The Italic folks been so busy that we had to wait a little longer for their answers. Currently the Berlin based label is one of Germanys leading platforms for new directions in electronic music, that has nothing in common with the assembly line rhythms for the worldwide club scene. Instead the label changed his directions in order to give artists such as Kreidler, Harmonious Thelonious (picture above), or Von Spar some space for experiments full of dirty rhythms, unusual harmonies, infrequently melodies, analog sounds, and electrifying sequencing. In order to find out why they have such an open minded release policy we asked label honcho Marc Knauer (picture below) some questions about the labels history, his motivations, and future plans.
When did you discover your love for music for the first time in your life?
Marc Knauer: Well, I suppose that my first exposure to pop music goes all the way back to my childhood days when I watched German Schlager music as well as international Disco and Pop bands on German TV.
What are your musical roots?
Marc Knauer: As a kid I used to listen to quite a diverse range of Black American and European Pop music as well as all hybrids thereof. But Krautrock, New Wave and Techno from Cologne and Düsseldorf in combination with British Pop music of the early 80s (like Orange Juice, Fun Boy 3 and Scritti Politti as well as the elegant Disco school of New York represented by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards) have definitely made the greatest and most lasting impression on me. They are also the most important influences for Italic. I’d call them my roots and the foundation of today”.
What motivated you to found the label in 1999?
Marc Knauer: During the mid-90s I moved from Düsseldorf to Cologne. Back then, Cologne’s minimalist idea of Techno at the time and the special character of it’s record stores (like A-Musik, Formic, Groove Attack and Delirium, later Kompakt) and of labels such as Studio 1, NTA, Eat Raw as well as the re-activated Harvest Label and the party sessions and clubs (Total Confusion, Tänzer, Studio 672, Liquid Sky, etc..) were very inspiring to me. I originally founded the label in Cologne in cooperation with Stefan Schwander a.k.a. Antonelli (picture below) as a homebase for his clubtracks. The motivation to do this resulted from a plain DIY approach. There was no business plan or medium-term planning involved. Stefan Schwander and I were both from Düsseldorf and so, we unconsciously tried to expand the idea of Cologne’s minimalist Techno with a little bit of Düsseldorf’s art and pop claim. From the very beginning, I also clearly saw Italic in the tradition of the independent British record labels like Postcard and Factory despite the direction it was taking as a Techno label. It’s not without reason that Italic covers from the end of the 90s have an only 7 cm wide press cut and the font on the record labels is a rough reference to the Blue Monday Cover by New Order and, of course, to the designer Peter Saville too.
What does a track or an artist need to get a release on Italic Records?
Marc Knauer: Signature, social relevance and a funky bass line.
How would you describe the musical bandwidth of Italic in your own words?
Marc Knauer: Currentlly, I quite like the expression “Elektronische Musik”. Preferably with the addition “Made in Germany”.
Why has the Italic Record style changed in the last years?
Marc Knauer: Particularly in the last two to three years, the label’s style has developed organically away from House, Techno, Minimal towards an extended version of Elektronik ranging somewhere between Krautrock, Disco and Afro Avantgarde. The sound on the other hand remains deeply rooted in the Rheinland and within the special relationship that exists between Cologne and Düsseldorf. This shift in sound mainly results from me being bored by the current House and Techno productions. With a few exceptions the club culture has been stagnating too for some time. This has lead me to a more open and more free understanding of club culture and dance music, which might have developed once in New York in the 70s in places like the Loft and Paradise Garage and is currently probably realised most closely in Düsseldorf, namely in the Salon des Amateurs. Because of this, I have become more interested in Elektronic band concepts and collectives such as Harmonious Thelonious, Von Spar (picture below), Kreidler, and Stabil Elite and their live presentations. The reason why the Italic style is working out in its elektronic diversity can be heard from and retraced in the mix for Carhartt Radio.
How do you think Italic is going to sound in five years?
Marc Knauer: Same same but different.
How did you select the tracks for your Carhartt Radio show?
Marc Knauer: I wanted to bring together past, present and future of the label in one mix. Chica Paula has realised this perfectly.
What are your current Top 5?
1.: Cologne Tape: Render
2.: V.A.: Mogule EP
3.: Harmonious Thelonious: Mokambo EP
4.: Tolouse Low Trax: Mask Talk
5.: Von Spar: Foreigner
Which records from the past have influenced your live?
Marc Knauer: Everything by the Chic Organization i can say.
What do you do to keep yourself from loosing it every now and then?
Marc Knauer: I play football.