This interview with one of the many interesting electro labels in Germany has been conducted with Matthias M. Weise. Let’s discover something more about Dominance Electricity Records.
Chain D.L.K.: Dominance Records was born in 1996 and you joined it soon after. In the year 2000 you created its sublabel Dominance Electricity. What convinced you to create a sublabel focused on electro music?
Dominance Electricity Records: Label founder Matthias Kretzschmer and the other crew members he started the label with in 1996, grew up with an ’80s electro/hip-hop background. So the love for both hip-hop and electro reflected the label’s output from the beginning. The first Dominance releases combined the two genres like it was done back in the day by people like Mantronix, T La Rock, Hashim, Maggotron etc.: battle rhymes over booming 808 beats. I joined them in around 1998 and with my obession for the same type of electro that they were into, it didn’t take long ’til we founded the sublabel Dominance Electricity for electro productions only. There already had been two pure electro releases in 1997-1998 before the sublabel was founded…. But when it became clear that in the future there would be many more electro releases we made the split.
Chain D.L.K.: Since you come from the former East Germany can you tell us how things have changed for you since the fall of the Berlin Wall? Was it possible to create such a label in the past?
Dominance Electricity Records: In GDR times it was not possible to open your own record label, of course, as all firms were owned by the socialist state. Only VEB Deutsche Schallplatten had the licence to produce and release records. They released everything from classical music, jazz, pop/rock to children’s fairy tales. In the ’80s they even put out some nice electronic music, like LPs from Reinhard Lakomy and Pond on the “Amiga” label. There also was one hip-hop release by the now legendary East German Electric Beat Crew. A documentary film is currently being made (we’ll release the DVD) about the East German underground hip-hop scene in the GDR, including interviews with rappers and all kinds of interesting bits and pieces, like break dancers performing in front of Erich Honecker, the leader of the GDR. When things changed after 1989, nearly everything in the GDR fell apart and that also included the little hip-hop scene. It took some years ’til some labels like Halb 7 were founded and would release punk and hip-hop records like the Pioniermanöver compilations, giving East German hip-hop a new platform. By 1996 it was a whole different climate and opening up your own music label was not a problem anymore (as long as you knew how to do it).
Chain D.L.K.: At the beginning of the new millennium the hype was mostly over techno and minimal electro. What has been your main inspiration that made you trust that electro music could kick asses also nowadays?
Dominance Electricity Records: Thinking about the classic “electro” with a broken beat, funky bass lines, synths and Kraftwerkish elements, there was a big hype going on in the UK, Detroit, Germany and Holland in the late ’90s. Labels like Direct Beat, Breakin Records, Electron Industries, Over X-Posure, Psi49Net and Clone put out lots great records that still had the original old school ’80s electro flavour but also added new technoid power and took it to the next level. Back then we only had a few records released, but as this is the sound we always loved we just keep pushing it now, no matter what music is the current hype. The classic “electro” has a strong fan community all over the world underground. Since the ’80s it was always there and we want to help keep it alive forever.
Chain D.L.K.: What bands did you consider first for the creation of the label’s roster and why?
Dominance Electricity Records: The first releases were all our own productions, of course. The early hip-hop/electro releases were under names like 808 Mafia, Prime Dominance, Hartkor Kinkxz and electro releases from Dagobert and Sbassship. For the second part of the various-artists electro album “Global Surveyor” we also asked other producers we respect very much like Mandroid (known from the great Breakin Records), Mas 2008 (Twilight 76, Electronic Corporation), Dynamik Bass System (Gigolo Records) and others to contribute tracks. Imatran Voima’s music we already knew from some of their releases on the Finnish Kostamus Records and Telektro labels. Their track “Commando” I first heard on DJ Wonderboy’s electro radio show in Sweden. Back then it was still unreleased and I just knew that this would fit perfectly into our label.
Chain D.L.K.: You released a 12″ by Newcleus, one of most important bands of the early ’80s N.Y. electro scene. Have you thought to contact other bands of the past to spread their music to the new generations? What names would you like to contact?
Dominance Electricity Records: Yes, we’re working on some contacts and projects. I can’t say more on this yet but we’ll definitely have some more surprises in the future. Some people we would like to make contact with seem very hard to locate these days. For example if anyone knows how to contact John Davis (Metrovynil)… let me know, please. To release and remix Newcleus was really an honor as we have been big fans of their music since the ’80s. When we made contact with them in 2005 they had just rediscovered some old tapes with unreleased songs and versions of their classics “Destination Earth” (1984) and “Why” (1985). Back then their producers often had different views and fiddled with the songs without asking permission from the band. For example: some vocals recorded in studio sessions were not used in the final versions and songs like “Destination Earth” were only released as an instrumental. So Newcleus gave us the chance to release the original versions of these songs for the first time like they always wanted them to be. Making our own remix of “Destination Earth” was big fun. We even had an e-guitar player in our studio to do a solo. The other new remix comes from Reeno, a funk DJ and producer from New York who runs the label Spazzoid Records and has a radio show on globalfunkradio.com.
Chain D.L.K.: You collaborated with bands that run their own label. Are you thinking about collaborating with any of them? If yes, how?
Dominance Electricity Records: When you put so much heart and energy into building up a record label, it’s actually most fun to also release your music on your own label. So there are rather few label collaborations. But next to some labels’ licencing songs from us for compilations, we released in 2004 the EP Block Universe by Sbassship with the label Electronic Corporation, which is run by MAS 2008. In return they released a track on our Global Surveyor II album. In the future there’s also some remix work planned for other labels like FBI Recordings and Destune Records.
Chain D.L.K.: Nowadays the electro scene seems to be exclusively linked to DJ sets. As far as I can see Dominance Electricity focuses its efforts on music more than on club culture. Am I right?
Dominance Electricity Records: We try to do both. For example Dagobert’s music is mostly not very DJ-friendly but for some other projects we keep an eye on DJ compatibility as many of the electro vinyl buyers are DJs.
Chain D.L.K.: Sometimes I see labels press their vinyl releases in only few hundreds of copies, even if the music is really intriguing. In your opinion is this a sign that the music industry is in a big crisis due to mp3-sharing or is it because there are so many labels that it is difficult to advertise your own? Or, what else?
Dominance Electricity Records: Because of the mp3 revolution it’s without question a lot more difficult to sell vinyl records today. So all the limited editions totally make sense. That’s why we also try to make every release as physically attractive as possible, with nice sci-fi cover illustrations and limited color vinyl editions. That’s what you’re missing when you only load mp3s. There will always be vinyl lovers, DJs and collectors who want to get all this, but I guess unfortunately their number won’t increase dramatically anytime soon.
Chain D.L.K.: You also release a compilation series called “Battle Of The Year”. Tell us a little about that.
Dominance Electricity Records: “Battle Of The Year” is an international world championship for Breakdancing. Many countries have their national “Battle Of The Year” events and the winners come to the international “Battle Of The Year” which takes place in Germany in October every year. Last year there also was an Italian crew named Double B Rockers. On Dominance Records we release the Battle Of The Year Soundtrack various-artist albums with new funky breaks and hip-hop music for all the B-Girls and B-Boys out there.
Chain D.L.K.: I read that you also run a vinyl pressing plant. Has this helped you out releasing the music you really want to?
Dominance Electricity Records: It helps to keep the production costs a little lower… so we can afford to put more money into artwork and such things. We love nice, old-school-drawn sci-fi cover illustrations as this fits very well with the music and gives the music a face. For example for the “Global Surveyor Phase 2″ LP we worked with Michael Böhme, an already legendary 62-year-old space art artist who also works for NASA art projects. He even had a picture in the first exhibition in outer space on the old MIR space station. The picture for Imatran Voima vs. Sbassship “Commando” was made for us by Swen Papenbrock, one of the artists of the German sci-fi/fantasy novel booklet series “Perry Rhodan” (since 1961). For the Newcleus EP, we worked with Bill Wray. He is known for his work on the ’90s cult-TV cartoon series “Ren and Stimpy” (remember the “Space Paranoia” episode? ). It’s a bit in the style of the old Newcleus record covers who were, back then, drawn by Marvel Comics legend Bob Camp.
Chain D.L.K.: What are the new releases you are working on?
Dominance Electricity Records: Next release is by Mandroid (Future Funk EP) and there’s also an EP planned with Dynamik Bass System. The third part of the Global Surveyor various-artists album is coming some time early next year. And there’s several other projects that probably will still take some time to be finished, like the Sbassship album.
Chain D.L.K.: Something else you’d like to tell us?
Dominance Electricity Records: For everybody that wants to get to know us a little more, there’s a free 2-hour DJ set with music from our label’s electro backcatalogue here: http://www.basswarp.com/dominance/Dominance-Electricity-Radiomix.mp3 Tracklist: http://www.dominance-records.de/radioAnd you can check us out in the web at http://www.myspace.com/dominanceelectricity (A new electro website http://www.dominance-electricity.de will be online soon, too.) Also go and check out the online electro communities http://www.electroempire.com and http://www.electroalliance.net and meet electro producers, fans and freaks from all over the world. Greetings and thanks to everyone supporting us and the classic electro! Lets rock!
Visit Dominance Electricity Records on the web at:
[interviewed by Maurizio Pustianaz] [proofreading by Benjamin Pike]