Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives, including the artists on your label?
As I said, I don’t interfere much with the production process of our artists, as I don’t think it’s a label’s task to put collaborations together, unless the artist particularly asks you to help them do so. Collaborations put together by labels are often used to sell more records of the artist. This is something that I see more as a major label approach. For us as an independent label, or maybe just because we’re different from many others, money doesn’t come first.
Can you take me through your process on the basis of a release that's particularly dear to you? How do you decide to release it, what did you start with, what sources did you draw from for all tasks related to it and how did the finished product gradually take shape?
Sometimes I need only a few minutes to decide to release something. At other times I need to listen at least a few more times before I can make a decision. But it’s always more a feeling that I get from listening to the music. It needs to catch me, make me move, carry me away. When all this is there, I contact the artist, connect him with my label partner and the office, so they can take care of the administration, and tell everyone that I want to release it. Sometimes, I do have an idea for a remix, but generally we try to release originals only, if it’s not an album.
Once the contract is signed, we receive the pre-masters and send them out for mastering. We send an email to our graphic designer, that we need artwork for a new release. During this time we speak with our press agency, and think about promotion possibilities. Sometimes you are in luck and the artist is delivering plenty of useful stuff on social media, sometimes you have a great idea yourself, and other times you have barely anything and the artist even rejects to do anything. But once it is all there, we set up everything to start the promotion (about one month before the release). Sometimes you get a track premiere, sometimes you get a podcast to help to promote the release. The tracks will be uploaded to all digital stores and streaming services and set for the release date. If the product is on vinyl, we send a promo out to a small amount of selected vinyl DJs. Once the release is out, we make sure to support it through our channels.
Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do the label and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
There isn’t something like a typical day here, but let me try. During the week I usually get up rather early, no matter how hard the weekend was. Then I usually have a green tea first, while most of the times I am already starting to check emails. Then I usually have a bowl of muesli, sometimes listening to demos. Two days of the week I go bouldering after that, on the other days, if I don’t have any meeting I keep working on emails, and maybe listen to more demos. But for the demos I need to be in a certain mood. So it is not always easy to find the right time and make decisions.
After lunch, if I’m in the mood I go to the studio, where I try to stay away from emails and phone calls, and concentrate 100% on the music. If I’m not going to the studio, I might work on more emails, or think of strategies and campaigns for upcoming releases. If I was in the studio, I usually try to keep up with mails in the evening before going to bed. But I’m always behind anyways.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
I wish there were, but for me it is just there or it isn’t. Over the years I learnt to listen to my inner self more, and not push myself to go to the studio and try to come up with something when I’m not even close to feeling creative. I mean sometimes going to the studio and playing around with sounds and rhythms can get you into that mindset, but I prefer to go to the studio when I feel that my mind is clear and I really want to make some music. Anything that makes you think too much is big a distraction, but to me doing sports, especially climbing, helps to get rid of many thoughts, and puts me back onto a more creative & productive path.
How is listening to the actual music and writing or reading about it connected? What do you achieve and draw from each experience personally? How do you see the relationship between improvisation and composition in this regard?
I don’t really like to read about music, I never really did that much though. But especially nowadays music journalism, at least in electronic music, is at a stage where It feels that most people who write these critiques seem to be frustrated wanna be producers instead of actual music journalists. I myself find it hard to write about music, sometimes when I have to do a list of tracks and write a few sentences per tune, I really have to search for words. It’s difficult to describe a club track and what makes it stand out from the others for you. So I think the best is to listen to music and decide for yourself if you like it or not. Don’t let others tell you what’s good or bad. Dig until you find something that makes your heart beat faster, that gives you goose bumps, makes you dance, or even cry, no matter what others think.
There has been an exponential growth in promotion agencies and there is still a vast landscape for music magazines. What's your perspective on the music promo- and journalism-system? In how far is it influencing your choice of artists, in how far is it useful for potential buyers, in how far do you feel it is possibly undermining your work?
Again, I don’t think things are healthy at the moment in the electronic music world, and I am sure that many label owners are strongly influenced by the media in what and whom they sign. But then again, you have to ask yourself a question, what is it that you want to do with the label? Do you want to release music you like, from artists you believe in, or do you simply want to sign what’s hip right now? The world is driven by greed and the wish for endless growth, why not be happy running a small business that gives you, and hopefully a few others, joy?
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art?
In house and techno, if you want to call that art, it is basically about having a great time with each other no matter from where you come from or who you are, at least this is what it should be about. People are trying to get away from their troubles and clear their heads on the dancefloor, so it would be very weird if you’d add political or social statements. Strangely nowadays many people think that artists, should only make art and not make any political or social statements in the social media for example. But art has always played a big role in criticising and analysing the social and political life.
It is remarkable, in a way, that we have arrived in the 21st century with the basic concept of labels still intact. Do you have a vision of labels, an idea of what they could be beyond their current form?
I personally think releasing music is what a label should do, or at least deliver the music to the people via various channels. Of course you can do a few label events to bring the label sound to the people, but this shouldn’t be the main purpose. Beyond that I don’t think a record label would be a record label anymore.