Diggers Directory: Kléo

Parisian DJ and visual artist Kléo has called the Dutch capital home now for almost two decades. Since moving in 2001 she’s steadily built a reputation as a fierce selector through her regular appearances on Red Light Radio, and as a refined curator in charge of the soul, jazz and boogie programme at Cafe Belgique, a bar that transforms into a listening space at night. 

Her vast collection of records paint a colourful picture of the sounds that stimulate her; from obscure boogie to tropical, balearic and early 80s synth finds. One thing that remains a constant in Kléo’s intuitive sets is her strong sense of rhythm and groove, a common thread that ties these diverse influences together.

Alongside an interview about her passion for collecting, she’s pieced together a two plus hour vinyl-only mix, titled ‘House Cleaning’, featuring late 80s and early 90s Chicago house, smattered in keys and heavy drum programming. 

Kleo will play at the Heist x Baskets ADE pop up between 16th-19th Oct and the Heist x Eglo ADE party on 18th October. Pre-order a remix EP of Detroit Swindle’s recent album, forthcoming on Heist Recordings.

DJs and producers often mention their musical education came through their family’s record collection. Was this the case for you? Can you pick out any pivotal records from your upbringing that informed your musical journey?

Yes, my dad loved himself some disco. One record that had a huge impact from his collection when I was a kid was The Floaters, The Float on LP.

People buy records for a multiple of reasons. What first drew you to collecting records and what motivates you to continue digging after all these years?

It’s weird because as long as I can remember I bought records as birthday gifts for my girlfriends as a kid, 7” pop singles at the time. Yes I’m from that generation!

Collecting and searching for music has always been there under different genres evolving through the years. I think two things ignited the fire.

There was a bar, it was kind of a rip off of what an Ibiza lounge looks like, but a suburban Parisian version of that. So… quite corny. Even though I had never been to Ibiza, that was my idea of it. It was the only bar with a DJ booth and the whole shebang for miles around, that’s for sure. I used to go there with my friends, order one coffee and hang for hours. I will never forget the first time hearing “I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun” from Nuyorican Soul featuring Jocelyn Brown around 1997. That track hit me hard! Only I didn’t know the track and there was no Shazam at that time either! But by then the genie was out of the bottle.

In that same period around 1998-99 Radio Nova had a huge influence on me and this is also when I started going out to clubs in Paris, and where my love for house and disco begun.

It’s like a never-ending journey into discovery, it keeps on expanding… It’s crazy, there’s still so much out there I have no idea of.

Where do you store your records and how do you file them?

I store my records at home, sort of by style and format mostly. So, let’s say all my 12inches in a particular style and LPs separated. I’m a bit chaotic when it comes to organising, I kind of make mental notes of where I think a record should belong and then I lose track and they end up on the floor in many rows!

What are your favourite spots to go digging and why?

In Amsterdam I most often go to Rush Hour and Red Light Records, both because of new and second-hand choices. Lately I’ve been mostly collecting second-hand though. When I’m in Paris, I never miss a visit to Heartbeat Vinyl. Always an inspiration and Melik is such a boss!

Digging isn’t just about the records you find, but the people who help you find them. Who are some of the colourful characters you’ve met on your travels in record stores round the world? Any unsung heroes you’d like to shout out?

Rogier Oostlander!!! My man, the reason why I dig so much second hand in Rush Hour! He once left a post it on a record in a bin with ‘Clé check this out’. He knew I would pull that record and I did without seeing his note at first. The record was killer, that made my day. And of course, Tako From Music From Memory, Abel and James from Redlight Records, legends!

Is there a record (or records), that has continued to be illusive over the years?

Not really, I don’t obsess that much over certain records that are impossible to find. I’m more excited by finding killer records that I had no idea even existed.

Do you prefer record shopping as a solitary process or with friends to nerd out with and search or strange sounds together? If the latter, who do you like to go digging with?

I prefer record shopping alone, even if I go with someone I just don’t speak and sort of zone out… Not the best company to be around if you ask me!

Walking into a record shop can be quite a daunting experience. Do you have a digging process that helps you hone in on what you’re after?

Depends on the store as well, especially with second hand… I like to dig for records that I have no clue about, not sought after or well known, so also rather cheap ones in the bins, using only the year as my guide. I’ll pick up and check anything between 1980-1984, it has led me to find some crazy stuff.

How big a role does album artwork play in your digging?

Not much for what I usually dig, which is mostly 12”s with no artwork, but the donut is very appealing to me. Especially from mid 80’s boogie and Chicago stuff, that has drawn me to find some serious bangers!

Could you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve done for us?

A close friend of mine Julien Simmons always tells me he listens to my mixes when cleaning his house, so there it is: The House Cleaning mix. Extra-long for serious deep cleaning! Hahaha.

I’ve realised that I always go in a more introspective direction when I record a mix, this one is no exception. I think because I like to listen to mixes in a solitary moment. I’ve tried to sum up what I’m into at the moment. Expect mid to late 80s Chicago and early 90s house, loads of drum programming, heavy bass lines and keys throughout. I always like to mix old and new so I’ve added some of my freshest new releases picks!

Any standouts in the mix you’d like to mention?

Yes! There’s a mix that went a little off at about ¾, I’ve decided to leave it there. It’s an all vinyl mix recorded in one take, mistakes happen and it’s OK with me! Apart from that, there’s some of my favourite tracks from Prescription… (Chicago) ☺

Casting the net wider now, who are some of the record collectors you most admire and why?

There are plenty, but I will go with the ones closest to me because they’ve been the most impactful on my life.

Cinema Royale has been kind of a “mentor” to me for almost 10 years. He has shed light on so many killer records. We used to have a night together every last Saturday of the month. At the time I could barely mix, but I was seriously collecting. This is where I learned the most about records. Overall, he’s a true music lover whose enthusiasm and passion for music and the dance culture we are in has been a huge inspiration.

Diggy Doug and I share a deep love for Boogie, and beyond music as we are partners. Living together with another record collector is quite interesting. Or shall I say that the records are living with us! He keeps surprising and inspiring me with the stuff he brings home, but a word of advice to other digger couples: never be the first to buy a record your partner has been looking for for longer than you, it can become a declaration of war!!!!! hahaha

And Margie and I have also been playing together for a long time and it’s great that our mutual love for music also created a strong friendship. Nowadays we are often asked to play b2b on way better sound systems than we used to play!! She always hits me hard on the deeper side.

Are there any young collectors emerging who we should keep a close eye on?

Keep an eye on Order Mothership. All round creative crew here in Amsterdam, serious diggers.

Anything on the horizon you’re excited about?

Yes! Next week we are celebrating the one year anniversary of Wilde Artists at Claire in Amsterdam, it will be the first time that we are united and throwing a night all together. I’m playing after Mark Seven, who could easily have been in my list of records collectors I most admire, no need to explain why!

And ADE is coming up. It’s always a mad week here, lots of parties with insane line ups. I’m particularly happy to be playing the Heist Recording / Eglo Records night, sharing the bill with Big Boss Volcov is a dream come true. I’ll be opening for J Rocc and that’s pretty mind blowing to me!

Last but not least, I’m making my London debut this month at The Dekmantel Residency In XOYO, which I’m beyond excited to be part of!

Kleo will play at the Heist x Baskets ADE pop up between 16th-19th Oct and the Heist x Eglo ADE party on 18th October. Pre-order a remix EP of Detroit Swindle’s recent album, forthcoming on Heist Recordings.


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