US-born, Amsterdam-based DJ and producer Diego Herrera, better known as Suzanne Kraft, S.K., SK U Kno, or Dude Energy, joins us for the 23rd edition of the Off The Record Mix Series.
We have been huge supporters of Diego’s music for quite some time over here at Phonica. Over the past decade he has had a flurry of top-class releases out, ranging from gentle, ambient soundscapes on labels such as Jonny Nash’s Melody As Truth and Jamie Tiller & Tako Reyenga’s Music From Memory, to full-blown house and disco-oriented party jams on Gerd Janson’s Running Back and Melbourne-based imprint Animals Dancing.
Coming in just around the one-hour mark, Diego’s stunning mix features a dreamy collection of cuts by artists such as Maria Somerville, Faust, This Mortal Coil, Chazz, and Andy Stott. We also caught up with Diego for a quick chat about his past, present and future plans, which you can check out below. Enjoy!
Hi Diego, thanks for joining us! Can you tell us about your recording and what the idea was behind it…
I’ve just moved back to LA and with that has come some very welcomed nostalgia. I’ve found myself re-listening to a lot of stuff I first heard in my late-teen/early-twenty years and this mix kind of instills that ‘green’ feeling in me, even if half of it is new music…
Could you tell us a little bit about your background, perhaps where you grew up and what first got you interested in music?
I grew up in LA and was fortunate to be born into a very creatively nurturing household, always filled with music. My parents, although not musicians themselves, always encouraged me to play an instrument (trumpet, saxophone, guitar, piano) and I was more than happy to!
High school was hugely musically informative for me, as I think those years are for many people. I went to a small, arts-focused school where the students of all grade levels socialized and there I really benefited from making friends with older kids who opened me up musically to a lot of different stuff.
Towards the end of high school I started interning at dublab, the online radio station, and in the years post-graduation I eventually became a staff member there. I always refer to my years at dublab as my sort of de facto higher education. I really learned so much about all kinds of music and audio tech in my time there – it was really an important and invaluable time in my life (thanks frosty and Ale!)
For anyone that isn’t already aware of your musical style, how would you describe it?
Historically I’ve tended to fumble words until I can sort of wiggle my way out of describing anything I’ve done. I used to think whatever I’d done musically was precious (and in some ways I still do) and that I should honour whatever it was by either describing it as best as I possibly could or not at all. But nobody wants to hear that – myself included – they just want to know if it’s ‘guitars’ or ‘techno.’ So now I just say ‘guitars.’
What else can we look forward to seeing and hearing from you in 2021?
I have my first solo album in 5 years coming out June 11th on Melody As Truth called ‘About You.’ It’s been kind of a big one for me as it’s the first time I’ve actually written lyrics and sang on anything. This one is very much ‘guitars.’
There’s also an EP my friend Anton Pieete/Darling and I made together under the name Ghostbusters coming out on Wake Dream.
What would you say are some of your all-time favourite record labels?
American Clave, 4AD, ECM, Rephlex, Sky, Factory
What’s your preferred method for finding new music – do you still enjoy digging around in record shops (when they are open!) or do you prefer to find music online?
I don’t really prefer one over the other. Although I will say, finding a long-sought-after record or taking a chance on a random one will always be vastly more rewarding than the youtube/Discogs wormhole route.
And what about these crazy lockdown times we’re facing today. What’s been keeping you going through it all?
My girlfriend, family, friends and lots of television.
Danny Keen – April Improvisation #3
Daniel Aged – Whole Heart
Anton Pieete – Older Demo
Grouper – Headache
Maria Somerville – All Too Much
Tones On Tail – Rain
Monokultur – Decennium
Faust – Jennifer
The Lines – Archway
Andy Stott – The Beginning (feat. Alison Skidmore)
This Mortal Coil – Acid, Bitter and Sweet
Chazz – Anymore
Young Marble Giants – Salad Days