Welcome to the latest edition of our series of interviews and mixes affectionately titled Talking Shopcasts. 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 might never hear these tunes at all. For our seventh edition we wanted to get the scoop on the inscrutable labels Frozen Border and Horizontal Ground. Until now we knew more about the labels’ stinging raw techno sound than who made the tracks, and for the most part that was all that mattered. Eschewing personality in favor of strict quality control has helped both Frozen Border and its more varied sibling Horizontal Ground stand out among swarms of white label imprints. Yet we couldn’t help but be curious about the thought put into such exacting operations and decided to reach out via email. The labels’ owner, Jeff, was relatively guarded but his responses shed a bit more light on one of contemporary techno’s darker corners. He was also generous enough to send us a top notch live set by Horizontal Ground artist 22.214.171.124.5 (aka Szare), which speaks just as loudly as Jeff’s carefully chosen words.
What spurred you to launch Frozen Border?
Jeff: I don’t think we launched it, that sounds very “Show Biz.” It just began.
What about Horizontal Ground?
More of the same with a different name.
Had you run any labels before this current group?
In a sense I did run labels before, but nothing on this current level.
Do you make any of the music for FB/HG?
How many artists do you work with for your labels? Is it a close knit group or a
At the moment it’s 6 artists and I have never met one of them in person, so I would say it’s quite a loose collective.
When you pitched your vision for a label shrouded in relative anonymity to your artists, what were their reactions? Or was it the other way around?
No pitch, they are either in or out. All the music came from demos sent. The level of trust between us all is the thing I like the most.
These days many fans want to know more and more about the artists behind their favorite records. With this in mind, why go the other direction?
I think the answer is in the question.
Is anonymity in the music business important to you?
Not at all. I don’t think the dance music scene is even the music business (not in real terms); even at it’s most revealed it’s still really a bit of “micro fluff” on the backside of the music industry. Some DJs/producers might do well to remember that.
FB/HG’s rise coincided with a renewed artistic/public interest in austere white label records. Was this coincidence or perhaps a reaction to what was happening?
Maybe; there is some sort of honesty in it, but even that has become a bit overplayed now.
With how little information is available about your labels, I imagine every decision regarding your labels is made consciously: That in mind, is there was any reasoning behind the filled in/blank letters of the Frozen Border/Horizontal Ground names? Zen Order?
I thought all the references were obvious? Karl Regis (from Downwards) took me out into the woods one day to show me where Nico was buried; it made a deep impact so it’s all in homage to her.
What else it to come from Frozen Border/Horizontal Ground in 2010?
More quality music.
Talking Shopcast 07: Szare (69:33)
01. Musafir, “Ninderli” [Stoned Asia]
02. Szare, “Kinshasa” [Dub]
03. Szare, “Snake Cave” [Horizontal Ground]
04. Szare, “Break East” [Dub]
05. Szare, “Beatdown” [Dub]
06. Marcel Dettmann, “Kernel” [Marcel Dettmann Records]
07. Szare, “Return to Ronto” [Horizontal Ground]
08. James Ruskin, “Solution” [Blueprint]
09. Jeff Mills, “Mysterious Stars” [Third Ear]
10. Szare, “Kinshasa” (Reprise) [Dub]
11. Levon Vincent, “The Medium is the Message” [Novel Sound]
12. Szare, “Fast Changes” [Dub]
13. Samuli Kemppi, “Joiku” [Prologue]
14. Actress, “Green Gal [Werk Discs]
15. Flying Saucer Attack, “Rainstorm Blues” (Szare Remix) [Dub]
16. Szare, “Mendeleev” [Dub]
17. Szare, “2042” [Dub]
18. David Bowie, “Moss Garden” [RCA]