If you’ve been in the scene for a while and you haven’t heard of DROELOE, you’re seriously sleeping on them. They’ve played huge festivals like EDC Las Vegas, Tomorrowland, Hijinx, and you can always catch them on stage at A Night with Bitbird.
Last year, I saw DROELOE live four times. That’s how much I love them. But never in a million years would I think after seven months of writing for Electric Hawk, I would be interviewing one of my favorite producers. But there I was, flying from New York to Chicago, to interview Vincent of DROELOE during their A Promise is Made Tour.
Dariel and I showed up to Concord Music Hall during soundcheck, and we got a chance to speak with Vincent, one half of the Bitbird duo. He was already in the room, making us feel comfortable right away.
Arielle Lana LeJarde, Electric Hawk: Hey Vincent! Thanks for taking the time to talk to me.
Vincent of DROELOE: Sure!
AL: I’ve been a big fan for a while and heard you first RL Grime’s Halloween VI and I haven’t stopped listening since!
Hear DROELOE’s “Kintsugi” at 18:05
Arielle: So from growing up with parents who are traveling Jazz musicians to playing the trumpet for the marching band in your village, did the transition to becoming a DJ come naturally?
DROELOE: Not naturally, at first. Both of my parents weren’t traveling musicians actually, My dad was a percussion and drum jazz teacher at the Amsterdam Conservatory and my mom was in a couple of bands. She traveled a lot. In the beginning, I wanted to be a drummer like my parents but noticed my hand-foot coordination is really bad—or I was just too lazy to actually practice.
I was 9 or 10 when I learned the trumpet because that was the closest thing that I could play together with my parents and to play the music I was growing up with. But around the same time, I was listening to a lot of trance, so maybe at that time is when I started thinking about it? But the actual wanting to be a DJ part was when I was already one through DROELOE.
Arielle: So, through DROELOE and not through Beat Ballistic or Fabled Enemies?
DROELOE: Oh wow! You know a lot! But no, I really wanted to perform, but the DJ aspect didn’t really interest me that much. That’s not really the way I perform even with CDJs right now. I just have a set that I want to build as thoroughly as possible. I almost produce it as its own track and play it out live, then I play instruments over it.
Arielle: That’s actually a great segue to my next question because you’ve said like trance, you’ve also gone through a gothic phase. You started rapping because of listening to Biggie, Wutang, and Dutch Hip Hop, and that’s a wide variety of genres. So how have these genres influenced your current sound now?
VR: In a lot of ways! I have always been interested in different types of music and went through a lot of phases. Now, I take little pieces of every phase that I went through in my past. I try to find that recognition part and make something new with it.
Arielle: So who would you say your influences in electronic music are?
DROELOE: Ooooh, I guess people like John Hopkins, Flume, Mr. Carmack, Noisia—a very big one. Skrillex was, with his “Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites.”
Dariel: So who do you think right now is still on the come up that you’re thinking, ‘They’re’ gonna be next.’
DROELOE: Well, I think I have a lot of high hopes for Quiet Bison, who’s on tour with us. Because he’s super young and his sound is already pretty mature. I think that if he keeps evolving, he can become pretty big. Especially seeing that he has been, up until now, releasing everything by himself. Which I just found out actually!
Dariel: Just self-released? Awesome!
DROELOE: Yeah, so guys like that. Oh, and Flaws! He’s going to be the next either Still Woozy or Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Kind of like semi-indie-influenced, but still with electronic music going on. He’s super sick. I love his sound.
Arielle: Back to you, in an interview, you’ve described yourself as “super chaotic.” Can you give some examples of that so we can get to know you more?
DROELOE: I’m pretty chaotic in the sense that *laughs* things that belong in a place don’t end up going back to that place. So I take just *pretends to hold something* and drop it wherever I am.
Also chaotic in the sense that in social interactions—especially when there are fans around me, I get overwhelmed sometimes. But I guess that’s pretty normal. I’m just a lot of the times all over the place. My mind goes all over the place, too. And I kind of think that that’s also sometimes, at least, a reason—or a thing that helps me produce and come up with some ideas and stuff.
Arielle: I think we both can relate! *Laughs* So, before you got to where you are now, you transported patients at a hospital for work. That must have meant you’ve spoken to people from all walks of life. Did any of them give you life-changing advice that still sticks with you?
DROELOE: I don’t think it was any specific life-changing advice, but I think just being there and being with people that are trying to get back to their normal lives… It was a rehabilitation center. So it definitely made me realize that life can hit you hard sometimes, but even then, people who were doing the worst physically were still having fun in their own ways. Even people that weren’t all there mentally still tried. And trying—not even in the sense of ‘fake it ‘til you make it‘—makes you realize that life does go on. Even if stuff is fucked up. That’s definitely a lesson I take home, myself. Just… Time goes on, life goes on, even if you feel the worst you’ve ever felt. That will pass too.
Arielle: Good advice! And speaking of advice, and back to your parents. They told you something along the lines of, ‘If you can’t face the struggles of being a musician—it’s not for you.’ Do you think that was more encouraging or did it make you scared to pursue a career in music?
DROELOE: A little bit of both, of course. I guess they said it in a sense that, ‘If you ever want to do it, you shouldn’t give up.’ And that it’s not just fun and jokes, and even if you have a lot of fun performing and playing an instrument, it will not always be fun if you make it your profession. You can have a lot of fun with your job, but not every day is going to be dope.
Even then, you would have to perform and play the best set or way you’ve ever played. Or at least you should try. So it was definitely scary, but it made me realize that it has to be done. In a way, it’s a “Grind & Hustle.” *Fake laughs*
Arielle: *Actual laughs* Nice song reference! Well, DROELOE started by making trap bangers, and back in an interview in 2018, you made it very clear you want to do them, but it’s hard to switch back. There are a few bangers on A Promise Is Made like World Full of Snakes. Everyone is saying “trap is dead.” Do you think you could be the savior that brings trap bangers back to life?
DROELOE: I think I got a little bit away from thinking about genres in general., At some point, I think I was holding myself by doing it. By thinking like, ‘Oh! I want to do this type of track.’
I’m thinking more in BPMs these days. Like, ‘What do I do with this BPM?’ and messing around with that. The freedom that gave me made me enjoy making new music a lot more. So… I don’t know. Maybe trap will come back in one sort of way! Because, in the end, music is the combination between recognition and surprise. So recognition can come from trap bangers.
Arielle: So maybe expect a DROELOE surprise trap banger?
DROELOE: Yeah! Or maybe some other flavors, I don’t know!
Arielle: This could have changed since your YouTube interview with Sidewalk Talk EDM in 2018, but you said you haven’t had a relationship longer than 1 month. How do you find inspiration for making such beautiful love songs that people can relate to like “Many Words” and “Sunburn.”
DROELOE: I mean… That’s a very good question! Actually, the relationship part, it only got worse. Traveling so much makes it hard for me to even—because any relationship, you have to invest energy, time, love, in a person. Whether it’s a love relationship or a friendship. That’s something that became harder and harder, but therefore, it became some sort of longing that I have, which sparked a track like “Virtual Friends,” for instance.
“Many Words” was created in a moment that I had with two of my best friends, Felix and Iris. When they were first falling in love, I witnessed it while we made the first beginnings of that track. It’s just a feeling! And in the end, you can very much experience love without having a relationship. Yeah, or at least I wholeheartedly believe in that. Even for inanimate objects or just a situation or an idea, you can feel love for.
Dariel: It’s pretty cool that you can immortalize your friends in a song. Do you ever wish that someone would ever write a song about you?
DROELOE: That would be awesome!
Arielle: What if I wrote a song about you, but it wasn’t very good?
DROELOE: Then I would still *laughs* think it’s very sweet! I would still very much appreciate that.
Arielle: I’m kidding, I won’t… Actually, I’ll think about it.
DROELOE: Let me know if you do!
Arielle: I will, one hundred percent! *Laughs* So, like I said, I first heard a song through Halloween VI, which was “Kintsugi.” I’m a person who usually only likes songs with lyrics, but for some reason, that song changed my life. Can you tell me more about the track and what it means to you?
DROELOE: It’s funny you say that because I’m more recently starting to experiment with songs that have more than one lyric. Like “Sunburn” is just one sentence and “Many Words” is just ‘I don’t need many words with you.’ “zZz” is even fewer words. In the case of “Kintsugi,” I wanted to make a track that evoked the feeling that you’re the fucking bomb. In the way that some hip-hop beats can do that, but with more of a melancholic and bombastic power to it.
The melancholic part comes back to the name “Kintsugi” because it’s a type of pottery art form, where they mend broken pottery with gold. And so in the end, it’s more valuable and strong than before. So even if you break down, you pick yourself up and become stronger by it. So that was the conceptual idea of that track. It wasn’t the idea from the get-go. Hein and I really analyzed the feeling it gives us and what we can relate to telling the story even further.
Arielle: That’s amazing because that’s how I feel when I listen to it! And I guess since we’re running out of time, I can’t end an interview without asking what DROELOE is most excited about for the rest of the year!
DROELOE: For the rest of the year? I’m super excited about some festivals that are coming up. There’s a festival coming up in the Netherlands that every Dutch person grows up called Lowlands—it’s almost the biggest pop festival in the Netherlands. It’s mostly what’s currently on Dutch radio. So being on that stage means you’re relevant enough to be in Dutch Radio culture.
Dariel: How long have you been playing in the US?
DROELOE: I think for about 4 years? Something like that.
Dariel: So playing back home must have a really big meaning to you.
DROELOE: Definitely. We’re also much less known over there. It’s funny because we’ve done a few interviews over there, and they’re like ‘Yeah, so this artist is big in the US and now they’re getting big over here! How does it feel?’… And yup, it feels great!
Arielle: That’s so cool. Well, thank you for your time!
DROELOE: Oh yeah. Thank you! That was a great interview! Great questions.
Arielle: Drew-loo or Drow-low?
DROELOE: *Laughs* I love that question.
As Vincent left the room, Austin, the tour manager—who was also super chill and nice—and the next artist to be interviewed walked in and Vincent repeated, “That was a great interview!”
Needless to say, it was the start of a great night and an amazing show!
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