Permanent Vacation have always been willing to throw any type of genre thinking overboard like a stale glass of vodka for the sake of a good melody, is how Berlin journalist Sascha Kösch aka Bleed once described the music label in De:Bug magazine. Founded in 2006, Benjamin Fröhlich and Tom Bioly created Permanent Vacation in order to live out their personal musical preferences. Without of a set of artists to call their own or any reputation in the music business whatsoever they set out to put together their first release. A compilation of tracks by Manhead, WhoMadeWho, and Kelley Polar, the record is something of document of their favourite pieces of Italo Disco, Balearic, and House tracks of that time. The sampler hit like a bomb and almost overnight provided them with the contacts to many of the artists who are part of their creative network today.
In the meantime, Fröhlich and Bioly have managed to assemble a catalogue with a total of 50 releases. Apart from albums of artists such as Kathy Diamond, Antena, and Woolfy vs Projections, it also contains music compilations of German Democratic Republic Electronic and, more importantly, all kinds of danceable EPs of acts like Sally Shapiro, Tensnake, and Hard Ton. The unifying element to all of their sounds is an affinity to Pop that sticks out with musicality. The sound of this stylistic balancing act between Disco, Balearic, House, Italo, Cosmic, Krautrock, and Pop can now be discovered in the Permanent Vacation edition of the Carhartt Radio Show. We had a little chad with the charming label makers Benjamin Fröhlich and Tom Bioly to capture their personal comments about their show.
Why did you decide to start your own label?
PV: We had both been toying around with the idea independently, since we both felt that the kind of label we would have liked didn’t exist yet, at least not in Germany. When we got to know each other better during a project for Compost Records, it seemed like the obvious thing. Eventually, when things got really started with Cosmic and Space Disco, or whatever you want to call it, after a period of musical disorientation, we too felt it was the right time for us to get things going properly.
What part did the record store where Benjamin used to be a partner play in all of this?
PV: Through the record store we realised that our musical likes and dislikes match by about 99%, which is of course very helpful if you plan to start a record label together…
Does your record store experience have an influence on your current work? On the cover designs, for example?
PV: Well, of course it is helpful to know the record business from a retailer’s point of view as is knowing what goes down well and what not. The cover design, or what can be still called so today, of most records is not all that exciting. In terms of cover design, working in a record store is a good way of finding out how not to do it. And that’s very helpful!
When you founded your label in 2006 the record industry was going downhill. Weren’t you afraid about your business falling flat?
PV: Honestly said, it was a relatively manageable risk. Anyway, fear is a disabling thing and probably the wrong precondition to start a business on. Of course we were excited to see how things would turn out. In regard to the record industry we simply thought it a good idea to act anti-cyclical.
How would you describe the musical range of Permanent Vacation?
PV: It’s always exceedingly difficult to talk about music, particularly if it is your own. Music should be listened to, not talked about, especially since it has a different effect on different people. Also, we are not big fans of genre terminology either, although it is useful to a certain degree. To express it in a very simple way: we do Dance Musik with a certain Pop appeal.
Where are you aiming at with the music you release?
PV: At hearts and legs.
You occasionally release compilations of rare material from the past. Which artist from days gone by would you like to sign on and why?
PV: Phew! There were so many: The Doors, The Clash, The Beatles, etc. The reason why is simple: because of their music!
How do you recruit new artists? From your circle of friends, by application, or strictly by musical expressivity?
PV: That depends. We have found music in the most diverse ways. Like one time, when a DJ who played with us put on a self-produced number and we signed it right away then and there. A lot goes on over the Internet and through friends, of course. But the most important thing is always the music. We simply have to like it!
What was your greatest hit, what your greatest flop?
PV: Our biggest hit, by vinyl sales, is Antena, Camino del sol, Joakim remix. Our biggest flop were our Permanent Vacation men’s sandals, for some reason no one wanted them.
Can you give us a little outlook on your future releases? Where will you put the focus in 2010?
PV: We are particularly looking forward to the remix project with Todd Terje. That is going to be a double-CD with an exclusive mix by Terje, for which he especially came up with new versions of his remixes, plus his hit remixes in full length on an additional CD. Additionally, there will be many great EPs of course and much more…
Would the music on Permanent Vacation sound differently if you were women?
PV: What? But we are women…
How do you think Permanent Vacation is going to sound like in five years?
PV: Fresh, as it ever was…
How did you select the tracks for your Carhartt Radio show?
PV: We wanted to give a good overview of our label history so far, from the greatest hits to yet to be released tracks.
How important is Munich for what you do?
PV: Munich has always been a real Pop and Disco town, as in that old hit Pop Muzik by M: New York, London, Paris, Munich, everybody is talking about pop muzik. That leaves a mark, of course.
Which locations are especially fascinating to you in your hometown?
PV: There is Gaststätte in Grossmarkthalle they have the best Weißwürschte, white sausages. The Isar river, very important in all situations of life, a great source of inspiration. Theresienwiese (when the Oktoberfest is not on), the northern part of Englischer Garten park, Sultan bakery because of their Gözleme, Tumult because of their beer, Königsquelle for their schnitzels with potato salad, and Schumann’s for good drinks and a mouth-watering sirloin steak with Dijon mustard and fried potatoes.
If you could take a year off work, how would you spend it?
PV: Well, to begin with, we would start breeding pigs the organic way!
What do you do to keep yourself from loosing it every now and then?
PV: Grab some fresh air every now and then.
Permanent Vacation Discography