Busting up the dancefloor

Crookers began in 2003 when two DJs nicknamed Phra and Bot met and paired up over a shared love of hip hop and the emerging skewed, bass heavy coming out of the UK and US. The duo decided to call themselves Crookers because that ‘s what they do; make beats and tracks that aren’t straight up, they’re twisted or crooked. Since then thay have worked with the liked of, U2 and Beyonce and are back on our dancefloors and smashing The Buzz Chart thanks to their immense ‘Hummus’ track featuring Hudson Mohawke out on Southern Fried. Bot checks into DMC towers…

Welcome to the DMC World. So let’s go back to the beginning and your introduction to music. Bot, your first adventure was playing the guitar – who did you want to be when you picked that instrument up?

“The guitar player from Pantera, no idea what his name was though.”

What did your parents think of your career choice?

“They didn’t think it was a career. The moment where they started to believe I wasn’t just playing around avoiding the real world coincided with the first time our faces got printed on some magazine.”

You once said in an interview…“It felt natural to team up, seeing that we had the same musical tastes, which isn’t that easy in Milan.” Why not, what is the problem with Milan musically?

“Working in a record shop, I saw that the problem was mainly a lack of interest in new styles of music. But things have changed over the years. Italy – and Milan in particular, are seeing lots of new producers and DJs. This is thanks to the Internet I guess.”

Who were the early Hip Hop artists you were into?

“Artists you probably don’t know as I listened to a lot of Italian hip hop.”

Geez, rather you than me. So, a great story on how you discovered house music when the guy you bought some decks from gave you some freebies – tell DMC that little story?

“Yeah, I bought the turntables because I wanted to learn how to scratch and as it turned out I liked those electronic records that came with the 1200’s so much that I lost interest in learning how to scratch.”

It has been an amazing few years since that infamous mixtape flew out of your studio and onto the laps of excited promoters who scrambled for the phone to book you up. Since then you’ve smashed the charts, sold out clubs everywhere you’ve been and worked with the likes of The Chemicals, U2, Van Helden, Beyonce and Lady Gaga before your Tons Of Friends album appears with loads of your mates including Kellis, Pitbull, Soul Wax. Wowzer. What was the moment you realised you had cracked it?

“For me the moment I cracked it was when I could leave a part time office job because I was earning the same amount of money with my music. That’s the best feeling, being able to live on what you were doing as a passion.”

What has been your most satisfying remix to date?

“There’s not really one in particular. The satisfaction comes from seeing the remixes being played from other DJs and by the time that happens we have already moved to another remix or track.”

What are the current top 10 tunes you are playing right now?

“We’re playing a lot of tracks from our Dr Gonzo album…”

1. That Laughing Track – Crookers feat Syle of Eye & Carli
2. Did it on Em – Nicki Minaj (JWLS Bootleg)
3. Hummus – Crookers and Hudson Mohawke’s production
4. Dark Place – Riton
5. Breake – Clockwork
6. Wake App – Crookers
7. Bust Em Up – Crookers
8. CMP – Crookers
9. Ivory – Congorock
10. Had to Move On – Astronomar

What do you collect other than records?

“Art and TV shows.”

2011 has been another year of travelling the globe setting dancefloor alight everywhere you go. What countries have gone off this year, have you discovered any new clubs?

“Mexico was incredible. As for clubs, Voyeur in San Diego (which by the way is just a few miles away from Mexico!) was great. We did two sold out shows there, it was our first time and everything was well taken care of by the promoters.”

What is your favourite country in the world to return to?

“All the ones that are within a 2 hour flight.”

 A big tune with ‘Hummus’ – what’s been the reaction from clubland?

“Even if the people didn’t know it already, the reaction has been pretty amazing.”

You travel everywhere with each other, what’s the most annoying thing about each other on the road?

“When travelling so much we focus more on surviving the tour rather than trying to spot each others annoying habits.”

So we come back to yours after the club, what 10 Back To Mine tunes do you play us for a chill?

1. I Still Love You – Switch and Andrea Martin
2. In the Heat – Jessica 6
3. Close to Everything – Mickey Moonlight
4. Video Games – Lana del Rey (Jay Orbison rmx)
5. Notturno In Mib – Chopin
6. Night – Zola Jesus
7. Heroin – Velvet Underground
8. Case Of You – Joni Mitchell (James Blake’s version)
9. The Blizzard’s Never Seen The Desert Sand – Tallest Man On Earth
10. Love is a Losing Game – Amy Winehouse (Demo Version)

What do you hate about fame?

“When people you know from a long time ago when they weren’t famous but now are, suddenly start acting all superior. Luckily it doesn’t happen a lot but when it does it’s very disappointing.”

Which Italian producers are doing it at the moment?

“Our friend Rocco (Congorock) is crackin’ it.” 

What has been the proudest moment of your career to date?

“Playing at big festivals with huge crowds like the first I Love Techno we did – and Coachella made me super proud.”

Have you ever been arrested, if so for what?

“Ooooh well…once for graffiti writing but I was innocent!”

It must seem impossible for a young aspiring DJ to make it these days in clubland. It seem, if you are not making records alongside being able to DJ – you have no chance. What advice can you give to people reading this?

“Make records.”

What is your guilty pleasure song?

“’Fantasy’ by Mariah Carey.”

What was the festival of 2011 for you guys?

“Monegros – good times there apart from when the pizzas arrivingf just a minute after we started playing and were blown away by the crazy wind.”

Has technology gone too far and created a bunch of nerd DJ’s who twist and filter a track to pieces but maybe lose sight that people just want to dance to the music rather than applaud a live re-edit?

“If they twist it in a good creative way then technology is a useful tool. When the result is bad it’s usually because the DJ hasn’t made it, it’s not technology’s fault.”

Who are your all time heroes?

“Jerry Seinfeld and the Mahatma Gandhi.”

With the news CD’s will be dropped from major labels in the next 5 years, is the life of the CDJ numbered?

“No, SD cards and USB’s saved it for some more years at least.”

What was like in the studio?

“Very active. Whilst he was working with us, he had a couple of other songs he was working on in some of the other studios. People like him seem to never sleep or have a moment when they are not working.”

What can’t you live without?

“A good pair of speakers.”

What are the 2012 plans for the Crookers studio?

“More studio and less touring in order to be able to make music in all directions that we want to, without having to choose.”

 And finally what’s the story behind the nickname?

 “My name comes from when I did graffiti writing. Everyone was already calling me Bot before I started doing music.”

Crookers the album ‘Dr Gonzo’ is out October 25th…

Words: Dan Prince