There’s a timeless quality to your music but the production values are very current. What’s your approach to making music in terms of equipment?

Revealed: Detroit Swindle's ghost producer

Revealed: Detroit Swindle’s ghost producer

People think we use a lot of analogue gear, but most of our music that’s out there right now is all produced in the box. We really really really spend a lot of time in tweaking our sounds to give it a more vintage vibe, but with the addition of modern elements and grooves – we try and make music that’s hard to put in a genre or define when it was made. We really just aim to make music that’s  as interesting now as it will be in ten or twenty years. We can’t tell you yet if that’s working out, but let’s see by then.

So why have you only just started to use hardware? Were you just not interested in it before?

We’re not the kind of guys to go out and buy loads of shit and then realise you don’t understand the basics and lose focus or interest. Plus we’re good with computers, so it was a nice and easy way to learn the ropes: get some software, get a decent controller and go mess around and see what comes out. Getting more into hardware from that point makes every new addittion to the studio a real gift, instead of something you feel you really need to become ‘a producer’.

What have you bought yourselves and how are you finding the learning process?

Oh man, it takes a lot of effort and patience, because we don’t get a lot of time in the studio at home since we’re touring so much. We have to be really happy with just a day or two in the studio, so with EPs to finish and the office work that comes with running a label, there’s only a short window every week to mess around with new gear. We’d rather lock ourselves in the studio for weeks and weeks and completely figure out a synth. We’ve recently bought a funky little drum machine called the MFB 503 with a really nice and raw sound and a Dave Smith Mopho which is a cool and weird little synth. The one we’re really really excited about is the Moog Voyager that we bought this summer from this weird dude in Rotterdam. The Voyager has such a great sound and we’re dying to use it more. Still though, the VSTs we’ve got are super cool so we’re also quite content with working in front of a screen. But we’re saving up for a classic MPC so we can get away from the screen as well…

Do you think it might have been easier or even better to make some of your music with hardware and analogue gear?

Maarten at work in the duo's studio

Maarten at work in the studio

Let’s put it this way: if we would have made some of our older tracks today, we probably wouldn’t have done everything the way we did. But in a way that’s nice as well. It’s all about evolution, and from time to time it’s good to look back and see what you’ve achieved. And then, really quickly, get back to learning and focus on getting better and better.

If we would have made some of our older tracks today, we probably wouldn’t have done everything the way we did.

Finally, we have to ask about your name. Detroit natives can be quite defensive about their home town. Have you had any backlash about your name? Is it meant as a tribute to Detroit?

We’ve been criticised for sure and had a few funny chats about it with some Detroit guys. It’s all good though – we can’t really be bothered with localism like that. We both grew up with so much funk and soul in our lives, and Motown was the big label behind a lot of what we listened to, so we thought it would be cool to pay respect to the town that brought forward so much timeless, good music.

And why Swindle?

Since we’re just two white kids from Amsterdam, we really wanted to make fun of ourselves a bit. That’s where the swindle comes in. It’s a big scam. We’re bluffing our way into Detroit…


Detroit Swindle’s Unfinished Business EP is out now on Freerange Records. Find them on Facebook, Twitter and SoundCloud.

18th November, 2013


  • Terry Lee Brown JR cousins

  • Nothing like white Europeans copying and profiting on what poor black Americans created. Good thing they “can’t be bothered with localism” meanwhile people are starving, unemployment is at an all time high, the city filed for bankruptcy, and the average price of house is less than the cost of a new car. Great way to “pay respect”.

  • Michigander, I totally understand why cultural appropriation is such a hot topic right now (hi Miley!), but we’re talking about music which has been produced, DJed, danced to and enjoyed by people all around the world for at least a quarter of a century now. How should house artists from around the world pay respect to the roots of this music?

  • Michigander…as a fellow Michigander, I must say that you’re being a little too touchy on this. While I think their name is a bit silly, I do recognize that they picked it out of respect for Detroit and the music they grew up with, not to profit on what “poor black Americans” created (though that, of course, is not the entire story). Anyway, no one group owns any genre of music, and “white Europeans” making House or Techno doesn’t mean they’re just copying, that they can’t do it as well as “black Americans”, or that they’re doing anything wrong. The core of underground dance music moved to Europe in the 90s (though there is of course still a lot of great stuff coming out of the US, Detroit and New York / NJ in particular for my tastes), and there’s nothing wrong with that. No one owns the sound.

  • @Michigander: (Facepalm)

  • Michigander… You seem to know less about MUSIC history than Guetta who claimed Larkin invented techno.

  • By not capitalizing on the association, history, and (like it or not, it is what it is) credibility of a suffering city and it’s residents? I would venture to guess that these guys get 5-10x more opportunities (read, paying gigs) than many 3rd and 4th wave Detroit artists. Is it too much to ask them to come up w/ their own nam?

  • Michigander, no I agree that their name is not a good choice, and that they probably get more paying gigs than many relatively recent Detroit artists (and that they probably get more paying gigs because of their name, because of the certain detached “chicness” often associated with “Detroit” in some circles). I just don’t agree with where you took your first comment from there.

  • It’s a silly name, I agree, but I don’t think their opportunities came from using that name specifically. They came from the quality of the music and the early luck they had getting their music on respected labels. At most the name grabbed attention because it was different and stood out (similar to how I believe Claude Vonstroke’s name helped him stand out a bit in the beginning), but not because they used the word “Detroit”.

    Truth is, their music is good and they deserve their success. They’ve taken a collection of sounds, made it into their own, and it works really well.

    I hate to say it, but a good amount of the current wave of artists coming from the Midwest origin cities tend to trade too much on where they are from and try to fit themselves into the known sound of their cities, instead pushing things and expanding themselves as artists.

  • [man holds his head in despair, the chat lads, THE CHAT…]

  • Ben + MidwestCoast: Great comments! I agree, it was a touchy response, but the origin of it is well intentioned. It’s disappointing and unfair that these guys (likely) get more bookings (the livelihood of producer in 2013) than many talented, older house and techno producers who have contributed a lot more to the culture than using some sample packs and presets and putting out a few records.

    That said, life’s not fair 🙂

    PS: I have nothing for or against Detroit Swindle as musicians. Their music isn’t for me, but plenty of people love it and play it. My issue is the name, even if well intentioned, is a bit of a poor choice, and does provide some benefits to them.

    The point of all this, however, is to have the conversation.

  • Michigander, +1 for the comment and not jumping on the defensive like 90% of the Internet 🙂

  • @Michigander, just seeing this now, i also respect the tone of your last comment, but I feel I must explain our choice!

    We chose the Detroit monicker to pay our hommage to the music (and especially the motown era) we grew up with. If a white kid (such as myself, or at least used to be) grows up with music that comes from detroit (or any other city) does he/she have less right to use this influence in his/her music or monicker than any other? Music is a personal thing and everyone should be free in their expression in which way shape or form (okay, obviously there are some boundries).

    On another note, did you know that the city of Detroit (french for: ‘strait’) has been founded and named by the French, the dutch closest ancestors?. Thought that would be worth a mention.

    We added the swindle (which means ‘To cheat’) deliberatly to hopefully have people know that we’re not trying to act as we’re from Detroit.

    We get a lot of bookings because we work our asses off and drop an EP every 8 weeks that a lot of people buy because they like it, not because of the name (well maybe a bit). We work closely together with a lot of Detroit’s older producers and they’ve never mentioned anything about us using the motorcity’s name in vain other than the occasional jokes now and then!

    I hope you will understand my point and enjoy our music, or not. 🙂


    Detroit Swindle

  • I think Moodymann was talking about guys like this at the beginning of Can’t Kick This Feeling When It Hits.

  • @Detroit Swindle
    Listening to ( been listening to) your freerange set – great set and very representative of your style of music and the motown reference you made here.
    I think the name is great- it would be awful if you took this name up and made some choiced cheesy trashy stuff but from what I have heard I am sure you guys will continue to produce that funk induced vibe that will never get old.
    Good on you guys-from Chicago.

  • they just need a facking name what keeps in your mind…….

  • Who gives a fuck about their name!! If you don’t appreciate and understand what these guys have done then you don’t have a creative and artistic soul! These guys are more exciting than catz n’ dogz and are showcasing just how great today’s house music has become!


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