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André Crom: “By accepting what makes you different drives you to create your own style”

Known as globally touring DJ and the man behind OFF Recordings for many years, 2016 sees massive changes for Andre Crom. He embarked on a journey in many ways, physically (from Berlin to Barcelona), musically (from House to Techno), and artistically, from being primarily a DJ, to becoming a full-fledged music producer.

We had the chance to talk with André aligned to his new OFF Recordings release, ‘Destiny’.

Electronic Groove: Hi André, thanks for the time to chat with us. You are about to release your new EP ‘Destiny’ on OFF. What’s your regular process to create music?

André Crom: Hi, and thanks for your questions! Right now, my process of creation is based on a few facts. First, I’m a DJ. Second, I have never had a musical education. Third, I have only been producing seriously, fulltime, and all by myself for the past 11 months.

I started out by studying the tracks I loved as a DJ, trying to understand what it is exactly what I love about them, why the groove feels as it does, how the sounds are created, how empty or full it feels, how many notes are being played by a certain instrument, which emotion it creates, and so on.

Obviously, what you should not do is copy a bassline or melodic progression, but if you feel you could send your work to the guy who did the track that inspired you and it would be perceived as a respectful nod, rather than a copy, then you’re on the right side.

Nowadays, I’m getting more proficient as a Producer and more comfortable with just sitting down and jamming, but I still feel the best way to learn to do music is to recreate the stuff you love. You will never sound exactly like your inspiration and by accepting what makes you different drives you to create your own style.

“You really need to do your music pretty much all by yourself to create your own style, and to be able to ensure your longtime survival as an artist”

Electronic Groove: Are you constantly working on new material or do you have seasons for it?

André Crom: Since past November I’m producing, on a fulltime regular basis. Before that, I did some solo stuff, but mostly worked with collaborators and engineers. I don’t really believe in that anymore though. There are some examples where it worked out on the long term, like LocoDice & Martin Buttrich, but in my personal experience
you really need to do your music pretty much all by yourself to create your own style, and to be able to ensure your longtime survival as an artist.

This is nowadays more true than ever – there are so many artists who compete for the bookings, so your music needs to be on a very high level to still get noticed, and you need to produce and release constantly, to not be forgotten.

Listen to latest André Crom release ‘Fulfilled’

Electronic Groove: In terms of productions we recently noticed that the music style of your label, OFF Recordings, and even yours have changed compared to some years ago. What’s the variation reason, and how is this being received by the public?

André Crom: I just got really tired with the more commercial sides of house music, both the musical content and the surrounding business. Let me quote Dave Clarke here, “EDM is pantomime. Techhouse is cabaret. But Techno? That’s the real dark art!” I won’t lie about this, it has been 2 hard years since we said goodbye to the old stuff. We have been searching for a new vision for the label, and released a lot of  “in-between” music, okay stuff, but not much outstanding. It was very much a reflection of my own gradually changing taste.

In the past 6 months though, we have been finding our feet again, and now  we are developing a new label core sound; it is underground and mature, but also a bit catchy, and therefore somewhat reconnecting with our history.
The releases of that period have gained support by many of the biggest underground electronic music artists of the world, like Ben Klock, Slam, Dixon, Maceo Plex, Chris Liebing, Adam Beyer, and loads more.

 We are also building a new core artist roster with people like Charlotte De Witte, Villanova,Madben, Karim Sahraoui, Whitesquare, Lauhaus, Melokolektiv, and of course myself.

It’s actually mindboggling to see how few people actually buy or listen to single “underground house or techno” tracks on the Web – and how many attend the clubs and events in comparison.

Electronic Groove: Has your approach to run the label changed over the years?

André Crom: Yes, very much. When we started out, it was possible to earn money with music sales. But nowadays, nobody buys music anymore, it is just a means of promotion; and after the expenses for mastering, artwork, promotion, label management and others, most releases actually lose money, especially when speaking about underground music, which does not get streamed very much.

It’s actually mindboggling to see how few people actually buy or listen to single “underground house or techno” tracks on the Web – and how many attend the clubs and events in comparison.

Therefore we are now launching a Booking and Events agency called THRUST. We’re booking most of our core artists, our label showcases, and also produce our own events in the cities where we have people on the ground; Berlin, Barcelona and London, more will soon follow.

Electronic Groove: What’s your inspiration source to keep you moving forward?

André Crom: It sounds like a cliché, but it’s really the enjoyment of sharing the music I love with people. The joy when playing to a truly enthusiastic crowd, sharing your latest discovery or even own production with them, and experiencing these moments of transcendence, when you stop thinking about anything, and your brain kicks out one endorphine rush after the other – that’s magical and keeps me going and wanting for more!

Electronic Groove: What’s on the pipeline for André Crom?

André Crom: Right now I’m doing pretty much one release per month, which of course requires me to work a lot on new music, I’m hitting the studio every day. Add to that the work involved with getting our booking agency off the ground, scouting for new original artists and remixers, the daily pressure to secure a proper social media presence, and of course DJing, and you have a pretty busy schedule. But i’m looking forward to take a few days out for one last trip with my motorbike down the spanish coastline before the winter hits us!

Electronic Groove: Any advice for young artists who’d like to breakthrough as Musicians?

André Crom: There are 3 books I’d recommend, “Music Habits” by Jason Timothy, “Making Music” by Dennis De Santis, and “Steal like an Artist” by Austin Kleon . Understand that you will not get “from zero to hero” in one day.

Becoming a good Producer is a process of try, fail, try again, fail a bit less hard. Don’t allow yourself to get pissed off because you are “not there yet”, just keep pushing until you get there. But also understand that it’s very hard nowadays to break through as a professional DJ/Producer, you need to be really dedicated and make sacrifices to make it. Many of those stories of a lot of artists having to sustain on a Kebap a day for two years while working on their sound 24/7 are actually true!

Don’t think you can’t become good because you don’t have “talent”. Persistence is much more important. Even Edison said “Genius is 1 % Inspiration and 99 % Perspiration”. Before sending out a Demo, CAREFULLY listen to the label sound, to really get an idea if there is a realistic chance that they will like your music. If not, don’t send it there, as if they feel you are wasting their time by sending something clearly inappropriate (and maybe not listen to the next Demo which they might actually have liked). And don’t send it to “demos or info@…” emails adresses; put in the effort to research a personal contact and write a personal and gramatically correct mail.

Finally, be a nice person. Nobody likes to work with a stupid. This holds true both when you try break through, but also when you have made it. It’s better for your own wellbeing and the world if you stay humble and kind and embrace a “giving” way of being.

‘Destiny’ EP is already available on OFF Recordings.

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