Talking Shop with Philpot

Lawrence Philpot in action

Welcome to the seventh 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. Number seven brings us to the Stuttgart-based sweethearts of Philpot. What started as a DIY musical outlet for Tobi Ettle and Michel Baumann — better known as Jackmate, Soulphiction and Manmade Science — quickly expanded to their Music Krause friends and beyond. Their discerning ears have brought us quality deep house and techno from DJ Koze, Move D, Bruno Pronsato, The Mole, and newcomers Break SL and Tim Toh. Baumann was kind enough to discuss the label’s methods for choosing new talent, dogmatic DJs and what Philpot is definitely not.

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

I do the label with my close friend Tobi Ettle who also runs a record shop called Paul’s Musique in Stuttgart. First we started Philpot as a label for my own stuff as Soulphiction, ’cause at that time we started there where no labels in Germany where I could send my tracks to… just Perlon, where I still put out tracks. Over the years friends like the Krause Duo, Bruno Pronsato or DJ Koze handed me some very good music too, so mainly it’s friends and my own projects Soulphiction, Manmade Science and Jackmate that we release on Philpot.

How did you decide on the name Philpot?

Philpot is Larry Levan’s original family name, and Larry Levan stands for me as a symbol of how various dance music can and should be.

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

It all started with our friends and we slowly added some new faces like Break SL, Tim Toh, IKE and finally Reggie Dokes (Psychostasia Detroit). If we feel more than seven out of 10 tracks of an artist, he’s in… and there’s not so many artists who at least have produced 10 different tracks at all. :) Since three years ago we get loads of demos, and I really ask myself if some people ever listened to our releases before they send stuff. We are diverse, but we ain’t minimal! But we still listen to everything we receive.

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

Actually Tim Toh’s “Join the Resistance” series! Part 1 is out right now, 2 and 3 will follow in the second part of the year, including a Lawrence remix. Tim Toh is so intense and yet very musical, I’ve rarely heard music like that over the last years. These tracks are alive! But I really still like all of our releases, [so this is] just one I will mention now. :)

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

As long as we are even with our costs and the artists are paid, we’re absolutely fine with it! And I really feel that reduced sales are mainly a problem in Europe, ’cause we still sell the same amount of vinyl in Japan or the US. Philpot could have never existed with only the base of our sales in Europe though. We both don’t financially rely on the label — that would be absolutely nonsense anyway.


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?

Blogs are a great opportunity for labels like us to spread and get an instant response. It’s a form of ad for us and we don’t normally do that so much, so it helps a lot. I like to dig in ’em too, mainly about old disco stuff or Les Baxter Soundtracks. The thing we hate is the album-sharing part, cause they do it in lame quality and they surely don’t ask.

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

Oh, I don’t know. Dance music today is very dogmatic in style, DJs are, and we try not to be. We release music we think of as quality music, no matter whether hip-hop, house or techno is the Teacher. We try to be a classical record label.

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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?

No vinyl, no spirit… just speaking for myself. Even I play CDs with unreleased stuff or edits, but I still carry at least 20 kg of wax. And I still hate that too!

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

I absolutely love Perlon, mostly for Zip’s and STL’s productions. Musik Krause from Jena and Freude am Tanzen are close friends and exceptional labels too. Internationally, Firecracker and Stones Throw are huge! Inspirational labels were NuGroove and Bob Thiele’s Flying Dutchman label. We always liked variety.

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

We’ll finish the Tim Toh “Join the Resistance” series with two other parts this year, then there will be a new Manmade Science 12″. Reggie Dokes joined our label and will release an EP in October 2008; furthermore, there will be releases by IKE, Vakula and MXM till the end of this year. In 2009’s first half we’ll release the Break SL Album, some Metaboman tracks feat. Ty and Clueso and a new Soulphiction 12″.

chrisdisco  on August 7, 2008 at 11:36 PM

great interview. much respect for philpot. quality all the way. for those that missed the ssg mix jackmate did, definitely check it:

Joe  on August 8, 2008 at 4:19 AM

“We both don’t financially rely on the label — that would be absolutely nonsense anyway.”

immediate question – what else do they do to make ends meet? i’ve always wondered what producers/DJs do other than music to keep food on the table. was it ryan elliot who was (is still?) a bigshot city man?

nice interview. i’m still digging that soulphiction album.

littlewhiteearbuds  on August 8, 2008 at 9:07 AM

I’m not sure if that’s still true of Ryan Elliot, as I believe he’s moved to Berlin (then again, lots of financial stuff he can do there, although much easier in Frankfurt). Murat Tepeli is a surgeon. Tobias Freund was a studio engineer for a long time. Stephen Soultek does sound editing for a video company. Todd Osborn works odd technical jobs. Terrence Dixon worked in a fast food restaurant for a long while. Thomas Melchior wasn’t clear about what he did, but it sounded like whatever needed doing was done.

In speaking with individual Europe-based artists, I find live shows/DJ gigs seem to be the prevailing method of staying afloat financially. I suppose that could be true of labels as well, as so many techno/house labels are artist owned/operated.

It seems easier for the European wing of dance music artists to be self-sustained by music alone: it’s easy to get to hundreds of cities clamoring for DJs/live PAs (and lots of promoters pay their way); the bulk of your buying public is on the same continent; getting paid in euros; the relative affordability of Germany. I’m sure there are other reasons too, but I’m not on much sleep.

By contrast, producing as a career path seems increasingly difficult, and almost counter-intuitive for American-based artists. Much more likely to spot Detroit dudes at their day job than the Berlin crowd.

adamm  on August 12, 2008 at 11:19 AM

I believe Baumann is part owner of Boomkat, think it was mentioned in a mnml ssgs post.

littlewhiteearbuds  on August 12, 2008 at 11:25 AM

I don’t see that mentioned anywhere in their Jackmate post. I know that Shlom of Modern Love is associated with Boomkat, but I’m not sure in what capacity.

jaques your buddy  on August 16, 2008 at 6:37 AM

to answer JOEs Question:

I work as a freelance Sound-Engineer and FOH Live-Mixer.
no matter detroit, berlin or stuttgart, if you decide to have a family you better get a proper job.
I tried otherwise but it stressed me out too much..I like to enjoy my gigs, rather than seeing them as a job.

Tobi Ettle runs his record shop, as i mentioned in the interview.

thanks for purchasing a real copy!

michel baumann

Lessie  on April 8, 2010 at 12:21 AM

My name is Lessie Philpot damn I wonder if thats my people


Gone Loko » Blog Archive » Interview with Philpot Records.  on August 19, 2008 at 7:58 AM

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