Well known Berlin based imprint OFF Recordings has been undergoing a change of pace and direction recently, as label head Andre Crom stated. Early this year he embarked on the intricate journey of completely stripping the artist roster and set out to rebuild it from scratch. The past months mark a new beginning for the label, who’s been doling out release after release, featuring new names, as well as established artists that align with OFF’s newly reset course. Clearly that hasn’t been the most easiest of tasks, so we pick Andre’s brain about it right after the jump in an insightful Q&A.
Rasmus Leman has been a techno and house producer for almost a decade now, as part of the duo Leman & Dieckmann, so it comes to no surprise that he’s also a trained musician who plays the trumpet and has a passion for percussion. Inspired by jazz and the Latin American sound, the exotic vibes discretely perspire into his electronic music productions, as is evident from his tropical titled “Limon”, the second track on nhis debut EP for OFF Recordings, that premiered recently.
Nandu is a relatively new project for Leman, occuring naturally as a result of his desire to explore the production scene on his own. However, his penchant for creating melodic soundscapes has earned him numerous collaborations, releasing tracks on Get Physical’s child label Kindisch and UK based Congaloid. The Copenhagen based artist is currently working for several other releases, as well as debut material that will be out next year on Just Her‘s label Constant Circles.
For his inaugural “Walk” EP, Nandu worked with the very talented Danish singer Markus Nybjerg, whose usual style of folk-pop ocals adds an entirely new dimension to the title track, complementing Leman’s deep and dark production aesthetic. Andre Crom jumps in on the remix, managing to reinterpret the track in his own style, while maintaining the distinguishable core elements present in the original.
Nandu Q & A
LSD: How does your penchant for trumpet and jazz help or get in the way of making electronic music?Nandu: Basic music theory is something a lot of electronic musicians are missing. Because I have played my whole life, I can both read and write music on paper, which is nice if you have an idea that you don’t want to lose. But also if you are creating new music, it’s easier to not get stuck if you know your theory. I think a lot of people would disagree with me on that, haha. In terms of exotic melodies versus structured beats, I think these two things fits perfectly. Balearic melodies needs something more constant to back them up if your aim is for people to dance to them!
LSD: Would you rather produce on your own or as a duo?
Nandu: Both. I love to produce music with Dieckmann. We compliment each other very nicely. But I also love to just sit in the studio alone and work. That’s kind of a meditative process for me as well.
LSD: What are your sets like? Do you have any live setups in mind, since you work a lot outside of the DAW as well?
Nandu: A Nandu Dj-set is first of all groovy. Love to play that kind of music that makes people dance in a sweaty, twisty kind of way, if that makes sense? I am definitely also going to play live sets. But I’m also very self critical when playing live, so it’s kind of a relief to play someone else’s music and just enjoy it.
LSD: I noticed you work for a music school in Copenhagen. Can you tell me more about what you do and how that compliments your production activity?
Nandu: It’s actually part of an electronic music festival called Strøm Festival. I work in the department called Strøm School. We have a few projects going on at the moment. Strøm Share, a gear sharing community for electronic musicians. Strøm Homework: Masterclases with established artists, and then we are working on a project called The Electronic School Concert. What we do is we offer courses in electronic music production on Ipads (on a super basic level) for kids in primary schools. So instead of a lot of kids in a class filled with instruments they can’t play, we give them a tool (the Ipad) that they already know and understand. It’s very inspiring to see how in no time kids are able to express themselves through music. And it really makes you reflect on the possibilities that electronic music gives you.
LSD: You’re currently working on your debut album. Can you give away any secrets on that at this point?
Nandu: Actually the album is in the final stage. Needs a few adjustments, mixdown and master. Its going to be a 12 track LP by the name “Love You Till The End”. As you could guess from the title, the LP is dedicated to my beautiful fiancé. It’s coming out on Just Her’s label Constant Circles next spring.
To me the process of creating an album is the perfect time to do something that isn’t necessarily danceable at all times. And to have that attribute become very evident throughout the whole album. I’ve worked with a few vocalists, but most of the tracks are just me. Every summer I go sailing with my father, and the whole theme of the album was created on the boat this summer. I know it sounds very alternative, but I really find that nature is a very inspiring thing.
Andre Crom Q&A
LSD: What is is about Nandu’s sound that inspired you to add him to the OFF team?
Andre Crom: The most important factor for me when deciding to sign any artist is originality. There are so many producers out there who just try to sound like their idols. Nandu, being a multi-instrumentalist and „full-fledged“ musician, definitely has his very own style, warm, organic and raw, using lots of self-recorded live instruments.
LSD: Tell us a bit about the remix. I know you usually try to work close with the artist so that the result is something that is in respect with both your work ethics. How does that happen?
Andre Crom: To be honest, I do not get too concerned about what the original artist thinks when working on a remix – I rather try to do my own thing. Only when I am more or less finished with the work, I’ll send over the result and of course hope that both label and artist like it.
In the case of this remix, I felt a few elements of the original were particularly strong: the vocals, the synth hook, and some of the percussions loops, so I wanted to put these into focus while stripping the other original elements back, and adding a more techno-ish groove aimed towards the dancefloor.
LSD: As you mentioned in a previous interview, you’re rebuilding OFF from scratch. How is the process going so far? Are you looking for more adventurous artists/releases or people with a fixed but unique sound?
Andre Crom: You’re nailing it with what you say.
OFF got known as a label for DJ-friendly house and tech house, and while I want to keep the dancefloor factor, I definitely want to get more „weird and unique“.
I love an amazing piece of electronica just as well as a techno tool for the dancefloor, so I want to keep the freedom to release a wide range of music…
After parting ways with all of our former core artists during the past year, of course it takes time to build a new artist family, but it’s going well so far. Besides Nandu, we have several other new amazing artists signed for originals and remixes: Lauhaus, Johannes Brecht, Deadbeat, Francys, or Curses for example.
LSD: How’s Barcelona treating you so far and where do you find your inspiration now compared to Berlin days?
Andre Crom: I really love Barcelona. I always feel „Berlin is the techno capital of the world, but Barcelona is the capital of „quality of life“”. The city is beautiful, diverse, the weather is amazing and the people are really chilled and friendly – Maybe more friendly than in Berlin actually.
However, while there are good clubs also in Barcelona, nothing here compares to the inspiration which you can get from experiencing a night at Berghain or Sisyphos – but I’ve been in those clubs often enough to be able to recall the feeling vividly when I work on music.
My schedule these days is simple: work on music like obsessed. Years ago I spent my weekdays mostly managing the label. But nowadays I’m limiting time for emails and admin stuff to an hour per day, while putting 6-8 hours into creating new music. My primary goal these days is to become really mature as a producer, and to further develop and define my own signature sound.
Nandu & Andre Crom joint Q&A
LSD: What’s the track of this week for you?
Nandu: Maribou State Ft. Pedestrian – ‘The Clown’ (Axel Boman Remix) . An amazing remix. A little old, but I’ve listened to it maybe 200 times this week.
Andre Crom: Santiago Salazar – Future Flashback
LSD: If your style was a landscape, what would it look like?
Nandu: I think my sound has two sides the one would look like a beautiful warm beach, palm trees, and a Cuban band playing near the waterfront. The other side is more like a foggy wood in the middle of the night, with just a little bit of light from the full moon.
Andre Crom: Barcelona during sundawn.
LSD: What do you think/wish 2016 to be like in terms of music? Is streaming killing the music industry?
Nandu: In terms of my music I just hope that people will receive my music with respect and appreciation.
In terms of the whole music business, I don’t think that streaming is killing anything. Nothing can kill music, but a lot of things have changed these years. But for us youngsters it’s not a problem (we never earned anything from sales). But it must be hard having earned millions in the 90’s on records, and now almost nothing. It just forces people to think in new ways, and in my opinion that’s healthy.
Andre Crom: You can’t say that „streaming is killing the industry“, I think major labels make a lot of money with it already… but the more underground your music is, the less it will get streamed. And I know that underground labels across all genres sell less downloads every year.
So when you want to survive as a label you need to accept reality and find other ways of „financial survival“ – in the case of pretty much all successful underground labels, these ways are doing bookings for your artists and label showcases, which is also our strategy for 2016.
LSD: What’s the release of the year for you?
Nandu: That’s a very hard question to answer. But one of the creasiest releases must be Damian Lazarus & The Ancient Moons – Message From The Other Side + the remixes. Amazing productions all way, and that sound just gives me chills every time.
Andre Crom: Jamie XX – Loud Places – Barnt Remix
LSD: What are you doing on NYE? Would you rather be in a club(working or not) or in a completely different setting?
Nandu: Eating good food with my closest friends here in Copenhagen. Can’t imagine anything nicer than that I mean, I’m in clubs so often all year around, it’s nice to just dance and sing to crappy Danish pop music and have a good time with the people you love. And normally I do all the cooking, but this year we have decided to order sushi, so no work for me, haha.
Andre Crom: I’ve just booked a 6 weeks trip to Koh Phangan, Thailand – I have been there a few times before already, so it already feels like a third home besides Berlin and Barcelona.
I’ll divide my time between working on loads of new music, touring and relaxing – and on NYE I’ll very likely play to some hundred happy people on the beach!
LSD: Who would you enjoy working with in the near future?
Nandu: Labelwise I’m very happy with where I am right now, all people I’m working with are super professional and honest, and that’s super important to me. But one of my goals for my music in 2016 is to work more with some male singers.
Andre Crom: Ah, as a DJ and A&R, the answer to this is changing constantly; if I hear an amazing new track, I wanna get in touch with its producer and see if they’re up to do a remix, collab or original release… and I also have a pretty diverse taste.
1. Nandu – Walk
2. Nandu – Limon
3. Nandu – Walk (Andre Crom Remix)