maandag 12 mei 2014

Interview in Obskure Mag: 10 years of Enfant Terrible

Recently Obskure Mag from France published an interview with me on ten years of Enfant Terrible in their excellent paper magazine. The interview was done by Max Lachaud (thanks again Max!) Now they published the complete interview online in French... so below you can find it in English. See here for the French version / Obskure Mag online...

- What was your music background before the creation of Enfant Terrible?

From a very young age I listened to a lot of music but in the years before I started my label I was involved in writing about music for a lot for various web based and paper magazines. Next to that I was dj’ing and organizing parties and some live shows. These activities made me realize there was a lot of music out there which I liked and was not being released. So I decided to create a platform to release music I liked and thought some more people should hear. In the end it was and still is a way to get the music released I want to listen to myself… and I am very happy other people are also enjoying these releases…

- Why did you choose this French expression as a name?

Of course it is French expression but we used to use it too in Holland… but it has become a bit out of fashion. If refers of course to Cocteau and it refers a lot to me… I know I can be difficult… but always with a reason… I like to do things my way when it comes to my label and in the past ten years this has caused several discussions with several people… but I have strict ideas about how things should be done and as it is my private time and private money I invest (I have a normal day job next to my label) I can define the rules and make it happen the way I want when it comes to my label… so for some people I am an Enfant Terrible…

- What were your intentions at the beginning of the label?

In the end I am music lover and a record collector… I create records I want to have and like to play at home… I do this with musicians I like and think some more people should know about… it is as simple as that.

When it comes to production, promotion and distribution I follow a strict independent line as I believe in the small, the local, outsider stuff and so on… and I am only interested in getting music to the right people… people with the same loves and passions… I am not at all interested in reaching many people for the sake of reaching many people… but if artists I work with should be heard by more people then they should follow that path as well… and I will not stand in their way and will help if it fits my ideas of growth…

- At the beginning you did quite a few reissues of works by cult Dutch label Trumpett Records with bands such as Ende Shneaflet, The Actor or Doxa Sinistra, was it important to show the heritage and influence of the works of such artists?

I think it is always important to show the tradition you work in and show respect to your roots… so it was logical to release some Dutch (and Belgian) musicians I appreciate a lot and showed the way for musicians who came after them.

Trumpett as a label was not an example for my label as such but the music they released and the independent attitude is totally in line with what I do… or when it comes to the music at least for some parts.

- What is your point of view on all those reissues of bands from the eighties and labels specialized in it, because in some ways you contributed to this resurgence of sounds from the eighties?

Yes, I also think I contributed to this… there were labels before me of course who released 80’s proto-elektro, avant-garde electronic pop and so on… like Kernkrach, Was Soll Das Schallplatten and Genetic for example…

Some years ago I wrote an article on what should be called recycle culture in which I stated that I think we have reached a point where quality seems no longer to be important. Anything from the 80’s is re-released now… even stuff that for a good reason never before got released… as lots of these bands and music had no artistic or cultural relevance back then… and still not…

But well… many people seem to like these records anyway as they sell very well… but I decided to not play this game and instead focus on contemporary music and also for an important part on contemporary Dutch musicians… as I think music from today is more relevant and deserves more attention and support as some obscure and forgotten tape from 30 years ago with a kind of music I have heard many times before and then done in a better way…

This said I do not think all 80’s re-releases are to be ignored… from time to time some true gem is still being discovered or a really nice and hard to find record is put to vinyl again… in these cases I will buy these records and in some cases also support and sell it in my webshop.

- Can you tell me more about all the sublabels linked to Enfant Terrible and the upcoming Vrystaete?

There are only three sublabels which saw the light through the years until now… Hex Grammofoonplaten is a label which came to life as I wanted to do a compilation which put the energy from the Hex parties we did in Amsterdam from 2004 to 2008 to vinyl… to get the party spirit into people’s homes.

These parties will always stay with me… I believe we were the first to have a true high quality new wave / post punk night with a dancenight with songs from the past and always the newest releases and contemporary live acts on stage. These nights built a name for themselves and even people from Belgium, Germany and France came to visit us.

We stayed away from the clich├ęs and went for a broad spectrum of sounds… from punk to industial to minimal and from neo-folk to Neue Deutsche Welle and deathrock…

I did not release a lot on this sublabel but who knows what is to come? I have some ideas for records in this series…

In 2012 I started with Gooiland Elektro… a label focused on dancemusic like elektro and techno… but of course music rooted in the traditions I already worked in… so stuff like EBM, new beat and some flirts with italo disco… Last year I released twelve 12”s which were received very well… more will come this year but a bit less as last year I think…

This as I will also focus a bit on the new Vrystaete label… which will present music more or less related to folklore, psychedelic and lo-fi sounds… and people will be able to hear again my new wave roots… but it will also be different… first up are an album by Niedowierzanie who released already two great albums with the German Treue Um Treue label. This new album is an amazing piece of folklore music mixed with contemporary electronic music elements.

Also coming this spring is the second album by Dutch duo Kaval… they produce some really good ambient music which has a link in mood and sound with the stuff from Hero Wouters from the 80’s which I released years ago.

More is coming later this year… for example psychedelic minimal music and melancholy folktronics…

- What are some of the records you have been very proud of releasing? Your personal favorites and highlights of the label?

This is a hard question as I like and love all the records I put out… for different reasons… and I appreciate all the collaborations a lot… but well… from the old days my favorites are the Doxa Sinistra album, the Hero Wouters album and the Kaa Antilope album. When it comes to contemporary music I am really happy with the Europ Europ Mellowharsher EP… this truly came out perfect… it is the music and it is the packaging and how this works together… but also the Distel album and the Kim Ki O album I play a lot here… and I love and will always love Sololust… his music is special to me and he is too as a person…

Possibly the biggest highlight for me personal is however the Exploitation 2LP soundtrack… so much time and work went into this and I see this as a great achievement how the 90 minutes of music flow… I am still proud how I created this narrative on vinyl…

- In the same way, what are your Top 5 favorite records of all time?

Sorry… but this is a question which is impossible to answer I think… as there is so much good music out there… and I listen to all… from 60’s folk and psychedelic music to techno to noise to modern classical stuff… and so on… When it comes to pop music I have two favorite albums which are the first albums by The Velvet Underground and The Jesus And Mary Chain…

- You have also discovered bands who have become well-known right now such as Agent Side Grinder or lately Distel received some very enthusiastic reviews and reception. How did you discover their music?

I am always listening to music, reading about music, searching for music… but in these cases… Agent Side Grinder… I booked Saralunden at the Hex party and the label owner told me he just started a new band… he sent me a cd-r with demos… real demo takes from 9 minutes or so… based on these I invited the band for my Hex night as well… after the concert I asked them to release a 7” with me and so we started to work together for some time…

Distel was a live member of another band I knew from the Dutch scene and I do not remember well if I wrote him or he wrote me… but before we got in contact I had heard like about two songs on internet and I heard the talent of the musician in these tracks... he sent me a cd with two almost finished tracks and some other tracks in pre-versions and we took it from there… also first a 7” which sold very slowly to be honest…

- Why this choice to focus on dance stuff for Gooiland Elektro?

Enfant Terrible evolved more and more in some more experimental way with stuff like La Mort De L’Hippocampe, Europ Europ and Distel for example and I missed the energy of music you can dance to like dark elektro as Kommando 6 and Invasion Planete had released before… this together with me love for the energy and mood of EBM, new beat and early techno stuff was the perfect start for something new and which was still a logical next chapter for Enfant Terrible as a label… and I just have a lot of fun with this label and am really happy it is received so well…

- What are the main difficulties for an independent label today?

Not sure…it depends on your strategy and what you consider independent… my notion of this is much stricter I guess as of some other people and labels… but making good quality records is expensive… especially in small editions… and then selling music which is not hip and trendy is hard… I am never making easy records I think… never releasing what is hot at that time… this as I do not care for that… I put out what I like and I aim at surprising people… and serving new sounds to people who follow my label… and doing something different as other labels… so it is harder to sell the records then when you release more typical minimal synth or electro stuff… also I like to work mostly with new and unknown artists and show the world these new sounds… this is also always harder as selling established artists…

- You have made very few CDs, always focusing on vinyles and cassettes. Is it because of a personal attachment to these formats?

Yes, for sure. I am a record collector and buy very few cd’s. Also in my house you will not see the cd’s… they are put out of sight… but the vinyls you will see… I like to play records… the ritual… the feeling… it is a real product which stays with you and as a label you can make much nicer out of it as with a cd…

Cassettes are a different thing… I love cassettes they are small and you can do great things with the packaging… like adding things to it or wrap it in something and so on…

Basically I release vinyls. I did one cd which I maybe should have done as vinyl and I released one cd-r as a gift at a party for the visitors. Tapes are for special (art) projects or when the type of music fits better on this format… which is of course a personal vision…

There is by the way a change I will re-release the Distel album on cd as I think more people should hear this amazing album… but this will be done then in a co-production with another label… and it will be a product on its own… most likely different from the vinyl release in some ways… I expect to know more on this soon…

- Can you tell us more about the events that you organize apart from your label activity (exhibitions, concerts, etc.)?

In the past I organized more regular nights like the Hex parties… but I got fed up with this… to me it became more of the same every night and I wanted to create more freedom for a different kind of events. So I experimented with different nights at different locations… most of them being one time concepts… it varied from live performances at openings of exhibitions to a night at a theatre with the program following that of a theatre night out to a concert at the kitchen of avant-garde fashion store XXX of my friends in Berlin…

So since 2008 I organize about two nights each year… often one of them in co-productions with another organizer or organization… sometimes in Holland and sometimes somewhere else… For 2014 I am currently planning an Enfant Terrible / Gooiland Elektro night in Holland in April and a performance night at XXX in Berlin in June… and possibly later on a Vrystaete event… but the ideas for this need to take shape first…

- How do you feel like for this 10th anniversary, and how do you intend to celebrate it?

I like to put some attention to it as I am proud of doing this for 10 years in the way I have done it… 10 years of true independence and 10 years of cultural activism… as I like to see it… so there is the “I Am Enfant Terrible” compilation which I put together for this occasion… but things need to move on… so I focus on the future for the rest… with new events… a new label (Vrystaete) and always other new ideas and plans which I will try to realize… and with now a tradition of my own (as 10 years might be called a tradition on its own in my opinion) and a focus on the future I try to live the now… celebrate what has been realized but try to catch the energy of the moment and simply have fun producing nice records and enjoying good music and working with nice people… just as it started…

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