Parallel Berlin is a German label founded 2016 by Riet Meert and Daniela La Luz in Berlin. It all started almost a decade earlier, though, via MySpace. That is where Meert and the producer La Luz met for the first time. Meert threw the first Parallel Party while still in Belgium, but quickly moved to Germany, where the duo started organizing Parallel nights more or less regularly from Augsburg and Belgium. »Our events were running successful and Daniela dived deeper into electronic music production, where she received very positive international feedbacks, altough she was a newcomer. So it happened over the years, that step by step music became our main focus in life«.
2011 they settled to Berlin, where they brought »Planet Parallel« upon clubs like Griessmühle, Golden Gate or ://about:blank. In 2016 Daniela La Luz’ EP »Foreverness« eventually inaugurated the newly established record label named Parallel Berlin. Why so many names? »Although we were no global big players in the electronic music scene, it happened quite often, that others copied our name, logos and artworks«, Meert elaborates. Thus the addition of the local Berlin branch, which unites the in-house booking agency and the label. Planet Parallel and Parallel Universe are regular events, their Podcast with DJ Mixes is called Parallel Berlin Voyager Series and there is also the Parallel Radio Show, which La Luz hosts herself –the duo is even doing graphic design as Parallel Graphics.
That is quite a lot, but the two would not want to have it any differently: »we both are curious minds«, explains La Luz. »We love variety, progression, change and all existing colors«. Techno and House might be the main pillars of the broad Parallel universe, but above and between, everything is allowed. What La Luz calls »Daring is caring« is of course limited to artists from their own roaster, like producer B.E.F. who delivered stoic Acid Techno on the second catalogue number of Parallel Berlin. »We want DJ´s out there to experiment and experience the fact, that the crowd on the dancefloor is much more open minded than they think«, Meert adds. High standards, of course, but Meert and La Luz have proven over time that they know how to bring a whole lot of different projects together. KC
Power Vacuum is a british label, founded 2012 in London by producer Milo Smee aka Bintus. Smee is a pragmatist, first and foremost. »It’s a way to get my hands on the sort of music I enjoy DJ-ing with« he laconically responds to the question, what his motivation behind founding a label was. He does not consider himself a vinyl-purist, but prefers Decks to CDJs, and releasing records yourself of course leads to lot of quality content for the DJ bag. Power Vacuum’s minimalistic approach to packaging and design has a similar reason. »I remember Mark Broom packing his records for a gig and every one was just in a white inner sleeve, which I never thought of doing myself but it suddenly made total sense – why carry all the extra weight of cardboard sleeves which could be used for more records«. At the outset this club compatibility was also extended to the releases, which assembled five to six tracks and were meant to function as a small collection of secret weapons for the DJ-Booth.
And what’s inside? Initially sounds like the British kind of paranoid, Acid-heavy Techno, which borrows elements from the Hardcore Continuum. »I needn’t really add to that. I will though because this is one of the few things that’s clear in my head – you might want to go put the kettle on…«, Smee grins and begins to reminisce. Over the golden years 1991 and 1992 in north-east London, where he was introduced to British Hardcore from Prodigy to Altern-8 at the venue Tootos. Power Vacuum is supposed to not only follow that tradition, but advance it through releases by Bintus himself, Techno legend Mark Broom or all-rounder DMX Krew under his pseudonym EDMX. »I want to imagine people feeling as charged as I was hearing loud freaky sounds in a big room full of nut bags!«. Not only seasoned pioneers find a home at Power Vacuum, though, but also youngsters. The »Vectors« series of compilations already assembled contributions from Objekt, J. Tijn and most recently Pan Daijing and Duran Duran Duran.
An essential aspect of the »Vectors«-series is that the artists later return to Power Vacuum with a solo-release. Another one materialized in January 2017 with the release of the third installment: Every track as accompanied by its own video by John Brown. » Also I’m a failed artist myself, who used to do videos at University before an early exit to pursue music, so there’s probably some latent video frustration on my part«, laughs Smee, who now redirects that task to his creative surroundings. While Power Vacuum is a one-man-operation at its core, there are many helping hands – be it concerning videos, digital artworks or other things, as he freely admits. As long as the records save some space in the bag and bring back the spirit of glorious days past to the dance floor, that’s all the better. KC
Superfly is a french record label founded in 2011 by Paulo Goncalves and Manu Boubli in Paris. In the 3rd Arrondissement, somewhere between Centre Pompidou and Apollo-theater, a record store for diggers with special interests is waiting to be discovered. Superfly is specialized in Soul, Jazz, Brazilian, African and Latin American sounds. Their in-house label, which started out in 2011 with a reissue of Frankie Zhivago Youngs Soul-gem »The Age of Flying High«, reflects those interest. »We identified the need to reproduce old unknown records at a very early stage«, says Goncalves, who focusses mainly on the label-side of the small Superfly-empire. »The need we felt was mainly driven by the necessity to share our love for some records and make sure they did not remain unknown forever«. The Nassau Soul-singer Young was therefore quickly followed by more forgotten treasures from Ghana and Mali, Reissues of the Kelenkye Band and Super Rail. According to Goncalves, the main reason for their international tastes, is their own wanderlust. On the one hand, they are simply acting out their passion for music while travelling, on the other, Superfly are constantly on the lookout for something unique: »Sir Waziri is a perfect example: not obvious but there is nothing that sounds like it on the market.«, attests Goncalves to the strange Fusion-experiments of the Nigerian.
A taste that broad demands not only a diverse choice of music, but also many international connections. Supporters from Europe, Africa and Japan help out with questions about licensing, the idea for the stand-out feature of their covers came straight from the source. Masao Maruyama of Disques Dessinee suggested adding a a so-called obi to their releases – a slim paper ribbon that goes around the record and holds additional information in Japanese. »Japanese are the best for records. We have always admired their knowledge and research for quality. The obi strip is a detail that is emblematic of their record culture«. Superfly manifests their attention to detail in strictly limited pressings – the market is small, they say, and they do not work with a distributor – and everything beyond. Because not only the Superfly record store and label are household names for diggers worldwide, but also their blog and their radio program document their hunt for unknown treasure, which, as far as Goncalves and Boubli are concerned, should stop being just that in the future: unknown. KC
Super Rhythm Trax is a British label from London founded in 2014 by Jerome Hill. Hill might have moved out of the city »somewhere quieter« recently, but as a producer, label owner and radio show host he has been a staple of London’s electronic music scene for over a decade. He started out producing Techno in the late nineties, founded the label Don’t still active today in 2000 and has since branched out into pretty much all facets of electronic music ranging from Garage to Ghetto House to Breakbeat-heavy HipHop. In 2014 he founded Super Rhythm Trax for the simple reason that »there was a lot of stuff I wanted to put out that wouldn’t fit on my other labels«. Since then, Super Rhythm Trax have released 16 12inch EPs by a variety of artists.
Anyone who has stumbled upon a Super Rhythm Trax record can confirm that aesthetically as well as sonically their signature 12inches housed in a generic sleeve pay homage to the electronic music of the past, namely the (late) eighties and early nineties. Most releases were produced by contemporary artists who draw inspiration from early Dance-genres like Acid House, Miami Bass, Electro and the early days of Techno. A fascination with the Drum-machine-heavy warehouse-sound of Detroit and Chicago might be considered a link between the otherwise diverse releases and Super Rhythm Trax do as much as they can to honor their founding fathers and mothers: For example, the label’s name references the 1985 »Super Rhythm Trax« EP by late house-pioneer Jesse Velez and evokes memories of the legendary Jive Rhythm Trax LPs. There is the dedication to the 12inch-Single (»Vinyl excites me still after all these years and especially this music, I want to exist on vinyl«) and, most blatantly, some of the label’s releases are actually reissues and edits of rare Tracks by legendary DJs Fast Eddie and Marshall Jefferson.
All homogeneity aside, Hill does not want to be »running a label where every release is exactly the same«. To him label identity is more important than simply putting out records as favors to friends: »I choose the music very carefully, and the music is what always comes first«. That of course also means that Hill is constantly on the lookout for young talent, who might fit the profile of Super Rhythm Trax. »I am always listening to demos and wouldn’t hesitate to put out an EP by an unknown artist if the music excited me«, he says. »In fact that’s exactly what I’m looking for at the moment so new producers hit me up«.
As of now things are looking good for Hill and his label family. 2017 holds at least two more releases on Don’t and four more on Super Rhythm Trax. The label has established itself as a rising star in the warehouse-revival scene, but Hill is not looking to make it big Larry Sherman style. His idols are »the unsung labels from the late 80s and early 90s – labels that look homemade and did what they did for the buzz of doing it«.