Kraak and Smaak
Autor: Richard Constantinidi
Etichete: Boogie Angst, Chrome Waves, Dj Knuppelhout, Dj Knuppelhout, Dr. Fröbel, Ebba 2009, Electric Hustle, European Border Breakers Award, Jacob Escobedo, Jimmy Kimmel Show, Joshua Tree National Park, Leiden, Mark Kneppers, Noogman, Oscar De Jong, Plastic People, The Remix Sessions, Wim Plug
The DJ project takes its' name from a Dutch proverb meaning neither crunch, nor taste (Kraak notch Smaak).
Behind the eclectic Dutch funky break beat outfit Kraak & Smaak (founded in 2001) are Wim Plug, Oscar de Jong and Mark Kneppers.
Oscar de Jong studied at the music conservatory in Rotterdam and is a gifted Fender Rhodes player. Mark Kneppers was widely known in the Netherlands as DJ Knuppelhout (1997). Together with Oscar de Jong, he recorded his first vinyl 12” as Noogman (2002).
DJ Wim Plug and his alter ego (vinylmeister) Dr. Fröbel had played all over Holland (even at the 2001 Rotterdam International Film Festival).
UK label Jalapeno Records signed the DJ project and released the trio's first 12 inch maxi-single in 2003. This was appreciated by high brow DJs and consequently, a few remixes later, Boogie Angst (the debut album, was released in 2006. A band is set up to be able to play live alongside the DJ sets in Benelux and Japan (Australia and the US followed in 2007).
Dance magazine IDJ described Kraak & Smaak as a Must see live band (alongside the likes of The Prodigy, Moby and The Chemical Brothers) în 2008...
EU sponsored European Border Breakers Award (EBBA) is handed to (among others) Kraak & Smaak in January, 2009.
...It's been all uphill from there.
On Sunday, June 22nd, Kraak & Smaak feature on the Main Stage at the Electric Castle Festival (promoting their latest release, 2013's Chrome Waves, at Bonțida, Cluj/Romania) and CZB got to touch ground for the first time with the Dutchmen.
Here is the email interview we did at the end of May, 2014.
RiCo for CZB.ro: How did Noogman first meet Dr. Fröbel?
Wim Plug (Kraak and Smaak): Ha ha, now that’s a very long time ago! Both were aliases of different stuff we were working on then, as producers or DJ’s, and totally incomparable with what we’re doing now. But we’re all from around the town of Leiden and knew each other from the local nightlife. All three of us had the wish to produce and release music, and in that we found each other.
RiCo for CZB.ro: Have you had any frustrating situations Stateside, considering the band name has a different meaning in English slang - or do you consider this a good marketing gimmick over there?
Kraak and Smaak: We can imagine that our name has led to some difficulties over there; we heard some stories that it made playlisting on mainstream stations more difficult than it ought to be; the funny thing is that we have never anticipated on that really, we just went with the name, sounded great. We thought it is a name that sticks, and all publicity is good publicity. Furthermore, it didn’t keep us from playing on the Jimmy Kimmel Show a couple of years ago, so...
CZB: You've played Japan, Australia and England and are breaking into the US market… what do you consider the most exotic place you've gotten to with your music and what kind of culture shock did you experience there?
Kraak and Smaak: We just returned from a small live tour in California that included two major ‘hippie’ festivals – those are quite popular there (everything organic and recycleable) and are typically American – you don’t see them in Europe like that. One was at the Joshua Tree National Park (well known from the famous U2 album cover), in the middle of the desert. Really cool, but a totally different world for a day. On another occasion, some years ago, we did a one-off DJ set, on a New Year's Eve festival in New-Zealand. That was quite a trip as well, very surreal.
CZB: Why do you consider it took you 10 years to get to Ibiza and where will you be playing there this summer?
Kraak and Smaak: Maybe for a long time we didn’t have the right agent in place for this, but Kraak & Smaak is also not just only a DJ act per se, and often we are seen as a band or a pop act. Although we have already DJ’ed across the globe, from Australia to the US, it could well be that this was the reason. Another one may be that in Spain everything just moves at a slower pace, but eventually they will get round to it.
We’re working on some dates again, but our agenda is quite full this Summer. Hopefully we can make something happen again. However, first it’s back to the US again and continue our summer run over there.
CZB: You were a member of the multimedia turntable orchestra Polyvinyl Big Band. What side projects do the three of you have when you're not touring and recording with Kraak and Smaak?
Kraak and Smaak: Especially in the beginning, when K&S was still an evenings and weekends project, of course we had other stuff going on, Wim had a regular job and DJ’ed alongside, Mark (Mark Kneppers) had his own DJ career and Oscar was still studying at the conservatory and active in different production projects. But already quite soon K&S took off enormously and we soon ditched all the other activities when possible. At the moment, only Mark still has something else – yet very interesting - going on: he owns a couple of record stores over here and trades in vinyl through the internet.
CZB: I understand you used too many samples on your first album (Boogie Angst, 2006) and then you had an album where there weren't any samples at all (Electric Hustle, 2010). Looking back, what have you learned from these experiences?
Kraak and Smaak: With our DJ background and our vinyl hunger it seemed to be inevitable that we should use ‘loads’ of samples on our first album. All this great material we picked up over the years before K&S started... It just needed to get used. Besides, at the time we didn’t have that many studio facilities yet, and consequently Boogie Angst was made with a prehistoric Atari and Cubase, and not more than a Fender Rhodes, a Clavinet, JP8000 and Nordlead synths. Moreover, two of us don’t have a ‘real’ musical background, but through our DJ and collecting background we did exactly know what we wanted. In that way it’s a totally different perspective on producing, very DIY, punk if you like. It also shows that you don’t necessarily need to be formally educated in music to make it. Nice, eh?
When K&S gained momentum and more money also came in, we were in the position to buy us more possibilities, i.e. more synths and other instruments, plug ins... Moreover, being a keyboard player at heart, Oscar (Oscar de Jong) has always been into synths very much, plus our tastes also changed and our music developed. For one thing, we wanted to do more songs and then vocal samples are just not enough anymore. So at the moment our creativity lies in electronic sound, and this is of course reflected in the last two albums. This doesn’t mean though that we can’t and won’t return to more extensive sampling again in the future, it’s just that we’re happy with how we are doing things now.
CZB: How many picture frames were used to complete the Squeeze Me (2008) video?
Kraak and Smaak: Yikes, I haven’t counted them but I take it many of them. It worked out great but I wouldn’t want to be the guy who did all the editing work!
CZB: Chrome Waves (2013) …who did the cover art and how is the figure in the picture linked to the album content?
Kraak and Smaak: We came across recent artwork for Broken Bells and the Shins by Jacob Escobedo and we really loved that. So we just asked him if he would be willing to create something for us as well. Worked out great we think; there is no direct link between artwork and music but it all seems to fit nicely.
CZB: From what you've listened to in 2014, what would you like to remix?
Kraak and Smaak: We’d absolutely love to remix Lana del Rey and Jungle, they’re top notch
CZB: How do you feel about playing Electric Castle this year, in the heart of Transylvania?
Kraak and Smaak: It will be great! We haven’t played live in Romania for some time so we're really looking forward to this… and there's a great line up too!
Interview conceived by: RiCo
Many thanks going out to Wim Plug and Kraak and Smaak -
and to Edmond Lenarth and Andi Vanca from the Electric Castle festival
for their time and cooperation.
- Boogie Angst (2005)
- The Remix Sessions (2007)
- Plastic People (2008)
- Electric Hustle (2011)
- Chrome Waves (2013)
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