Mark Kneppers and Wim Plug are two-thirds of the Dutch outfit Kraak & Smaak, and together with Oscar de Jong recently they've been causing quite a stir, getting into the record boxes of Pete Tong, Annie Nightingale, Chris Coco and Laurent Garnier among many others.
Having just recently worked on two tracks with Jamiroquai, their 'Boogie Angst' album for Jalapeno Records has delighted many a listener with its free form dance music. So as Kneppers and Plug recline in their home town of Leiden, Resident Advisor were on hand to get the story behind these likeable lads, and what they’re up to at the moment.
But first, what about that name?
Turns out it was a bit of a fluke actually, as Wim explains. "It's the name of my small company which I used for DJing for a while. I sent around demos to a number of labels in the UK, and then made a name. We never thought it had a drug relation to it – here it's pronounced completely differently to "crack and smack"! Jalapeno were interested in hearing our stuff just off the back of the name!"
Kraak & Smaak is in fact a close-knit community. "We record in a studio which is just down the road from Mark's shop." Mark owns a second hand record shop, laying claim to the largest record collection in Holland. He had already become acquainted with Wim through DJ circles in Leiden, and Mark met Oscar five years ago in a local bar, where he was a musician. They hooked up repeatedly, and then the collaboration began to bear fruit, the excellent 'Money In The Bag' track bringing them recognition in the UK from Rob Da Bank and others. Like much of their music it has a humorous element. "It’s funny you say that, we didn’t think about it that way", says Wim, "it’s kind of just how we are. A lot of people take themselves too seriously, and that’s not only with dance music. We just didn't want to be working in a tunnel, to people’s rules."
The trio are taking part in the Amsterdam Dance Event later this month, with a Thursday event at Club Magazijn.
"We’re excited, as it's the first time we've all been to it," says Wim, though Mark adds, in characteristically understated fashion, "I've been there once before, it was nice – a lot of gigs and a lot of fun." Wim resumes, "We're playing live on Thursday 27th, then doing a Saturday afternoon workshop on DJing, then in the mix on Sunday."
The Kraak & Smaak live experience, still in its nappies, is nonetheless taking shape rapidly. As Wim says, "it’s building up, especially in Holland. We are more known in England than Holland still, but it's catching up, now we’re playing all over the country". A big plus is that they are able to play a large proportion of their music genuinely live. "Yeah, a big advantage, we don't want to sound like a regular funk band when we do play. The live act has only just started, about six weeks ago, and we do use a backing track but it's very stripped down. We use session musicians, we needed a good bass player and drummer and we have them now. We also try to do some live things with scratching and samples."
This live experience arrives in the UK on 28th October when the band play Cargo. "We're really looking forward to it", says Wim, "and we’ve heard it's a really good venue, one of the best ones in London. We're also off to Australia a week after that, and are looking forward to that as we've heard there's a very big breakbeat scene over there, and we've never been."
And what of Jamiroquai? "He sort of came to us, in the form of a CD", says Wim, "very nice and an honour to be asked to do the remix. It’s the first really big thing we've done; we did 'Seven Days In Sunny June', then ‘Electric…'" they both struggle… "Electric Mistress, that’s it!" exclaims Mark. "If all goes well that will be their next single.
It's fair to say things are extremely relaxed on the K&S end, and as a bonus the duo are unfailingly polite and charming to a tee, whilst round the edges displaying some of the cheeky humour that characterises their music.
Already at work on their next, more song-based album, it looks like we can expect even greater things than their Jamiroquai work in the months ahead.