Staubgold recently celebrated their one hundredth release with a cd mix by label owner and artist in his own right, Markus Detmer. I thought it was a great time to have a chat and get some history about such an important label.
Markus is a great guy and this email chat was a lot of fun. He has supported Symbiosis from when it was a radio show to it’s new incarnation on the web. And as a special gift to all of you he has given me permission to make his mix available for free (no longer available):
Tell us about how Staubgold started and your memories of the last 12 years.
When started in 1996 Staubgold first was a mail order service specialised in experimental and electronic music before it actually became a label in 1998 when the first two albums were released.
I had been involved with booking bands, promoting live shows in my small hometown and running a cassette label, before I came to Cologne as a student and discovered the growing electronica/techno scene of the mid-90s, centered around labels like A-Musik, Sonig, Kompakt and Karaoke Kalk and artists like Mouse On Mars, Gas, Wunder (Wechsel Garland) or Schlammpeitziger.
It was really motivating to see people like Georg Odijk and Frank Dommert from A-Musik and Sonig suddenly being able to make a living from releasing and distributing experimental electronic music. This all coincided with the founding of the duo Klangwart by Staubgold recording artist Timo Reuber and me. Our first release came out in 1997 with a sleeve design by Frank Dommert and technical support by Marcus Schmickler (Pluramon etc.).
At the beginning everything was a non-profit operation, but pretty soon, after 2 or 3 years, with the releases by Mapstation, To Rococo Rot and others, I was able to make my living with running the label and quit university.
After moving to Berlin in 2003 the label musically opened, according to the new label slogan “Music Out Of Place”. Oren Ambarchi produced pop music with Sun, the Kammerflimmer Kollektief introduced country and jazz to the label’s profile, Leafcutter John played folktronica, Faust and Dalek let krautrock and hip hop collide. Despite rapidly decreasing sales and smaller budgets from 2006 onwards the label still managed to produce high quality releases while at the same time further widening its musical spectrum.
Today Staubgold basically is a one-man company with some freelancers and interns helping out in the fields of promotion and graphic design.
Having started the label in the late nineties you have been exposed to the shift from physical media to digital. How has that affected you and how have you adapted to the digital landscape?
I already started selling my releases digitally through iTunes and other platforms back in 2004. So I gradually adapted to the digital landscape. But I have to say that even if my digital sales are stable, my total turnover has gradually been going down since 2003. The digital sales still haven’t really replaced the sales of physical product, and I’m very much in doubt that they ever will.
Do you think that physical releases still remain important artefacts?
Vinyl, yes. CDs will disappear as soon as downloading uncompressed audio files will become a standard.
What does the title “100 Jahre Einsamkeit” mean and where did the idea come from to do a mix cd?
It’s the German title of Gabriel García Márquez’s famous book “One Hundred Years of Solitude”. In Márquez’s “magic realist” style a non-linear story is narrated via different time frames. And that’s what I try to do with Staubgold in music. “100 Jahre Einsamkeit” is the third volume in a series of DJ mix cds on Staubgold after Peter Grummich’s “Dinner Music For Clubbers” in 2008 and Alec Empire’s “Rauschgold” in 2009.
What is coming up for Staubgold? How do you see the label evolving and progressing in the future?
“100 Jahre Einsamkeit”, the 100th Staubgold release, marks the beginning and end of a journey. Now everything starts again. Staubgold becomes “Staubgold Digital” for downloads and cds and “Staubgold Analog” for vinyl. There will be no catalogue number 101.
Forthcoming in 2010 are releases by The Flying Lizards (“The Secret Dub Life Of The Flying Lizards”), Hassle Hound (“Born In A Night”), Armchair Traveller (“Schone Aussicht”) and Reuber (“Ring”).