Label Love #67: Lossless
Lossless is a label built on patience. Having only put out their first release in May 2014, the idea behind the Berlin based imprint had been germinating in the minds of founders Thomas Herb and Mathias Schober long before that, waiting for the right moment to present itself.
At a time when labels can appear with searing audacity and pomp only to fizzle away as quickly, it is endlessly refreshing when one arrives with this quiet determination, not focussed on being the loudest, boldest curators in the room but rather driven by proficient craft and gradual, joint evolution. This philosophy lies at the core of Lossless, a collective whose tight, communal roster operates with shared ambition, an eye always cast to the future of the scene they operate within. There is an eased confidence in the way its two founders talk about their team.
“Lossless is about making movement. It is about always growing together.”
With ship-in-a-bottle precision, Lossless has put out 11 releases in its two and half year lifespan, each one a neat package of forward-thinking house music, each vinyl sleeve proudly wearing the zigzagging logo of the label, a crisp primary colour signifying the year of its release.
Lossless’ diverse line-up is compiled of a select group of rising producers, from Berlin-based Irishman Neill Flynn to Portuguese “wonder boy” Trikk and meticulous Dutch producer Love Over Entropy, as well as releases Schober himself – under his real name, as SB, Show-B or together with Herb under their SBTH moniker. Not willing to “buy in” already well-known producers as a way of garnering early attention, the label has instead endeavoured to create a movement of burgeoning artists they believed in from the very beginning, a syndicate who would push each other and create the drive for progress as a unit, rather than one of dissociated names operating under one vague banner.
It is a tactic that has served them well from the offset, they explain, waiting for the right track to come their way before revealing themselves, waiting for the right new artist to arrive and become the first carrier of the Lossless torch. Schober explains, “The actual decision to start the label really didn’t happen until that one special track arrived”.
That track was ‘Parallel Romance’, the debut release from an as-yet unheard of French producer by the name of Anthony Georges Patrice; a percussive, rolling track, the crisp, swirling melodies of which served as the fervent peak of Mano Le Tough’s 2014 Boiler Room showcase.
“I mean, we really need to thank Mano Le Tough for playing it so much in the beginning”, Herb says, “Then Kristian (Âme) and Steffen (Dixon) started playing it a lot too. That first record was such a big door opener for the whole label. We got such a buzz from it.”
Schober expands on the track’s unprecedented success: “It really rode a wave. Once one DJ stopped playing it and got over it, another one would pick it up and start playing it.”
And it was that buzz and energy felt from championing the new that has defined the label’s output since, each one a deftly chosen slice of fresh, inventive house with guest appearances from Flowers and Sea Creatures and Katie Kim and remix duties shared among the artists themselves – apart from one by The Drifter. The label also had a collaborative release with Nuno Dos Santos SoHaSo imprint in August 2016, a re-issue of King Britt’s 2002 house classic ‘Uzoamaka’ re-mastered and remixed by SBTH and Love Over Entropy.
Having been DJs in the club scene in Munich for years before starting the label, Herb and Schober’s patience was built upon experience. Having connections with the likes of Innervisions’ bosses Dixon and Krstian Beyer allowed for there to be immediate points of contact when it was finally time to get things off the ground.
“We’d both been involved with the industry for quite a while and knew quite a lot of people, so that helped. We weren’t complete amateurs when we started it so it was easier for us to reach the right people.”
An admiration for Innervisions’ hands-on methodology was something that inspired the Lossless ethos, watching the label abandon its previous vinyl distributors to work exclusively with their own Muting The Noise output serving as an influence on their own philosophy. Lossless is now one of a select number of labels that work exclusively with Muting The Noise for distribution, this extension being the only part of the label that is handled by someone other than either Herb or Schober.
“At the time there were only three labels distributing with Muting the Noise. That meant they could really pay attention to every single label they worked with. It gave it a more handpicked, hands-on feeling. There’s a stamp of quality to it.”
That is not to say for a second that Lossless wants to dance on the coat tails of Innvervisions. The label instead channels the individual creative input of their artists, each of whom occupies their own niche and channels their own techniques in creating deep, rhythmic and melodic house that steers toward the “Avant-Garde”, as Schober describes it. This is heard in the organic, spacious productions of Neil Flynn’s recent J.E.N. EP and Trikk’s boisterous ‘Proto-Rhyt’, a track that demolished every dance floor it saw fit to this past summer. With one ear always pointed to those club floors, the productions also veer toward spaces beyond that, be those spaces the expansive landscapes of Flynn’s ‘Connemara’, the bustling changeover of SBTH’s ‘Moritzplatz’ (forthcoming), or in the 'Autumnal' places of Love Over Entropy's imagination.
“Our philosophy is focussed on bringing something unique and new,” Schober explains, “We don’t want to be a copy of a copy. That’s too easy. You’ll get tonnes of demos and they will all sound the same, all trying to copy all these big, modern, successful labels. Lots of young producers just want to sound like them. Sometimes they are really well produced, but we just don’t feel it. It’s just copying a successful model. That’s not what we’re looking for.”
“We want to get goose bumps when we hear these tracks played out.” Herb adds.
Our conversation returns to Schober and Herb’s all-important philosophy of the label being like a family or united movement. Keeping that unit tight and being careful about who enters the fold is central to their growth. Bringing artists together and creating friendships amid different histories, production styles and locations allows the Lossless flag to be flown with pride wherever it goes, wherever the artists branch out to.
“We could of course put out so much great music from so many great artists. But we want to be sure they would be people we would release music from again, that they will be part of this family.“
It comes down to mutual benefit and shared wealth, where one’s progress always lends to others’.
“Everyone is growing together. If one of us growing then we are all growing. If Love Over Entropy is getting bigger and bigger then we are getting bigger too. The same goes for Trikk. We are so happy for him that he has releases Innervisions and Optimo, but that also means that people are going to discover his releases with us and our other artists too!”
With a view to events in the future, Herb and Schober are in the process of bringing the Lossless family under one roof for a showcase of what the collective has to offer sometime in the new year.
“We want to show everyone that our roster makes sense. Everyone on it is a bit different but it all makes a good mix. We want to give people a clear concept of what Lossless is.”
What lies in store for the future of the label then? Thomas Herb and Mathias Schober remain as collected and patient as they have been up to this point. With 2016 placing them firmly among the most formidable labels operating in the sphere, and with their individual artists becoming more and more lauded among heavyweights and clubbers alike, the future looks to be brimmed with potential.
Schober sounds confident when he says that 2017 will be a bigger year than the last. “We need to bring it to the next level.”
Herb is quick to add the seemingly engrained Lossless spin of ease on his friend’s words though. “Keeping up the quality up is really important. And we can’t release too much. The releases need the room to breathe.”
The old adage of being able to choose your friends but not your family seems lost on Lossless. Right now, both Schober and Herb seem happy to reflect on their label’s growth since 2014, proud of what they and their friends have achieved, treading their way gracefully into the future.
“We certainly haven’t regretted anything yet!” Herb laughs, “Maybe the biggest achievement is just that. That we still love what we do.”
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