THE BIRDHOUSE 146: Detroit Swindle Interview

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This week on THE BIRDHOUSE, we have a special treat for all of our listeners. All the way from Amsterdam, Detroit Swindle takes over the guest mix, serving up a half hour of finely tuned grooves and eclectic funk that has become synonymous with their sound.

Detroit Swindle has had a quick rise to success after the release of their EP in 2012. Since then, the duo has had a string of releases and collaborated with artists such as Mayer Hawthorne, Tom Misch , Kerri Chandler and more. The duo has also launched their own imprint, Heist Recordings, which is home to majority of all their released music, as well as a roster of talented producers and DJs. With their sound rooted in deep house, jazz and funk, Detroit Swindle brings something refreshing and unique to THE BIRDHOUSE and I'm excited to share it with you all.

Check out their guest mix and interview below.

THE REAL

How did your music career get started in earnest?

Maarten: Everything went so fast for us straight from the get go. After making music for a year together, we more or less accidentally released 4 eps in a period of 8 months. We really caught everyone by surprise and suddenly we were everywhere… There’s one point I remember specifically where I knew it started getting real: We were planning our first US tour, and I remember having to use all of my vacation days at my day job in order to make the tour work. I didn’t really know how I could explain to my wife that we couldn’t go on a holiday anymore because I had too much work to do, so that’s when I took the leap of faith and the full time touring started.

Where are you from and does it have an influence on your music?

Lars: We’re Dutch, Maarten has lived the better half of his life in Amsterdam and i’ve lived there all my life. The energy of the city surely has an effect on you as a person and your life experiences. The feeling that anything is possible, being surrounded by a largely positive attitude and having all these great (musical) initiatives around you as well as a scene that really support innovation in music has obviously influenced us greatly. Not so much in a clear musical way, because that’s really what’s in us, but in terms of mentality and creativity, it has been and still is an amazing place to live in. 

How many times did you want to quit trying to make this your career?

Maarten: never. But for me that’s a bit easier than for some, cause this whole career is one big accident in a way. I always said I was a person without any real dreams. Now i know that I was wrong. I just didn’t know it back then. 

What was one piece of equipment that helped define your sound early on?

Lars: An honest and I guess in a way encouraging answer for beginning producers would be to say it’s Ableton. It’s the only ‘instrument’ we had when we started out and we made our first bunch of eps with just a bunch of samples, VST’s and Ableton. Our genuine lack of knowledge and our huge enthusiasm worked really well in creating that early Detroit Swindle sound. That said, one of our first big investments in the studio was a Fender Rhodes and that obviously made a huge impact both for our sound as well as for working on harmonic ideas. 

When you were getting started, which artists did you try to emulate (both musically and careerwise)?

Maarten: We weren’t really trying to sound like anyone in particular, we just wanted to bring an uplifting, warm and energetic sound to a scene that -at least in Holland- was dominated by stale tech-house and lots of drama. There’s a big link to classic house music in our sound, but the truth is we discovered the true depth of that original house sound way after we started releasing music… I remember we were both big fans of the house sound that was coming out of Australia around 2010-2012 with guys like Andy Hart, Mic Newman, Francis Inferno Orchestra and Tornado Wallace. They put a large dose of funk in their sound and we loved the way their tracks sounded kinda dirty-ish. Their music, as well as the stuff that MCDE was putting out at the time really boosted our confidence that there were more people like us that wanted to bring the funk back into house music.   

When you have a tough week or a rough tour, how do you get yourself back on track?

Maarten: Exercise, sleep and yoga. No kidding. Also, no alcohol helps. All of these are super hard to get around to doing, but when you do, you really feel better. 

Where and when are you at your most content/happiest?

Lars: In a week where i have enough time to see my friends and family, get to play a couple of really fun shows and have time to nerd around in the studio. 

Do you have any secret hobbies or hidden talents?

Lars: My (not so) secret hobby is vintage motorcycles. I’ve built my own a couple of years ago and I really enjoy working on them.

THE REST

Favorite and least favorite colors?

Maarten: I have 2 favourite colours: green and pink. There’s no colour i dislike. I’m a colourful guy

Lars: I love black. I wear it whenever i can. I really don’t like red. I don’t think i have anything red in my house or wardrobe. 

Favorite and least favorite words?

Lars: my favourite word of the last 2 years for those that know: wubbalubbadubdub!

Maarten: There’s loads of ugly words in dutch, but in ugliness lies beauty as well. I think. So I guess in my life as a full time travelling DJ, my least favourite word is ‘DELAY’. 

Favorite animal?

Maarten: I’d go for the animal i respect (and fear) most, and the one that i think about the most whenever I’m surfing: a shark. 

Favorite board game?

Maarten: Go!

Favorite guilty pleasure food?

Lars: We’re on our way to play a show in Detroit and I had the most satisfying post-show food last time we were there: A Coney Dog: a hot dog topped with chilli, sauces, and everything greasy. 

Favorite guilty pleasure song?

Maarten: Blue Swede - Hooked on a feeling

German or Detroit techno?

Maarten: Detroit Techno 

Festival, club or illegal warehouse?

Lars: Illegal warehouse

Biggie or Tupac?

Maarten: Biggie

Star Wars or Star Trek?

Lars: Star Wars

Exercise or Netflix?

Maarten: i’m fairly good at doing both at the same time, so there you have it. both.