Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Philipp. Let’s start with Dial 7 For Ghosts your new single. Where did the title come from?
Guten Tag – the title of this release is an homage to one of my favorite bands from my younger days. They are called “Phantom/Ghost”, one of their songs is called “Relax, it’s only a Ghost” in which they have several lines, I just like so much. So the titles of the two originals are a direct hint to them. Also I once made music with a friend under the name “Ghosts On Gangway Seven” – a really silly name, but it popped up when listening to Phantom/Ghost again and so I played a bit with it and ended up with “Dial 7…”
As with all of Stólar releases it features striking artwork. Who is the artist behind the images, and how would you describe the importance of Art to you and for the label?
Every release has a photography by Jules Villbrandt, a very good friend of mine, that is an extraordinary photographer, is running her own interior-blog-magazin, PR-Studio and does pictures for publications all over. She is fantastic, everything she does and offers is just beautiful, she is doing the art direction for the label and offers me pictures we can use as a cover and from that point we discuss every thing else, like the color scheme for the record inlay, the color of the vinyl and so on. When I thought about founding Stólar, the first thing I did, even before the name and so on, I asked Jules if she would help me with the visual work. She said yes and I couldn’t be happier, that she is doing it.
From the beginning I wanted a stringent look of the releases, so that you see from the distance which label you are looking at. A bit like Smallville with its Stefan Marx covers. Also we want every record to stand alone, as a piece of art and even as a piece of interior decoration. The cover picture from STÓ001 – The Clouds All Form A Geometric Shape was also released as print on Jules main hub in cooperation with Whitewall (http://www.herzundblut.com/blog-1/sweet-memories-limitierte-foto-edition-von-herzampblut-mit-whitewall) We want to make beautiful and aesthetically pleasing records from every angle. The fact that more and more people liking the Artwork and the music itself, is telling us, we are on the right path.
Running a new record label in 2020 must have presented challenges as a result of Covid-19. How do you see the ‘industry’ moving forward in terms of generating revenue (streaming) etc?
Well first of all I have to say that I have the huge privilege, that my day job was and is always there for me, so that the negative results of the pandemic isn’t hitting me as hard as others in the industry. Besides that 2020 was somehow not the best timing, especially with the first number, that was released one week before everything shut down in Germany. So right now the biggest challenge is to gain a wider audience for the records without playing in clubs, festivals or any other shows. To gain money, I think the best way is and was merchandise in the last years and some labels have been very creative in doing so, like Loser Records, also from Berlin. Also everyone is trying to get into the big playlists, but let’s face it, the outcome out of Spotify isn’t that helpful to smaller labels, it can help for sure, but it is just a small amount. I know that there are people pushing forward to change the way musicians are being paid in the streaming world, without shows this will be the biggest hope of generating revenue, for sure.
What do you think will happen to club culture?
Honestly I don’t know, I have an idea but I quit clubs a few years ago. I read a lot about clubs getting local again, about stopping the bookings of artists from all over the world, I don’t think this is the future. The people are still thirsty for the club happening and for the edgy artists from other cities and countries, at least this is what I see here in Berlin. Clubs, same as labels and musicians, need to be creative again, Berghain is doing his gallery thing now, besides opening a “Biergarten” like open air on the weekends. Other clubs doing open airs more or less successfully since a few weeks now. Maybe it’s time to open even more to other people, besides the regular club visitor. I think there will be more pop-ups, more collaborations with restaurants, galleries, shops to bring more people into the places on a daily basis and maybe make some money with drinks, food etc. because right now, on the beginning of October 2020, I do not see a regular club night happening again in near future. I think for this to happen, the discipline in following the rules the authorities are giving to the clubs, is not there. Especially when narcotics and alcohol are involved, at the end this is still Berlin.
Outside of music who are your most important influences?
Mainly there are philosophical ideas, that are the influences to my work, besides music. Like the meaning of beauty, as it was handled in Plato’s work or the Japanese concept of aesthetics, Mujō, in which every conditioned existence, without exception, is in a constant state of flux.
The music you release on Stólar is distinctive and high on atmosphere. What for you are the most important elements when signing a piece of music? And what are your feelings on the relevance of contemporary song-writing in electronic music?
Well thank you, Stólar was found as a hub for my own music, so it’s nice to hear, that there is something to recognize in my music. When signing other music that’s easy, I have to like it. But seriously, I mainly work with people, whose music and work I already adore. Because of the atmosphere, the melodics, the melancholy they transport in their songs. Like Metome, who did a remix of “Beau Rivage”. I first listened to his music in 2013 and I was instantly hooked by the way he produced music and performed it live. So it was just natural to ask him for a remix. Or Kim Brown and Tilman, both acts are and were excellent in what they do and did, I already listened to plenty of their songs before even starting a label. All I wanna do is work with people, I look up to, and when they agree I don’t want to put them into a frame, in which they have to work. They can do what ever they want and I am sure, that I will like it every time. Until now I was correct with my feeling.
About the relevance of contemporary song-writing in electronic music, well since the pop up of idm and the fact that house music, especially the melancholic one, is getting more and more in the focus, the need to write songs, like classic pop songs is there, if you want to get into the radio and/or the playlists, that aren’t the underground and niche ones. Gladly there are musicians that don’t follow those rules that much, as I am thinking of Christian Löffler e.g., who manages to write songs, that can be pop songs, but are still not following the classic song-writing and this is a fantastic evolution, in my opinion.
Tell us about your studio set-up. Do you have particular software / hardware you always use when creating music? And what choice of speakers for listening?
I mainly work inside the box, while having a Korg M1 and a Elektron Digitakt next to me, I use some UA effects and mainly Arturia Products, as I like the emulations of classical synths. When listening to music I use my studio speakers, Adam AX7 or my headphones from AIAIAI TMA-2.
And finally. Tell us about your plans for yourself as an artist and for the label moving into 2021?
The label will see the first release by an other artist than myself. Lifestyles, who already remixed “D7FG”, will release a single and an EP, that will get a vinyl release. I think I will release some music again as well, I just don’t know yet what exactly, since there are a lot of unfinished demos sitting around. With the label we will continue to produce some beautiful work with the help of Jules and other amazing artists, like Julian Braun, who is creating a short video for “Dial 7 For Ghosts”. We will try to expand that side of creativity as well. And if I could wish something for the label, it would be releases by all the great artists I adore, like Lawrence, Black Jazz Consortium, Francis Harris, Julius Steinhoff, Cinthie or John Roberts. Overall I want to continue working with people I admire, creating aesthetically pleasing things – that’s all I want and to me it’s heavenly.