Music | Bittles’ Magazine: The music column from the end of the world
Best known for their perfect fusion of techno and dub, the label Echocord has, over the past fifteen years, established itself as the world’s finest purveyor of bass heavy sounds. Founded by Danish DJ Kenneth Christiansen, the imprint has worked with artists such as Mikkel Metal, Fluxion, Quantec, Rod Modell, Deadbeat, and more, to become the holy grail for anyone seeking to lose themselves within deep, heady grooves. By JOHN BITTLES
Last year the label celebrated a decade and a half of existence with the excellent 15 Years With Echocord, a double LP compilation of new and exclusive echo-drenched gems. For fans, or anyone seeking an introduction to the shadowy world of dub techno, this is all your prayers answered at once!
March 2017 proved a busy month for the label, with the release of not one, but three killer EPs which ably showcased everything that is good about electronic music in the late teens. First up, Zurich producer Idealist debuted on the label with the melodic splendour of his Source EP. Containing three tracks of startling aural depth, lead track Flow has firmly set up home in both my playlist and my head. In mid-March meanwhile, Detroit techno/house icon Luke Hess gave us the perfect example of why he is considered one of the finest producers around with the tough electronic crunch of the Facette EP. Last, but certainly not least, the final release saw Stockholm artist Andreas Tilliander (also known as TM404) dropping the twisted electronica, toughened IDM and foggy acid of the Ofog EP.
Such was my love for these records that tracking down the elusive Echocord label head Kenneth Christiansen was something of a must. In the resulting interview we discuss Idealist, Luke Hess, Andreas Tilliander, the imprint’s 15th birthday celebrations, the origins of the label, the all-consuming allure of bass, and lots more.
So, throw away those Ed Sheeran records, pop over to the Echocord soundcloud page for some suitable atmospherics, and let us begin.
To get us started, can you tell us a bit about your label Echocord?
I started Echocord in 2002, 15 years ago, when I first met Mikkel Meldgaard (aka Mikkel Metal). I was working at that time in a small record shop here in Copenhagen. When you look back 15 years after, the sound has changed on most of the releases. It’s still all about the dubby elements, but most of the releases now are maybe a little more powerful and can be used for the dance floor. It’s still deep and dubby! There were a lot of releases in the beginning which were more ambient/listening stuff – there still is, but that’s mostly on the full-length albums. Then later the sub label Echocord Colour was born, which is more techno orientated.
Early March saw the release of the Source EP, the debut release on Echocord for Zurich DJ/producer Idealist. How did he first come to the attention of the label?
Yes I’m very happy to have Idealist onboard. Been following his music for a long time, love his sound. He sent me some demos over the last couple of years. We met up in Basel when I had a gig there, and we had a talk. I got some more demos, and suddenly there was something that I thought would fit perfectly.
It’s a very versatile EP, with all three tracks exploring a different aspect of the techno sound. Would you agree?
Well, yes. What I really like about these tracks is that they are somewhere in-between techno and house, very deep and crisp.
On the 17th of March Echocord Colour brought out Luke Hess‘ Facette EP. After the Adventures In Deep Space and Analog Passion singles, the Detroit native is becoming a regular feature in your release schedule. Do you have any plans for further releases from Luke?
I have been releasing Luke’s stuff over many years now, also EPs and an album on Echocord. He is a very good friend, and has been an important part of the “family” for so long, so of course he will always release stuff here.
How do releases on Echocord Colour differ from regular Echocord releases?
The reason why I started the sub label Echocord Colour, was basically because I received so many nice demos that didn’t really fit to Echocord. It’s usually more techno dance floor orientated, or can be more experimental.
Swedens Andreas Tilliander returned to the label on the 31st of March with the technoid grooves of the Ofog EP. Lead track Störet is guaranteed to cause raptures in most clubs. How important is the appeal of the dance floor to the music Echocord releases?
It has always been important to me to have tracks on the EPs that can also work on the dance floor. I think with this genre it’s perfect that you can also still listen to it at home. Always trying to mix it, so you have both. Sometimes it all works out :-)
My favourite part is the fantastically deep bass pulse of Risset. Why do you think the power of dub has lasted as long as it has?
Dub is something you hear in so many different genres, it has always been there and always will be. The deepness is so important for me, it’s sexy…
Last year the label released the excellent 15 Years With Echocord compilation to help celebrate a decade and a half in music. The album contained ten new tracks from artists such as STL, Resoe Mikkel Metal and Fluxion. What made you decide to feature fresh tracks rather than highlights from the archives?
We celebrate 15 Years of Echocord, it’s not a »best of« compilation. For me it’s just much cooler only to have unreleased stuff on a comp. Like this. And then when you can get fresh tracks from some of your main artists…it’s luxurious.
Echocord has been going since 2002. What was it that made you decide to set up your own record label all those years ago?
In early 2000 I was working in a record shop that I had just opened with a good friend of mine. Before that I worked in other shops for years, and also did many events and clubs in Copenhagen. I started also to DJ internationally. For me it was a natural »next step« to start up a label. I had the ideas for some years, and when I then got the first demos from Mikkel Metal I thought it was time. At the same time I had very good connections to many other artists, and I had known the people at Kompakt in Cologne also for a while. So when I got positive feedback from Kompakt to distribute it went off.
In what ways has Echocord developed since the Lokuran EP by Mikkel Metal first saw the light of day?
The whole music scene has changed a lot over the last 15 years. In the beginning it was »just« about releasing an EP, and then hoping it could sell a few hundred copies, or even less. Now it’s so easy to find music online, and you see so many releases every day and new labels all the time. So it’s more work now I think to run a label PR wise and stuff. After so many releases and the sub label and all, of course there is more focus on everything. Also we use more time for artwork, full album cover etc.
It’s always about finding the balance to keep it underground and at the same time to find new listeners and fans, go wider..
What have been the key releases for the label so far?
Uhh, there are so many, but especially the Mikkel Metal album featuring Tikiman; that stands out and got extra attention, but also many of the EPs with Deadbeat, Fluxion, Luke Hess etc. The Vladislav Delay EP with remixes by Ricardo Villalobos and Max Loderbaur is also kinda special too. And the Function EP on Colour with SCB and Substance remixes, and the early Rod Modell EPs.
What does the future hold for yourself and Echocord?
2017 will be the most active year so far. We already did some releases and many more are on the way. EPs from Jor-El aka Joel Alter, Sven Weismann and Mikkel Metal will be released in the near future. Besides running my labels, I will continue DJing all over the world, and doing my label showcases. My agency viceversaagency.com will continue to work for me regarding that. I have also started to work with DispersionsPR, to do worldwide promotion for my labels and I. Resoe and I will continue our Pattern Repeat project, PR 008 just got out, and some new stuff is in the making. I will continue to work for the club Culture Box in Copenhagen, doing some nice bookings.
Do you have any final words for our readers?
Peace, and lets keep it sexy.
All three EPs and other Echocord releases are available in all good download stores and record shops such as Kompakt, Phonica and more. More details about the label can be found on their website at echocord.com.