St. Vinyl: Michael Mayer
"You can get into trouble but you can also find a new friend" says Michael Mayer, the head of Cologne's Kompakt.
Home of the finest and purest German Electronic music for a decade and still the distribution hub for lots of underground labels around the world.While tens of them already vanished, still a bunch of good labels struggle against illegal downloads and they still try to sell vinyl to save the spirit of electronic music.
In this situation we might call Michael Mayer as a saint to the scene because he is one of a few still trying to keep this up and going despite all negative and depressing progress all around. He is also not happy with the current hype going and asks: "Do we really need to repeat tha past?". He is into developments and he knows this brings lots of digging and hard working.
I assure you he is one of the hardest working men you can find in the industry with a purified heart towards 'real' music. And he is one of the best DJs from Germany. We are lucky because he will be playing in İstanbul at Kompakt label night along his new signing Jatoma. And I was lucky to interview him and ask my questions to Michael Mayer. His answers are compact! But all contain lessons. So read responsibly.
How is label going? How are the sales? How did you apated to digital distribution towards vinyl and what do you predict for the forthcoming months?
We're doing alright, thanks. This means, we're still able to maintain our structure but we all remember more funny times. Lots of labels we work with are struggling to survive, others already went out of business. The overall climate is rougher than ever. It has been said many times before but I'll say it again: -"Illegal downloading is killing music".
You have signed new inspirational artists like The Walls & Jatoma. How would you define the current vision of Kompakt label as a whole?
I see Kompakt more and more as an icebreaker between the club world and the indie world. Techno and house tend to have a very self-centered attitude which often leads to uniformitiy in sound. I strongly feel that it's important to be open for influences from other genres. It's like rubbing shoulders with a stranger... Something's gonna come out of this: -"You can get into trouble but you can also find a new friend".
I guess you also starting repressing the old gems from the archive like the Immer debut of Losoul. Will you go on repressing?
Immer is really a labour of love, a hobby. I don't feel any pressure to release records on a regular frequency. When I stumble over some old favourites, I would test them for a while, check if they've got the Immer-factor which mainly means that time can't harm their beauty. And yes, Immer 12" number 4 is already in the making. It's going to contain two of my absolute all time faves...
What other projects are you working on?
Apart from preparing the first Kompakt releases for 2011 and steady touring? I finally found time to sneak into my studio where I've finished two remixes. One for DFA's Shitrobot and one for the upcoming Whomadewho album. If everything goes well I might even start working on new solo material...
How is the Cologne scene going compared to Berlin and the whole EU?
Phew... not an easy question. In general, I'm pretty tired of comparing Cologne with Berlin. Berlin's Germany's capital and the fastest growing city in Germany, maybe even Europe. Cologne has 1 million inhabitants and it's not changing so much. I personally love to live here in Cologne, it's my home, my harbour. When I get the rare opportunity to go out or play in the city I can say nothing but good things about the scene here. Especially, the Total Confusion parties still draw an amazingly well mixed and enthusiastic crowd. After 12 years, it's still a pure pleasure to play there.
What do you think about the current progression of electronic music?
We're going through a very conservative period. House and techno are celebrating the rennaissance of the early 90s sound. For me personally, it feels like regression. Why repeating history? Sure, I like my old records and would sometimes drop a few during a night. But my focus is on new developments. There's a lot of interesting stuff going on these days.... but it takes a lot of searching and digging to find it.
I am wondering your current favorite albums, which you are listening frequently and enjoying these days?
V/A - Forge your own chains (Now Again)
oOoOO - oOoOO (Tri Angle)
Neil Young - Le Noise
You are coming back to İstanbul very soon for Kompakt label night. What should we expect?
What do you think about our scene and city?
I'm always in awe with Istanbul's aura... the crazy history of this city is totally tangible. I'm loving the moments when the Muezzin's go off... so beautiful. Hey, is it true that your government is planning to construct another Bosphorus? That's insane...
I heard a little story, Is it true that the last time you visited as Supermayer, you noticed that the Funktion-One speaker's were set reverse and you realised and changed it after a while you started playing?
Unfortunately, nowadays it's a rare pleasure to find fully functional equipment. I'm mainly playing with vinyl but somehow this world's stage technicians forgot about the secret science of how to plug a turntable. It's unbelievable... for 30 years there were no problems with this and now they look at you like you just asked them to bend time and space. So, it's always good to be a little tech-savvy...
Anything you would like to add up?
Come visit us on http://www.kompakt.fm !
Thank you very much!
You're welcome! See you!
Interview: Christopher Çolak
22 October 2010