“'To bring back the jack sound’ was our mission when we started Snuff Crew,” Snuffo from the crew tells DJ Mag, going on to state that the old skool Chicago jack sound never really went away and there have been others who have referenced it. “But when we appeared with our project, a lot of boring music was dominating the club — and the scene. Especially the so-called minimal sound — this was something that we absolutely could not enjoy. For us, it seemed like people did not dance anymore and just came to the clubs to be 'uber-coolish’.”
Snuffo says that they wanted to hear more flavas in DJ sets, and DJs linking the past to the present. “It’s boring when you already know what the next two hours of a DJ will sound like. We wanted to see people dance — or better, jack — on the floors, sweating, screaming and having a great time.” Forming Snuff Crew in the late noughties, these Chicago-obsessed Germans bashed out their first album in 2009, quickly followed by their second — 'Jack 2’ — in 2010, and released on top-notch labels like Gigolos, Playhouse, SCI+TEC and Rush Hour.
They say that they’re glad that music in clubs today is much more diverse and fun, and that they appreciated the fact that when they started out people said their tracks sounded analogue. “The most important thing for us is to make a good track, not just to make a record that sounds analogue, though,” they say. “Digital technology is easy and fun to use — and sounds pretty good!”
For their third album, they decided to make their productions more song-based. “The tracks are richer in their arrangements compared to our last albums, which is definitely the influence of my partner,” says Snuffo. “While I prefer to keep it raw and jam-like as a producer, he always tends to do tracks with more structure and details.”
“Snuffo might be the undisputed king of the raw beats but sometimes I prefer a complete arrangement and some more structure,” adds Zwo, the other Snuffer. “When I’m producing music, I see myself more as a songwriter and I have to admit that I sometimes find it hard not to add several more elements to a track. I guess the new album is a good mixture of old jacking Chicago stuff with more song structure.”
Indeed it is. 'Move Me’ is akin to classic Cajmere, while 'New Life’ featuring Rachel Row sounds like Inner City. “I wrote the lyrics for 'New Life’,” says Snuffo, “it’s about moving to a big city (Berlin) and starting a new life with as much freedom as possible — and a lot of fun, leaving the past somehow behind you.”
'Let Me Be the One’ featuring Hard Ton also sounds old skool Chicago, 'Bass’ boasts awesome 303 wiggle, while the track with Chicago hip-house don Tyree Cooper is a revelation. Stabs, sirens, scratchadelics, bouncy keys and Tyree’s fresh 'n’ funky rhymes make this a standout track. “It was a magic moment when he sent us the vocals,” says Snuffo. “We didn’t give him any instructions, and this was definitely a good decision.” It was piano house acid cut 'Tearing Me Away’ with Kim Ann Foxman from Hercules & Love Affair that gave them the idea to have various guest vocalists on the album, but DJ Mag expresses surprise that it’s coming out on Ellen Allien’s Bpitch label — given their recent leftfield experimental output.
“There were already people who suggested Bpitch to us in the beginning of the label search,” says Snuffo. “We were not sure if they would release it, but Ellen knows our music already since the very first record ('God’ on Nature Records in 2008) and our remix for Dance Disorder came out on Bpitch too.”
When they play live, Snuff Crew jam with elements of their tracks but don’t really call it a live set. “Every set we create something new and never know in what direction it really goes,” says Snuffo. “Apart from that, we are sweating like hell because of the masks and the hoodies,” adds Zwo. “After the gig we always say to each other, 'What a terrible idea to start with the whole mask thing’. But as this is a part of our image, I guess we have to continue with that...”