Award-winning songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin has had his hand in an impressive array of projects in various corners of the music industry.
A Los Angeles native, he was introduced to music by his grandmother's piano playing, and took up the instrument himself at age five. As a member of schoolmate Dweezil Zappa's band, he got his first published writing credit when he was only 12 -- for co-writing "Crunchy Water," the B-side of Dweezil's debut single "My Mother Is a Space Cadet." He moved to New York after high school to continue his piano studies at the New School with Charles Mingus alum Jaki Byard, immersing himself in the jazz scene -- playing with the likes of Bobby Hutcherson and George Coleman -- while also exploring hip-hop and Brazilian music (and learning to play the berimbau), styles that would factor largely into his career-defining eclecticism.
After returning to L.A. in the early '90s, Kurstin formed quirky alternative rock outfit Geggy Tah with singer/songwriter Tommy Jordan. The duo signed to David Byrne's Luaka Bop records and released their debut in 1994; the follow-up, Sacred Cow (1996), contained a Top 20 modern rock hit in "Whoever You Are," but there was a considerable delay before their third and final album, Into the Oh, appeared in 2001. In the meantime he built up his credentials as a sideman, playing for and collaborating with Beck, Matthew Sweet, Jane's Addiction, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Bob Moog, among others. Kurstin also masterminded the jazz-funk-rock fusion project Action Figure Party, whose eponymous 1999 debut included contributions from Flea, Sean Lennon, Miho Hatori, members of No Doubt, Buckcherry, Incubus, and Soul Coughing, among other late-'90s luminaries, plus his then-wife Pamelia Kurstin, who would later earn renown as a Theremin player.