A Night at Le Bain with Kraak & Smaak
The meatpacking district is thick with a fog of Italian cooking. Amidst the din of couples dining out on a summer evening, a green lawn spreads out from the gates of Le Bain. At its heart a carpet stretches towards a striking orange revolving door. Servers rush in and out on either side of the stationary behemoth. We’re swirled into a lobby where the clattering of silverware fades to a muffled blur. Mark Kneppers of Kraak & Smaak relaxes in an overstuffed brown armchair.
His accent is a thick fusion of his hometown in Leiden, Netherlands and the lingo of someone who travels Europe frequently. And that's no surprise, he's been on the road for over a decade as a DJ and part of the trio of Kraak & Smaak. Their success began in 2003 with the release of their initial 12"s. Airplay from Annie Nightingale and Pete Tong led to a guest mix on Radio 1. Since then their act has evolved, encompassing both DJ sets and massive live shows, but Mark says the turntables allow for more experimentation. In 30 minutes he’ll be on the top floor overlooking a sea of Manhattan’s scene kids, a far cry from his usual haunts.
“Squeeze Me,” the lead single off their 2008 album Plastic People featured vocals from Ben Westbeach (aka Breach), whose hit single “Let’s Get Hot” has blown up this summer. ‘We were fans of his first album and when we sent him the track he responded immediately. They recently collaborated with him again on “The Future is Yours, which “we did in one day in the studio.” Since then the group has become a staple in Europe. But they’ve been working on an American crossover, reaching out to a new market: “In London people are very aware of what you’re playing. Over here I don’t have that feeling. I play the sound of that moment and I twist into what I want to play.”