OFF Recordings chief Andre Crom needs little introduction. The Barcelona-based producer and DJ has been the leading light at the forefront of one of the most impressive deep house outfits in recent years. The label in 2015, however, has a completely different outlook after chopping the complete roster of what we once knew as OFF Recordings. With a changing taste and a new direction, Crom has set about refining the imprint as it takes off down its new path. We caught up with him after his recent move from electronic music mecca Berlin to find out what he has in store for the rest of 2015 and beyond. What’s more, Andre has treated us to a truly special podcast, a mix which showcases impeccably the producer’s current focus.
WWD: Start us off. Tell us something we don’t know about Andre Crom!
I’m a motorbike fanatic – so much that i made the 2000 km trip from Berlin to Barcelona on the bike!
WWD: September was a big month for you musically, but outside of the studio and apart from behind the decks where did you spend your time?
The first part of the month I stayed in Barcelona, it was part of my “trial period”, to see if i could see myself moving there completely. Then i went back to Berlin and divided my time between saying bye to all my friends, working on some remixes, and playing loads of gigs.
WWD: You’re making the move from Berlin to Barcelona. What influenced the decision?
I’ve always enjoyed the weather and the beauty of Barcelona. After 9 years in Berlin I felt the desire to experience something new.
Barcelona is an amazing city, the people are very friendly, the beauty of the nature and the city is stunning. When i drive through the city, i feel like i’m in a movie or video game!
WWD: One thing you’ll miss from Berlin?
My friends, the clubs.
WWD: One thing you won’t miss from Berlin?
The weather, and the sometimes miserable mood of people on the streets.
WWD: Talk to us about OFF! Stylistically you’ve been showcasing some alternate deep blends recently. What can you tell us about the label and its current focus?
My taste has changed so dramatically in the past 12 months. OFF has always released diverse music, but the label got famous for deep house. In 2014 the sound just became stale for me and I started being attracted to something different,and so I found myself more attuned to techno and electronica. At the end of 2014 I parted ways with our complete former artist roster, and decided to pretty much restart the label from zero. 2015 was very much a year of transition for me. I’m really happy now, since I feel I finally to have a very clear vision on where the label and my personal path are heading.
We will stay true to our roots as a label for music that is both made for the dancefloor, but also has memorable elements which make it worth listening to outside of the club. The difference is, that nowadays we focus much more on releasing less obvious and more timeless sounds than before, and that our sound is more electronic and futuristic.
WWD: Are you still learning as a label head?
Every day. The “rules” of the music industry are constantly changing, first the vinyl sales went dramatically down, now we see the same happening with downloads as streaming takes over.
While a few years ago it was possible to make a living out of running a label, nowadays you need to see it more as a showcase for your music and to create an image, so that you can gather fans which come to your gigs, so that at some point you can do label events, bookings for your artists etc…
WWD: What is it you look for when signing a new artist to OFF?
An own and unique sound. I get so many demos that sound like a copy of some hype track or act out there. But even if you would manage to copy somebody else’s sound perfectly – you would still sound like a copy.
I think it is natural to get inspired by the artists you love, pretty much everybody of us does – but I think you should try to listen less to the popular current hits, and try something less apparent, like 20 or 30 or 40 years old electro or disco or techno music, or completely other genres.
I myself too am primarily a DJ, and have the tendency to get inspired by the tracks I play – but I think it’s important to be conscious of this and to constantly try to develop your own style.
Beside that, it’s essential that artists want to become part of the label family. If you really want to build something together, label and artist need to commit to each other.
WWD: The flow and quality of records on the label is constant and consistent. How far into the future do you plan your releases?
Not too far to be honest. Nowadays I invest more time into my own music than into scouting music for the label, so usually we are only planned 2-3 months ahead.
I also like the flexibility to release an amazing demo pretty soon.
WWD: Switching the focus to Andre Crom as an artist, where does your focus lie right now?
In the past years I have worked mostly with collaborators, or people who helped me with my own music. Half a year ago I realized that if i really want to find “my own voice” as an artist I need to do my music more or less completely by myself, so I did an “Electronic Music Composition” course with PointBlank. This really made me learn the elementary music theory to be able to properly compose and produce a track.
Since then I learned a lot, but I feel that in the past I was too influenced by other artists. That being said, nowadays my number one priority is to invest as much time as possible into music production and to focus on channeling everything into my own individual sound. I believe that this comes more or less automatic with practice. More practice equals more skills learned, and that means you are able to improvise more freely, and trust your own creativity more.
WWD: What were your three biggest records of the year so far?
Jamie XX – Loud Places – Barnt Remix
Steve Rachmad – Out (In The Open)
Robert Hood – Drive
WWD: You’re off to Mexico touring at the end of October, tell us about what you have in store?
Listen to the podcast I did for you guys!
WWD: What else can we expect from you before the end of 2015?
Quite a lot of releases, both solo works and collaborations.
I feel it’s not that interesting to write a lot of words about music that can’t be heard yet, but some of the upcoming stuff is in the podcast!
Gigs wise, beside the South America tour I’m going to play in Berlin, Prague, Cologne, London, Barcelona and a number of other places… but my main focus right now is to work really intensively on new music.