Featuring releases from artists like Theo Parrish, Radio Slave, Move D, Mark E, Lil Tony, Tiger & Woods, Octo Octa, Kink and Fort Romeau among others, the label paints from a widely diverse palette of sound expanding from the deep house roots of the label started in 2002. Janson himself is foremost a renowned international DJ with a residency at Frankfurt's Robert Johnson and Berlin’s Panorama Bar. Before he devoted himself strictly to DJing he was also a noted writer for German magazines like Groove and Spex. Since 2009 Janson is also part of the duo Tuff City Kids. Together with his buddy Phillip Lauer he firstly started the project as a remix venture. Since a while the Tuff City Kids are prolific producers with releases on labels like Internasjonal, Live At Robert Johnson and Permanent Vacation. For Carhartt WIP Radio Gerd Janson took a look at the future outcome of his very own label Running Back and prepared an exclusive up and coming megamix.To gain a little insight into his label, work and spirit, we asked the always kind artists from the small village Lorsch some questions.
(picture Ben Price)
Hey Gerd – can you introduce yourself for us a bit? Where are you coming from, what is your occupation?
Gerd Janson: I was born in Arad, raised in Lorsch and I am a semi-professional party DJ amongst other things – like the head of a record label, for instance.
How did you first get into music and when did you decide you wanted to make music your career?
Gerd Janson: I'm not sure, if I ever got into music or if so, I'm not sure when exactly. Listening to dodgy tapes in my parent's car as well as their dubious record collection definitely counts. Other early memories are doing my homework while the radio was playing and strange specialist shows like Klaus Walter's Der Ball ist rund on hr3 as well as early recordings of Sven Väth clubnights after I got introduced to “tekkno” on a boy scout's trip.
Any role models, inspirations, or benchmarks for your label Running Back when it was launched in 2002?
Gerd Janson: Classic US-American House music, deep house as an utopian term and an electroclash overdose.
What do you do for Running Back on a day-to-day basis? And who else is involved in the label’s work?
Gerd Janson: Everything, unfortunately. Other people involved are the graphic designers, mastering engineers, distributors and record shops.
What musical qualities do you look for as a "curator" of music? And what does a track or an artist need to have for you in order to work with him/her or to release it?
Gerd Janson: The total randomness of me liking it or not as well as the impetus of wanting to buy this as a record. Having said that, I probably wouldn't release every record that I buy.
You been a music journalist for quite a long time, too. How did this job influence your work as a DJ, label runner and producer?
Gerd Janson: It came first, I guess. But I stopped being one a while ago. I can't really estimate its influence as I always started all of these things out of an urge to be a proactive fanboy of some sorts. I'd cross out the producer though.
How would you describe the music that you release on Running Back to someone that hasn’t heard of it?
Gerd Janson: Depending on the person, it's either “house”, “dance music” or “boom boom boom”.
You did also reissues like the Don Disco & Jeremiah/Projam EP. Any plans to deliver more older material from the past in the near future?
Gerd Janson: There are always lots of ideas in my record collector's head, when it comes to reissues, but I am somehow to slow, busy or lazy to realize them. And these days a lot of other people are quicker with the reissues or the discogs thermometer. Every time I reissued something, it has been of personal and selfish reasons so far. Having said that, I buy every reissue I can get my hands on and applaud the effort of making or keeping things available to the record buying public. The original pressing might lose its value, the music doesn't. That's my confused take on it.
Which of the tracks you released on your label are you most proud of and what was the biggest Running Back hit so far?
Gerd Janson: You know the saying about parents and their favourite kids. Biggest hit goes to Todd Terje and Ragysh/Snooze 4 Love.
What is coming up on the label this year?
Gerd Janson: Some of what's in the mix. I never like to brag and boast until stuff goes into production. As we speak a new Boof album is being, released, records by Fort Romeau and Shan are in the pressing plant. Some remix packages and mega hits by Paul Woolford and Jex are on their way as well.
There seem to be two fundamental tendencies in music today: On the one hand, a move towards complete virtualisation, where tracks and albums are merely released as digital files. And, on the other, an even closer union between music, artwork, packaging and physical presentation. Where do you stand between these poles?
Gerd Janson: To quote Stealers Wheel: Clowns to the left of me! Jokers to the right! Here I am stuck in the middle with you. Seriously, it's all good. Everything is available somehow to everyone. Take your pick, it's 2015.
How did you select the tracks for your Carhartt WIP Radio show?
Gerd Janson: I tried to do an exclusive up and coming megamix.
Together with your buddy Phillip Lauer you produce as Tuff City Kids. To our knowledge this project was firstly meant to be an edit/remix project only. Now you still do edits/remixes but also release quite much own original material. How did this change come?
Gerd Janson: More or less by accident or chance.
And how is your work as a solo producer progressing?
Gerd Janson: There is no work and no progress, I'm afraid.
Beside producing you are mainly and foremost a DJ that today plays two to three times a week in clubs around the world and holds a residency at clubs like Robert Johnson and Berghain. As a DJ: is there one Gerd Janson or many? Do you play different in different locations?
Gerd Janson: You are not a real Berghain/Panorama Bar resident unless the bouncer takes your picture. I will accept the title of a regular though. As a DJ: I hope there are many. Tempos, styles and moods are subject to change depending on venues, hours, countries and people. Some records I only play at the aforementioned clubs and never anywhere else, others I might anytime and anyplace. Without a doubt, I will choose crowd pleasing over ego stroking, as that is what I see as the main purpose of a paid DJ. Having said that, I happily surrender myself to listen and dance to the artist-type of DJ myself.
How do you spend your time at airports between flights: with a book, music, the internet or colleagues that you randomly meet?
Gerd Janson: Books, internet, colleagues and oyster bars. Never music.
When or where do you feel most at peace?
Gerd Janson: When I'm asleep.
Do you still go record shopping every now and then? If so: any favorite shops around the world?
Gerd Janson: I try to, when I can. Of course, I cannot reveal my super secret spots, but the usual opinion leaders in the big cities around the world are always worth a visit. My heart is always broken when I'm in Amsterdam and cannot go to Redlight Records, though. They do a great job of having valuable collector's items on the shelves and great bargains down by your feet.
What are your biggest musical influences?
Gerd Janson: I will pick DJs in my formative years for various reasons and in alphabetical order: Ata, Dixon, Boris Dlugosch, Thomas Hammann, Tony Humphries, Little Louie Vega, Theo Parrish, Sven Väth and DJ Yannick.
Please recommend two new artists to our readers, which you feel deserve their attention.
Gerd Janson: I am not a music journalist anymore, so I'm actually depending on them to tell me who's hot and who's not.
If you could be in any band, living or dead, for a day which band would it be?
Gerd Janson: As I don't play any instrument, I'd be the lamp on the Talking Heads' stage or Bez in Happy Mondays – if there'd be a straight edge version available.
What can music do which all other art forms can not?
Gerd Janson: It can make you dance.
Running Back discography