Following the widespread international success of his three-part "Floating" EP back in August, hotly-tipped Dutch producer Crouwel now looks to continue his prolific run of form on Reflektor Records, as he returns to the esteemed Amsterdam-based imprint for his sophomore studio outing. Teaming up this time with modular synth maestro and fellow Dutchman, Colin Benders, the newly acquainted artists now announce their eagerly anticipated debut collaboration as they unveil the breath-taking new single, "Far Away".
A hypnotic, down-tempo house cut tempered by gentle piano refrains, warped synthesisers, warming basslines and an infectious vocal hook, "Far Away" is a remix produced by Crouwel, using stems taken from Colin’s quarantine lockdown sessions, which he’s been sharing with his Modular Mayhem community on Discord over the past few months.
Get to know Crouwel by reading our full exclusive Q&A interview below!
Hello, Crouwel! We are happy to have you as a guest. This year we’ve seen some crazy changes in everyday life with a strong impact on the music industry due to COVID-19. It seems that you managed the situation quite well, being active these past several months with the "Floating" EP release and now with a new single - "Far Away", out on Reflektor Records. How has the reception been so far?
Hello, thanks for having me! I have indeed been quite busy in these crazy times. I’m happy with the response to the 'Floating' EP. Regarding 'Far Away' I am glad how it has turned out and within the team here the response has been great. I look forward to sharing it with others and hear what they think about it.
What was it that made you and Colin Benders feel this was the right time to work together — can you tell us what the fit was and why you were excited to work with him on "Far Away"? What were your favourite moments while producing this new track?
The collaboration came about in quite a special way. Colin was doing streams during the lockdown and his great community of fans decided to archive the different tracks of the streams with him. I used one of the tracks and built a track around it. I’m very excited to have worked with him on this track, as he is one of the most talented musicians out there. I think one of the best moments was when the melody of the bass started working well with the percussion and created an amazing groove.
You started playing piano at age 6, then you were in a band. Why did you decide to change your musical direction and when did you realize that you want to become a producer and DJ? Which was the initial trigger?
I’ve been fascinated by music my whole life, and as life goes along you also change your musical taste. Even though my taste is quite broad, I love to make music that people can dance to and enjoy actively. I decided to do music full time while I was studying. Hence my education took a bit longer to finish as I was not studying music and focused my attention more towards the music.
Who are some of your very favourite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? What musicians would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
I’m a big fan of Dixon, Âme, Nicolas Jaar, Weval, Denis Horvat among others. Recently I’ve listened a lot to Echonomist, Colyn and other tunes you can check out on my Spotify Mixtape. I like working with many different musicians, though one of the above would of course be fantastic right now!
You define your style as a blend of techno, indie dance, melodic techno/house. What were some of the key elements in developing your sound? How did you discover your particular sound?
A big part of my sound comes out of the blend of melodies, deep bass and percussion that creates a groove together. I also like to put my vocals and piano on the tracks to create an organic reference. Another part of my sound has come from the equipment that I use and the consistency of it. I’m a big fan of the Moog Sub Phatty and Omnisphere.
What would you like to achieve with your music? What does success look like to you?
I want my music to have a positive effect on others. That would already be a great success.
As a resident of Amsterdam, what were some standout events or nights out that you experienced simply as a fan of the scene?
I loved going to the more underground clubs like Trouw, De School and De Marktkantine, unfortunately many clubs are closing and nightlife is slowly fading away as we know it, due to Corona.
What did you see Amsterdam offers you that, let's say a city like Berlin or London did not?
Amsterdam is like a big village. You always run into people you know and biking around to the studio or wherever you’re going is nice (as long as it’s not raining). Being born here it feels like home. However, I am also a big fan of Berlin and London. There is something about these big cities filled with possibilities that has always fascinated me. There is a scene for everything.
What does your hardware/software setup consist of?
As a DAW I use Ableton Live. Maybe it is because I have grown used to it, but I think it is the most creative DAW. Allowing you to play with your creations in a quick and efficient way. Apart from Ableton Live I also use Omnisphere (and all spectrasonics plugins) as my go to soft-synth. Hardware I am using my Moog Sub Phatty very frequently, as well as the remakes from Behringer: Model-D, Pro-1 and K-2. I am using an Arturia Drumbrute Impact for my analogue drums. For my vocals I use a Manley Reference Cardiod, through a Chandler TG-2 into a UA 1176LN. I love that vocal chain!
Favourite BPM: - 120, somehow most of my tunes are around this number.
If you could take the stage at any location around the world, where would it be and why?
I’d love to play one of those underground festivals in an exotic place, like Oasis in Marrakech. I think that would be magical. Though even any show right now would make me very happy, after being locked down in the studio for so long!
What future do you see for techno music? What tracks do you consider techno classics?
I have the feeling techno is becoming more popular with different sub-genres expanding its horizons. Going all the way back I think 'Knights of the Jaguar' is a classic that I still remember by DJ Rolando. I feel a bit cliché because I think everyone always calls this one, but Jeff Mills – The Bells can also not be missing on a classic techno list.
The song you secretly listen to over and over again.
I often find myself going back to Weval – Gimme Some. Not really a secret I guess? It’s a great song!
What are some of your non-musical passions/hobbies? What outside of music inspires you to create?
I’m a big fan of art, interior design and Formula 1. I also care a lot about the future and the planet. So I’m happy to see Trump is on the way out.
Any new artists, books, music or movies/shows you’d like to recommend?
I’ve been working with Amy Root on a track, they are great guys! I can recommend their music. I watched the new Borat movie which was quite good, as well as The Queen’s Gambit (I guess I’m playing more chess with my friends now) and Better Call Saul.
What is the first thing that you would do if the news one day announced: “It’s official, the pandemic is over”?
I think I’d go out to a nice party! And hopefully get to play some tunes myself. I miss being surrounded by people.
Thank you for your time, Crouwel! What is your biggest hope for 2021?
Thank you for having me! I hope 2021 will return the world more to normal again, making Covid a thing of the past. I also hope we learn from the things that we have discovered during times where we did a lot less. There is hopefully some positive to be taken out of the whole Corona pandemic.
Interview made by Adriana-Laura L., DJ's Arena 2020