In Conversation With... KRAAK & SMAAK
Disco-funk blasting trio Kraak & Smaak (Oscar de Jong, Mark Kneppers and Wim Plug) hail from Leiden in the Netherlands and are some of the smoothest sailers when it comes to funky synthlines , graceful vocals and funky-as-fuck basslines.
This latest offering ‘In Plain Sight’, coming via their own label Boogie Angst (also the title of their 2006 debut album) is another shining example of how it’s done. The release has got two whopping remixes from Rodney Hunter and similarly-skilled Dutch wizard duo, Fouk. Check out some of the premiere's below...
Having been round the block a fair few times since 2006, with ever-increasing quality of output, we managed to get hold of the guys to find out the recipe for their success…
1. Let’s take it back to the start. How did you three come together and how does it generally work with regards to writing and performing?
Me (Wim) and Mark were already DJ’ing individually for quite some time before K&S, spinning house, jungle, hiphop, breakbeat and jazzdance during the 90’s, but wanted to produce music ourselves as well – but lacking the production and ‘formal’and technical music skills always held us back. Oscar, at the other end of the spectrum, was a trained music professional, studying musical production at the conservatory, looking for some like-minded music lovers to work with, as a band wasn’t really his thing, plus he had a similar musical outlook and taste as us.
So when we hooked up in the early 00’s, things clicked immediately and we just started out messing about during the evenings and weekends, with the help of Cubase anno 2002 (!), a Rhodes, a Clavinet, a Nord Lead and loads of records for sample purposes (we were already quite avid vinyl collectors a the time). That really was – besides all that creative energy we had at the time, more or less the set up of our first 12”s and our first full album, Boogie Angst. It sounds amazing when you think back at that time: it was just the three of us, doing just what we liked, and apparently, hit a nerve in the scene as well. We though we would just release a couple of singles, 12 inches, etc., and that would be it then, but it got out of hand rather quickly 😉
Over the years there has so much been added to the whole K&S story, the days of ‘just’ making music together have been over for some time: we are doing dj set and live shows all over the world, making original music in the studio, remixes, running a label… the last ten years it has more and more become a division of labour, where Oscar is in the studio full time, I’m in the space next to it running the label and all day to day K&S stuff. Apart from that we also need to perform with a full, six-piece live band and DJ sets across the globe.
2. The Netherlands has some great electronic producers both historically and rising through the ranks. Who were your influences as you came through? And who’s hot on your tail behind you do you think?
Weirdly enough at the time we were more influenced by UK and US releases than Dutch ones. They just felt more on point and relevant, Fingerlickin’ Record for instance, we devoured that! But there definitely were Dutch influences such as Alex Cortiz (Vibesin’ Dutchman), Therapy Records, etc., but our scene was generally UK based,, or sounding; most Dutch stuff was house-based (also good!), but not breakbeat and funky.
One to look out for though, is Moods. A Rotterdam producer who is already ‘ Major League’ in international streaming, and we don’t know someone else in Holland who has so much funk than he has. He owns it!
3. Whilst the Netherlands will always be your home, you’ve played pretty much every key festival round the world right? What’s your favourite place to go back to when away from home?
We’ve done tours in Asia the last couple of years, including China, and the gigs @ Bar Rouge in Shanghai were really amazing to do. Just the whole atmosphere really, and dropping records for four hours; plus the feeling afterwards while you’re in the rooftop bar chilling a bit with that awesome view -wow! I’d go back on the first plane!
4. If we forced you to pick one, what would be the wildest story that’s come from your time out on the road playing gigs?
Oh boy….there are so many! Not that we are the biggest R&R act ever, but I guess we had our share over the years as well.
One gig that springs to mind though, is the 2nd time we played at the Joshua Tree Music Festival in the USA, in 2017 I think. In the middle of the desert, with people high on drugs going wild in front of the stage while we were still ‘relatively’ sober (that changed later though I must add). Anyway, in the middle of the gig we start noticing that some people are fully undressed - you could also say naked I guess – and this one girl in particular is masturbating in front of us.. Uhm, ok… The song ‘Naked’, off our last album, probably originated there 😉
5. Gigs are just about starting to come back into play in some places. Are there any dates we can catch you at soon? And what 5 tracks will you definitely be playing at any upcoming gigs?
We definitely hope so too, as we miss performing much and can’t wait to get back in the saddle again. Of course quite a few live and dj gigs have been postponed to later this year, and even to 2021, and for now – given all the travel difficulties ad restrictions – the focus will be mostly on the Netherlands, but even then in a very careful organized manner, but a gig we are really looking forward to is the already rescheduled one at the Garage in London @ Dec 1 – been a while since we’ve been in London with the full band 😊
Sure shots will be...
1. Toxic Love Affair
5. Squeeze Me
6. Finally – summarise 'In Plain Sight' in 3 words for us…
Open your eyes
Thanks very much to the guys for making the time to chat with us. In plain sight drops tomorrow and is a bomb!
'IN PLAIN SIGHT' EP
RELEASE DATE : Friday 21st August