Before settling down as the renowned Detroit Swindle duo and subsequently launching their own label Heist Recordings, Lars Dales and Maarten Smeets used to have much different occupations – the first worked as a chef while the latter worked in advertising. Upon closer inspection, this detail still seems to make quite some (fun) sense looking at their current configuration.
Founded in Amsterdam in 2013 by Lars and Maarten aka Detroit Swindle, Heist Recordings has long moved to the forefront of the European house scene and still nests just as snugly at its firing line. Since 2014, the label decided to mark each end of season with a special celebratory compilation series, ‘The Round Up‘ inviting their collaborators to reinterpret some of the finest tracks they released over the year, deciding who makes what through a blind draw.
With the third number of ‘The Round Up‘ coming out today and gathering choice contributions from Obas Nenor, Adesse Versions, Nachtbraker, Detroit Swindle and more, we caught up with Lars and Maarten between two flights and got to discuss the compilation’s raison d’être, Heist’s sense of family and leaving their mark in time. Get a full taste of Nebraska’s jazzed-up reinterpretation of Frits Wentink’s chiller ‘Rising Sun, Falling Coconut‘ below.
Interview by Baptiste Girou
"The Round Up came up as something really exciting, and a great way to show our love to our releasing artists and give them the opportunity to showcase their work once more on a special double pack.
Hello, guys! The third number of your ‘Round Up’ series is about to come out in the form of an enhanced double 12″ package. Please tell us more about it?
Ever since we came with the concept of “The Round Up”, we’ve taken the time to create something that’s outside of our usual process and visual narrative, and really create a special release. A collection that stands for a whole year of music from our label, showcasing all of our artists once more and make creative connection between the artists for a release that we’d like to see as something that is both a subject of its year of creation, as it is something more timeless.
Each Round Up is special in its own way, because of the unique connections that are made on the one hand, and the dedicated visual story on the other. Closing the year with “The Round Up” is a reflection of the year, and something finite, where we set ourselves the task to summarise what Heist has meant this year, and open doors towards a new year, with the exploration of new artists and next steps in our visual narrative.
How do you proceed for the tracks and artists selection? I heard it’s decided by the luck of the draw!
As much as it’s a conceptual piece, it’s also something we do for pure fun. It’s a nice paradox for us to be so meticulous with the way it looks and with artist selection for our EPs, and completely let go of all control when we make the combinations between the artists. We write down all the names, put them in a large bowl, and start drawing cards. remixer and remix decide together on the track, and with that, the combinations are born.
"We’re giving these artists a lot but at the same time, we’re also getting a lot back. It’s an amazingly inspiring position to be in."
The relationship between you and your musicians seems to come closer to that of a family thing… how do you usually approach them for a release?
Building a family takes time, and I believe we put in a lot of time in looking for new music, and selecting artists for the label. We invest time with talking to them, exploring their catalogue and explain our way of working. Every now and then, we get demos out of nowhere that are just amazing, even though most of the time, we have an active role in approaching artists. It’s great to see artists have the same enthusiasm about working with us, as we have about working with them.
I’d like to think we’re as much invested with the work of the artists on our label, as we are with our own work. We try to take everyone along for shows, make Heist showcases happen around the world and give everyone the opportunity to grow along with us (and vice versa).
We’re giving these artists a lot, but at the same time, we’re also getting a lot back. It’s an amazingly inspiring position to be in, to be able to talk to artists about their music and finalising the music and release together with them. After a few releases, a few label parties and a few beers, it’s great to feel that family vibe grow between everyone.
What prompted you to start this yearly compilation project in the first place?
We really wanted to do something special with Heist and not just put out one EP after the other, do a compilation here and there, and leave it with that. We started our label to promote artists and music we love, and to create something of a family, make a connection between us and all the artists no matter how far they are divided geographically.
The Round Up came up as something really exciting, and a great way to show our love to our releasing artists and give them the opportunity to showcase their work once more on a special double pack.
"After a few releases, a few label parties and a few beers, it’s great to feel that family vibe grow between everyone."
Do you have some concept/guideline in mind for each compilation or does the flavour of it reveals once the record’s packed?
Musically, the guideline is pretty much determined by what we do in that year and who we work with. Visually, it’s always a moment where we meet with Baster, our designer, to discuss what we’ve done this year, where we want to take the label.
The Round Up functions as a bridge between the old and the new, where we try incorporate a bit of the year that was, and introduce new elements or a new design focus, to work on with the following year.
What were your highlights of 2016? Any particular gig, trip, release you won’t soon forget?
2016 Has been a year full of great experiences. Our boat party at Suncebeat with Henrik Schwarz was amazing, our recent show at Input in Barcelona after a long period of not playing there was great, and the Star Festival in Kyoto has been the most amazing combination between nature and music.
We played Kiesgrube this summer and even though it’s a summer location, it rained so so hard. Everyone huddled together, we had to protect the turntables and mixer with plastic bags and I think the sound got cut at some point because there was just too much water everywhere. The vibe there was unreal though, with everyone accepting their (wet) fate and just dancing really really hard.
Hosting our own stage at Farr Festival this summer was also really great, as was our live show at Good Room NYC. Playing that dark room and having so many people around us enjoying us jam on our machines was one of the most inspiring sessions we’ve done so far.
One of the biggest letdowns was that we missed our own label showcase in Prince Charles (Berlin) because of a strike at Lisbon airport. But when we managed to get someone else from the label fill in for us, it also made us feel really thankful and proud of what we’ve built so far.
"Every now and then, we get demos out of nowhere that are just amazing, even though most of the time, we have an active role in approaching artists. It’s great to see artists have the same enthusiasm about working with us, as we have about working with them."
How do you plan to celebrate the end of year/rise of the new one?
We’re not sure yet. Last year, we did a private dinner and party with some of our closest friends in Amsterdam and played 2 shows New years day. We’re still open for suggestions, but we’ll bring the wife / girlfriend along wherever we will go. We actually really enjoyed not playing NYE, cause it’s usually not really the most exciting party to play, and moreover, one of the best times to spend with the people you love.
The Round Up Part 3 is released in vinyl on 2nd December and in digital on 5th December, pre-order a copy from Juno.
A1. Obas Nenor – Wakee (Detroit Swindle Remix)
A2. Ouer – The Ascent (Adesse Versions Remix)
B1. Nebraska – It Won’t Be Long (Nachtbraker Remix)
B2. Detroit Swindle – Future Imperfect (Frits Wentink Remix)
C1. Adesse Versions – Push It Along (Obas Nenor Remix)
D1. Frits Wentink – Rising Sun, Falling Coconut (Nebraska Remix)
D2. Nachtbraker – Pollo Con Pollo (Ouer Remix)