Constructed around a group of artists and friends – namely label bosses Lowtec and Even Tuell, along with Kassem Mosse, Move D, Madteo and others – Workshop are responsible for some beautiful music. Sonically their output is dusty, deep and melodic house and techno that’s drenched with soul. Physically Workshop wax comes shrink wrapped with hand stamped vinyl and embossed text, an aesthetic that is instantly recognisable.
Since beginning life in 2006 and hooking up distribution with Germany’s infamous Hardwax the label has flourished by keep things high quality and simple. Ahead of the Non Plus x Workshop event this Saturday, we chatted to Jens Kuhn (Lowtec) about starting out in the 90’s, Hardwax and labels he draws inspiration from…
Where did your interest in music begin and how to did that progress into music production and putting out records?
In the early 90’s I started to buy records from Hardwax and then I started to play records with some friends of mine. We went mad for Techno and House and began to organize small parties in this East German province. It was clear to us that we will release our own tracks one day so we established a small studio in our shared flat. In 1995 we founded R.A.N.D.-Muzik, an association of friends who wanted to release music and dj. We founded our labels USM (United States of Mars), Science City, Out To Lunch and 3b.
In that time we met David Moufang (aka Move D) just after he had released his LP ‘Kunststoff’. We loved it, so we sent him a demo and it eventually got released on his label, Source Records as System 360 which Mixmag gave record of the month. So this is how it all started.
What are the main differences you have found with running a record label today compared to when you started Out To Lunch in the 90’s?
In the middle of the 90’s we ran different labels at the same time, with loads of releases and sold small numbers of each release – today is exactly the opposite.
It seems that Workshop is a concentrated group of artists that occasionally open new space for new-comers. What is the basic criteria you consider when bringing a new artist into the fold? Does there need to be a personal relationship in place?
Of course. A lot happens because of friends and friends of friends, but it’s not absolutely necessary. There are some tracks we have released which came to us via demos like the ones from Ron Deacon. And to everyone who has sent us demos and never received an answer – we can’t handle it anymore as we receive like 3 or 4 demos a day.
Workshop have a strong visual and sonic identity, how would you describe this and why is it important to you?
We try to make it unique and not inter-changeable and work very intuitively to release music we like. At the same time we often leave the ‘A1 floorkiller tracks’ for more long-lasting flipside tracks. It’s like producing our own favourite records.
How crucial has your partnership with Hardwax been to the success of Workshop?
Hardwax is just the best distributor we can imagine and we are really thankful for the longstanding support they’ve given us. We couldn’t imagine Workshop as it is now without Hardwax.
I’ve seen Workshop records sell for very high prices on Discogs. What are your thoughts on people who snap up limited vinyl specifically to turn a profit on them?
I honestly think that it’s not very fair to real collectors but I do not watch the prices all the time too.
Can you name some record labels you draw inspiration form?
Spontaneously these ones I have in mind are Will Bankhead’s TTT Label because he makes no compromises and also for the label’s artwork. Rush Hour and Clone Records for their consistent high quality. Dial and Smallville for their style and attitude. The open-minded UK Dubstep scene.
Kassem Mosse has acquired a lot of fans in the UK, particularly from Dubstep producers who are now producing House and Techno. Why do you think this is so?
Kassem Mosse has such a unique style that everybody can agree on – people from D&B, House or Techno. I don’t know why it’s like that but it’s just amazing. So maybe the rockers will agree on it too as the next step.;)
Could you name of a few new artists that are exciting you at the moment?
Marcellis, my man on Workshop. The Orb feat. Lee Scratch Perry, oldies but goldies. Madteo, always a pleasure. I’m also looking forward to the meandyou label releases. Sex Tags Crew & Dresvn, always crazy and Lakker
What’s coming up for Workshop in 2013?
If everything works out we will release a bunch of long players.
How about Lowtec?
There will be a release called ’Port Carbon EP’ on Brainmath and some remixes, so keep your eyes open.
When can we expect from the Workshop room at The Hydra event in London this Friday?
You’ll be surprised to find out…
Lowtec, Kasse Mosse & Even Tuell play at The Hydra: Non Plus x Workshop this Saturday at ICan Studios. Head here for tickets