when  not only Moonlight Reflections was released but also the first album of your cooperation with Jay Heye (Blue Knights - Blue Night). How was this project developed?
I first met Jay Heye 1992. He  played in smoky clubs piano  at night. Some of his titles already had the  Spirit of  "Blue Knights ". I  told him about the success in USA, at that time California Groove had landed on place 6 of the Billboard-Charts. I had an idea, that  I couldn't realize with DANCING FANTASY. The project should be more Groove-oriented and a guitar or a piano should be put in as main-instrument. Since until then Jay Heye is the absolutely most groovy pianist, that I ever listen to or have seen,  he fited into my ideas wonderfully. He is a solid component of BLUE KNIGHTS since then and, to imagine away from the group no longer. Without Jay Heye, I probably would still be on the search. By the way we took  with the second album Red Night  place 15 in the USA Billboard-Charts. The most played song is still  Soft Silk. It is also unbelievable how many stations are still playing this song. I have already suspected that during the production.
  • 1993, you have published another interesting album: Worldwide. What led you to this idea over a musical tour around the earth?
It was the wish of IC-Digit  to do a concept-album. I find that restricted our work, cause we could not realize all ideas. We had another song-idea with a West-Coast-Feeling for example, they could not place this song on the album, since only one title was planned for California. Each country, to which we or the former IC-DIGIT boss Mark Sakautzky had recorded  particular sounds, had to be moved in a song. The samplesand typical instruments were first there, after it the songs. It was not simple to develop an idea into the individual countries at all, since the original DANCING-FANTASY-SOUNDshould remain  as well. I state today that we reached our gain only with some titles. But at that time that was for us and the label o.k. And " Around the world in 60 minutes " sounded very promising.
  • Did the label exercise  influence on your albums?
By no means. Mark Sakautzky, at this time possessor of IC-DIGIT, has given us very many good impulses, but he never manipulated our decisions. He got all demos beforehand and gave us in writing different ideas to each title.  If we were of the same opinion, we have transposed them. It was however never a must. As Mark Sakautzky retired , no one  took care of the content anymore. They  only kept an eye on timely depositing of the albums and corresponding numbers of the titles. That blocked us sometimes very much, and I would have liked to discuss the albums with Mark Sakautzky further since he was right in most of the cases of his criticism however and both DANCING FANTASY as well as BLUE KNIGHTS   productions profit of his opinon. Sometimes we will work together again. I am sure!
  • Was this the reason, why you went from IC-Digit to Higher Octave Records?
Also. But one should nevertheless change all few years the label. In this case, it was not the right decision, because, still what nobody knows, we are no longer at  Higher Octave . The newest CD was released by " 1201music ". This label is owned by Achim Neuman, whom also belongs DA-Music in USA and to whom we owe the whole chart-places. www.1201music.com is the internet-adress. 
He had financed and organized also the USA-tours. On the ear, those were somewhat numb with " Higher Octave ". But we immediately have correct the mistake . Well. and they will also release the new BLUE KNIGHTS " Strait from the heart ". By the way Jay Heye has just played in the most unbelievable solis for a title of the new BLUE KNIGHTS. What kind of a hero! I must go again after next door into the studio, so that your all get something new to hear  soon.  
  • Curtis, tell me more about your USA-tours. Who has accompanied you, where have you played, was the tour a success?
  • Are you also appeared with one of your formations in Germany already?
No. In Germany, the interest in our music is not yet so big since we hardly receive radio-uses here. A  promoter doesn't get involved in it. He must order the locations of the event previously after all and must pay. If the group is not  known in Germany there, it 's very difficult to fill only three rows at all.  
We like to wait another couple of years. Maybe, also this music comes over the big pond.
  • Going back to the year 1993: It was a very productive year for you. Beside your album Dancing Fantasy album Worldwide appeared also the second Blue Knights album Red Night. Did the music be assimilated so well that you could now produce disks in fast sequence?
At the radio-stations, the second BLUE KNIGHTS was taken up very well thanks to the title "Soft Silk". 
But also Worldwide reached up to 600 radio-uses. Per week!!
To the number of my productions, a publication BLUE  KNIGHTS and a DANCING FANTASY 
per year are not too many. 
We have waited even 18 months once, but the contract said a CD per year. Don't forget that I receive also very big help of all musicians. So my work reduced itself and enabled me, as in 1995, even still to realize another idea, Colors In Motion, what was played  in the radio, but didn't sell well. Probably too German. There there were titles, that could run without problems as title-song of the " Landarzt" country-doctor (German T.V. serial)  or any  " local-colorfilm ". The enthusiasm didn't go in the USA however so fare. 

  • Did you possibly have too little advertising-support with Colors In Motion? I have only found these albums over your Webseite.
No, first all radio-stations had received promo-cds . If the demand ain't big then, the label thinks that this theme is not right for USA. Today, I am not disappointed over it any longer since I have much more time for BLUE KNIGHTS and DANCING FANTASY.  Two CDs in the year is certainly sufficient.
  • You still had 1993 another iron in the fire: Eylin De winters - Magic Women. How did this erotic album occur?
Ah, you catches me. Actually I didn't want to make that public, but then, as things now stand. It was also no right iron. I still had time and ideas to this topic. For " Dancing Fantasy " the titles would be to soft at that time . Todays I wouldn't have problems to release soft titles like that on a " Dancing Fantasy " album. My label asked me at that time whether I would like to do music to a book of the " Eyline de Winter ". The CD should be sold with the book then and put the readers into the right mood. I have done that in the two further years as well then and then have finished. 

To this topic, a fan of Dancing Fantasy called me and asked me, whether I would know, that there is somebody, that tries to imitate the " Dancing Fantasy " sound. She has bought a CD with erotic music and this has reminded quite strongly of " Dancing Fantasy ". I asked her about the name of the artist. She looked and said " Eyline de Winter". I asked her to read the small print once however, (played and composed by Curtis McLaw). She was enthusiastic and I very proud that one can recognize my sound or my arrangements.

  • Dancing Fantasy are Curtis McLaws and Chris W.Williams. On the miscellaneous albums plays along however also different studio-musicians. The cooperation is probably especially intensive with the saxophonist George Bishop, who is already to be listened at California Grooves. You have also  produced and have played in together with Curtis W. Williams his solo-albums Like A  Butterfly (1992) and Colour Love (1994). Are these albums in reality Dancing Fantasy albums too?
We are naturally to hear at these albums and one or another title could belong also on a Dancing Fantasy album. George wanted to do an individual album, sought the producers for it. IC-Digit gave him the chance for 2 albums. Unfortunately, it doesn't sell as well with Dancing Fantasy. But nevertheless we had many airplays in USA.
  • Are you also playing on George's third album PinCruisin'? Does the cooperation continue to exist?
We have already worked for 3 years with George no longer. Since then, also YORK from Hanover plays the saxophones and Flutes with Dancing Fantasy. I don't know the third album. 
  • How has the cooperation come about with YORK and Bill Joseph Flynn? Bill Joseph Flynn is already to be listened at your album Day Dream (1995) while YORK plays along with Love Letters (1997) for the first time.
I have met Bill over a friend. I did  immediately know that I had to win himfor both projects. I hadn't  found the matching man before and tried out some possibilities. 
Bill Flynn has animated both projects perfectly.

York was brought by Chris. He knew him from different Hip-Hop projects 
and we tried some titles with him. All were spontaneously enthusiastic.

  • Curtis, how do you judge your previous musical development from your view?
I believe that my musical development didn't go  as quickly as the music-industry wishs. But in this music-direction, there will  not be so big steps like in the pop-business where one must always be at the pulse of the time. Still at the best 3 steps forward. With Dancing Fantasy, the development is rather to be seen in the arrangement, in the production and in the sounds, but not necessarily in the composition. 
Maybe we don't trust ourselves as well right since the radio-stations and also the buyers are content with the music. If one considers, that we are already counted more than 400 radio-uses per week with the new CD with " Dancing Fantasy " and over 600 radio-uses per week with " Blue Knights " , we still lie quite well, also without bigger, musical development. Of course, there are projects, where musicallyit goes further as well as into another direction . Those are published however only in Germany. For " Dancing Fantasy " and " Blue Knights ", I think more of smaller steps. 

  • Well, I must immediately ask: Of which further projects do you speak?
For example of " Cappuccino ". I produced " Regenbögen "(rainbows) . the CD went last year in Germany until place 10 of the Charts. Or under the project-name " Grand piano " on "Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten " (good times, bad times) to the successful TV-program, 
on the following albums: " Die schönsten Lovesongs "(The most beautiful Love-Songs) , " Sun & Fun ", " Ball & Game ", " Party Pack " . These cds were only be sold in Germany. Or " Eyline de Winters ". I  had produced three CDs  and has also composed to the biggest part the music. I believe only Italy and Germany has this projekt. Or " Colors In Motion ". This project was promoted more in Germany  than  in USA.
  • Have not you forgotten an interesting project? I speak of the Maxi-CD Lydia - I ' ll wait for You at Midnight. Narrative us something over this singer.
Well, clear, I have forgotten her since there was very much trouble with the label and this project. I have produced the single, should produce three further albums. Since the radio-success was not so, as the label introduced itself in Germany, the project was tilted shortly and concisely. Therefore I don't remember it so gladly although the Maxi is really very good. The CD didn't also come in USA out then unfortunately.  LYDIA " artistname" is a trained singer from the East Germany. She was actually discovered by John Wighfield, who produced also the first album later. Harm also for him that it doesn't go there further. But, I already have an idea how we can reactivate LYDIA. I will not blab out more.
  • Well, then reveal us finally something about your future plans.
I will still produce a BLUE KNIGHTS per year and a DANCING FANTASY-CD as long as our listeners still ask for that. Naturally I will still produce also for other artists here and there but also produce however my film - and advertising-music. On the search after new ideas I will maybe something try out under another project-name once again. Whether that works out, one doesn't know it. My label in USA is open for new ideas very much. Still, I would like to go with the musicians, if possible, every year once on USA-tour. Also that will always support our Company in USA since it is also promoting the sale of the CDs. But the most important for the future me additionally: " To remain always beautifully healthy and relaxed  ". The rest comes from alone.----now I go into the studio again to mix the last three titles for the new BLUE KNIGHTS. That will be released in autumn in USA. 
Many greetings and best regards from the New " Unitet States of Germany " 

Curtis McLaw 

  • Curtis, I thank you you for this revealing interview. Furthermore much success for all your projects.