View From An Independent Label #2 – KOMPAKT
Mr Mayer returned with his first full album of original material this month so we sat him down to talk shop
Michael Mayer may not be the most famous name in music, but he’s one of the most important. As one of the heads of KOMPAKT, the Cologne based electronic label, he’s been at the forefront of EDM for the past four years.
He’s also adverse to releasing his own music, the latest offering of which was ’Mantasy’, which came out last week.
We caught him in his tracks as he tripped around the annual industry conference, Amsterdam Dance Event, to chat ‘adult techno’ and why MP3s are rubbish…
You're currently at ADE I hear, what's been getting you excited over there?
I went to see Paul van Dyk who was playing upstairs at Melkweeg while Kompakt was downstairs. I never saw him DJing before. I even found a glowstick on my way up, so that was really exciting. I was ready for trance heaven but then he played rather credible techno - at least while I was there. What a letdown...
How did KOMPAKT start, and how do you think you've changed since then?
Oh boy, that's a long story and it's been told many times. Let me try to keep it short. Kompakt started in 1993 as a record store. Now, in 2012 we're still a record store. But we're also a label that has released more than 500 records, a distributor for roundabout 60 labels, an artist agency, mail order and publishing house.
You've become one of the premier electronic labels, what do you think KOMPAKT does that other labels can't?
I think it's all about the constellation of people that work here. It's more than just a company. It's more like family business. Some people try to see us as a sect which obviously isn't the case. There's simply a very high level of identification and dedication amongst our staff. There's a great energy going on. That's what most artists are looking for: Good vibes, capable hands and heads and a strong reliability.
A lot of your releases always come out on vinyl, or the CD packages are usually pretty deluxe, how important is the quality of the format of the music for you?
It's not a secret that we're no big friends of the mp3 format. I mean, where's the point in pushing for the best possible sound in expensive studios and spending a lot of money on mastering? MP3's are an insult to the ears of any concerning music lover. It's the biggest joke in music history that they became the leading format. It's absurd! Anyhow, we love our physical releases. We take a lot of pleasure out of touching and feeling them. You can actually see what the artist that created the artwork intended. I've got one thumbnail on each hand. That's where they belong.
You're about to unleash 'Mantasy' onto world - how would you describe your music to someone that might not have heard it before?
Does this album differ to any of your previous work?
No, the packaging is different though. And Touch only had eight tracks, Mantasy has ten.
Have any of the artists on your label influenced or inspired you?
Yes, all of them. That's why we work with them.
What advice would you give to any bedroom promoters wanting to start putting out their own and friends' music?
Stay true to your ideals, don't go the easy way, take a deep breath and live your dream!