DJ Banel (Iboga Records)
Article posted by TweeKUniT on 6/07/2005 4:32PM
JK: Hi mate, how are you?
Banel: Good thanks!
JK: You’ve had years as one of the most important people in the progressive scene…Your label has helped shape how progressive trance music sounds today…How did you first discover this music? How did Iboga form and who where the original people?
Banel: Emok and I met during the mid nineties where I was part of a big event organisation in Copenhagen (Rotundum) and had plans for a new label together with DJ Amon. We started hanging out with Emok, and the three of us decided to do the label together. At the same time we did a studio where also Jeppe was involved. Around 1998 we collected the tracks for our first CD “Tabernanthe” and we borrowed some money to start the label. At that time many of the people around us where into making music and it was in that time that the so-called “Scandinavian progressive trance” got much attention with labels like Spiral trax, Iboga and Digital Structures representing the new artists and sounds. At Iboga we had names like Reefer Decree, Oryx, Beat Bizarre, Lurifax, Llopis, Fabel and Phony Orphants. It was those artists who created the Danish side of the new progressive music and lifted the label to great success.
JK: It’s changed a lot since then hasn’t it? What’s different now from the beginning?
Banel: In the beginning there was not so much copying. The Cd burners started to do their work though, and the internet use exploded, so that it became very easy to get illegal copies of music. The point is that our sales got affected in a negative way. And in the beginning our releases were lacking a proper mastering; now we get our stuff mastered at Medley in Copenhagen, with top dollar sound as a result.
JK: Your roster of artists is arguably the most impressive progressive line-up in the world… I mean Freq, Frogacult, Beat Bizzarre, Phony Orphants, Reefer Decree, etc… I hear around the traps you have some new artists on board, can you tell me anything about this?
Banel: I believe we can be very proud of the quality of the team we have put together. And we are working on getting some new ones on board as well. Among the new names you will find Perfect Stranger, Ace Ventura, Flowjob, Behind Blue Eyes, besides those names we hope to include Liquid Soul, Nasa and Sun Control Species as Iboga players.
JK: I understand that you are producing with one half of Beat Bizarre (Rene) as “Behind Blue Eyes”. Can you tell me a bit about this project? Any release plans soon?
Banel: Rene and I go way back, we have known each other for ages. Actually we started buying music equipment together in the beginning of the nineties. Things would that we never really got it going, but in 2004 we felt time were right for a new project together. Our first goal is to produce a first album together, planned for release on Iboga at the end of 2005. We are preparing a live as well and are lucky enough to have bookings already, among others in Tunesia at the solar eclipse event. We also have a release coming on Greek label “Astro Records”, the track called “Rumble in the Jungle”.
JK: Iboga seems to be having a very busy year, with a vinyl release, the Antix album and set:5 just out, and many more releases planned for later this year… Can you tell me a bit about these?
Banel: We have our release schedule booked one full year ahead. To look at it can almost take my breath away; it’s a very impressive list. I really hope we can pull it off; it will be a great achievement. Also considering that we are releasing on our Sub label “Sofa Beats”, as well as plans I can’t reveal yet.
JK: You’ve just decided to start pressing vinyl again after not doing so for a while (with the Liquid Soul EP)… What was the reason behind this? Is Vinyl making resurgence? Any more plans for vinyl release coming up?
Banel: We love releasing on vinyl, that’s the main reason. Both Emok and I loved spinning vinyl back in the days and still do enjoy this format, it’s a very special feeling to play with vinyl. We believe that its worth doing it and hope to present many more releases in the time to come. In the plans for now is a fantastic 12” with Antix remixes by D-Nox & Beckers / Fitalic. Not to mention the two Phony Orphants singles, which are really great.
JK: How do you see the state of the progressive scene at the moment? Is it healthy? Do you think it’s moving into more accessible territory, bridging into different genres and styles?
Banel: Well it’s only natural that the music progresses and bridges between genres, new techniques rise and technology keeps making impact. People inspire each other. There are so many genre’s / sub genre’s that it is almost impossible to follow. In most cases this will remain an underground movement and it’s where it comes to its right. Eventually somebody will do something that breaks to the surface and get high exposure. I think that if the scene is to be healthier, we need to have less releases and more focus on quality. It is too easy to release some music and try to make it in the jungle of releases coming out every week. It kind of lowers the quality and makes it even harder for those more “professional” ones. Anyway I believe that CD´s will be like vinyls are now, in the future. The main thing will be the music on the internet. So it will be a battle of morale. Do you want to support the artists you like or just find a way to get it copied? Nothing new in this problem. It just moved from LP - cassette tape - DAT tape - CD to MP3 copying. And the internet made it ever easier.
JK: I was reading on your website that you guys did it tough when the .mp3 thing became more apparent in past few years… Can you tell me a bit about this, and what has been the result of .mp3s on Iboga and the psytrance industry as a whole?
Banel: Our sales dropped with around 1-2000 copies pr. Release (CD). For a small upcoming business like ours, it was a tough challenge. As for the mp3 business, it will be massive. It’s forming now and we will be a part of it, supporting it, no doubt.
There are great possibilities in it. There are not so many expenses connected to it as with printed Medias. Cover can be online and downloaded together when an album is bought. One can burn his own CD of it. It will be much easier to find music than in normal stores.
JK: Iboga definitely has a very characteristic sound, even though the range of music released by your label is very broad…What do you look for when finding new tracks for Iboga release?
Banel: Basically it comes down to what Emok and I like. We are also willing to try new things and try to keep the “finger on the pulse” about what going on, as well as being creative ourselves.
JK: Which new artists do you think are doing big things? Any new faces you’ve seen lately that have impressed you?
Banel: There are so many creative people around. I think a big name to watch out for is Sun Control Species, to mention one.
JK: Who are your favourite artists right now? Who’s in your stereo at home, and what artists would we be likely to hear if we heard a DJ Banel set?
Banel: My set is containing a lot from the artists of Iboga and the repertoire of the label. I try to play my set as a “wave”, flowing progressive trance. Kind of experimental i´ve been told. But to judge from many of the sets i´ve played around the globe, it has worked very well. To get an idea of favourite artists I will have to mention Beat Bizarre, Phony Orphants (the new album is massive), Simon Postford, Steve Good, FREq and…. At home lately, there has been Bluetech in the player.
JK: You must have had a lot of chances to travel. Where have you been so far? Which is your favourite country you’ve visited? What’s the best/most memorable party you’ve been to or played at?
Banel: I have been many places, most favourite must be Mexico. I had so many good and wicked times over there. So far my favourite set must be at 2001/02 Kohpangang, the paradise waterfall new years party, where I ended the whole festival, it was awesome to play that one. I have a very special one coming up though; in July 2005 that probably beats it….
JK: Any travel plans for the future? Can we expect you or any other iboga artists down under any time soon? I heard Phoney Orphants will be down for Earthcore this year?
Banel: Phoney Orphants are playing the Earthcore party in November, should be massive I reckon. Oliver from Reefer Decree was just there, and it seems that Beat Bizarre / Behind Blues Eyes & I play in Australia as well. Its not confirmed 100% though as far as I know. Should be around November into December and maybe an Iboga label party in Auckland, it’s in the planning at least, so lets see.
JK: Iboga has a few releases by Aussie artists… Have you heard many others? If so, who do you like?
Banel: Back in the days there were Nick Taylor, amazing stuff and I remember Lumukanda, which were great. Nowadays its names like FREq, SCS, Kasey Taylor and the label “Zero Tolerance”, which had a lot of nice releases.
JK: Any last words or thank yous mate?
Banel: Yeah, thank you very much for giving me this opportunity and see you out there! And to all that has supported Iboga Records, thank you too…
JK: Thanks very much, Good luck with the rest of the year!
Interview by Jesse Kuch