DJ TLR is quite the character. He does what he does and does it well. That's why for over 10 years his label Creme Organization has consistently been putting out good records and operating on a cult like level. What we mean by that is that the people who care about the music that he releases, whether that's material from fellow Dutchman, Legowelt, or Detroit electrobassists, Aux 8,8 they have a trust and interest in what that next record will be.
This very Friday he's been invited to join in on the mammoth bastion of quality club music that is our very first Hessle Audio Full club takeover and from listening to this mix he's recorded exclusively for us (and the wealth of mixes that he frequently shares with the wider web) we should all be very excited about his forthcoming Room Two appearance. You can listen to it in the player here while also reading the outcome of our chat with him about how he made his connection with Hessle Audio, the strength of Creme Organization and the perils of sharing a squat with Spiral Tribe.
Let’s start with why we’re talking today for the fabric blog. You’re going to be DJing in Room Two as part of the Hessle Audio club take over – how familiar are you with the label and people involved?
Well I met Ben a while ago in Paris and we had an interesting chat about all sorts of things besides music. We share some friends also so that was easy. Also I deeply appreciate that he's a DJ and not a producer. Nothing against guys who do both, some are great, but I think promoters too often let producers spin a bunch of tunes just cause they got some cool records out and too many DJs make records just because they feel they have to. Usually with mixed result. DJ-ing is a craft, and like producing not something you just do on the side. So it's nice when someone doesn't fall into that trap. I've know about Hessle for a while though and picked up some records over the years. It’s interesting stuff usually, lingering somewhere between banging subby techno and slo-mo campfire electronix, and it's somehow always deadly in a club. But yeah, I was surprised - and flattered - to be asked for their takeover.
It’s interesting that your background has a period in it where you were playing a lot of jungle and very much engaged in that sound – I think it’s one of the only things we can say in the UK that truly originated here. How much do you think UK sounds are part of what you do?
For me that was the first electronic music I really liked, if you don't count early hip hop and dancehall when it started to become purely electronic in the early nineties. I took big influences from both, obviously, and that really hit the spot with me because of it's spontaneity and raw energy. Yeah sure, it came from the UK, but I don't really care about those things too much. In the end its how you relate to music - not where its from or who made it and the influences come from all over.
I was a bit surprised that the breakbeat made such a crazy comeback though these past few months... somehow I started to dig out some old jungle stuff about a year ago and started this R-Zone thing without really thinking about it and people were kinda looking at me funny. But I think its great and I love playing it, especially cause its the OG breakbeats and not those crazy over produced and over processed techy stuff from the late 90's. Still I think it wont have a long shelf life cause you can only do so much with that. Looking back [at it] the period when jungle was really booming was also only 2 or 3 years…
Rave was something that was shared between The Hague and UK something it seems you were involved with, wasn’t there a time where you shared a building with Spiral Tribe?
Yeah. And I had my doors locked 24/7. I don't really consider any of that period rave, it was way too grim for that, too desperate and far removed from the "summer of love" or whatchamacallit... Everything was dark and pounding and negative and very druggy and self destructive. I went to those parties but never really was involved except as a punter or a cock blocker. It really connected with Acidplanet and Bunker and Unit Moebius and such, but in our squat there was a pretty big division between the UK crusty travelers and the middle class politico Dutch kids..
How did this period of your life develop into you DJing and founding Crème Organisation?
Squats can be great because it's easy to do things for kids with more ideas then money or know how. So we just started throwing parties, you know made some flyers at the local copy shop and hoped 20 of our friends would show up for a buck each. Sometimes it was cool, but mostly pretty dismal because nobody really cared and they were all into Goa trance and Rage Against The Machine. I didn't have money for decks or anything in the beginning so I just learned to mix on my feet. The first real party we did was also the first time I used a mixer but it was fun and I just started doing it more and more and kinda got a lucky break when I hooked up with the Bunker crew some years later. Then when I started to DJ more I thought starting a label would be cool because I wanted something more lasting than a bunch of memories of hangovers a few years down the line and some lame war stories nobody cares to hear. And no doubt, I'm glad I did.
The label has weathered the storm of minimal and digital well – quite a few good labels disappeared for a while to happily make a comeback in recent years - what do you make of the current climate for releasing records and playing in clubs?
For me the climate is fine at the moment but I can't say how it is for others. Creme survived because of low overheads and my refusal to quit basically. I've never had super high expectations and also never periods when the sky was the limit followed by a mega crunch. Besides operating somewhat on the fringes with a really clear identity means that our following (if you can call it that) is more emotionally involved in the label than say a bunch of hipsters to the latest hipster thing. Not to say we're better, but if you do your own thing people can connect to it more and a lot of people we met over the years have become really good friends, not just fans to shift units to.
This year has seen Crème Organisation see strong support but I get a feeling that you’re quite wary of the Zeitgeist, what are your feelings about the label getting a lot of attention at the moment?
I don't really know what you mean by that. Maybe it’s a Dutch thing, “watching the cat sit in the tree”... It's hard to translate that one. I am enjoying everything that’s going on at the moment, but I'll just take it as it comes and keep building something that is strong no matter what is going on around it. Also it's not like we're coming from a shitty place and are now riding waves of ecstasy just because "they" say we're cool. We've always been doing OK to be honest and I've had the privilege of playing all over the world for almost 12 years straight now and not holding any type of other job than music, which is crazy if you think about it!
You’ve recorded a mix for us – there are so many mixes from you online it’s actually pretty amazing. Do you spend a lot of time on the decks?
I guess [there are a lot out there], some of them are old and also I just work fast I think. I need about double time for a mix, so 3 hours for 90 minutes: picking some tracks, recording it, tweaking the sound a bit, that’s it. I don't really think about it too much and I like doing it, because it’s relaxing and escapist and gives me a chance to really listen to the tracks I play, which is important if you DJ regularly, I think. You should internalize the music somehow if you wanna transcend, otherwise you're just a human Pritt Stick behind the decks and for me mixing and listening to these mixes are about the only way I know how. I consciously shut myself off for a lot of stuff because I get so easily distracted. Most of them I don't really post even. But if you think about it, if you do one every 2 weeks then that's 26 a year. That may seem like a lot, but I don't watch TV so it still means that 339 days a year I'm just spanking the monkey.
Can you tell us a bit about the mix you recorded for us?
I took some upcoming Creme stuff and some promos I got recently and tried to mix that in a way that makes sense to me, and hopefully for the listener. I always like to make it a bit dark and hypnotic, not really on purpose, but that’s just the sound I like. Also it being for a fabric night I thought I'd make it a bit like a club mix and throw some UK stuff in there so you guys don't get too confused...
DJ TLR - FABRICLIVE x Hessle Audio Mix
Jorge Velez - Untitled
Hazylujah - Acqua Amara
OL-047 - Verde Bottiglia
Max D - Chewy
Cousin Cockroach - This Ain't Tom & Jerry
Deep'a & Biri - Jam 03
Paul Du Lac - Backstreet Boy
DJ Haus - Touch Ur Body
John Heckle - Birds With Vertigo
Neville Watson - Crossing The Is
Koehler - Subliminal Cut
Orgue Electronique - Prophecy
Legowelt - Excalibur
Echo 106 - Gates Of Hell
Kirk De Georgio - The Factory
Lucretio - The Way We Do
Buzzin 10 - Bleakest Rave
Jesse Crabbe - The Big Booya (Kodiak Remix)