Dancing at the decks 

Dutch group Kraak & Smaak combines live instrumentals, vinyl and electronic to create new dance sound

click to enlarge Dance Innovators Kraak & Smaak take an entirely new approach to music, mixing live instrumentals, DJ sets and more for a high-energy experience.
  • Dance Innovators Kraak & Smaak take an entirely new approach to music, mixing live instrumentals, DJ sets and more for a high-energy experience.

Who: Kraak & Smaak

When: Monday, Nov. 24

Where: GLC

Admission: $15 in advance at GLC, Katmandu, The Hub

Their name may raise a few eyebrows in North America, but the Dutch band, Kraak & Smaak, swears up and down that its moniker actually has nothing to do with drugs. Rather, it’s a Dutch proverb that translates into “crunchy and tasty.”

On Friday, the band had just arrived in Chicago and was getting ready to have a sushi lunch before hitting the road again, this time, on their way to perform on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”

Kraak & Smaak as we know it today isn’t exactly has planned.

You see, Oscar De Jong, Mark Kneppers and Wim Plug are the three founding fathers of the funk-infused group. They started the group as a studio project in their hometown of Leiden, in the Netherlands, with hopes that they could somehow combine De Jong’s soulful instrumentals with Kneppers’ and Plug’s DJing abilities, to create an entirely new sound in dance.

“We helped each other, because they couldn’t make music – they weren’t musicians – and I didn’t know how to translate my music for a dance crowd,” De Jong explained.

Kneppers and Plug are also big diggers (they collect vinyl) – so the group has an impressive collection of records to draw upon during their live performances.

“A lot of very obscure records you can just find on vinyl, and not on CDs, and that’s the thing,” he explained, “They buy for the collections, and also for finding new unexplored samples.”

The trio started out making 12-inch records for DJs in local clubs, and after about four, they decided to compile a full-length CD. Their debut album, “Boogie Angst,” quickly caught the ear of many big names in the industry – Pete Tong, Rob Da Bank and Jamiroquai are just a few of the artists who have shown an interest in the unique sound.

“Names like Rob Da Bank, who was working for 20 years, if he says it’s good, then I suppose it’s good,” De Jong said with a chuckle.

Five years later, the collaboration still seems to be working. They released their second full-length, “Plastic People,” back in April, and their unique fusion of soul, funk, electro, dance and breakbeat has taken the dance scene by storm.


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