Big personalities never take themselves too seriously, or show off their influence. Detroit Swindle is no exception. On the contrary the dynamic, fast growing Dutch duo is well known for being fun and unpretentious, other than talented. Lars and Maarten are a natural born team, their perfect chemistry lies at the very heart of their sudden success. Detroit Swindle productions are marked by a pleasant ambient & groovy beat, result of their love for jazz, funk and good old American black music. Add to this a twist of freshness, style and a perfect technique and you’ll understand the reason of much hype around them. MEOKO meets the laid-back duo and talks about their very own way of doing things, a way we like.
So tell us guys, how did your collaboration first begin and what was it like before it came to its current popularity?
We basically just got into the studio together after we found out we really digged the same stuff. Just jam about and talk about music. We said from the start that this would be a project we’d do for fun, for the music. After a few months of steady studio work and a first and second release planned, we didn’t know what hit us. We were getting international booking requests, loads of people we were really looking up to suddenly came to us and complimented us on our music and suddendly, we were playing a live set in the Panorama bar. Everything happened so fast that even now, 2 years after our first release, we’re still quite confused about what the hell just happened…
Although your name, Detroit Swindle, speaks on its own, what are some other key influences from Detroit?
It’s the old Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Motown stuff and the early Detroit hiphop from guys like J Dilla that brought us together and even though we don’t regularly grab an old Motown record and play it, it still has a big infuence in what we produce and in the music that we listen to.
You seem to like to play around with vocals, especially in your latest release, 64 Ways, where you’ve collaborated with artists such as Mayer Hawthorne and Kerri Chandler. What where your plans for this project?
64 Ways had been an instrumental track for a while as part of the album sketches, because we weren’t sure on who to approach to do the vocal. When we met Mayer Hawthorne, everything kinda fell in place and we knew straight away that he would do a killer job with the lyrics and vocal. Kerri Chander has always been on top of our list of guys we’d love to have for a remix, but only wanted to approach him with an original with enough potential for him to really get his classic Kaoz style going. When we sent him the track, he was really keen to work on it even though he didn’t really have any time… We’re glad it all worked out the way it did.
I’ve noticed you like to create small pauses either within tracks or when playing sets, what kind of reaction do you aim to get out of a crowd from that? Is it some kind of teasing would you say?
Yeah, we’re not the type to keep the drums going for an hour before a break. It’s something that flows kinda natural from the type of music we play, with lots of changeovers and breakdowns. Sometimes, it works really well to tease around and kinda see which directions would work best and sometimes, you just need to hit the gas and focus a bit more on the groove.
Speaking of teasing, you two are quite the comedic type, in what ways has this gotten you in trouble since your are first and foremost artists? Tell us your best story/stories.
To be honest, there’s no stupid or fun or memorable story to this. We’re quite sensible guys and when we’re playing, we’ll always focus on delivering the best set we can. Sometimes, the best set just comes together with a large bottle of Gin. We really believe that when the crowd sees you’re having fun, it will reflect on them, so it’s in everyone’s interest if we’re having a good time.
Would you say that it is having fun that drives you to do what you do? What else do you consider an inspiration?
It is what we tell eachother whenever we’ve got a really tough weekend of travel, long sets and basically only a few naps from Thursday to Sunday. “We’re doing this because we want to, not because we have to”. It helps you put things into perspective and realise that this is one of the weirdest and coolest ways to make a living in the world. So yeah, the fun is important. I think we’re quite ‘ambitious’ in a way. We really want to become the best producers and DJ’s we can be, so we’re always pushing ourselves to discover new things, and think about the musical direction we want to take. We’d be really happy if this is something we can keep doing for years and years, so that requires a certain dedication to push yourself ahead, to keep on developing yourself.
Which venues or festivals do you think where big highlights in your career or which have made an impression on you at least?
An easy pick would be Panorama bar. It was one of our first live shows within half a year after releasing our first EP. We’ve also played live at an abandoned rocket base in the far north east of Germany. After hours of driving, we suddenly were at this festival site where we played at night for 3000 people holding neon lighted umbrella’s, random inflatable objects and a whole bunch of weird accessories. We’re playing Glastonbury next week, which I think is a big highlight in our career. To play on such a renowned festival for Block9 with its crazy decoration is just the coolest thing ever.
Your label, Heist Recordings, how did this initiate and how is it going so far? Do you have any specific methods to how you go about it or do you just aim for fun and see what comes out?
We started Heist because we wanted to give other producers the chance the we got. Getting a first release, or getting the attention a release deserves is difficult with the amount of music that gets put out nowadays. We really want to make a differnce for the artists that release on Heist by working on good PR, playing the music in our sets, etc. We are quite specific with our A&R and mostly approach people ourselves to work on an EP with us. For this year, we’ve got a some really cool artists coming up and we’re doing a special release with all the artists that have released in the first year of Heist remixing each other, hopefully with some nice extra’s to accompany the release. Heist is not just about the music, it’s also a creative output for us and just a nice front to make cool things happen.
Having had released on various renowned labels such as Freerange, Dirt Crew and Tsuba, what would you say was the key to make things work best when collaborating with these labels?
I think the key is time, proper label management, and having a label that really lets your creative process work, rather than asking for a specific type of track. All the labels above have given us creative carte blanche for our productions and that has really worked well for all of us.
Do you have any more projects of your own coming up? If not, would you aim for the next one to be a series of remixes and collaborations like the last, or something different?
We’ve got so many sketches that deserve some work, you wouldn’t believe. We’re working on a few remixes first though for some really cool artists, both old and new and not specifically within the house scene, so that’s fun. We’re working really hard on perfecting our new live set as well with loads of new equipment so that’s taking up a lot of time as well.
Are you both exactly form Amsterdam? How exactly is the electronic scene there? The impression is that is quite developed, you have many nice festivals as well, but it seems to be more underground, alternative and ‘niche’ compared to London’s one..
Lars is originally from Amsterdam, Maarten has lived here for almost 15 years. It’s definitely smaller than London, but to be honest, for a city as small as Amsterdam, there’s actually so much to do and there are so many parties. I read a few weeks ago that Holland has about 700 music festivals during the year. For a country with only 16 million people, that’s huge.
One last curiosity…you always do care a lot about the look. Why is that? On a different level, do you consider fashion, as music, a way to express the self?
Might be a twitch we both have because we’ve watched Zoolander one to many times. For 2 guys that really hate shopping, we do have a lot of clothes though. Lately, we’ve gotten really lucky because a really cool brand from New Zealand (I love ugly) hit us up after seeing our Boiler Room set and all the shirt comments we got and said they wanted to sponsor us. So now, we’re lucky enough to get new stuff without all the hassle of actually going shopping.