You may know this rising EDM composer from Oconomowoc by his stage name: Crystal Knives.

Spencer Mutsch made his first splash in EDM (electronic dance music) when a rap remix he made surpassed 100,000 streams on SoundCloud three years ago… before it got removed for copyright infringement (oops).

“At the time I was like, ‘Holy shit, this is sick.’ In hindsight, it wasn’t that much, but it got me so excited,” Mutsch, 22, remembers.

The following summer, he performed on a side stage at Chicago’s Spring Awakening music festival, crossing paths with major players like Kaskade and Steve Aoki.

“Each time you release a song or play a show, it’s like buying a lottery ticket,” Mutsch says. “Any one of them could blow up. You just have to keep buying lottery tickets.”

“To actually get somewhere, you have to be able to write when you don’t feel like it and push yourself to get in that zone.”

Backline artist Crystal Knives (Spencer Mutsch) on stage in early 2019. Photo courtesy of 88.9 Radio Milwaukee.

Before dropping out of Waukesha County Technical College and quitting his job at Home Depot, Mutsch turned his laptop into a classroom, using it to watch instructional videos that gave him the compositional insights he hadn’t picked up from years of practice as a jazz percussionist.

For the nonmusical skills he hasn’t learned – like accounting and brand management – Mutsch has leaned on Backline, the 88Nine Radio Milwaukee accelerator project aimed at helping select Milwaukee artists reach the next level.

“It’s been absolutely cool to see Milwaukee put their money where their mouth is in terms of supporting their artists here,” he says.

Backing from Backline has allowed Mutsch to visit Los Angeles and New York City to network and make music, and hire a PR company to promote Crystal Knives. “Treating music as a job is a skill that most people need to learn and a lot of people don’t get,” Mutsch admits. “To actually get somewhere, you have to be able to write when you don’t feel like it and push yourself to get in that zone.”

RELATED  Milwaukee Artist You Should Know: Dead Horses

“Local Talent: Spencer Mutsch” appears in the July 2019 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning July 1, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

Be the first to get every new issue. Subscribe.

Comments

comments