, - on 14/1/11
Although relatively fresh on the scene, fellow collaborators Marc Poppcke, Superlounge and Alex Niggemann have grown to become globally respected DJ and producers. The trio is at the helm of hotly tipped Berlin-based label Soulfooled – releasing dancefloor burners full of personality. With an impressive roster (although ‘family’ would be much more appropriate), Soulfooled has quickly become a more than credible platform, releasing house and techno in all its glorious forms. With the recent release of Soulfooled’s 'Collective EP', Jennifer Oztoplu sat down with both Alex and Marc as they discussed Soulfooled’s family business in this unique and in-depth, artist on artist interview for Pulse Radio.
Alex Niggemann: What was the intention behind starting Soulfooled? Marc Poppcke: It has always been a big wish of mine to have my own label, long before we started Soulfooled. I think I wanted to become a DJ for the same reason. I really like to hear and select music, and find something that is new and interesting for me. For my Dj sets, I hear all the new and upcoming stuff every week, and for the label, I like to hear the demos, searching for the next big talent or track that blows me away.
Right now I don’t like so much to hear all the demos because we are getting too many of them and most of them sound the same. However, on the other side, you find newcomers like Terje Bakke and it’s great to give young talents a platform to release their tracks and help start their career. A label is another great platform to show your own vision of the music you like. The problem has always been that I really hate all this administration stuff that unfortunately comes with a label. That’s the reason why I’ve never started it before by my own. You already know that I’m not such a big business guy because the only thing I really want to do is to keep myself busy with music and not with contracts, invoices and all this stuff.
Then there was the day you introduced me to Oli from Superlounge. For starting such a project it’s really important to have someone on board like him who knows a lot of people in the scene and has an idea about the administration side of the business. So I think for both of us, he has been the missing piece of the puzzle and that’s how Soulfooled was born.
MP: You’ve already released on various big labels like Supernature, 8bit and Tsuba, so why did you decide to start Soulfooled? Wouldn’t it be much easier and less work for you to release on other labels? AN: There is definitely less work involved when only releasing on other labels. I always wanted to have my own company, where I can decide when and what I release, so for me, this was the main reason. Usually, it takes 3 - 6 months for a track to be released after having it signed. Sometimes it is a bit too late, because the song would fit perfect in a certain time, like summer or winter, or to the sound that is played a lot at a certain time. My own label gives me the chance to release a record whenever I want. I’m not dependent on the schedules of other labels. I also wanted to create a platform that stands for a certain sound and a place where I can sign new and talented artists, or just the songs I want to support.
"If I’m producing music without being influenced by current styles, than I can’t compare my own stuff to the productions of others."
AN: Your track on Detailed 002 is called "family business", is this what it is for you, when doing an EP with the other part owners? Is it more family or more business? Do you work differently when you do a release on other labels? MP: It’s not just when I’m doing an ep with you guys, I’m trying to see the whole Soulfooled thing as a family business. In this case, for me it means working together with friends and spreading our own vision of electronic club music. However, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be a serious business. That’s why I’ve never asked myself the question if it’s more family or more business. It can be both at the same time and, for me, it’s even the reason why labels like Oslo or Diynamic are successful. Both labels have artists with a strong relationship to each other and they are helping one another to become even more successful. It’s all about the family and that’s why their business has become so successful. For me, family business also means to work with just a few artists who are releasing on the label more frequently, giving them the chance to build a stronger relationship.
To be artist and 1/3 A&R at the same time is really horrible, especially because I’ve always had self-doubts regarding my own productions, and it’s not any different when I’m writing a track for Soulfooled. After I finish a track and am thinking about a label to which it could fit, I’m actually not worrying about whether I get a reply or not. This is normal these days as labels are getting so many demos and often don’t have the time to listen to everything.
MP: Soulfooled was launched by Superlounge, yourself and me. What are the pros and cons of three people having the same rights in running a label? AN: It’s a perfect situation. We are sharing work which saves a lot of time for each of us. Usually, I had to do A&R, distribution, marketing, label bookings and accounting on my own. Right now, everyone has their own part for which they are responsible. It also makes decisions much easier. The majority has the power. This is very important for us when it comes to the question of which songs we want to release and which not to. The classic 2:1 rule. Imagine if it was just you and me! It would take us longer to decide. On the other hand, we have to take everyones opinion into account before doing a lot of things. That sometimes costs a bit of time.
AN: How would you describe your style of music? Do you play very similar to what you produce? MP: I’m playing and producing four to the floor electronic club music. In doing so, I’m not caring too much about any musical borders and I’m doing what I feel in the moment, be it a Dj in the club or a producer in the studio. I have to say, though, that the music I am most influenced by is disco and funk from the 70s. I think this is why I especially like tracks with melodic elements and a rollin’ bassline. Listen to the strings and basslines of the disco era… Simply amazing. I can say that I’m trying to detach the music that I’m playing in my Dj sets from my own productions. If I’m producing music without being influenced by current styles, than I can’t compare my own stuff to the productions of others. It’s still four to the floor club music but I try to not use sounds you might hear often in current releases. For example, I won’t do an acid track, as it seems to be more and more hip these be. I’m just searching for some nice sounds that I really like and in the end, I’ll see what comes out.
MP: The Collective Ep is the second release on the sub-label Soulfooled Detailed. Could you describe the difference between Soulfooled and Soulfooled Detailed and the philosophy behind them? AN: Well, when we started; the plan was to do double A sides, because it is easier to find a good single track than a good EP where all three tracks are great. We had the opinion that a lot of B Sides do not really fit to the main track or are often worse. We wanted to create a platform, where all of us say, “it’s worth buying the vinyl”, because you get two tracks from different artists. Obviously, at a time where it’s very hard to sell vinyl, it is a must to have a really strong EP.
On the other hand, I don’t want to say that there are no good EPs by one artist on the market, but it becomes rare for sure. From the beginning of Soulfooled, we decided that if we got a few really good songs from one artist that we would release them together as an EP. That’s why we created the Detailed series as a sub-label. Musically it fits to Soulfooled, The word Detailed tells you that this EP focuses on one artist only.
"I know a lot of people will hate me for this but I really don’t have a big problem with people downloading my music for free from the internet."
AN: When it comes to answering questions regarding the current state of the electronic music industry (in regards to illegal downloading), a lot of Djs, label owners and promoters talk about their concerns. What's your opinion? MP: I can understand that people who are behind a long running record label have strong views and possibly complaints about the current situation, but when we decided to start Soulfooled, the record sales had already gone down. We knew that we’d never earn much money with just the vinyl or digital sales. These days, a record label is more of a promotional platform and as I’ve already said, a chance to spread your own vision of music.
I know a lot of people will hate me for this but I really don’t have a big problem with people downloading my music for free from the internet. The more people that have access and listen to it, the higher the chance that my reputation as an artist is getting better too. In the end, it means that I’m getting more gigs as a Dj, especially in countries that (possibly) would otherwise not have heard about me. Of course it would be nice if everybody would pay for the music but it has been a mistake of the whole music industry that they didn’t see the danger of the Internet early enough. To be honest, I think it’s too late to change now. So the exercise of today is to build up a brand with the label and to find new ways of merchandising that brand.
I’ve just read an interview with Sven Väth and they asked him how everything is going with his label Cocoon. He said that Cocoon is getting even bigger and bigger these days. The reason, I think, is that it isn’t just a record label, it’s a strong brand that is easy to merchandise. I’m sure even Cocoon doesn’t earn much money from record sales. In our case, we are just at the beginning and the label is getting more well known. This means we’re also getting more requests for label nights and Dj gigs. We can’t complain, but of course we have to spread our wings to see what else we can do in the future with a brand like Soulfooled.
MP: Are you happy with how Soulfooled has developed so far and what are your visions for the future? AN: Honestly, I’m really surprised at how well the label started, with artists like Audiofly, Phonique, Solomun and Roberto Rodriquez on board from day one. With Terje Bakke and David Durango, the label has also now signed some of the hottest talents this year. We’re really happy to have organized label parties at clubs like Watergate (Berlin), D-Edge (Brasil) and Privilege (Ibiza), to name but a few.
MP: What kind of dreams and wishes do you have for yourself? Are there any labels you want to release on or any events you want to Dj at? AN: My biggest wish is to stay healthy. Business wise, I would love to release on labels such as Crosstown Rebels, Rekids and Planet E. For Djing, I’m looking forward to travelling to Australia and Asia next year, and playing at Space Ibiza. I would also like to play at some of the big festivals again in 2011.
AN: What can people expect from you in 2011? MP: 2011 will definitely be a year full of changes for me. To be honest, I don’t want to speak too much about it right now because there’s always the possibility that things turn out differently to what I’ve planned. What I can say is that I’ll finish my studies at the University of the Arts while I keep working on my career as a producer and Dj, as well as pushing our Soulfooled brand.
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