“Instead of being mad at the world for not accepting me, I’ve just made my space good for myself.”
The first time I met Laure Croft was in 2021, she had just played her first-ever set. It was in BRET, a small red shack in Amsterdam West known for hosting some of the best Sunday sessions in town, alongside its intimate, fun vibe with a rustic but cosy interior. It was during this mid-afternoon in July, the peak season for the endurance of summertime dancing, that the atmosphere was cut thick with a joyous sense of liberation in the smoking area where we had our first encounter. With a buzzy haze of excitement, disbelief and an energy that felt like surprise she told me: “I’ve got goosebumps all over, my body, my arms” as she absorbed the electrifying response to the driving techno vinyl set she had just played. While our interactions since this point have been fleeting, there was a captivating, fighting sense of determination that struck me about the DJ I met in the smoking area from the very beginning.
Fast forward two (and a bit) years later and we meet again, this occasion at a little cafe called La Maison Berlin. In this impressively short space of time, her career has significantly taken off, as now she lives a jam-packed schedule of bookings in some of the most accredited venues in Europe — and soon-to-be Asia. It therefore comes as no surprise, down to her driving force of sound, courage and taste, that Croft is now regarded as one of the hottest vinyl DJs of the moment. She fearlessly rips through a banging range of driving, hard groove and sensual techno releases ranging from the mid-90s – 00s, cultivating a dancefloor of sweat, elation and pleasure. While seeing monumental growth in her passion, she greets me with the same cheerful, humble and fast-paced energy that I primarily found so endearing — her honest, genuine attitude throughout our day spent together seemingly strikes a resemblance to the open, free dancefloor she creates.
We begin the day scouring through the pristine, diverse selection of vinyl in Hard Wax. After scouring through the many boxes, later that day she passes me Mould Impression – 1994 which she purchased earlier that day in Spacehall, “this is my gift to you” she tells me as we open the door to her apartment before sitting down for the interview. “This was one of my first vinyls I learnt to mix with”. Putting it down on the table, she writes a message for me ‘It’s not about winning, it’s about not giving up, thanks for this amazing interview and piece straight from the heart. <3’.
Sitting down to listen and talk through this edition of Radical Tracks, Roxy, her sweet-natured Husky, settles in between us and the atmosphere softens. Feeling a strong sense of emotion and anticipation, the first track on her playlist selection, All Along The Watchtower — Jimi Hendrix, clicks on and she points to a beautifully designed electric guitar hanging on the wall, “I grew up with this kind of music around the house” she explains, “my dad gave me this [the guitar]”. Reflecting on the symbolism of this gift, and how music has proceeded to influence her life, we continue to listen reminicently.
Contrastingly, Big Girls Don’t Cry — Fergie is the next tune to grasp the stereo, and after the serenity of Hendrix, we both take a moment to laugh at the relatable nostalgia that comes with this track. Laure fondly recalls, “I remember when it was cool to play songs out loud on your flip-phone”, she admits, “and I would walk around school with this one as my chosen favourite.” Reflecting on this transitional period of her life, the DJ reveals: “I think when I was young, I was very disappointed in the world. I felt I never really belonged. I think now, I’m not that disappointed anymore because I don’t belong, I have just accepted the fact that I’m different. Instead of being mad at the world for not accepting me, I’ve just made my space good for myself.” With an air of both strength and melancholy for her younger self, as our conversation unfolds, it becomes clear that my initial feelings towards her are right, Laure Croft is a fighter.
Later, the song No Time Soon — James Ruskin & Mark Broom plays, and she tells me, “I find the repetitive rhythms of this relaxing and calming — it makes sense to my ADHD brain.” Asking more about her diagnosis with this at the age of 23, she admits: “I spent years not knowing exactly what was up before being diagnosed with ADHD and autism”, a story that is all too commonly experienced by women — “I’m often misunderstood, often also misunderstanding other people. I was beating myself up for it, for not having friends and getting the things other people had”. Now, she triumphs, “everything falls into place.” Infinitely grateful for a close network of friends and a sister — Milou — she consistently mentions with pride, I quickly realise that many of the tracks within Croft’s Radical Tracks selection are related to these intimate interactions with her loved ones, reflecting the same journey of self-discovery.
Continuing through the playlist we experience an endlessly rose-tinted series of memories; from car journeys listening to Right Down the Line — Gerry Rafferty which Croft reflects, “My chosen family, Troy, played this to me, they told me, ‘When I listen to this track, I think of you, you’ve been there every step of the way. This is now our song’” to the dawning new era of friendship in sisterhood with Blue – Latour’. “My sister Milou showed me this track” she recalls, “I remember hearing it in Berghain but not knowing its name. It’s actually quite rare for her to show me music. I thought it was so cool. We listened to this track together during our road trip to La Tranche Sur Mer last summer. All the work I’m doing right now in my life is bringing us together in a different way. I’m even more proud of her than I am myself.”
This playlist beautifully captures the myriad of facets and connections evoked by the word ‘love’. It delves into the impulsive and spontaneous expressions of love found in Folsom — Henning Baer‘s work, where Croft recounts a profound experience at 11:11, in the basement of Adam Tower during her first proper techno party at the age of 18. It was here that she fell for the genre and artist, the feeling so vivid that he couldn’t resist calling her mom at 5 am to share the revelation. Additionally, the narrative of love is also explored through conflicting internal monologues related to sexual awakenings, as evidenced by tracks like Touch Me – Rui Da Silva, Cassandra, “A song I listened to when I was not sure sexually what I was doing with my ex-boyfriends”. “The lyrics focus on the fact that we only know what we are shown and told – I didn’t really know any of this”, she expands.
The clumsy, fleeting but paramount introduction to sex and intimacy can be longer, more complex and require more vulnerability to those in the Queer community, as sadly, we are still breaking down the barriers of growing up in a largely heteronormative society. The bubbly sound of Camargue — CJ Bolland hits the room, Laure describes how this track reminds her of the first time she fell in love with a woman. “This takes me back to one the nicest nights I had in De School — it was with my first ex-girlfriend. CJ Bolland was playing and we went there together. I was around 23. This time in my life was quite intense for me. Like hitting a reset button. But, this night reminds me of this experience — it was just magical.”
On another note, she shifts us sonically to a deeply personal moment of self-discovery during the immersion into club culture and the night, as highlighted in Blackwater —Octave One. “I always thought I would love to hear this in Berghain” she reflects. “Five years ago during Ostgut Ton weekend, it was played during a moment the people who I was with had left”, and so it became a poignant moment for Croft, “I was dancing alone until the end. It was the closing track, the lights came on and it was the perfect jungle — I knew nobody back then.”
Growth and change is a theme I sense throughout the fluctuations of this playlist, reflected both internally and through tracks present in the physical journey. The upbeat, hopeful post-punk Sultans of Swing — Dire Straights encapsulates this, alongside the mixed CD she comes back to with prominence time and time again Lifeformation – Epsilon 9, Infernal Machine. “This mixed James Holden Balance 005 CD and Dire Straights track are the only things I have downloaded off Spotify, it’s what I listen to on repeat and repeat — it never bores me!” she explains. So, always on a journey, in the midst of success, through loss and life, I ask Croft what advice she would give to her younger self. Mirroring this contemplation she tells me. “I would tell her to just keep going — stop worrying about what people think of you.”