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Clone boss Serge on why selling records isn’t so different to selling potatoes

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  • The life, death and re-birth of the impeccable Dutch label.
  • published
    27 Apr 2012
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Do you still enjoy DJing?

“The DJing thing was always one of the main influences for me – to stay connected to things that are happening, because you see what’s going on on the dancefloor, where people are really responding to music. And it gives me a lot of pleasure: because it’s also one of the most intense ways you listen to and experience music. At least for me, because I’m much more into the music when I’m DJing than when I’m on the dancefloor myself, or when I’m listening in my car…It’s kind of essential to me to have a couple of gigs every month, and it’s always a good way of trying out new songs and seeing how things work.”

“It’s a good thing that all music is available at the moment – no matter whether you pay for it or not, you can find it.”

Do you feel like there’s a new generation of younger producers worth getting excited about?

“I think there’s definitely a whole new generation. There’s people who have been in the scene for 10 or 20 years and they’re asking themselves, ‘Have I been in this game too long? Am I doing this for fun still or have I just become a professional?’. But there’s a lot of newer, younger artists feeling the opposite. I think that’s one of the good things about us changing things at Clone, because a lot of young artists are trying to re-invent the wheel, and I could say, ‘Well guys, I’ve seen all this before’ but if those guys are doing it for sincere or honest reasons than it’s all good, because I enjoy those songs as well, they remind me of things that gave me a lot of pleasure back in the day.

“Take for example the Clone Jack For Daze series with Neville Watson and Steve Summers – it’s nothing new, and some people say, ‘Ah, I already know that…’ – but it’s great. Here the other day in Rotterdam one of our guys was DJing, and there were two 15-year-old guys completely new into dance music, and one of the guys said to the other, ‘Hey man, I found something like totally new, it’s called jacking music!” [laughs]. And of course kids who are 14 or 15 years old they don’t know that stuff, and it’s totally natural that they should be able to learn about in this way.”

The internet has obviously made music more accessible for young people, regardless of where they live…

“Thanks to the internet, people can experience music anywhere. It doesn’t matter where you live, you can find the most obscure songs – and those songs by small artists who don’t even know that their music is on the internet can have a big influence on certain people. That’s a nice thing – it’s also strange, but it’s nice.

“It’s a good thing that all music is available at the moment – no matter whether you pay for it or not, you can find it. It can give your life a strange twist, if something has a big impact on you. For example, Drexciya now is impossible to find on record so you must look for it. So I can imagine a teenager now, when they hear Drexciya for the first time, is experiencing a whole new sound. That’s why I want to keep doing this – because certain people might only just have heard about, I don’t know, Putsch 79, and they think, ‘Oh, what’s this?’ and then they discover a whole new world and they discover other nu-disco acts and then they discover the old disco stuff, and so on, and then they find out about Drexciya – so it’s good to leave the connections to quality stuff open; people won’t get into it if you just focus on one thing, and definitely not if you focus only on making money or getting into the hype press. The hype press just wants a fashion scene. Just like that I can name 20 artists that has been called the New Thing and never been heard of again, and 20 small, underground artists who’ve always been ignored by the hype press but who are still around, still doing their thing and influencing people now. And that’s much more valuable than being the next big thing and grabbing some quick cash and turning the passion for music into a mere job.”

“I do need that record store experience. It’s a social thing, but also being in a record store can give you some extra experience, talking about music, extra information, and tips.”

Do you go record-shopping much anymore?

“It’s a little strange, because I totally enjoy finding good new stuff, but I get so much supply at the Clone store so that pretty much all the good music I hear is coming to me. I still do a lot of buying for the record store and distribution, that something I want to remain attached to. I still go online on my own record store and listen to music and buy music via my own mail order service! [laughs] It sounds silly, but during the week I don’t have that much time, so there are still records which I didn’t buy in for the store, so I go online like the rest of the customers and listen to the records and ask the guys to put them aside and I’ll pick it up as soon as possible or get it delivered. So I’m the same kind of buyer as the rest of the customers!

“But I must say, if I go to London or any other city, I don’t really have the energy to go record-buying anymore. To be honest, I really like the shop experience, I like to hang out on a Friday night in my own record store and just talk about music and drink a beer or a coke – that’s a lot of fun, but if I find out about a good record I just order it for the store and if I can’t order it I just go on Discogs, or Gemm or Ebay and buy it from there. So there’s no reason for me to go to some second-hand store in London and go through looking for some record which I probably won’t find anyway. I just go online!

“That’s the luxury of the internet, and I still get the social experience in my own store and a couple of other stores that I go to in Holland. I mean, if I only shopped online, it wouldn’t be enough. I do need that record store experience. It’s a social thing, but also being in a record store can give you some extra experience, talking about music, extra information, and tips – even some records I’ve heard where I didn’t like and someone’s said, ‘Go on, you should have another listen, it’s really good’ and they’ll be right. If you’d been shopping online you would never have bought that record…”

Kiran Sande
Catch Serge and the Clone crew in London on May 11, 2012. Tickets and info here.


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