Continuing our look behind the scenes at some of the world's most pioneering and innovative labels. This week we catch up with DJ T - co-founder of the uber-cool German imprint Get Physical to discuss his new album, how they chose tracks to release on the label and why their sound is already 'out of fashion'...
What was the ethos of the label when you started Get Physical?
The six of us who set up the label all came from different backrounds and life and business situations but we had one thing in common: we wanted to close doors on the businesses that we had been a part of before and be completely independent. We didn’t want to think about having to please anybody with this label and our music.
What has been your proudest moment at the label?
Having more success with this attitude than we ever expected.
Why did it take so long for labels to embrace the digital format?
Because in the beginning nobody was able to, or even wanted to imagine an digital-only world.
As a label, what steps do you take to combat file sharing?
We have people at our office who contact blogs and file hosts almost every day. But for every ten sites who take down the link one day, there are ten new ones the next day. The biggest problem is that these young people in Russia, Ukraine and elsewhere in the world have a lack of knowledge of the wrong they are doing. For them it’s just a competition of who is first when offering new music to everybody for free. They don't see that they destroy the livelihood of the people who are working hard to put out and promote this music.
The amount for material you get sent for consideration must be staggering. When A&Ring for the label, what catches your attention above all else?
Hard to answer. I guess all the A&Rs know this matter: you have to judge the basic quality of a track within a zappin' process of around 30-45 seconds because you simply don't have more time, because there‘s so much material. If you don't sort out the track after this moment then of course you have to get into it more intensely. That sounds hard and for sure there is no A&R who is safe from missing something good from time to time. But in 99% of the cases your ear should be trained enough to recognize something outstanding within this time frame.
Your album ‘The Inner Jukebox’ drops at the end of June and is being billed as “a '90s influenced exploration into the sphere of classic house music”. Do you think it’s important to consider the roots of the genre when making fresh material?
Actually I don't know where this billing came from, not from myself, that’s for sure. Sounds a bit wrong in my ears. I would erase at least the word "classic", then it makes more sense. Because even if my album doesn't blind out where house has come from, it’s clearly about house in the here and now. Look at the renaissance of house and all these productions of the youngsters, especially in the Rhein-Main area around Frankfurt, all these fresh producers and DJs who came up in the last 1-2 years. They are partly still in their early 20s but you can hear that they are aware of the tradition of what was before. What they do is to give it a new shape. They have grown up in the sphere of the Frankfurt-based freebase record store and a rich network of DJs, labels, promoters, which gave them consciousness of tradition. What they are putting out these days - it couldn't happen without the knowledge of what happened in the 80‘s & 90‘s. Counterquestion: was there anything new in electronic music in the past years without combining past and present? I would answer no.
What are your hopes for the album?
I don't expect so much. I hope that it will be respected as another way of interpreting house today because currently I have the feeling that there are mainly one or two formulae out there and 90% of the followers are just re-producing it without trying to surprise or pushing the boundaries.
Berlin is an epicentre for a certain brand of house/techno and for the culture associated with it. Why do you think this is?
It’s obvious why, the cliche is true. It’s simply because Berlin has the biggest number of influential DJs, producers, labels and definetely the most inspiring night life and club culture in the whole world at the moment. And people are still moving from everywhere to Berlin. It’s because this place is still becoming a true city. That gives people the feeling that they can make a contribution to it. I hope this process will never end.
Do you think the Get Physical sound is in danger of going out of fashion?
Actually we‘ve already been out of fashion for three years and we are totally fine with that. The word fashion implies that something can only be hip for a very finite time. That lies in the nature of fashion. We were defining one of the sounds of the moment between 2003 and 2005. Then minimal came up, and we didn't want to jump on the bandwagon. We rather wanted to put out consensus tracks that can be played by DJs of different genres, and become a label that’s constantly building up artists who have more to say than just releasing some hot 12‘s for a moment. Looking at our roster and thinking of such outstanding artists like Noze, Raz Ohara, Damian Lazarus, Lopazz, Jona or Audiofly, I am proud of what we have achieved. All these hip Nu House labels - that I partly really appreciate - will have the same experience in 1 or 2 years, when new fashion sounds come up and they will have to re-think their musical positioning. Then the real tough part of the label work begins; surviving the fashions and holding a high level of the quality of output over the years . That what’s giving a label a place in history.
Any other projects in the pipeline?
My first world tour, including being overseas for over three months in a row, I am excited about this. And after that: RELAX!
DJ T's 'The Inner Jukebox' is available to download now