Talking Shop with Moodmusic

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Welcome to the fourth edition of our series of short interviews affectionately titled Talking Shop. The majority of media and fan attention gets showered on the artists who create the music we love to listen to/DJ with/dance to, and for good reasons. But without the hard work, keen ears and business savvy of label staff, we’d be stuck only streaming tracks on Myspace. This time we’re pointing the mic at Klas Lindblad (aka Sasse/Freestyle Man/et al.), owner of Berlin’s Moodmusic. Born out of desperation in the 90’s, Moodmusic has consistently marked out its territory in the tech and deep house kingdom with melodic aplomb. In addition to his own material, Lindblad has hosted established releases from LoSoul, Henrik Schwarz, Dirt Crew, Spirit Catcher, Naughty, as well as rising talents Mugwump. Lindblad chat to us about his demo policy, the importance of vinyl and why he’s glad to fly solo while running the label.

Please tell me about the beginning of Moodmusic. Why and how did you start out?

Klas: Well, at that time around 1995-96 I got frustrated about sending demos and not hearing from labels so I decided with a friend of mine we ought to change the situation. My friend had a record shop (Mind Records), and he had some contacts to European distributors so we set up Moodmusic on a try-it-out basis. It was just a very simple plan of ‘Let’s put a record out and see what happens.’ Well, we’re still here after 11 years trying it out.

Under that period I was very influenced by early Chicago house and all the Detroit stuff so I thought it would be cool to have a similar design of the label, dirty and low key. So the first label prints we were copying 3-4 times through a fax machine so it would look more like a US label than a neat European pressing. We used to be fanatic about all those obscure pressings which sounded/looked like soo bad!

How did you decide on the name Moodmusic?

There was no plan with the name I think… the idea was to have something which reflected my musical mood as a DJ/artist and when choosing the music for the label.

How did you select the artists for Moodmusic’s roster? Do you get many demos?

As the first 10 or so releases were more or less from me and my buddies in Finland it was not hard to select what to release. pullquote11.jpgWe used to play each other cool new stuff and eventually we had an EP ready, simple as that. When I moved to Germany at the end of the 90s I started to get demos and nowadays it’s about 10 a day. I must say people just make it so hard to listen to demos, either the CDs don’t have any or badly written infos or the mp3 links must be downloaded and the naming is completely off the hook so it’s impossible to find the tracks… can’t take it, really. So I decided at some point to stop listening to demos if I don’t get them personally from someone I know or it’s someone I know really loves the label. So basically the roster has developed through my personal contacts with people and it’s mostly really good friends – which I’m very happy for.

What is one of your favorite releases on your own label? Why?

It must the first one, Sasse presents… [The Time Together EP]. It’s just the special vibe of it and it’s a catalogue number 001. Those times were musically very special and I really enjoyed finding out how to run a label — mostly by trial-and-error. Other than that, it’s hard to say. I think Gavin Herlihy’s “Machine Ate My Homework” was a special record as we pressed it one-sided and made a really cool package out of it. Also the current Dave DK album, Lights and Colours, is an absolutely special release for me; it was the first artist album I signed and I think it was a big step up for Dave too, both musically and for his profile. So yes, that’s a definite favourite too which I’m as a label owner very proud of.

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According to many doomsayers, running a record label isn’t one of the “smartest” fiscal things to do. How do you keep Moodmusic running with sales “as they are”?

Hmm, yes this is a problem nowadays. There are so many bad stories about labels going bankrupt and having problems due to bad sales, but in my case it’s been still ok and manageable. Seriously speaking, I’m happy I’ve been running the label alone, without much help and no wages to pay, as so many proper companies have gone down or needed serious downscaling. I’m not an accountant but a producer running a label and maybe that’s the secret of it all. Moodmusic is more a lovewhatyoudo-thing than a smart business-oriented company. Surely we sell records and I earn a living out of it, but basically I’m just happy I can do what I love to do!

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Dave DK makes Poppa Sasse proud on his debut album

Do you think mp3 blogs like mine hurt the music industry? Do you think blogs have a role in the future of dance music promotion?

pullquote2.jpg I think it’s a very good promotional tool and should be kept like that. The problem is when people only download music from illegal forums and blogs. How can anyone say you’re a fan of a producer and at the same time download the music for free, knowing the artist will not get paid for it. I totally understand you might wanna listen to the newest stuff before buying it or you need to have it before it’s available on the shops, but there must should be some kind of ethics in that too. If you earn any respect as a DJ, you ought to be able to buy the music you play. And if you’re a fan, respect the artist.

There is no shortage of labels in dance music. What does Moodmusic do to stand out from the crowd?

I think we keep the quality high, release only music which we truly love and stand behind — and most of all, we rock the party!

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As technology advances further, vinyl is moving closer to becoming obsolete to many DJs. What are your feelings on this? Do you think the end of vinyl is in sight?

I think vinyl will be there for some time still. There’s always people who prefer vinyl and we’ll keep pressing those records — even if the quantities go down I’m willing to sacrifice any profit by producing vinyl. If it’s gonna be 300 instead of 3000, we’re gonna do it. Seriously speaking, the situation is hard for a lot of shops and distributors and a lot of people are depending on the industry to keep running so as a record label I need to respect that. Vinyl is where we come from so I think we should keep it alive.

What are a few other labels you respect/revere most?

There’s so many labels I love, can’t say more about it. Check my next DJ gig and you’ll know more…

What can we expect from Moodmusic in the next year or so?

In September I will release my solo album as Sasse. It’s gonna be called Toinen, which means 2nd in Finnish and will continue where my first album, Made Within The Upper Stairs Of Heaven ended. It’s not purely this or that, but has a strong early house feel to it and I hope people will enjoy it. The first single “New Sun Day” will hit the shops before the summer, so I’m really looking forward to that!

Then we have a few new signings: Naughty aka Filippo Moscatello who released the excellent “World Of A Woman” single last year is working on a Italo inspired album and it should hit the shops end of 2008. Also we have a new band called Penner+Muder who’s first single “Are You Lost” is one hell of a tune — you can actually hear it on my RA podcast as the last track. The guys are working also on a full length album and I’m really excited about the project. Other than that, Dave DK and Dirt Crew will have some new stuff coming out soon.

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