After having already gained a little insight into the world of Bureau B in our artist feature on Detlef Weinrich (the host of our current Carhartt WIP Radio show), we now look a bit deeper into the work of the Hamburg based record company that has established a global reputation for re-releasing groundbreaking Krautrock and kosmische musik as well as many legendary ambient, industrial, new age, art rock and Neue Deutsche Welle albums. To find out why Bureau B likes to unearth music by innovators like Cluster, Conny Plank, Brian Eno, Dieter Moebius, Pyrolator and Hans-Joachim Roedelius, we spoke to the company founder and owner, Gunther Buskies, about his passion for unorthodox experimental music from the past and present.
(Gunther Buskies, photo by Markus Wustmann)
Hi Gunther, can you introduce your label Bureau B a bit to our readers?
Gunther Buskies: Bureau B wants to present interesting electronic music. Old and new. Ranging from experimental to rather poppy stuff. We release a lot of reissues from labels like Sky or Ata Tak but also new productions by bands like Faust or Camera.
What do you do for Bureau B on a day-to-day basis?
Gunther Buskies: Finding new music, talking to musicians, managers, graphic designers etc. And more and more: doing nasty tax stuff. And a lot of “Senden/Empfangen”.
Any role models, inspirations, or benchmarks for Bureau B when it was launched in 2005?
Gunther Buskies: The biggest inspiration was/is Conny Plank.
What do you find most challenging about the work you do?
Gunther Buskies: Trying to hum Conrad Schnitzler's opening track from the Rot album while taking a shower.
What do you want to accomplish with the music you release?
Gunther Buskies: Make especially Germans clap either on 2 and 4 or on all four beats instead of on 1 and 3. Still a lot of work to do to make this happen.
You re-released many essential music from the so called German Krautrock movement. How come? And what makes it special in your eyes and ears?
Gunther Buskies: It is the only real exciting musical innovation coming from the country I live in and it has not been taken care of in a respectful way before. It expanded/destroyed common pop-song structures and got our focus to other musical parameters. Isn’t it great to see that it influenced great bands like Blur, New Order, Radiohead, David Bowie……………?
Can you tell us a funny story out of your life as a record label maker that excavates old music?
Gunther Buskies: Artists, especially musicians are very interesting people. And most of them are very funny people, too. There are so many stories... but what is happening in the Bureau B has to stay in the Bureau B.
What process do you follow for new re-releases?
Gunther Buskies: Trying to find music that still is exciting and timeless. Unfortunately many suggestions we receive for reissues do not meet this task. A lot of the so-called Krautrock movement includes boring rock music trying to imitate British or American rock bands.
How important are the non-musical components of your releases, i.e. packaging and album art?
Gunther Buskies: We always try to provide the best quality. Excellent music deserves an excellent artwork?
What distinguishes Bureau B from other labels in your opinion?
Gunther Buskies: I think what is unique about Bureau B is that we release new stuff as well as older music. But every song we release sounds modern, no matter if it is from 1971 or from 2014.
Do you have a "wish list" of albums you'd like to re-release on Bureau B?
Gunther Buskies: Sorry, but that’s a secret. We work hard to make sure that our reissues are legally on the safe side and that we use the best possible source for the audio material. This sometimes takes a while. E.g. for the Deutsche Wertarbeit, Harald Grosskopf and Die Partei we were able to track the original analogue tapes and could use them for the reissues instead of using vinyls or other sources. It took us almost two years in all cases. Anyway: you can count on 8-12 exciting Bureau B reissues per year.
How would you describe the music that you release to someone that hasn’t heard of it?
Gunther Buskies: There is so such a wide range...Conrad Schnitzler sounds very different from Andreas Dorau. The best word would be: exciting and sometimes disturbing.
What was your biggest hit so far?
Gunther Buskies: Must have been the Karl Bartos album Off the Record.
What advice would you give to people who plan to re-release old forgotten music?
Gunther Buskies: Treat the musicians and the music with respect.
You also release the music of contemporary bands like Tarwater, Sølyst, Kreidler or Camera, but also new material of old artists like Pyrolator or Qluster. How do you balance between new and old and what does contemporary music need to get released by your label?
Gunther Buskies: Actually it does not matter if it is old or new. No masterplan here to be honest: It simply has to excite us!
Which of the albums you released are you most proud of?
Gunther Buskies: Oh, so many great releases (for us at least), but regarding the reissues I think the limited 2LP + bonus 7” by Palais Schaumburg reissue has turned out quite nice and the Hans-Joachim Roedelius Tape Archive 1973-1978 3LP boxset as well.
Please recommend two Bureau B artists to our readers, which you feel deserve their attention.
Gunther Buskies: Hard to pick just two...maybe our Kollektion series is a good start for Bureau B beginners.
What is coming up on the label?
Gunther Buskies: For example: Cluster - USA live, a new Camouflage album, a great album by Schneider Kacirek, Kollektion - Populäre Mechanik compiled by Holger Hiller.
If you could be in any band, living or dead, for a day which band would it be?
Gunther Buskies: Bassplayer with Neu!.
What are some of your favorite places to hang out in your town Hamburg?
Gunther Buskies: Millerntor-Stadion, Nachthafen, Erikas Eck and Artikel Eins Tonstudio.
Bureau B discography