Q&A with Crookers
Hailing all the way from Milan, Bot and Phra, who together make up the DJ duo Crookers, prove that globalization, at least when it comes to music, isn't such a bad thing. Arguably, its been the Internet that has given them the power to become more popular than they are in their own home country. At the same time, it's gives them a glimpse into the things happening elsewhere. Maybe that's why when you hear that the duo is in fact Italian it's so hard to believe, because their sound is so deeply rooted in American hip-hop yet still sounds so very European thanks to the glitchy synths and deep house grooves.
Lately, it's been the remix of Kid Cudi's "Day 'n' Nite" that has propelled the duo into DJ super stardom that for the time being they aren't taking any requests for remixes. New Times spoke with Bot to find out what exactly is fidget house, what's up with the Italian hip-hop scene and how the success of the Kid Cudi remix has changed things for them.
New Times: What can we expect from the Crookers during Saturday's set at Heathrow Lounge?
Bot: We don't [plan] what we play, so it's kind of hard to say what to expect because we don't know what we are going to do. We basically try to make a connection with the crowd.
NT: Your press release describes your music as fidget house. What is fidget house exactly?
B: We try to put [in our sets] everything we like, because we listen different styles of music and the point is to make all different styles and make it our way, in a way that make sense. So it's hard to describe the genre because we use so many. We just put all the music we like into what we do and try to make sense out of it.
NT: If we didn't know that you guys are Italian, we would have presumed you were American DJs because your sound is very influence by American hip-hop. Do you think you sound is very much influence by America?
B: It probably sounds like that because [me and Phra] both come from hip-hop. Phra was MCing at an really early age and into turntables; I was into graffiti writing. So we've basically been listening to hip-hop since we were kids. We also wanted to sound not Italian, we wanted to be at the same level of the stuff we were hearing, so we put in a lot of hip-hop elements.
NT: We read that you were into the Italian hip-hop scene, which surprised us because we didn't think Italy had one. What is the different between Italy and America's hip-hop scenes?
B: It a huge difference, starting from the money [laughs]. In Italy, they try to make their own thing but always with an eye to the U.S. scene, because it's where it all began -- it's an evolution of that. Some Italian artists are developing their style but their starting point is always the U.S.
NT: You and Phra have been producing together since 2003 --
B: Yea, but we've been producing on our own earlier than that. Phra had recorded some things as an MC; I recorded some really weird electronic stuff and we then met. And in Italy it was really difficult to find people with the same tastes because we have really strange tastes. As soon as we met, we started talking about music and we liked the same stuff and we were both producing so it was kind of natural to say "Let's try to do something together," and it worked.
NT: When we think of the Italian music scene, we think of Italo-disco. Do you think because of your sound that you are more widely accepted abroad than in your own country?
B: Yea, in the beginning, if you saw our schedule it was strange, because we'd play all over the world and in Italy we played like once a month. In the beginning, we only played outside of Italy, because Italy for dance music it comes a little bit late. It seems like they just discovered us in Italy so they're demanding us now.
What we are really enjoying is that we maybe can change something in the Italian dance music, because right now what's big is minimal. We like some tracks but it's been three years now and you go to clubs and that's what they play and it's really boring for us. So we hope to change something, because in Italy, the radio is playing our tracks, so maybe kids can go to clubs now and expect "fun" music, not something you can only enjoy when you are on drugs.
NT: Your breakout track has definitely been the Kid Cudi remix of "Day 'n' Nite" that you and Phra's did. In fact, U.S. mainstream radio has even picked up on the track. Are you surprised by its success?
B: It's a big surprise for us, because we did the track almost a year ago and it's taken a while for it to become so big. We like the song and we asked to remix it, and it grew slowly and now it's getting bigger. In January, the song is getting re-released by Ministry of Sound in the UK. Maybe the best things happen when you don't expect them, because we just asked to remix the track for fun.
NT: Have you gotten more requests do remixes?
B: One cool thing is that remix goes gold; one bad thing is that now everyone is asking "Can you do a remix like Kid Cudi?" which is kind of weird, because when we start to remix we never know what it's going to be like. But now we've basically stop doing remixes because we have to finish the album. So now we'll be on tour until early December then we will stop and finish the album. Now it's the moment when we are getting more and more requests -- never had so many requests for remixes -- but right now we have to say no to everything because otherwise we'll never finish the album, which is a priority at the moment because we've always wanted to do an album.
NT: You sort of got ahead of us. We were going to ask you what was coming up for you, but I suppose working on an album answers that question. But for the sake of asking, who is releasing the album?
B: I know in the UK and Europe, the main label is Southern Fried Records, which is a UK-based label. We are talking to other people in the U.S.
Crookers perform Saturday, November 8, at Heathrow Lounge along with Pauly Crush and Danny Daze and Stravinsky and Jessica Who? in the Spy Bar.
Doors open at 10 p.m.; tickets cost $15 in advance from www.ticketweb.com. Ages 21+ with ID. For VIP reservations call 786-387-9040.