“claing-sh-eye-bin. clang-sch-high-ben,” i stumble over the words, trying to tell a friend the name of the german record label i’ve been writing for. behind me, i can hear thomas baz, the label’s founder, laughing. “was that wrong?” i venture another attempt at the pronunciation, “klang-schybbin!” not even close. i met thomas last summer at toronto’s sound in motion festival. we became fast friends, and have long been supporters of one another’s work; him of mine under little city, me of his as demas and under the klangscheiben label.
thomas has been in town since last week, ahead of his gig playing as demas alongside swack and alicia hush at this year’s mutek festival (em15), but the magic is only about to begin. the rest of the family under his label — sebastian albrecht, marlene magnoli, and florist — flew in from berlin a week later. having been booked at a number of different events around toronto, montreal, and quebec city by their friends and sisterlabel hushlamb, the klangscheiben crew is set for a musical invasion. this saturday will see the entire roster take the stage on the rooftop of the societe des arts technologiques (SAT), an event put together by hushlamb. the festivities (which technically begin at tonight’s side by side event with mike shannon at bleury bar a vinyle) will continue on until sunday evening at piknic electronik, where hushlamb has its own stage.
it’s a rainy wednesday evening, and i meet up with thomas, marlene, sebastian, florist, and marlene’s boyfriend manuel at bethlehem xxx in little italy. over drinks, we get to talking about the music scene in canada. the group tosses names around — mike shannon, akufen, deadbeat, pheek — and the distance between canada and germany gets smaller. they talk about the kinds of parties they host or play at, the oversaturation of the scene in berlin, and the kind of music they want to show the world. for a second, i forget we’re from different cities; it all sounds so familiar. so much so that i almost forget to turn on the voice recorder.
i want to talk about the label. i don’t wanna say the name though because thomas laughed at me when i said it wrong the other day.
thomas baz: [laughs] it’s pronounced “kleng-scheibenn.”
TB: better! [laughs] i founded the label in 2004, so it’s ten years old this year. i wanted to have a label behind my dj name to play gigs. in 2006, i started to release stuff — first only net releases, then digital, then physical.
flori jansen: thomas even inspired me to do also my own label with sebastian called park recordings! the music is similar. we are also trying to sign acts that thomas doesn’t have on his label, so we are always pushing to find new music.
sebastian albrecht: we’re trying to be “elite” with our music. not elite, but…we are trying to always get quality music, just like thomas.
i have the boys say their names before they speak to ensure i can differentiate everyone on the recording, not realizing how ridiculous it sounds. a strange interjection, a disruption of a moment or constant reminder that we’re in interview mode. luckily, the boys brush it off with a laugh — it quickly becomes clear that that kind of reaction is steadfast for the group. there is, it seems, nothing they can’t laugh off.
thomas and sebastian met through myspace ages ago. from there, they started playing together and working together. flori and sebastian met in a similar way, through soundcloud. and the crew met marlene through labelmate dr. nojoke.
the way you all met sounds a bit like how our crew came together. music connects and then people connect. how did you meet the hushlamb crew?
SA: the origins of all these relationships, it’s really soundcloud. it’s crazy how many people connect through soundcloud.
TB: the first guy that wrote to me about the label was zaid edghaim from toronto. he told sarah lamb about the music and of course, sarah spread it around!
FJ: hushlamb surprises me with their music every time. i never know what the next step will be.
how does the sound that you just described work with the klangscheiben sound?
TB: they’re similar, they come from the same place. it’s always nice to come to canada and go to the events like sound in motion and mutek and the hushlamb parties, because they always play music that i want to hear.
FJ: we all have the same taste in music.
sarah lamb and alicia hush, the montreal-by-way-of-toronto duo that founded hushlamb 7 years ago would say the same thing about the klangscheiben crew. it’s no wonder that the two groups of artists and tastemakers have become such good friends, given the heart and soul that each puts into everything they do, from music to events and beyond.
the other week, sarah lamb and i looked up what klangscheiben means in english. it translates to “sound discs.”
everyone: yes! [all laugh]
what can you tell us about the word klangscheiben and how it relates to the label?
TB: it was just about wanting to do vinyl releases in the beginning. i didn’t have any money though, so i started with digital releases to get my name into the industry, then i started releasing some physicals in 2009. there are two vinyl releases on the label so far.
if you could capture any sound in the world, and put it on a disc, what would it be and why?
SA: …what? [laughs]
[laughs] think of any sound in the entire world. if you could record it, and release it on vinyl, what sound would you chose?
TB: maybe the recording of a group of friends hanging out and laughing?
SA: for me, it would be noise. i don’t think that’s the answer you want though. but we work in very different ways, me and thomas. demas is very straightforward with beats and sounds, me i work more with synthesizers. so my ideal sound would be noise.
FJ: a good story about the second vinyl that thomas was talking about — we were sitting around, me, thomas, dr.nojoke, sebastian and berk offset…
TB: we were sitting in a vietnamese restaurant, and i recorded it all. the talking, the laughing, the music in the background, the dishes, the workers. berk said, “okay! let’s do a release!” and it ended up on vinyl!
that’s amazing! so how would you describe the sound of the label?
FJ: for me, klangscheiben is unique. it’s a sound you don’t find on other labels.
SA: unique, definitely.
marlene magnoli: i would say unique, too. but for me, it’s hard to describe with just one word. it’s more generous, i can’t find the words for it. that’s a good thing! when i love something, it’s hard to describe with one word.
FJ: we’ve also been doing the compilations and the various artist releases, and that makes the label more open-minded. there’s experimental, there’s techno, there’s house, and with more styles you can reach more people.
SA: i would say the sound is funky and colourful!
TB: the idea behind was not to fit into one genre, but i always pick up the artists and the music that fit to my feelings.
last year some of the hushlamb crew was over in europe. your canadian tour just started, and hushlamb will be back in europe at the end of the summer. what is it like working in the same city?
SA: last summer, we were immediately a family. from the beginning, we had so much fun.
FJ: it was really fun, we had a really good time. they came to live one week in our community, so one day, we were hanging out — me, alicia, jesse, sarah, and pykup from france — and we played the hushlamb [free range] radio show. we did a two hour improvised set [listen below]. we connected everything, we started building sounds, everyone joined in. this beautiful thing was built and nothing was planned. and that was amazing, that was what convinced me to come out here for this tour.
SA: i love to speak about technique with jesse. you can’t speak about that with just anyone, but jesse is an anomaly. he’s a nerd, like me, so it’s so fun to be able to share that with someone.
this saturday at the SAT, littlecity cohort dull will open, followed by a special b2b2b set from flori, thomas, and ana+one. next, alicia hush will takeover with an hour-long live, followed by lives from sebastian and marlene. when i ask about their sets and what we can expect, no one has much of an answer — it’s not surprising, though. music seems to come so naturally to everyone that even their live performances don’t faze them. i ask if they practice or prepare, and the answer is yes to an extent. but it’s clear that when they get up there, their plan is to feel it out, to let the music fall out of them naturally.
before i sat down for the interview with the team, i worried that the language barrier would hold back the process. i worried that not only would i not be able to get my questions across, but worse, they won’t be able to get their thoughts back to me. that is, until, i ask them what music means to them, and it’s clear we all speak the same language.
MM: i can’t find words…maybe a feeling of being alive in all sides.
FJ: i can switch off everything and just listen to music or make music and be happy. like marlene said, you feel it.
MM: i have music for every feeling. when i’m sad, i have special music that i listen to. when i’m mad, when i’m happy. when i’m everything, i have music for it.