Crookers on being “super free to do whatever the fuck I want”

Back in 2012 the Italian DJ duo of Phra and Bot, better known as Crookers, parted ways. Phra has carried on under the Crookers name, releasing tracks like Ghetto Guetta and working towards an album called Sixteen Chapel. When inthemix talks to Phra he’s taking the one annual week of holiday he allows himself, sitting on a balcony overlooking the Mediterranean while on a holiday island “somewhere between Spain, Portugal, and Africa.” He goes out of his way to apologise for his occasionally slow English, and to casually mention that he is naked right now.

We asked him how David Guetta really feels about Ghetto Getta, and what his plans are between now and when he returns to Australia for Stereosonic. (He’ll probably put on some pants.)

It’s been two years now since you and Bot parted ways. What’s it been like running Crookers on your own for the last two years?

It’s been pretty good. I didn’t notice so much of a difference. I normally don’t reply anything about what happened between me and Bot because we’ve been trying to keep it as low profile as possible.

I’m more interested in whether it’s been different running Crookers on your own.

Let’s say that it’s like when I was a kid, I have a brother, OK? We used to sleep in the same room till I was 15 and he was 10. Then at some point my parents said ‘we have to build another room’ and that day I felt I was super free to do whatever the fuck I want, OK? That’s the same feeling.

So what are you doing at the moment? What are you working on when you finish your holiday?

I’ve got the new album coming out in November, tour in Australia, which I love, and I got a single coming out, the latest single coming out. The next one is gonna be with Jeremih, and I’m pretty busy to think about how to release in it in the best way, and doing shows.

I’m actually producing more and more stuff for other people too, and keep remixing people. I don’t even have enough time to finish all the stuff that I have to do, which is great for me because I really love working on music. I’m doing some project with a US/UK singer which I really like because it is different music that isn’t dance one hundred percent, I’m writing some sort of pop music but it is weird pop music. I am doing a lot of stuff in the studio. Mainly think about how to get this album out in the best way and keeping fresh after the crazy tour is what I do.

The album, is it going to have Ghetto Guetta on it?

Yeah, sure. It’s gonna have Ghetto Guetta on it and it’s going to be the last track on the album. People who listened to it were like, “OK, why did you put it as the last track?” It’s actually the oldest track from the album so I wanted to put it at the end.

How does David Guetta feel about that track? Has he reached out to you?

Some people thought that it was a joke, but it wasn’t. I really respect David Guetta because I always believe that if you are so big you have to be good at something, you know what I mean? Maybe not music, but you have something that is special.

So I sent the track before I put it out to him saying, “Hello, I’m doing this track and there’s part of your name in it because it has to be a combination of the ghetto sound with a little twist into the big EDM mainstream scene court.” And he was like “Yeah, fun, fun. It’s all good. Good luck with your new music.” He was super nice. I believe that is why he’s so big, because he is a really nice guy. And I actually cannot stop watching that little video of him playing Tomorrowland, that is the most super thing I ever see from a DJ.

Tell me about the name of the album.

It’s gonna be Sixteen Chapel. It’s a tricky name. This is the most common error American guys do when they go to Rome and they want to see the Sistine Chapel – they say “Sixteen Chapel”. I love this because there’s a guy who features on the album, he’s a rapper, and he did the same error in the song we did together. Then we were talking about the error and he was like “No, let me fix it,” I said, “Keep it like this.” It turns out it is one of the most common errors for foreign people coming to Italy. “I saw the Sixteen Chapel!”

Is there a bit of rap on the album? I know you rap yourself, are you on there?

Oh, no. I didn’t rap because it will be just in Italian and it’s not really useful to rap in Italian. I got rappers like Mothafuckin’ eXquire, he’s the guy who did the Sixteen Chapel error. Next single I did with Jeremih, the R&B guy, which I super love since forever.

You’re heading back here for Stereosonic. You do like coming to Australia, don’t you?

Yeah, I super enjoy it there. The only thing that scares me about Australia is the jetlag. All the other stuff I enjoy. Sometimes the jetlag just scares me a little bit, it’s been too long since I’ve been there, three years. Stereosonic, because they were the first guys booking Crookers in Australia, I still go first with Stereosonic. They’re fucking OG promoters. I love it. I would like the possibility to have Australia near Italy.

I’d like to be able to sail Australia into the Mediterranean and anchor it off the coast of Italy.

That would be the best thing ever.


SYDNEY: Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 November

PERTH: Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 November

ADELAIDE: Friday 5 and Saturday 6 December

MELBOURNE: Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 December

BRISBANE: Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 December