Claptone: Obscure by Design

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Its a widespread misconception that we sampled a song by the Wu-tang Clan—for whom we hold nothing but love by the way.

For a group that's rising fast on the Beatport deep house charts, there’s quite a mystery surrounding their identity. Clues are picked up here and there from extensive research (late-night Facebook creeping). They've made appearances here and there, yet the art department at Magnetic could not unearth a single revealing picture. “They” are Claptone, and “they” are stirring quite a storm on the deep house dancefloors of their home state of Germany and beyond.

Their most recent EP is housed on underground house label "Exploited Records" led by Shir Khan. His mixes favor a disco, funk flavoring added to deep house tracks, cross cut mixed with interesting samples and a choppy style, the latter adding a new breath of life to mixing, showing that smooth blending is not always the answer. The key to this is timing—which clearly Shir Khan has. It comes as no surprise that the artists on his label bring that same fresh new outlook to the table, Claptone being one of their most recent additions, joining the ranks of Martin Dawson, Homework and Joyce Muniz.

For the Exploited Label Night party at Baalsaal in Hamburg Germany, Claptone dropped a hot, hour-long set that showcased their EP releases with an upbeat optimistic feel to it. Their track "Make Me Feel” kicked off the good vibes, marking in the grooves to get people onto the dance floor as the bass gains momentum. This set, which can be found on their Soundcloud page, is finger-snapping good and has me reeling over their track choices. The saxophone at nine minutes in, or the guitar at 31 minutes are prime examples of CT keeping it dynamic and well… interesting. In the vast sea of sets being showcased, this one is definitely rising above as a gem. That their own, excellent cuts form the heart of the set may have something to do with it.

At this point, after the lurid haze of seeing them play and reading vague press releases, I am still confused as to the identity, the “Christian” names of any and everyone involved in making and playing their music. My instructions were to meet in the confession booth at St. Michaelis church, a 226 year-old protestant baroque in the heart of Hamburg. Unexpected? Yes. Mysterious? Of course; but exactly how unusual did not register until my footsteps were reverberating across the transept of the cathedral’s interior when I realized that only Catholic churches have confession booths. Nonetheless, there it was and I. I entered one side; curious to see who would be my confessor… perhaps Claptone's identity could be finally brought to light.

On the other side of the wooden grate, in near darkness, sat a man. A flash of gold caught my attention and in the faint light, I made out a mask partially covering a bearded face. It was a mask akin to the kind worn by many during Carnevale—Venice's masquerade festivities that take place in the lead up to Lent. My heart drooped in disappointment. This was not the day for identities unveiled.

claptone-caught-in-natural-environment

Claptone caught in natural environment

No one knows who you really are but lots of people are loving your tracks all over the Internet. Is this anonymity another anti-marketing marketing trick? Like soaking the ink off white labels?

Of course not.

How long will you propagate this air of mystery?

We don't propagate anything. On the contrary we would like everybody to know that we are Claptone.

Throw us a bone, how many of you are really in Claptone?

We are one.

Describe yourselves in any way possible.

We are Claptone.

How do you handle concealing your identity during live performances? Are you worried someone is going to tweet or post a picture or reveal your identity?

We wear our beautiful golden masks. We are not afraid. You should never be afraid.

You have a tendency to find oddly surreal video footage for your music videos. Cleopatra, snakes, clowns and ballerinas. What's the inspiration behind the style?

Art, music, fashion but mainly love.

Other-members-of-the-group-OR-an-afterparty-on-set-of-Eyes-Wide-Shut-

Other members of the group OR an afterparty on set of Eyes Wide Shut?

One of your latest releases, “Cream” has been a wild success—climbing charts and making people talk. Violins, piano, bass? How did you come across the Wu Tang loop?

It's a widespread misconception that we sampled a song by the Wu-tang Clan—for whom we hold nothing but love by the way.

A 4 song EP is pretty impressive in the short amount of time you've been "public," what do you have in store for us next?

The next EP will contain 2 tracks. We don't want to over-impress anybody.

What about Exploited Records made it the right label as opposed to others? Or did you have a prior affiliation?

We love the music Exploited releases.

What's your favorite technology to use right now while producing or DJing?

Technology is overrated. For us it is about feelings.

How long have you been in Berlin?

We are not in Berlin, are we?

Berlin used to be and still is the bustling hub for techno, now it’s blossoming for deep house. What pushed that change?

We don't care about musical styles so much. We like music that makes us feel something. For us this can be soul, independent pop, experimental soundscapes, hip hop, techno and deep house.

St.-Michaelis-in-Hamburg-(interior)

St. Michaelis in Hamburg (interior)

Ideal place you wish to play?

The Akropolis in Athens could be the ideal place.

Who gave you your musical education?

We not only speak, but also breathe and live music since we can remember.

What's a childhood experience that you would say influences your music now?

We are not traumatized and if we are—we simply forgot.

Name a few deep house producer counterparts that you admire, that are not on your label.

Marshall Jeferson, Robert Hood, Frankie Knuckles, Theo Parrish.

What's something you do when no one's looking?

We never thought about things that we could do when nobody is watching. We are just Claptone.

Still can't let it go... do you not like cheesy bios? Is that why you're retaining your identity?

You can easily identify us as Claptone.

I must admit to a high level of frustration here. No truths, save a handful of influences, were divulged. But perhaps that’s the point. As I left the dark chill of the cathedral behind and stepped out into the spring sunshine there were only two things on my mind: a good, German beer and the music...

Claptone releases:

"Cream"
"Good to You"
"Maximum"
"She Loves You"
"Make Me Feel"
"Wicked"