IN CONVERSATION WITH LAURE CROFT
“Stay who you are, this will get you where you want to be”
Interview by Magdalena Roe
Photography by Nuša Hernavs
Now turn up the volume of the vinyl-only set Laure recorded especially for Numéro Netherlands.
The Dutch original Laure Croft is currently on her way to conquering the clubs all around the globe. The Berlin-based dedicated vinyl lover lives by the mantra ‘keep it sexy’ and is known for her energetic and vibrant personality, which can also be seen in the constant rush of high-intensity techno from the 90s to 2000s, that she plays. As her identity as a DJ takes an upwards curve, Laure’s quest is to continually discover tracks that fit her creative vision, pulling together pieces of the techno culture, creating a near-infinite pool of uptempo, and forward-facing music.
As a woman in a male-dominated scene, she pushes for a more inclusive and supportive climate in all regards and considers her ever-increasing visibility an opportunity to inspire and enact positive change.
Always by her side, is her husky Roxy, helping Laure to stay grounded and focused on her goals. Laure is currently signed at Apelago and does not hold any residencies. But first, regardless of her ‘open’ personality (on social media), we felt that we had to sit down with her and ask questions that go deeper into who Laure Croft, really is.
What is your musical background? Who introduced you to music?
My first memories are from my early childhood. My dad is a very good musician and he would play and still plays, the guitar every day. We also built a guitar together, of which I did the isolation inside the guitar. I have this guitar at home and it reminds me of those times every day. I got raised with music that feels very emotional to me like guitar music, jazzy sounds, blues, and music from the 60s and 70s. When I got a bit older, I started to take singing lessons as I had the aspiration to become a pop star. I sang in a girl band and performed at high school performances. Also, I took piano lessons, but I was so stubborn that I did not want to learn how to read the notes. So I played the piano, and sometimes a bit of guitar, by ear. At first, my musical background had not really anything to do with electronic music, that came way later. When I started listening to electronic music, around the age of 17, my dad used to joke that he listens to music, whilst I listen to the sound. I still do agree in some sense, but at the same time, I felt I had to prove him wrong in this. Maybe that also plays a role in why I decided to go vinyl only. I wanted him to understand my definition of music. And he does.
What drives you?
Life I guess! Seeing that I am coming closer to my goals is what drives me and that internal feeling of happiness you get when you’ve achieved your goals. I am not always happy. In general, people that don’t know me wouldn’t say this, but in fact, I am a super sensitive and emotional person and often I just don’t know what to do and I feel insecure. You know, life is not always easy and it takes hard work to get where you want to be. It is about the little big moments that keep me going. I have learned that if you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything you want in life. It’s not about winning, it’s about not giving up. What drives me is not just music, it’s about finding those little moments of joy and happiness. This can go from teaching Roxy a new trick to having a deep conversation with one of my good friends, to finding an insane remix on a white-label record. Nine out of ten times life presents exactly what you don’t want. This can be hard to deal with, but I know at some point it will work out. That one-out-of-ten moment of ‘win’ is what I fight for.
What message do you want to spread out?
Stay true to yourself and who you are. This is the only thing that will get you where you want to be. My mom told me that when I was a 16-year-old weird kiddo. I was just different from others and this really affected me, however, I stayed true to myself. When I was younger, I got bullied a lot, I didn’t have a big friend group. I found my outlet in indoor snowboarding -and skiing, horse riding, and music. It was basically me, and those outlets. When I was younger, one time she just sat down on my bed, and she would tell me that someday in my life, staying who I am would get me where I want to be. Sadly my mom passed away a few years ago, and I never got the chance to thank her in person for this. But I feel she is everywhere and she gives me power when I most need it. Knowing now, that she was, and is, so right about it. That’s probably the best advice I’ve ever got in my life and the only message I want to spread out. It’s a journey and process to figure out what you want to do in life, and it takes time. But if you stay true to yourself, you will find it, and you will do it for yourself, not for anybody else on the planet.
When did you fall in love with electronic music?
I fell in love with electronic music at my very first techno party, which was in the basement of the A’dam tower and the event was called 11:11 (only to realize now what a cute angel sign this was). I remember that I was dancing to the music of Henning Baer. Around 5 am, I was just laying there on a sofa looking at other people being just one with everyone, I called my mom at that point telling her about this haha. That was something so exciting and mesmerizing, something that I hadn’t experienced before. From that moment on, I started going to more parties, also smaller parties, and illegal raves. At first, I was more into the house scene but I quickly felt the urge to step away, I wanted more. So I went to De School, a former club in Amsterdam, on my own or with my younger sister Milou. The music was deep, I felt a rush, and I got mesmerized by the queer people. Again, I felt that I discovered something so beautiful. Everyone was just being their own selves, and everyone would look different – I finally felt at home. This is where I needed to be. For me it’s not just about the music in general, it’s about the entire ‘ecosystem’ of a club or a party. It all made sense, I felt that there in the underground, and I still do. From high-quality electronic music sets to the soundsystem it was played on, to the dark corners where people would be having sex. I reinvented myself and after two relationships with men, I fell in love with a woman. Suddenly I felt this freedom of being able to do whatever I wanted to do, without being judged for it. This love for her grew simultaneously with my love for music. As I mentioned before, I am a super emotional person and I feel every energy. This sometimes is difficult, but I found my strength in it. The beautiful thing about playing vinyl is that the music comes from a tangible item. Once I touch a record, I feel the energies, of previous DJs, of the effort the producer put into it. I already know before putting it on the turntable if it is going to work or not. What I feel is what people in the audience will feel. This is a special connection that can only sustain with love from both sides. Love for electronic music, and for the entire experience of the club.
Was there any particular party or moment that made you realize you want to be a Dj?
I’ve worked in nightlife almost straight from the moment of discovery, as I felt, and feel, that I belong there. My jobs varied from ticket scanner to cloakroom employee, to selector at the door, to stage manager. I realize now, that everything that I did, I did to come closer to the DJ booth, but I never really had the guts to learn more, go on there, and do it. I always played at after-parties on other people’s USBs on CDJs, but I used to be told that I didn’t really have what it takes to do it, or people would simply not be interested in me when I was playing. Also, I never got my own USB and people have explained to me over 30 times how to loop haha, something in me just didn’t want to get it. Until the moment at an after-party in Berlin one and a half years ago, when I asked my ex-girlfriend to explain to me how playing vinyl works. It almost instantly worked out, ‘did I really just beatmatch on vinyl?!’. I remember standing there in my thong, just me doing it, and people looking around the corner of the room and wondering ‘haha huh are you playing vinyl’, I also didn’t exactly know what was happening, but it worked. I just did it and kept going and going. That was the moment I realized, that this is what I fucking need to do. From that moment on, it only went uphill. I am still thankful to my ex for making me feel safe at that moment and for giving me her knowledge. After some practice in her studio, with her records, I went for it and I bought my own equipment, started to dig records, and tried to find my own sound. I had my first show last year in June, in Kyiv. To be honest, this was a bit of a bluff from my side, but it all worked out, and I am thankful as of today for the event ‘Drift Kyiv’ for having their trust in me. I had to play an opening set and I arranged beforehand that it would be recorded. I had never recorded a set in my life, and I just fully went for it. I remember thinking that this recording would either tell me that I should stick to playing at afterparties, or it would be my entrance ticket to the music industry. I only wanted it to be the second option, I put my mind to it and it happened. This recording is the first thing I posted on my Soundcloud account. I started to record more sets, putting them online for various podcast series, I started to get bookings for clubs, joined an agency, and now – here we are.
In what way did the Dutch music scene form and influence you?
First of all, it’s the country where I’m from. Living in the Netherlands gives you a certain kind of freedom which means that the variety of events is endless. Having this freedom of exploring different genres and different types of events is such a huge privilege. The fact that the music scene in The Netherlands gives someone the freedom to fully explore themselves is just beautiful. Also being able to explore so many different genres at once. I went to hardcore parties, I’ve been in the house scene before that. I’ve tried out a lot of things but it turned out that in the end, (underground) techno is what I enjoy the most. If I wouldn’t have grown up in the Netherlands and lived there then maybe the end-stage wouldn’t have been the same, though I am happy I found a sound that literally makes me feel, and I’m happy that I had the freedom and the privilege to enjoy every genre and every sound that I wanted to enjoy. The Dutch music scene gave me all the assets to explore and for me to grow through the process of finding what I enjoy the most.
How would you describe your sound as you play a lot of music from the mid-90s to the mid-00s?
First of all, I would describe my sound as sexy – keep it sexy, always. It’s a very important aspect for me. The sound needs to give you that feeling of wanting to take off every piece of clothing, ultimately to feel confident. I want people to don’t give a fuck anymore about any worries because the music is so good that you just feel sexy, alive, and free. That’s an ultimate emotion for me. When you feel sexy, you just feel confident in your own body. It’s not just for the „pretty girls“ no it’s for everyone, for every type of person, regardless of any personal aspect or general level of confidence. Everyone can feel sexy in their own way. As there is so much emotion tied to the vinyl records I find and play, I feel that the older ones, with a longer life span of use and emotion, can help me reach that goal of getting the crowd going as much as possible. My sound is uptempo, rolling, and straightforward four-by-four techno, with some hints of tribal, Schranz, and hardcore. My records range from 1995 to 2007 and the maximum tempo, +8 bpm on the turntables, that I can reach is always around 145 to 150 BPM, also I don’t like to play slower than that as I simply don’t feel it that much myself. When I listen to other DJ sets, I can really enjoy a slower set. It’s all about the vibe the DJ brings over to the audience. Let’s say I like it dirty and fast, a sound that just keeps you going and makes you feel good and sexy, and gives you irresistible energy.
In a male-dominated industry, what advice do you have for young aspiring female producers, DJ’s, and artists?
Get your ass out there or in there! It’s just a matter of perspective (haha). Sometimes what it takes is to literally ‘bump’ other people from the booth. At afterparties I experienced a lot that one of the guys (no offense) would come over and tell me how I should do it, or when we agreed that I would play in 10 minutes, they would go on for an hour more. This is a moment you ‘bump’ and get your ass in there. Getting your ass out there means that you have to work extra hard, record sets, put your stuff online, and simply go for it. I want to emphasize that it’s not just women who feel undermined by the cis males in the industry. Luckily, DJs from minority groups are on a rise to conquer. I see you. However, for me quality of music should always come first, an artist should not be picked based on their gender. The problem in the scene, from my perspective, is that when making line-ups there is some sort of hierarchy in picking artists. In an ultimate situation, artists are chosen right away from the entire set of artists that are available, this will still lead to unbalanced line-ups, but when quality comes first and not the friend-politics, a lot could change. However this is not the situation (yet), so my final advice is: Be smart and share your craft with others, support other women and lose the sense of competition, go for it, and don’t let anyone take you down.
What is one of the highlights in your career so far?
First of all, I’d like to state that I know I am super fresh in the scene, every DJ-related aspect is new for me, and whilst some have been in the music industry as a DJ for over decades, I feel that the word ‘career’ comes with too much power. I’d like to refer to it as my route to my goals. For me, highlights are not about being on a particular line-up or playing in a particular club. Of course, it is sick to play in clubs or at events where I used to party, and discover new places, but this is not the ultimate goal for me. It’s about advocating for a more inclusive industry and being able to support other artists in general. For example, I met a beautiful soul here in Berlin, Loren Kuehne, she is the babysitter of Roxy and once told me that she is producing music, after a long fight in life with many jobs, and not knowing what she wanted to do. She discovered electronic music and she said to me: ‘I’m producing hard groove, but never released anything. I was quite surprised about it and asked her to send me her unreleased tracks. It was so good that I felt the duty to the entire music industry to get her out there and support and push her immediately.
At the airport, after returning from shows, I ran into Héctor Oaks, and we had a talk in the smoking area of the airport. He told me he had been looking for a hard groove producer, to include in a various artist vinyl EP release, and that he’s looking for a female producer. I told him I have the right candidate. I am all for connecting people to help others with their success, also the universe helped it all a little I feel. A track by Loren will be released on Oaks, later this year. Loren and I were both in tears, telling each other repeatedly ‘how sick is this! Dreams do come true’’. The fact that I could help one woman who was not secure enough about her own amazing music, to get her stuff out of there, means the world to me, and I feel that I want to do more of that, supporting more artists who haven’t that big of visibility yet.
Where can we catch you playing in the upcoming months?
Lately, there are so many great requests and opportunities, and I’m just so happy to be able to do all of that, being able to play at clubs all over the world. I cannot wait to see what the future will bring because I feel in every cell of my body that it’s gonna be good. Almost all of my shows have been abroad, but I feel The Netherlands is next. In September I’ll be playing at Bauhauz, a big event that takes place at Luxor live in Arnhem. There are also some other requested shows in The Netherlands of which I cannot share any news yet, but stay tuned for this! To name a few other upcoming shows where I’ll be playing this year are Nightservice at Fold London, Herrensauna in Berlin, KAOS night at Blitz club Munich, Pornceptual at Alte Münze Berlin, Club Azimut in Torino Italy, and Industrial Copera in Granada Spain.
Apart from all this, I hope we meet on the dancefloor soon, as ravers, uniting and enjoying this little moment of happiness in the hard thing called ‘life’.
Interview by Magdalena Roe
Analog photo’s are taken by the talented Nuša Hernavs www.instagram.com/nusaknowswho
Styling is a mix of Laure’s pieces and Anatolian non-binary high fashion brand ‘Guovarde’ www.instagram.com/guovarde
Iconic pinky nails by Yanice www.instagram.com/_yanicegianna