The wait is almost over… After what feels like an eternity Camo & Krooked are finally ready to reveal the plans for their fourth album: Mosaik.
It’s set for release next May, we’re about to enjoy the first two tracks from it this week – If I Could / Ember – and the music will land via the duo’s very own new label: Mosaik Musik, an imprint created with Ram Records and BMG.
Major major changes. One thing hasn’t changed, though… Markus and Reini remain as driven, focused and determined to push themselves as ever. Perhaps more.
If Zeitgeist was the sound of an act turning drum & bass inside out, Mosaik is the sound of Camo & Krooked turning themselves inside out and working out what really makes them tick and how they can push themselves even further than before. They’ve amassed a range of machines and recorded a lot of their own foley samples to make sure they sound unlike anything else happening or anything they’ve done so far during their 10 year career.
We caught up with the duo to fully understand the magnitude of this exciting new chapter…
The Ram connection: Tell us everything…
Krooked: We’d been looking to create a situation for ourselves where we could do what we wanted to do as musicians and really explore every and any idea we have and do it all on our terms… But also have the backing and strength of a major label behind us. For a while we wondered if it was impossible! But then we started talking to Ram and BMG and it became clear we could do this. They’ve got the infrastructure, the resources and history plus they have given us the freedom and versatility. We can do things our own way without any preconception or limitations in creative or business decisions. It’s a unique and very exciting situation.
Are If I Could and Ember indicative of the whole album?
Camo: We want people to slowly dip into the newer sounds. If I Could is the transition track from Zeitgeist and Ember is reminiscent of our Climax track. It’s a mixture of what people can expect from us and a logical progression towards trying new things. The whole album itself goes into more of a listening experience. Not as much of it is strictly for the dancefloor. We also put a lot of creativity in the second drops so we don’t just have a normal traditional song but something that really tells a story.
Krooked: That’s why it took longer to make this record. The last one was still for the dancefloor but this is like a dancefloor record in disguise. You wouldn’t think the songs work on the dancefloor but they do. It takes a fine balance to do that; you don’t want to go full avant garde but you want to make something is a bit more grown up and playful and weird.
Who or what has helped you fine tune that tricky balance?
Camo: We had the perfect balance of gigs and off-time. When you play a lot of gigs you think ‘ah yes, I could just make dancefloor music all the time’ because you see the DJs before and after you playing these massive f-minor bangers. It keeps you in check with your roots. Then on the off-time you make the music you want to listen to at home. So you get the perfect balance. Plus we didn’t play our music to anyone at all during the writing process so there were no outside influences.
The more outside influences, the more noise there is and the harder it is to focus?
Krooked: It’s the two of us who decide where the tunes go. We’re very stubborn when it comes to musical decision. The arrangement, melodies, mixdown – we have full control.
Camo: That makes the music all the more stubborn but we’re being honest. First and foremost to ourselves but most importantly to the audience and people who have helped us get here.
I hear you have a bin man on the new single…
Camo: Joe Killington! We were recording a very well known singer who we can’t talk about yet and this dude came over for a beer and we had absolutely no idea who he was. After we finished our session he was like ‘guys I got this idea which I’ve recorded on my phone. Could we record it?’. It was great, so we asked him if we can record it straight away. He got in the booth and the vibe was magical. He had no lyrical content it was just the hook but it was so powerful, had that magic which is hard to reproduce in the studio. It doesn’t need much to be special. The lyrics aren’t even a full song – we treated it as a sample because he has a bluesy voice. We wanted him to sound like he’s from a Motown record. A vintage, cool sound with the analogue synths. The synths can go gritty alongside his voice.
Krooked: But yes, he is was garbage man by trade when we recorded the vocal. After we had the session with him he quit his dayjob and got fully into the singer/songwriter game and already did jobs for Armand van Helden, Nicky Romero and more, way to go!
Also Ember… We’ve heard this in your sets haven’t we?
Camo: Yes! It’s been our intro for the last few months. It’s one of the more dancefloor-focused tunes on the album. The same vibe and feel as the other album tunes but with a classic Camo & Krooked drum sound. One thing that goes through most of the record it could be in a movie because of the emotion. We wanted to create something timeless with analogue synths you don’t hear in drum & bass. We tried to avoid any midrange modulations whatsoever because they’re all so popular in the genre and date very quickly.
Krooked: It was important for it to feel clean and not as fast and stressful as other drum & bass tracks. Having power with a natural pace.
It sounds like you’ve been avoiding all the usual drum & bass techniques, then?
Krooked: As much as possible. We just don’t want to be using sounds that everyone else is using. We’ve been getting simple sounds and making them stand out as well as possible. It becomes easy to make sick basslines with presets etc – they’ve lost value. Everyone has rinsed and used those sick noises so it’s important to go back to making nice tones and make them as warm as possible.
Camo: The end game is to have something that sounds like it’s made on old machines but done at the highest production standards.
Krooked: We’re treating analogue in a modern way. We want pure tones, pure sounds, something that doesn’t sound outdated or overdone in a year or two. We’ve also created lots of foley sounds, especially for percussion. There’s more character in that than any kind of sample especially when it’s recorded in the room we sit in all day. It feels intimate.
I’m trying to speculate on the fall out of this. The whole anti-drop thing you guys kinda made your own is still a big thing….
Camo: It’s strange because it took a few years for us to realise what was happening. The deep, clean anti-drop thing seems more popular now.
Krooked: The funny thing is everywhere people do this sound in the comments it says ‘it sounds a bit Camo & Krookedish’ We’ve proved it’s our sound. It’s flattering if people do this. It means you’re inspiring people. It would be boring if it was just us doing that sound – we want someone to come up with something even better. It makes you think about how you do things and how you can do it better. It pushed the boundries of D&B and is getting new people into the scene, coming from genres where we took our influences from.
Camo: It’s a healthy trend that goes against the craziness of neuro or jump up. A lot of drum & bass wants to be as sick as possible so it’s exciting to see it being pushing in a different direction. It’s happening in a lot of subgenres like liquid. D&B is very healthy at the moment. You have to pick through the dust to get the gems but there’s loads of good music but I’m very happy about the scene.
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