Serge (Clone) is one of the most respected DJs in Europe, a visionary who needs no introduction to musos in the know for his incisive role in electronic music in Europe. Serge launched his infamous label “Clone” in Rotterdam back in 1993, taking on the classic sounds of Chicago, Detroit, techno, electro, disco and Italo. Productions from the label include some of the finest producers around, including Adult, A Made Up Sound, Alden Tyrell, Arttu, Blawan, Conforce, Dexter, Duplex, Gerd, Legowelt, Mike Dehnert, Neville Watson, Space Dimension Controller and Steve Summers..not to mention the final album from Detroit luminaries Drexiciya, releases from Grava 4 and Dopplereffekt, and the seminal Clone Classic Cut Series… Clone release music from established artists, as well as rare tracks and re-issues... but you already knew that!
Pioneers who have remained one step ahead of the game, even shut shop for good but then re-launched out of the blue with the new look Clone, various sub-series including Clone Loft Supreme, West Coast, Club, Bassment, Aqualung, Royal Oak and Jack For Daze.
We caught up with Mr Clone aka Serge ahead of his appearance at the very excellent Burek records night at Dance Tunnel in a few weeks for a talk about reissues, cycling, banal music gossip and a whole lot more besides.
Hey Serge, we know you're very busy so thank you very much for giving us some of your time. R$N interviews are not always just about music so expect the odd off-topic question. We're not so concerned with the “cult of celebrity” but we do like to find out a bit about people beyond the music. The questions are a blend of the serious, the curious and the slightly insane.
You've stated in the past that you really got the dj bug when you heard early acid house, chicago and detroit stuff. Can you tell us about three tracks that still, to this day, move you as they did back then?
Not really the DJ bug, but more the dance music thing. DJ'ing came shortly after that. But I think it was just there at the right moment... I was already into hip hop, R&B and disco, especially the hi-energy stuff, slowly started exploring music. And then right at that time there was techno and house and that was such a massive force.
Some tracks that come to my mind are Ocean to Ocean (Model 500), 100% of Dishin You - Doin It With The AC Mixx (Armando), The Original Video Clash (Lil Louis), most Fingers Inc tracks... so many tracks from that era didn't loose much of its impact on me!
As clone had a major part to play in the re-issuing culture, what's your take on the almost endemic levels that it is at now? And do you have any advice for younger labels about how they should go about it properly?
I don't know... I started doing re-issues at a moment when illegal downloads were less dominant. But it simply felt wrong to see bad quality bootlegs of cool tracks by artists that played such an important role. Why not do it officially and offer some quality and pay some respect to the producers who made the tunes you like that much?
What's been the highlight of the last year for you in terms of releases on clone and djing, and why?
Plenty of things...but its always a huge pleasure playing music for people that dig what you're playing and understand what i'm doing.
And also working with artists who know what they do and who are also patient enough to deal with me :-)
Can you give us three releases that have really done it for you recently? (not on a clone affiliate)
If i would name three that would mean i would have to leave 20 out. And I don't want to use this opportunity to plug three releases that i'm affiliated with or done by producers i'm hanging out with.
Can you tell us about one ep that you really wish had been released on a clone related label but that you missed out on?
There are some guys who did releases i would have loved to put out Clone such as Gifted & Blessed or Aquarian Foundation and Moon B who did some great things, these are the first names that pop up. Florian Kupfer did some great tracks. There are always plenty of names that i'm interested in... But it's not really a matter of missing out... their music is out, so that's good! It's not a competition or like building a soccer team and signing the best players with big contracts. I'm not a Real Madrid fan for example :-)
With there being a resurgence recently in independent record stores, do you have any words of advice for people who have just started out in the record selling business?
I'm not the one who can tell other how and what to do. There are always new ways and each should find their own style of doing things.
As a DJ/label boss/store owner, how do you see the future of the independent music business?
I think this is the future.... It's anarchy on the music market, power to the people! Small labels doing the coolest releases. Majors can't control things anymore like they did a decade ago, and all of a sudden the hottest release of the year pops up from a unknown source which could be anyone. The dj's just want the hottest tracks, no matter what the origin is, and kids just want to listen to what they like and that could be something new or something old, something popular or obscure. It's all available via record stores, youtube, the regular download stores and file sharing, so everyone has access to it. However if we are not careful majors will grab back their power. If we depend to much on facebook and shit then majors can control the channels that most teenagers get their information from, control which artist gets most coverage in the media and control those artists. At the end the one with the money and power decides. There is so little notion of culture with the general public that it could easily become like the old situation again. I'm a bit afraid the people don't use the power as i think (!) They should.
How do you feel about music piracy? And what are your thoughts on ACTA,SOPA/PIPAa & similar laws?
Ah let's not get into that :-)
You recently posted on facebook about dj sneak's twitter tantrums. What are your opinions about the volume and type of social media usage amongst djs?
Well... I think i said it in that post on my facebook page. Media is focusing too much on gossip because it draws visitors to their websites. Visitors is money, money is power. Sex sells... Nothing changed. And the shallower the interest is from the (general) public, the less culture there is, the more the media and majors can control what we like and what we listen to and what websites we visit. Look at how the political situation is in russia... How the economical situation is in the usa... Or actually in most of the western world. More power, more money for a select group, less for the majority. We are becoming sheep that simply follow our desire for attention, sex, money and power, and we forget about the culture that was created over centuries. That's the situation in the rich world. There is no ideology or culture that drives the majority anymore. Let's be honest... What did dj sneak do recently to make him such an interesting person?? I can't remember any releases he did recently that i bought? (plenty back in the days i must add!) So for him it's a smart strategy to get attention. And that's just dj sneak... There are plenty of other examples! It's all about fame again... And that's when majors can grab their power back by controlling the fame and the money!
What makes you most proud of the dutch electronic scene at the moment?
Not much.... I mean... There is not a dutch electronic scene. It's an international thing, and i feel connected with individuals but not with a scene.
Queen's Day, ADE or Dekmantel; if a visitor to the Netherlands could pick only one event which one would you recommend and why?
I would say visit trouw amsterdam when they have artists you like... That's one of my favorite spots and on a good night probably the best clubbing experience in NL. But i'm not a specialist on events. It's too much distraction for me and it's often probably more about the experience then about the music (which is totally cool of course!!! But i prefer to visit a club)
You're a keen cyclist. What's the furthest you've ever cycled? And, now that the uk is increasingly hooked on cycling, do you have any recommendations in terms of bikes and cycling equipment?
Haha let's not get into that too much. Yes I like to cycle... Longest distance is probably around 150km or something. Usually i do 50 to 70km rides or when I have a bit more time 100k. I work too much and don't have enough time off to ride as much as i would like to. But I also love to hit the trails in the forest on the mountain-bike. I did a couple of local criteriums this year for the first time and in the winter i do an occasional local mountain-bike race when i have a weekend off. Also i'm a strava addict and pretty proud of my k.o.m. on the famous "erasmusbrug" in rotterdam :-)
And lets not get into the equipment... Loads of opportunities to get a killer cult ride on the 2nd hand market for not much, or spend 3 months salary on 1 bike. That's material for hours of discussion and actually not even so important!
Have you ever tried the fish-based cuisine of the uk? If so, what made you think “mmm, they need that back home”?
You mean fish and chips?? ;-) but i'm more a meat type of guy. Actually i love a good english pie! Would love to eat that more often at home
Are you a kick drum, a hi-hat or a snare?
One without the other is not worth much... I hope to be a good combination of the three ;-)
What’s your favourite place on earth?
Sort of... That must be the island i was born and raised, schouwen duiveland.
Finally, big question: zapp or zappa?
Zapp!! Of course!! (Actually one of my oldest friends is the biggest Zappa fan... and I can understand... but I just dont feel it)
Catch Serge ahead of his appearance at the very excellent Burek records night at Dance Tunnel in a few weeks. Tickets on the link.