Clone: Never Change a Winning Team

Interview with Serge

Clone: Never Change a Winning Team

14-11-2013 | 13.48

Hailing from harbor town Rotterdam, Clone was founded in 1993. Almost 20 years later the label, record store, and distribution are one of the foremost key players in the Dutch electronic music scene, still driven by the modest Serge. “At home in the living room I never listen to music, I don't even have a sound equipment,” he says while drinking his tea – with milk and sugar.

What is music to you?
Well, it's something that exist, or it just is, and isn't as well. It's elusive. But music is something special and personal. It's something that can mean the world to one and nothing to the other. Somehow music always demands my fullest attention. I can't enjoy background music, that's why I don't listen to it at home in the living room for example.  

What sorts of music do you like?
Obviously electronic music is my specialty. Besides that I listen a lot of jazz, funk and classical music. When I'm driving in my car I often listen to classical music on (the Dutch radio station) Radio 4.  When I have more time someday, I would love to explore that a bit more. There is still so much magic to be discovered for me.

This Friday you'll spin at Trouw, last weekend you had a gig in Oslo and at Tresor in Berlin. 
Yes, Oslo was good fun, especially at some point when two guys were really into it while most others didn't care (I got a request to play Avicii for example) At some point it wasn't crowded anymore, but these two were dancing and cheering when they heard a tune. They were completely caught up in the moment and got totally into it. And that's what I'm doing it for. Those two guys made my night and made it worth going to Oslo. The day after I played Tresor and started at 6 in the morning and ended up playing 4.5 hours instead of 2. During the night I focussed on a handful of people who seem to dig what I did. Eventually I really didn't care about the rest anymore. I could try to please the majority or even everyone, but often that's a lost battle anyway, especially around that time. I prefer to play what I like and if one or two people really seem to dig that, I'm a happy guy. Of course it's amazing when everyone seems to dig it, but like I said: it's not important to me how many folks dig it. It's not the more, the better.

Nothing that bothers you.
What do you mean? 

Well, do you have any goals? Or things that you want? Or you don't care?
Of course I care. But I don't have special goals. I don't want to become the world's #1 DJ or something. I've been dj'ing for more then 20 years now. I did meet many great people, I've been to many places. I just want to play the records that I like, satisfy myself and share the records that I love, and basically just hope someone else also likes it. The rest is not important. You know, when I have to play, I have no idea what my set is going to be like. Of course, I know the direction I want to go, I know what music I have with me, I know the location, but I always prepare for the interaction with the crowd which makes me decide what the next record will be. And interaction with the crowd is not making jesus poses, acting all crazy or being Mr. Entertainer. It's more the mood and energy of the room and the reaction on the records by the crowd that I want to react on. And sometimes there is a great connection, and sometimes not at all. But even 4 minutes before I start, it's quite possible I change whatever I had in mind the very last minute. And that actually happens constantly during my set.

Does being a DJ make you vulnerable?
Well, maybe, I don't know. 

I mean you share your records with people and that's personal, they might not like it.
Yes, that's true. Actually I've got some tracks, some personal gems I have with me for a long time, but they get played very, very seldom. Sometimes I take them with me for a year and they only get played once or so. Those tracks only work at the right moment, or I only want to play them when I'm sure that people like it.  

You're not into hypes.
I realize hypes mean so much these days. A random example: DJ X, from Detroit. Part of the city's new techno generation. Born in the ghetto, making cool music and only 18 years old. Great story, good angle for a article etcetera! DJ Y, born and raised in Capelle aan de IJssel. Makes great music, studies engineering on the HTS, regular guy like most people. No story for the media, talented but modest guy. Which one of the two would you like to meet? The choice is not only made on what they do, but on for a big share on who they are. So it's the story that decides for a big part if you become the 'hype' or not. I and most people I work with – we don't care if we have a story, we just do what we do. What we do, keeps us going I guess. It's not about the who, it's all about the what. But the press and hype is at least for 50% about the “who” so they get a nice story and get more hits on their website. It's just as it is, but I try to avoid it. It actually makes me recalsitrant.

Do you ever feel like missing out?
No. On what?  

Because you dont go for the hits or hype?
It's great to do what I do! I work like a maniac sometimes, but so far it's worth it. I like to keep things simple, try not to waist energy on things that are basically unimportant and try not to get lost. With dj'ing I always find a challenge somewhere. It's often something simple and personal like trying to play this one special record during a set, make it work so at least some people love it and won't ever forget about. At the end that's all what dj'ing makes exciting for me: trying to share the excitement for some of my favorite records and make people dance and create synergy.

Catch Serge this Friday at Trouw, where he will play alongside the infamous DJ Hell at the Clone Label Night.

Text: Nelis Oomen