If you’re getting old, then it’s time to throw a party and make it a damn good one. In the spirit of celebratory birthday antics, these birthday kids sure know how to do it right. Marking ten years in the Austrian music scene, 2012 is a significant year for independent music in Austria, with two Austrian indie labels celebrating ten years of success, hosting a string of parties and acts over the past few months and defining a decade of excellence in Austrian music.
Often beginning as little more than a random idea born over a beer, these two labels have come to reflect the diversity of Austrian talent offered across genres. Wohnzimmer Records and Fabrique Records have been responsible for pioneering young talents within and beyond the realms of alternative/indie/pop/punk and electronica (with an impressive back catalogue) over their decade in business.
It’s not difficult to see why Wohnzimmer has been around for ten years. For a decade Wohnzimmer has been the docking point for some of Austria’s’ most interesting live indie/pop acts, inclusive of Kreisky, sixties garage rockers The Incredible Staggers, One Two Three Cheers and a Tiger and ambient post rockers Your Ten Mofo.
Wohnzimmer continues to grow with an impressive roster of Austrian acts, managing to almost sell out 4 consecutive nights worth of live Wohnzimmer (living room) concerts for it’s 10th anniversary party at Chelsea, Vienna. As modest as they are, the three heads behind the label Wohnzimmer Records prefer to sit outside the limelight and to direct the attention towards their stable of excellent Austrian artists.
The label’s selective process for signing artists is easily explained. The three label owners Lelo Brossmann, Peter Winkler and Kerstin Breyer have one overall objective: the music of the respective artist has to equally convince and appeal to all three. Each year the trio digs through hundreds of submissions and promotional tapes to carefully choose the finest newest offspring. It may so happen that a few years pass without signing a new artist if they can not find an act that caters to the needs of all three.
2012 has been a good year for Wohnzimmer Records. Besides the 10 year anniversary, the label has put some excellent new musical additions on the market. Among them, Paradies der Tiere, a project formed by the musicians Franz Reisecker (Lichtenberg, Trio Exklusiv) and Wolfgang Schlögl (I-Wolf, Sofa Surfers), as well as the very young rock formation The Boys You Know.
The fact that Wohnzimmer Records works on a very passionate and professional level shows in the interactions with its artists. In comparison to other competitors, commercially promising music is not just carelessly thrown on the market. Instead, Wohnzimmer puts its heart and soul into each individual musician and gratefully resorts to funding from the SKE-Fonds of the Austro Mechana and the Austrian Music Fund.
In times of declining record sales, there is a need for new ideas and adjustments. Since June, Wohnzimmer Records have a new label policy that offers its artists the additional option to release on vinyl only. Visions and future thinking are the name of the game. In this sense, Wohnzimmer Records is definitely on the right track and leaves us to look forward to another 10 years of Austrian music input at the highest level.
Fabrique Records have managed to carve out a niche of Austrian and International acts, focusing primarily on electronica/indie with one of the labels most successful Austrian alternative artists Mauracher who released a fourth studio album in October 2012.
As with many success stories, it all started with a person that had a vision and a strong desire for self-realization. In this case it was Michael Martinek, a music connoisseur who started learning his craft with EMI. Although he enjoyed the music of the label, the constricted concept was too predictable. At EMI he met the newly formed formation Mauracher around singer/songwriter Hubert Mauracher. The unique style and the obvious talent of the musicians motivated him to reflect on his own project. The contact with his future label partner Christian Rösner came along almost by itself, since both were linked by profession, passion for music and common school days.
This was enough to set the ground for the foundation of Fabrique Records. The basic idea was to escape from the shadow of mono cultural labels. The mission was to establish an open platform, free from constricted ideas and where creative processes of various music styles could evolve. It had to be possible to combine interdisciplinary artistic and avant-garde elements with music.
Initially they built their branch office in London, which they led until 2004. There they made a name for themselves with regularly held label nights, which were praised by the Guardian and also landed some airplay hits. However, due to incomplete distribution, these successes did not lead to the desired sales figures, as Martinek stated in a mica interview: “We wanted too much too fast. These are classic mistakes you make in the beginning.”
Soon enough the duo decided to revise their concept. According to Martinek, it was too open and scattered, which caused frictions with the distributors. Since they did not want to restrict themselves, they founded the daughter label Stereoalpine in 2004. This made room for hard electro-clash, while Fabrique focused on electronic songwriting and radio compatible music.
The artists with whom they have worked together over the years can be brought together under the common denominator “electronics”. Among these are still the successful electro-clashers TNT Jackson, the English indie rock band Wolventrix, Konsorten TM and Boz Boorer, who writes the music for Morrissey’s lyrics.
Regarding the basic setting, the initial idea of the label has not really changed, Fabrique Records has only become more determined. With an ear for exceptional musical talents, they support not only young electronic artists like Lovecat or Ping Ping, but also other prestigious musicians such as Hans-Joachim Roedelius, who is considered as the “father of contemporary electronic instrumental music” and electro-pop entertainer Friedrich Liechtenstein, known for his eccentric performances.
Ten years is a long time for a indie label, especially when you consider that Fabrique Records has paved its own way, without wanting to adapt to the norm. With its sophisticated artist repertoire, lets hope they keep up strong and continue to enthrall us with sublime music.
One Two Three Cheers and a Tiger: Ingo Pertramer
Kreisky: Ingo Pertramer
Mauracher: James William Porter III
Lovecat: David Payr