Big Crown Records is a record label from New York City founded in 2016 by Leon Michels and Danny Akalepse.
The two got to know each other at Truth & Soul Records – a record label co-founded by Leon Michels, where Danny Akalepse worked. Especially known for Funk and Soul, the label managed to work for a niche, but this was not enough for Michels and Akalepse. »We had outgrown Truth & Soul. The label was well known for one thing and we had enough of it. So we started Big Crown, because we love to make records, and needed a new label, on which we could make a fresh start with a broader range of musical styles.« For Akalepse and Michels this implies, making a place for not only the well-established analogue sound Retro-Funk, but rather also reissues, Indie-Rock, or R’n’B on Big Crown Records. Continuity is maintained through the taste of the owners: »Our only requirement for the music on the label is that we like it. When a record is dope, then it is dope, it doesn’t matter how it is made. I don’t know, whether a common theme is noticeable, but it is there.«
A couple of months down the line, it is clear, that the two do really mean it. »By now we have published 14 releases, but still have 50 in the pipe line.« Even though Big Crown is a new thing, some known protagonists from Truth & Soul are of course also on board, for example the Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band from Hamburg, or El Michels Affair, whose leader is Leon Michels. There won’t be a shortfall of new publications: »We have heaps of reissues in the planing, we certainly want to go a step further and work together publishing newly recorded music.« NF
Cin Cin is a British label from London, founded by Michael Greene (Fort Romeau) and Ali Tillet in 2015. All recordings on CinCin are splits between two different producers.
Michael Greene and Ali Tillet, the busy bees, still think very practically, even when they want make a little dream come true. »When working as a DJ, I already discovered my love for Split-12inches. You simply get more good music on one record! It is also great to prevent back problems. So let’s just say that I founded Cin Cin, to save my back and to make deejaying somehow more effective«, Greene laughs, referring to the quite unusual concept of the label. Two people contribute the tracks to each publication, which turns the headlining toast into a musical one. Greene kicked it all off and invited Nick Höppner, resident of the Panorama Bar in Berlin for a glass of house music. But what is the criteria? »We do not want in any way for the sides of the records to exactly match with one another, although there needs to be a kind of synergy between the artists«, Greene explains. This explains why you may find the combination of uneven EMB-influences of the anonymous producer V on the one side, and Ripperton’s focused sound on the other side.
Nonetheless, CinCin stays largely devoted to the dance floor, which Greene as well as Tillet, organiser of the London based party series ‘Warm’, are experts on. Hence the label’s back catalogue is largely made up of their international set of friends. »Obviously friends and producers who we admire and whom we have things in common with are our first port of call«, states Greene. The pair’s plan to push things forward can already be seen in their art work. Also their minimalist style, known from their back friendly releases, is about to evolve. Greene admits: »This is what our initial philosophy was already about«. »I do think though that we will expand on our visual frontier as it would be a missed chance, given the physical and visual nature of the medium.« Certainly the ergonomic and efficient thinking behind CinCin’s 12inch-series will remain. KC
Defrostatica is a German record label from Leipzig founded by the DJs Booga and Kords + Kajal in 2015.
»Breakbeats are my passion, it doesn’t matter whether at 140, 160, or 170bpm«, Booga explains, who championed his first gig with Drum’n’Bass and Jungle in the mid 90s. Since then, he has not only proved himself as a producer, remixer and DJ, but rather also as an organiser, and has once again worked together with Kords + Kajal, who hosts her own radio show on Radio Blau in Leipzig, and works as a booker in the classic club Distillery. The trigger for the joint label provided a track from the producer Kator, also living in Leipzig, who occupied the first Defrostatica roster with »Connor« and »Get Stacked«. Even though in recent times, Leipzig has made itself famous for having a strong House and Techno scene; Breakbeats are equally a part of the urban DNA, like the founder of the networks Breaks and It’s Your explains. »From the mid/end of the 1990s, Leipzig had a strong Jungle and Drum’n’Bass scene, which was musically left wing. Over the years in clubs like Distillery and Conne Island, the entire UK-league practically came to visit. This acclimatisation which we have been actively contributing to, has naturally felt like Juke and Footwork in the past five years.«
Hence, Defrostatica evolves in a »type of domino effect«, as Booga puts it. Via their promotion work the two of them have woven an international network, including contacts to DJ Storm, the late Kemistry, or the producer Kiat – signed by the legendary Metalheadz label. The Singaporean took over the design of the records, and has now also become a part of the back catalogue with his own productions. Mastered in Finland by the producer Fanu, further connections lead to Kabuki in Frankfurt, who organises parties in Berlin together with Drum’n’Bass legend dBridge. A small label from Leipzig has become an international project. But what actually makes a Defrostatica release a Defrostatica release? »We are keen on innovative, boundary-breaking shit«, Booga says plainly. »Essentially, what counts is the vibe of the tune.« However, Booga and Kords + Kajal place a lot of value on these tunes being showcased correctly. »Do it yourself is our method«, Booga emphasises. And what is behind it all? »We are keen on the tune by The Streets, ›Let’s Push Things Forward‹. We don’t need any more philosophy than that.« Which may even thump at 140, 160, or even 170bpm. KC
Repitch Records is a record label founded in Berlin by the Italian producers Ascion, D. Carbone, and Shapednoise in 2011. Even though the musical background of the three Berliners-by-choice is mainly Techno, Repitch is not intended to be a launch pad for trendy club-tools. »We want to establish projects, that have a long-term vision, which do not hang out in the comfort zone, just to flirt with the scene, or go with the flow«. A clear message, which is clearly reflected in Repitch’s sound; Industrial and Noise elements are not merely ornamental, but rather play a key role. Hence on the contributor side, a different image is cast compared to conventional 12 inch labels. No respect is paid to the ‘jobs for the boys’ culture, that is common in the Techno scene; new music is selected over the internet, under a strict quality criteria.
Besides contributions from the three founding members – of whom Ascion and D. Carbone together with Lucindo roam in conventional Techno themes on their second label called 3TH – the label mainly focuses on collaborations. The first item on the roster belongs to Markus Suckut and Marcelus, amongst solo releases by AnD, Mike Parker, or Violet Poison, the »Features Series« however stand out like a sore thumb. On the releases’ sleeves, the members’ layered faces merge into one. »It expresses our vision of the music, and its interaction with graphical elements as well as our exact focus, which is to bring together different people with different ideas.« stipulates the label, referring to Ascion’s conceptual project. Because when the artwork interacts, the message behind the music can better evolve, Repitch says. This is the ultimate aim, whether the Techno scene likes it or not. KC