Interview: Elena Savlokhova
Photo: Stephan Redel
Crushed Soul is the new music alias of Steffi – the Dutch-born music artist, producer, and owner of record labels ‘Dolly’ and ‘Klakson’.
Get the new EP 'Family of Waves' - here. Released via Dark Entries Records.
What does music mean to you?
It’s my creative outlet and my number 1 addiction!
What was your first musical memory?
The Early 80ies new wave and alternative rock my brother played in his bedroom next door to mine.
What is the enemy of creativity and how do you personally battle it?
The ‘thinking brain’ is the enemy of creativity, as soon as that gets switched on the magic disappears.
So the key for me is to always stop in time as soon as the mind gets all pragmatic in the first phase of laying out a jam. This is where all thoughts need to be thrown overboard and energy needs to just flow freely. A loop needs to stay fresh before it turns into a song. That’s why I never jam and arrange it on the same day. I’ll record the basic idea shortly after the jam ‘sits’ and then ill save it and move on and let it rest for a day or two so I can listen to it with a pair of fresh ears.
The last time you used the Crushed Soul alias was for a compilation track released on Ostgut Ton back in 2013. What made you return to the project now?
I had the idea of doing a 12 inch for quite a while as its a bit different than all my ‘Steffi’ music and I wanted to let that project come to life to be able to extend my musical pallet. Dark Entries felt like a home for this project after doing a remix for this label. Josh, the label owner, was really into the idea and slowly slowly I started sending him a track every once in a while. After a few years, we had 6 drafts and we chose the right tunes for an EP. It took a long time but I wasn’t in a hurry at all.
What was your mindset when working on the ‘Family of Waves’ EP? What questions were you asking yourself throughout the creative process?
I don’t ask a lot of questions when I make music. There is an idea I wanna lay out and from there, things just shape up naturally.
Was there ever a moment when you were fed up with music?
There are phases in life where I just disconnect from music because I know I need it when I feel oversaturated. I’ll go into nature or read a book and not touch my studio or listen to other people’s music until it starts to tickle again and that’s when I know I have my mojo back. I accept these moods and therefore it’s not a problem to not feel connected every once in a while.
What is the juxtaposition of your alias as Steffi and Crushed Soul? How do you differentiate the two?
The new Crushed soul EP is very straight forward and dancefloor-oriented, some of the Steffi tunes on my 2nd album had the same dancefloor appeal and energy so there is overlap at all times, however with Steffi tracks I often feel the need to just dive into a deeper and more abstract vibe and explore different more complex rhythms. It’s great to have both options. It’s nothing new though as I have been collaborating with other artists in the past so I could explore different workflows and merge styles. Also, remixes give you great opportunities to widen the horizon.
What role does criticism play for you?
Its the biggest challenge in life as I am my most critical voice.
Is it difficult for you to challenge yourself even further with every new project? Are you usually demanding on yourself?
If it would be difficult to challenge myself I know that it’s time to not make music for a while until I feel a new urge to go back and work on new ideas. Anything that feels forced is a sign that I just can’t connect at that moment and it’s ok to let it rest. Its a process I had to learn over the years as I sometimes did force myself to work and I am super happy that this has become such a clear path.
Looking back at the beginning of your music journey, what do you wish you had known back then?
Tricky question as everything I learn in life is by experiencing it, so I think its all a process that goes as it goes at the end of the day. I did not study electronic music, its all just learning by doing and I feel there is so much more waiting for me. I have only just started and that might sound so weird as it has been 20 years since I have bought my first synth.
What is a rule that you always try to follow in music?
The rule is that there are no rules when it comes to creativity.
Staying true to yourself and integrity are two big anchors for me to hold on to.
What is next in your journey? What are you looking forward to?
I am very busy working on my 2 record labels Dolly and Klakson who celebrate their 10th and 20th anniversary. I have a lot of new releases coming up by amazing artists. Some of them have been working with me for many years but also connected with new artists which is super exciting and I am always on the lookout for new talent. A full release sceduele as COVID 19 stopped my travels so I had time to put a lot of extra energy into new ideas for the labels and make those happen.
In the meantime, I have been writing new ‘Steffi’ material for a bigger project, and of course, my collaborations with other artists always run parallel with all of this.
What question would you like to be asked in an interview and what would your answer be?
You just asked it.