The last time we spoke to our favourite underground LA culprits, Droog, was in the midst of sheer excitement for their Room Three set at our emphatic 12th birthday celebrations. We’ll never forget the unbelievable vibe of their party in an introspective beatdown that felt like we’d been skyrocketed to one of their notorious Avalon Hollywood rooftop parties where everyone from our Craig Richards to jozif and Art Department love to spin.
A year on and the house-loving trio have fully come into their own as producers with a Crosstown release in the bag, remixes on Get Physical and My Favourite Robot, both with studio partner Inxec and there’s a new EP on the way on Supernature. All of this and the boys casually drop in the news that their Culprit label and LA parties are flying off their peak, which meant for us it was the perfect time to catch up before their Leftroom appearance this Saturday in Room Two with label chief/Droog's 'brother-in-arms' Matt Tolfrey and TuningSpork boss Jay Haze.
Clearly there is a reason why Droog are so in demand and this brand new mix they’ve done for us captures their impact on the underground house and techno scene perfectly. In their own words, “It's an hour-long snapshot of the Droog summer, both modern and classic sounding, so fresh and so clean...And at night it turns into a beautiful black swan.”
Welcome back guys. We last spoke to you for the fabric 12th birthday last year. How did you enjoy the celebrations?
Being a part of last year's birthday was a true privilege. Coming from the States, where clubs that carried the torch for underground dance music are mostly gone, it was amazing to see so many people come together for the birthday to celebrate fabric itself. Not just for an epic party but to relish in the specialness of the club.
Most memorable for us was the particularly special vibe of Room Three. It has always been unique in the context of the club - the intimate room where you are so close to the DJ, you feel that each song is for you. On the birthday night, it was amazing to see the Room 3 crowd get a "second wind" with each successive artist.
How does it feel to be back, this time in Room Two for the Leftroom takeover. What’s your relationship with Matt Tolfrey and his Leftroom label?
Being back at fabric is a special occasion every time, without doubt it's one of the gigs central to our DJ calendar. We love all of the rooms in the club for their distinct feel. Being considered to be versatile enough to play different rooms at fabric is flattering. We love Room 3, it's already become a home of sorts, but a new challenge is fun. We'll get to play slightly different type records now, in Room Two.
Matt Tolfrey is our true brother-in-arms, we are all exceptionally close to him as friends so banding together to tackle the dance music industry - like we have for years - has always made perfect sense. Matt is a real connecting link and a true nurturer, if we dare use that term, in our scene. He's been our biggest supporter and facilitator in the UK, the same way that we've been flying his and Leftroom's flag in the US. In the end, we just like to hang out and feel real comfort in asking each other to be part of our respective projects. This is a second time we've been a part of a Leftroom night at fabric and hopefully, not the last. And Matt just released his second EP with our label this month, so the symbiosis continues.
What have been your biggest/proudest achievements since we last spoke to you October 2011?
We mixed the second installment in the Rebel Rave series and played some amazing parties under the Crosstown Rebels banner. Just last month Droog made our debut at the Movement Festival in Detroit - that was a thrill, it's an event we've massively respected for years. To be honest, we didn't think we'd make the line-up this year so that was a very pleasant surprise. In general, every year the response to what we do collectively grows so much: Culprit is going form strength to strength, the rooftop parties in LA are at their absolute peak this year, simply amazing, and now we are really starting to come into our own as producers and really feel like we belong to this merry band of gypsies aka traveling Djs. We've always wanted to get to this level and we feel like we are, but what's most fun is that once you get there, you realize you're just scratching the surface. Can't wait to see where else we can go with this whole project.
The summer is in full swing and its times like this that we dream of being on the rooftop for one of your legendary Culprit partes. How are they going this year? In what ways do you like to keep them fresh through programming and outlook?
We are very happy to say that this season on the rooftop really feels like the best one yet, it's like 5 years of doing parties there really led up to this. The vibe has been electric, the music has been of top quality from all artists who have featured and just the overall sense of anticipation has been amazing this year. We've decided to document every party with a series of professionally done videos, to leave one extended memory of what's happening on the rooftop behind, you never know if this season is as good as it will ever get. Because it's been fantastic.
One thing this year that's really giving it an extra special feel is how eager all the DJs have been to be part of it. We've had rooftop debuts from fabric's own Craig Richards, Art Department and The Martinez Brothers who have all brought something really special to the occasion. And our crowd has fed off of it. Also some of the repeat artists - like Culprits jozif and Shonky - have taken it up a level or two, jozif even arrived armed with a huge bomb of the track written specifically for the party, "Standard Rising." Needless to say, the roof went mental when he played it and, smartly, we snapped it up for his upcoming release with us, in August.
What’s new on the Culprit label that we need to look out for?
Next few months will be very busy, with some of the most exciting releases we've had yet, all coming out at a very steady clip. As mentioned above, our man jozif returns for his second Culprit helping in just 4 months - he has really become a cornerstone for us, a uniquely talented artist, a mega cool dude and someone, despite being London born and raised, who really gets our LA-centric vibe.
The very next release is another quick return to the label, from our young but fast rising Mexican discoveries, Climbers. This new track we've grabbed for the label earlier in the year, "2 Come Back" is a deep electronic house monster, and with Miguel Campbell and Fur Coat remixing, the whole release should leave a bit of a mark.
Then we'll be unleashing our annual compilation, "Above The City 2", with some of the more interesting Culprit-influenced young global talent being showcased. Fresh releases from M A N I K, Luca Bacchetti and Lee Foss will follow before the end of the year.
In your opinion who are the artists and labels that have got something special going on right now?
Daniel Bortz, Luca C, Huxley, Den Ishu, Alex Arnout, PBR Streetgang, Bicep are all on fire right now. DJing wise, the Apollonia crew - Dyed Soundorom, Shonky and Dan Ghenacia - are single-handedly restoring faith in pure house music, anytime we get the chance, we try to watch/hear them play together. Release-wise - Guy Gerber's fabric compilation that just came out is amazing, he went out on a limb creating a piece of music this personal and challenging for a compilation. We heard some of it being made, here in LA, can't wait to hear the whole thing. Very excited about Matt Tolfrey's debut album, got some bits and pieces so far, it's going to be great. Same for the impending Hot Natured album, it will be large and in charge.
How much time are you getting in the studio this year? What future releases can we look forward to from you?
We started this year with a lot of remixes, some with our studio partner Inxec, some solo. But we are anxious to get some original material done, beyond our upcoming two track release for Supernature (also with Inxec). Finding a right balance of time between travel, running a label and throwing parties has been a challenge, but we are figuring it out.
Can you tell us about the mix you’ve so kindly put together for us?
It's an hour-long snapshot of the Droog summer, both modern and classic sounding, so fresh and so clean...And at night it turns into a beautiful black swan.
Finally, what are your top five summer vices?
Summer drink? Mojitos for Andrei; a refreshing Ale fro Justin, Brett's a massive Diet Coke fan, regardless of season.
Summer hot-spot? Can't wait to spend a bit of time in Ibiza this summer, have some really cool gigs planned, so many of our friends are there for extended periods of time. Should be fun! Also the newly minted Culprit studio/headquarters should be seeing plenty of action this summer.
Summer soundtrack? Beach Boys, Bossa Nova with some Pharcyde sprinkled on top.
Summer fashion? Shorts and flip-flops, innit? A "Royal Tennenbaums"-style tennis head-band to cap it off, so to speak.
Summer beach? It is hard to beat the beaches back home California, particularly in beaches like Zuma and Point Dume in Malibu. Cold water but amazing sand! To be fair, we somewhat embarrassingly we very very rarely spend time on a beach when in LA. In an ideal world, playing on a beach somewhere in Brazil or Australia would be our prime choice.
1. Dirty Channel & Bugsy - Alone feat. Amina [Ovum]
2. Alexis Raphael - Rumble in the Jungle [Lower East]
3. Compuphonic - Sunset (DJ T) [Get Physical]
4. jozif - Guitar Player (Dub mix) [Culprit]
5. Alfred Taylor - Anymore [Lower East]
6. Hot Since 82 - Hurt You [Moda Black]
7. Andre Crom - Reality (Dusky remix) [Off Recordings]
8. Kameleon - Confetti [1Trax]
9. Dj W!ld - Bizaz [The W label]
10. Okain - O'Clock (Gerd's Deep remix) [Tsuba]
11. Shonky - Les Shonkettes (Joyce Muniz remix) [Lo:Rise]