Hallo. (That’s how people say “hello” in German.)
This article is meant to provide a sampling of information about some of the best labels in Germany. There are small ones and bigger small ones included, but there are no beasts. A beast is a label that makes too much money by ripping people off. There aren’t too many of such labels left in the world, but they do exist! Anyway, they aren’t on this list.
Altin Village & Mine– Located in Leipzig and Dresden, Altin Village is run by two guys who love releasing American music in Germany. They’ve released albums from names like Future Islands, Chad Vangaalen, aa (big a little a), and Jookabox. They host a small but mighty festival each year called La Familia Y Amigos.
Affairs of the Heart– Are you a Saddle Creek fan? Then Affairs of the Heart is a label for you. The label is run by Jan Schewe in Hamburg. He’s worked with a variety of artists including Maria Taylor, Tim Kasher, David Dondero, and Wye Oak.
City Slang Records– Musicians speak so highly of City Slang; it’s a label that has signed many international musicians, bringing better international bands through Germany. City Slang by no means is a small label; they have a large operating office and work with lists of musicians including Lambchop, Caribou, Herman Dune, The Notwist, and Dear Reader.
Discorporate Records– This label is a small one-man company run by Dresden’s Johannes Zink. Discorporate releases all kinds of international musical goods, but Zink mostly focuses on complicated music that’s not for the everyday listener. Alternative bands like Za!, Broken.Heart.Collector, Dead Western, and Capillary Action have all released albums with Discorporate.
Exile on Mainstream– This label really is void of “mainstream” bands. They don’t waste their time and they know what they like. Headed by Andreas Kohl (also part of Southern Records), the label houses mostly louder/harder alternative acts. No fuzzy pop, here, although Kohl is known to have worked with a wide variety of artists throughout his career (he worked with Future Islands when they toured Germany). Sure highlights are Conny Ochs, Enablers, and DŸSE.
Keine Musik– Creative, electronic art at its finest. Keine Musik is a D.I.Y. collective of electronic artists who believe in the power of genuine self-releasing. They run a label, they book concerts and DJ events, and they serve as pleasant social butterflies in an industry that can at times be over-saturated with cold business plans. Big names include &Me, Rampa, and David Mayer.
Kompakt Records– Kompakt is an old and beautiful Cologne-based team with a very impressive roster. They’ve released hundreds of albums over the years, specializing in microhouse and minimal techno tunes. Kompakt is a conglomerate of several smaller labels. They’re very much a group of in-house business believers, self-distributing and self-booking most of their artists.
Kumpels & Friends– Or K&F for short. This is a small Dresden-based label that is run by musicians. They work with many German acts as well as musicians from the United States and other parts of Europe. Notable bands on the label include Bergen, The Gentle Lurch, Garda, and Thos Henley.
Tapete Records– Tapete is a 10-year-old label from Hamburg, Germany that releases albums from local bands as well as musicians from the U.S., the U.K., Sweden, and Denmark, to name a few. They do in-house press, promotion, and booking, so they really get to know their own artists very well. For good German music, check out Wolke, Moritz Krämer (included in our compilation this issue), Niels Frevert, and Tele.
That’s all, folks! Perhaps I will write up another list in the future. Small labels are definitely the way to go in today’s world. Please take the time to check out these labels and listen to the wonderful artists they represent.
Tschüss! (That’s how you say “bye” in German.)