Change is often a necessity in the electronic music industry, where staying fresh and energized is vital to keeping creatively motivated and passionate. For Andre Crom, who was constantly touring the globe as a DJ while simultaneously running the busy OFF Recordings label, his need for a change was evident. Through altering his direction, focus, style, and even location, Andre was able to find that renewal he was looking for, and deliver with exciting new music that leaves an impact.
One of the driving factors behind this new direction was the desire to spend more time in the studio, creating his own distinctive style that would define him as an artist. While the feeling to put more focus on production evolved within him, Andre discovered a coinciding adaptation to a strong techno sound, one that he had been beginning to explore in the studio and in front of fresh crowds. His recently released Rhea EP has proven this to be a successful venture, already hitting listeners hard through its immersive and energetic substance and energy. Through the feedback from peers and audiences alike, it is evident that this direction has been part of a rewarding process that will continue to support Andre’s many roles in the electronic music industry.
However with changes come challenges, and Andre Crom opens up to take us through his pathway to discovering his current sound, while giving his perspective on what it takes to find success through your own creative explorations.
Photo by Hans Schnier.
What drove you when you first got involved with electronic music?
When I was in my teens and first discovered this music, it was very much an escape, an alternate reality to my boring and conservative surroundings, growing up in a tiny countryside village. I never really fit in there, and house and techno symbolized to me a more liberal, wide and open world. It was artists like Faithless, Emmanuel Top, or Daft Punk who first really drew me into this world.
It’s not so alternative, or so much of a political statement anymore as it was when I got into this, but I’d say that by being into underground electronic music you still tell a lot about your identity.
Has that changed along your path? What motivates you today?
Yes and no. Electronic music is a very established part of the global culture today. It’s not so alternative, or so much of a political statement anymore as it was when I got into this, but I’d say that by being into underground electronic music you still tell a lot about your identity, your social and cultural preferences.
As to my personal motivations, having been a full time DJ, producer and label owner for more than 10 years now, of course it’s these days also a job to me, although I never lost the initial passion and fire of my youth for this music. I think it’s pretty amazing to be able to say that I love doing what I do as much today as when I started with it. I think not many people can say that about their jobs and I feel blessed that I can do so.
What are your personal and professional goals as an artist?
As you might have noticed I have changed my style radically in the past two years. This was due to my desire to stay excited and passionate by the music which I do. After years of being a successful deep/tech house artist, that music did not feel so exciting to me anymore. I felt increasingly attracted to more underground and radical styles of electronic music and went gradually deeper into techno.
So, one goal is to be able to express my true self through the music, and to connect with people who feel the same.
On the professional side, of course such a transition takes its time, and I would now like to get back into a position where I can play every weekend one or two times in clubs and festivals, where my music fits and where the crowd and I have a great time together. And I’d like to achieve stability, as the music business can be quite a roller coaster. Especially these days with the social media pressure and tons of releases out every week, you need to constantly prove your relevance as an artist, which can feel stressful.
That’s something I’d recommend to anybody who reads this: if you REALLY want to make it as a DJ/producer, then go for it. It’s not easy but extremely rewarding.
How have your recent transitions, from location to artistic direction, influenced the way you approach your music?
Location-wise, I have to say that as much as I love to live in Barcelona for the climate, the landscape, and the city’s beauty, Berlin is a much bigger influence on my music. The city is the world’s heart of electronic music and its clubs are singular. That being said, I’m most influenced by the music I like to play as a DJ, that’s what most inspires my productions regardless of where I live.
What has been the most challenging part of these transitions?
I’d say first to really find a defined own style. Of course this is an ongoing process for pretty much every artist, but in such a transition as I made it, it’s a big challenge. I feel that with my current Sleaze EP I made a big step towards reaching that. The feedback from all kinds of very respected techno DJs has been overwhelmingly positive, from Len Faki over Scuba to Amelie Lens, Charlotte De Witte, Sam Paganini and many more. It also stuck out to me that very few deep or tech house DJs reacted to this EP which is another sign to me that my music and name are now accepted as authentic techno.
Secondly, to get booked with this sound. As we know, these days there are countless “good” artists out there, who do cool music and get played and featured here or there. But I feel that there is only a real market for the few people who manage to stand out, who do something amazing. Both with their music, and the persona which they display on classic and social media. This is something that many artists hate, but it’s no less a fact: doing great music is not enough anymore, you also have to develop and show yourself as an – ideally fascinating – social media entertainer. Which is a particular challenge for the often nerdy studio-rats that we producers have to be!
Has running OFF Recordings influenced your personal work as a DJ and producer?
Yes of course, massively. The music I like to play, is the music I like to sign. That’s pretty much my guiding A&R principle, and I think that’s how it should be when you run a label for dance music.
What are you most proud of accomplishing with OFF Recordings and in your own career?
OFF was, for a few years, one of the leading labels of the world for its kind of music. That’s definitely something I was and still am proud of, and I’d love to get it back to that place with the music we do now. For me personally, I’ve toured around the world several times, sharing the music I loved with many thousands enthusiastic people on the dancefloor, that’s also something I am proud of.
But more than anything I’m proud of having followed my passion, and not having chosen the “safe path” of a corporate career. That’s something I’d recommend to anybody who reads this: if you REALLY want to make it as a DJ/producer, then go for it. It’s not easy but extremely rewarding, and I believe that with patience, passion and humility, you can make it.
Andre Crom’s Rhea EP is out now from Sleaze Records.