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Crookers: ATM Interview

Italian dance-floor smashers Phra and Bot teamed up in 2003, bonding in Milan over a shared love of hip-hop and electronic music. Working together to create their own ‘crooked’ beats sprinkled with signature glitch-y basslines, they created a sound that was refreshingly unique to their un-inspired local scene.

 Massive critical acclaim followed under alias, Crookers, and their remix of Kid Cudi’s ‘Day ‘N Nite’ explosively reached #2 in the UK, swiftly becoming the soundtrack to a zillion adrenaline-fuelled summers. Debut album ‘Tons of Friends’ possessed an all-star line-up with Miike Snow, Róisín Murphy and Major Lazer and when their track ‘No Security’ made it onto Grand Theft Auto, their status as hip-house incendiaries was cemented.

Despite their massive global success together, Bot left the duo in 2012 but Phra has refused to slow down, continuing to thrive on what he and Bot started, melting together shimmering hip-hop/electro-infusions and rallying up dance floors worldwide to tipping point.

Finding time in between running his two record labels, Lucky Beard and Ciao Records, and a hectic touring schedule spanning Europe and beyond, we caught up with Phra to talk about his new material and occasionally freaking out his swarm of fans…

So how did your latest single ‘Able to Maximise’ come about?

One night, in my house, after a really nice dinner with my friends, Dilligas, we went in to the studio to play some old dub music and enjoy the rest of the night. Although I just wanted to chill, they came out with a little midi file that was insanely stupid, and then from that midi we took the weirdest drums, distorted the shit out of it and added my own signature twist.

Is there a particular sound or formula this time around that you’ve tried to stick to?

Not really…that’s not how I do things. The only formula that I use is trying to make music that I love and that has this kind of ‘weird’ touch.

You’ve done some amazing tracks with Miike Snow, Kelis, Major Lazer…how do you go about choosing who to collaborate with?

I always get in touch with people whose work I admire and whose work inspires me. I try to look for artists that can add that something more to my track: a great voice, or something really special that can contribute to the production side of things.

If you could work with absolutely anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

J Dilla! He is a wizard of production…

Are there any young producers you’re really excited about at the moment?

 I don’t know…I’ve been so busy making the album I’ve missed the latest “cool” producer who came out 16 hours ago!

How have you found working on your own (without Bot) on the new record?

Pretty well! It didn’t change that much for me honestly.

Which new tracks are you most excited about playing this summer?

‘Able To Maximize’! I always love playing my latest release to see how people react. And that track is so weird, every time I play it in my sets I see my fans look at me in complete shock  and confusion thinking ‘What is thiiiissss?!!?!’.

And what gigs are you most looking forward to?

 I’m really looking forward to the show in Verona with Skrillex and Gorgon City! It will be insane…Holi Festival and Ibiza were amazing! I’m really enjoying my shows at the moment, and I love that my fans are really enjoying my music. It’s a win/win!

Would you say current music trends influence your creative process at all?

I don’t really follow trends. I just do the music that I like.

Do you have any interest in appealing to that sort of commercial market?

 I’m happy if my music is appreciated from a lot of people, but really, I don’t follow trends. If my music and the ‘current trends’ fit together I’m happy, but the thing doesn’t work the other way round for me.

What can we expect from the new album?

 Sexy vocal features and some collaborations with friends and producers … But I don’t want to say too much about it yet!

Cool, thanks Phra!

 ‘Able To Maximise’ is out now via Ciao Records

– Jasmine Cowler

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