Electronic music fans looking for something more than typical, straight-up house and trance beats should check out Kraak & Smaak, a Dutch production trio consisting of Oscar de Jong, Mark Kneppers and Wim Plug. For more than a decade, the group has churned out spirited original tracks and remixes that put the fun back in funky, disco-kissed dance anthems and serve as a welcome reminder that music should have no limits.
Kraak & Smaak’s latest release, last year’s “Chrome Waves,” was hailed as “straddling the perfect line between mellow and danceable,” which approaches the hallowed territory of Kruder & Dorfmeister’s classic jazzy double-disc remix project “The K&D Sessions.”
On Saturday night at Bardot in Miami, K&S’ Mark Kneppers spins a DJ set that promises to be overflowing with soulful melodies and sleek dance beats. He talked to Miami.com about the show, the group’s musical philosophy, and what their name actually means.
We missed you at Winter Music Conference this year – what happened?
We were not in Miami this year because we were touring so much – we were at SXSW with the live band and did a couple of gigs around that.
Will we hear a lot from “Chrome Waves” during your DJ set?
Yeah, of course, with the single “How We Gonna Stop the Time,” and I always play “Where You Been?” – it’s one of my favorite tracks. It’s very down-tempo, but it mixes quite well with the house beat. And of course the Ben Westbeech track “The Future Is Yours.”
You guys are so all over the place musically – what’s the band’s musical mission?
Wow. All three of us have something in common, and that’s the groove. And we also love a bit of the melancholic side of music, so these things always come back into our music. Only Oscar is a real musician, and Wim and I are more DJ-based. We both can’t play an instrument, although I used to play bass in a punk band in the ‘80s, and Wim did the violin. But it’s not worth mentioning [laughs].
You have a jazzy side, too, sounding a bit like Kruder & Dorfmeister or Royksopp at times. Were they influential on you?
Yeah, I think all those bands, and we also like Groove Armada and Basement Jaxx – all those groups that are not so narrow-minded in that they only play house or techno. They play with funk and reggae and jazzy beats, with the same point of making music as we do.
What else can we expect from your DJ set – what kind of musical journey do you want to take us on?
It always depends a bit on the crowd, but basically I play a mixture of nu disco, that’s what they call it nowadays, and a lot of funky stuff, and I’m playing a lot of deep house lately. So it’s a mixture of those three.
Are you working on new material – what’s next in the studio?
Well, at the moment, we’re finishing a few remixes and we want to make new music for ourselves, but we’re doing a lot and are very busy, so it’s a bit frustrating. We want to work on new material, but it does not happen at the moment.
What do you think of Miami?
I’m always excited to go there, because I love the seaside. I’ve been there several times, for the Winter Music Conference, of course, and there’s a kind of atmosphere with all the buildings – I really love that. And of course the weather is really nice. But a few years ago I spent a little longer in Miami and drove around in my car, and it’s really beautiful there. And for us, it’s so recognizable from movies and all that, so that’s always good fun.
You guys are a trio, so how did you come up with the name Kraak & Smaak?
It was a very funny story – we started producing 10 or 12 years ago, and we had made some stuff and were sending it out to record companies. And at some point, Jalapeno from London responded to that, and Wim corresponded on papers, and he had his own company name above it, and it was called Kraak & Smaak. And finally the guy said, “OK guys, I want to do something with you, so what’s your name?” And we had all sorts of funny names and stupid names, and the guy said “What’s with Kraak & Smaak – why don’t you use that?” OK.
And the name means “crunchy and tasty” in English, so it’s a twisted proverb. If food doesn’t taste that good, you say this food doesn’t have crunch or taste.
Well, that works, because your music is both crunchy and tasty.
Yeah! [laughs] But in the beginning we had some trouble with the name because everybody thinks about drugs, and we’re not so much into drugs. We didn’t even think about it when we said, “OK, let’s take this name.”