Kann Records Talk


Now on their 12th release, Leipzig's Kann Records have brought an effervescently airy sound and a more conceptual dimension to the otherwise timeworn dynamics of house music situated at the deeper end of the spectrum. As a store and a label they've remained determinedly committed to releasing the music they love despite setbacks, enjoying an 'exotic presence' from their base and pursuing the right sound, rather than productive 'perfection'. Here's a variable talk with them, concerning their home, their history, their label's ideology and their future…

And as added gratification, they've given us an exclusive preview of map.ache's full length ahead of it's release in November.

Have a listen to that exclusive premiere (only up for a limited time) at the bottom of the page and have a look at some of the thoughts and insights of an assured but understated imprint who always deliver…

Hello people at Kann Records! How are you?
Thank you! We´re doing fine. At the moment a bit anxious and stressed though, because we´re working on a new record and we´ll publish our first artist-album soon.

Can you tell us who you are, your duties, and your motivations for setting up Kann, as both a store and a label, maybe a little bit about your first exposure to the kind of music Kann now release?
Kann is party of three. Map.ache, Bender and Sevensol. Furthermore there a artists like Johannes Beck, Falke, Kitkaliitto, Daniel Stefanik or Traumprinz (of Giegling fame) who released on the label. We try to meet up once a week, so we can talk about and discuss label-based subject. Most of the time these meetings take place after 8pm in a very laid back atmosphere, while drinking a couple of beers. Bender is a engineer and he´s working full time, so he finds the time for the label and the music at night. Map.ache is a promoter at Conne Island, a Leipzig-based cultural platform and club. And i run the recordshop. We started the label just for us, it was slightly egoistic approach. We really wanted to realize everybody´s dj-dream and create our own vinyl record. Besides, we had the feeling at this point that some of our tracks would sound nice on vinyl. We all love the black gold and were really curious how the production process would evolve. So it was kind of logical to this. But in the beginning we weren´t sure if our dreams would come to reality. Some distributors like Kompakt and Wordandsound told us in a very friendly way that they weren’t interested enough. But at that time we fell in love with the idea to do it by ourselves. To cancel this mission, it seemed out of the question. We decided to produce at least one record, which would be a platform for all the people who were involved.  So, we pressed 6 tracks on a double 12” called KANN 00. Manamana, the dj-team consisting of Sevensol & Map.ache, were scheduled to play that summer at the Nachtdigital Festival. And we were really lucky with that. We gave our record to dj’s like Lawrence, the Wighnomy Brothers and Daniel Stefanik. Daniel than introduced us to Johannes from Diamonds and Pearls, who directly offered to distribute the vinyls for us. Thank you Daniel! The record store already existed at that point, Filburt was running the place called "Freezone". I worked there since 2007 and my involvement in the store was growing. When Steffen, Filburt, decided to quit running the recordstore, it seemed at first that Leipzig would lose his last record store for club music.  Everybody was really sad about that, but they all totally understood the economic reasons behind this decision. But I had the feeling that this couldn’t be the end. There was so much going on in the city for the past two years. So it had to be possible to keep the store alive, in some way. We decided to give it another try, for at least one year.

What’s the nature of the relationship each of the founders have to the label?
It’s our baby! Happiness and Headache.

What’s the origin of the name; ‘Kann’ and how would you describe its sound?
Map.ache brought up the name in one of the many emails we used on this subject. And he’s really good in bringing up arguments. And it shouldn’t be that big of a deal, giving the label a name. Actually it is like a word or a image, which you fill up with a meaning. Soundwise you could put us most likely close to deephouse, although we often try to take a different path. 

We sometimes get demotracks which really show that the producers was orientating on our sound or the sound of a familiar label. We really don’t care for those tracks. We don’t want to bring out tracks  for the dancefloor like it’s a concept. But don’t get us wrong, we totally respect those producers. They are doing a great job and you really can rely on the fact that their next track will be big again. But we are more interested in the side aspects of the music we want to press.

What’s the predominant ideology behind what Kann release?
If it feels right for the three of us, we’ll just do it. A musical idea is sometimes better, than the perfect produced record.

How do you think this sound has developed since your first release in 2008?
I'm not sure if our sound really developed. When we started, back in 2008, we all were around 30 years old, with all the habits and contradictions. You don’t change that much if you reached a certain age. I think the biggest proof for that is the total overview of all our records. I hope we will expand that range.

What’s your favourite Kann release and why?
On a personal level I really like the split EP we did with Mikrodisko, Don’t Turn Around. All the tracks are really good and we tried to combine the artwork of both labels. I think we succeeded in that, in a minimal way. We also pressed those tracks on 180 grams of vinyl, that just feels so good.

And you’re based in Leipzig; what’s it like there for an independent label such as yourselves, in terms of the climate for the music you release? Kassem Mosse/Mix Mup’s Mikrodisko label and Lowtec are from Leipzig and you have venues like the distillery and Conne Island; is this indicative of a local vitality?

Lowtec lives in a little town in Thüringen, but there is a big connection through labels like Out to Lunch and Workshop and the pressing plant R.a.n.d. That’s such a wonderful thing for viny aficionados. We can grab every testpressed record by ourselves. I think that’s a privilege for label projects. I couldn’t imagine how music you would produce in your bedroom would find his way on the turntable.

Clubs like Conne Island and Distillery were really important for our personal development. We visited those and other venues, we danced there and listened to the music. The good thing in Leipzig is that many projects and places don’t work on a profit based structure. Off course, it has to work out in some way, but many things would vanished if it wasn’t for the love of the organizers. Clubs, labels or fanzines, you name it. There is a strong DIY-approach and at a certain moment you see a vivid scene.

What do you think is the appeal of running Kann out of Leipzig as opposed to a place like Berlin?
We are living here for ages, but who can say for how long we’ll stay. When you go to a party in Leipzig, you will know half of the crowd. Most of them are your friends, which really stimulates the atmosphere. You really cant underestimate that, cuz many artist really had a good time because of that. We really enjoy a slightly exotic presence if you compare us to Berlin.

The first release that brought you to my (and I’m sure many others) attention was the ‘Family Horror’ compilation which featured Efdemin and Dorisburg (Aniara; one half of Genius of Time) – can you tell us a little bit about how this came about?
Efdemin is one of those guys who plays here at least twice a year. I think his first big gig in Germany was at Conne Island. Carsten Jost was sick, so they put up a note on the door with the text: Efdemin is playing instead. I’ve never heard of that name at that point, but the night was briliant and we are all friends since then. Since the beginning we’re getting honest support from the Dial and Smallville-crews and we meet pretty often. One day we told Philipp about our compilation and just asked him if he was willing to contribute. His track ‘Plenum’ is one the most timeless tracks I’ve ever heard. Thank you Philipp.

The guys from Dorisburg received a mail from us, because we really loved the first Aniara records and we thought that they would be fit in with Kann. They already completed ‘Emotion’ and said yes rightaway.

You’ve also put out a remix by Sven Weisemann; that must have been exciting. Can you pinpoint any other personal highlights you’ve experienced with the label so far?
Sven came up because he said that he really liked the first ep. That’s where the idea of a remix-ep came from. But you know, every single record is really important for us. During the realisation of it you celebrate ups and downs. There are always quite a few moments where you feel really insecure about decisions. But then you find yourself in a club and they play a Kann-record, those are the real highlights. We have the habit that we grab our cell phone whenever someone play a track from us.

Similarly to Smallville in Hamburg, you run both a store and a label. Interviewing them recently gave me the impression that both these ventures continues to give them a mutually beneficial set up with the store as a hub; a place to meet, play music and formulate ideas/releases for the label side of things. Have you found this the case with Kann?
I totally see the mutual aspect. If a shop is really important for a scene is not for me to say. It was a logical step for us.  But we don’t keep our dream alive just by selling records, that´s too hard. We also sell some books and you can print your own shirts. Besides, our booking Agent Consti has his headquarter in the office. He’s a real zwarte piet.

At the moment i´m happy with the enlargement. You see a lot of very good records coming every week to the shop and there a still numerous people who noticed that and enjoying vinyl as we do. But to be realistic i don´t know what will happen next year.

Are there any labels, past or present, which have been inspirations for Kann? Why do you think these particular labels have been significant?
There are different reasons why you would love a label or could be inspired by it. Doesn’t matter if the sound is super slick or the look. Really like the constant idea of Perlon, on the other hand also this consciously crappy feel like FXHE. Sometimes you find it great, because it just has this personal level of likeness.

Obviously it’s not easy for a record shop/label such as Kann to remain successful in a digital era but you’ve put out nearly 12 official releases, what would you say is fundamental in overcoming the common obstacles a lot of independent labels face nowadays?
If you want to keep on putting out vinyl records, you should really think about how to give the listener a good product, which isn’t too expensive. There must be a good balance. Otherwise you won’t exist long. Since vinyl stopped selling properly, many began to save within the realisation. For instance, many labels stopped using covers and only put out paper sleeves. Than they decorate it with stamps and shelter themselves in this Hardwax-kind-of-feel. But only a few tracks are as powerful as the ones made by the Shed, the master. You just wont sell records, with two tracks, stuffed in thin paper. It happens once, maybe twice. People tend to forget the strongest aspects of vinyl. You can touch it, it sounds perfect so use the advantage in comparison to digital crap. Sure, we won’t sell 3.000 or 5000 copys of a single record, but more than 500 should be doable. As long as people like us keep on loving this.

Your releases have displayed pretty different styles in terms of artwork, who does them and how did you decide their creations suited Kann?
Franziska Kempiak, aka Iska Kaek is responsible for the artwork: www.iska-kaek.de 
A friend introduced us to her in 2008 and since then she´s part of the family.

When we decide to put out a new release, we send the music over to her. Then she will start to design something, which will often hit the spot at the first time. That´s it.

The Kann founders also record under Map.ache, Sevensol and Bender – can you tell us a little bit about each of these projects?
Those are the artist names of Jan, Alex and Dennis. We produce with these monikers and perform in different constellations. Manamana is also a Kann-project. It´s the dj-team of Map.ache and Sevensol. Probably this changing duo-thing stands in the way of our solo careers. But it is so much fun for us to play as kind of soundsystem or doing labelnights at a club. We want to celebrate together, not only work together. 

What kind of direction do you anticipate your future releases going in? What’s in the pipeline for your respective projects and for the label?
Our next lovechild will be Jan´s album. Map.ache – Ulfo will be released during the last days of November and will definitely mark another step in the evolution of our label.

Than there will be a ´Family Horror´ remix EP. With versions by Edward, RVDS and Salax Peep Show. And we really want to bring out the debut EP by Philipp Matalla. He´s a very young and promising dj and producer from Leipzig. I hope we can realise all this year.

(Thanks Kann!)

(Tim Wilson)