Emerging house music outfit Detroit Swindle is actually the project of two Amsterdam locals, Lars Dales and Maarten Smeets. Wearing this appellation means Dales and Smeets are often either mistaken for Detroit natives, or spurned by the Motor City’s proud citizens as imposters. The fact their name includes the word ‘swindle’ should be enough to allay confusion on either side, but they can’t deny Detroit’s rich music history has had a big influence on them. “The most important reason for choosing Detroit in our moniker is our love for Motown, Dilla and everything in between,” Dales says.
All misperceptions aside, Detroit Swindle’s music has certainly been causing a stir over the past few years. Debut single ‘Jick Rames’ dropped in 2011 and immediately displayed the duo’s affection for hip hop, soul and funk, all laid within house music foundations.
“We wanted to show in an early stage that we’re trying our best to keep expanding our knowledge and skills as producers in different genres,” says Dales. “We’ll always be house producers, but we’ll try [to see] how far we can stretch that concept.”
Indeed, the duo’s assorted releases (which have come out on such notable labels as Tsuba and UK producer Huxley’s Saints & Sonnets imprint) haven’t been cookie-cutter house music by any means. Smeets elaborates on the motivation not to settle with just one genre.
“Even though we started off with this project for fun, we did both have the urge to make something that was true to ourselves, something original. Now we are way more conscious about what we want to make than when we started. We constantly try to start tracks with a different vibe than our signature sound – but it always turns into a classic Detroit Swindle cut, for some reason,” he laughs.
Detroit Swindle’s first full-length release Boxed Out will be unleashed next month on Berlin-based label Dirt Crew Recordings. Unsurprisingly, the record is a somewhat amorphous affair. Smeets explains the specific aims they took into album production.
“We made a clear choice in the start to make this an album for the dancefloor that makes for a good listen as well, rather than the other way around,” he says. “Some tracks for the start of the night, some deeper tracks to set the mood, some party tracks to really get the party going and some bangers to top it off. And for the really good parties we’ve added a few ‘one-more-tune’ kind of tracks as well that pay homage to the parties we always liked to have.”
Boxed Out unveils some new facets of the Detroit Swindle universe. For instance, US neo-soul artist Mayer Hawthorne adds vocals to the track ‘64 Ways’. Dales outlines the genesis of the song.
“The moment we talked about a possible collaboration this track immediately popped into mind. Mayer loved it right from the start and also had some ideas for the vocal. Funnily enough, it took him just one day to write the lyrics and after that it took almost half a year before the three of us were at the same spot at the same time to actually record it.”
Although other Detroit Swindle tracks feature sampled vocals, Smeets and Dales hadn’t worked in the studio with a singer prior to ‘64 Ways’, so they granted Hawthorne plenty of freedom in developing the song’s vocal content. “We had no clue what we were doing since it was our first time working with a proper vocalist,” Dales admits. “We just appointed him executive producer on the track!”
Detroit Swindle play at Leased Summer Series with Marcel Dettmann, Defined By Rhythm, EK Collective, Mantra Collective, Steven Sullivan, Matt Weir, Kerry Wallace, U-Khan, Pharley at Ivy on Saturday February 22.
Boxed Out is out Monday March 24 through Dirt Crew Recordings