An interview with Christian Löffler – “The majority of today’s released music lost its identity.”
Christian Löffler is an incredibly talented producer who made a big impact with his debut album ‘A Forest’ last year. In 2009, Christian founded a thriving imprint named ‘Ki Records’, with releases from artists such as Monokle, Biodub, Arp Aubert and Christian himself. Ki Records is an exciting label with high quality releases and a special interest in creative artwork. Last week we spoke to Christian and we talked about the label’s history, future plans and Christian’s own view on the imprint and his mindset on managing the label.
Since 2009 Ki build up a solid stem of international artists that grew along the way since the Label’s start. Ki releases are diverse in sound and genre but related to quality. It’s not Ki’s thing to stick to one direction. Most of the Label’s musicians are somewhat involved in many disciplines of art. From the smallest detail in production, to the whole package – each release is a piece of art throughout. Fine art looks at its best on a proper sized canvas of 12“, and that’s why Ki releases its music primarily on vinyl. “To look at, feel, listen to and love.”
Christian Löffler – Eleven feat. Mohna
What was the initial impulse to start the KI imprint?
“The very first trigger to start ‘Ki Records’ was the fact that there was a lot of great, unreleased music available within our narrow circle of friends. There was a need for a platform to promote and support these tracks. We were always in love with music, records, artwork and all that comes along with it, so it felt totally natural to get it started.”
“In the early days of ‘Ki’ it was Paul, a very good friend of mine who I already know from school. Together with Paul I founded Ki. Soon more friends joined us to help with designing artwork, writing press texts and lots of other stuff. All tasks within the label are distributed in a democratic way. Everybody’s input has the same weight. When it comes to the distribution of the music we have a strong partner in ‘Kompakt’.”
The label pays a lot of attention to design and artwork, something we applaud. What are the reasons or is the vision behind this approach?
“We’re big enthusiasts of vinyl and nicely designed covers that tell a story. That’s why we closely follow our heroes like DJ Food, Nightmares On Wax or Squarepusher. Their album artwork is always well designed and gives a certain feel to the music.”
The Ki label collaborated with artists from several creative fields like designers in the past. Can you tell us more about some of these collaborations between artists in different disciplines?
“Matias Montecinos once did a cover for Monokle, and we were told he also created great videos. As we got in contact with the guy, who is from Chile, we discovered that he has a whole studio team behind him. The so-called Blanco Estudio did the video for the lead single “Holidays” that we just premiered, next to our current release by newcomers Colo.
The cover design for “Holidays” was done by Matthias Heiderich, an old friend of Ki and a very talented photographer. The Monokle artwork on the other hand, was done by Carolina Nino, a graphic designer from Argentina. It’s all connected in the end, and it feels like a real community of musicians and designers that is constantly growing. Our Ki logo was designed by Daisuke Tanabe.”
Monokle – Say (Ki Records)
A fast growing amount of labels are investing lots of time and energy in marketing nowadays, the amount of Facebook likes and Soundcloud plays seems more important than a defined vision and approach. Is the artistic way of branding the label your ‘marketing strategy’ and what is your vision about the increasing focus on social media, likes and followers?
“There is much more behind it as one would think. Of course, Facebook and Soundcloud play a major role in getting new music out there. These are marketing tools for sure, and they’re a blessing. Nothing is worse than releasing great music that doesn’t get the reach and attention it deserves due to a lack of marketing.”
“We’re not big fans of an underground strategy which ends up in a small reach; the more people who listen to the music we release the better. Talking about the label; it’s never about Ki, the artist and his music are what matter the most. Ki is a platform that provides the needed infrastructure to get the music out there, and we are here to help the artist in taking decisions and keeping them busy with producing music.”
“Especially for me, it’s this emotional, slightly melancholic atmosphere that I like the most. It’s not related to a style or genre. Everything is allowed as long as it touches people in this special way.”
Do you select artists on criteria like personality and musical integrity besides their musical capabilities?
“It’s a bit of everything. The music must be outstanding according to our taste and value, and it should fit our approach. We prefer music that one can still listen to in a few years from now. We like music that isn’t trendy but timeless.
The personality of the artist is also important to us; there is nothing more annoying than dealing with an artist who wants to be super famous, that’s just not what Ki can deliver or guarantee. It all depends on oneself; we can only create the basis.”
Do you have any interesting stuff coming out on the label in the near future?
“For 2014 we have tons of fresh music coming up. First off there is this young duo from London called ‘Colo’. Furthermore, we are about to release a 7inch record called “Holidays“ featuring one of the tracks from their upcoming album (also to be released on Ki in early 2014) and a remix by myself.
Besides that, we are proud to present the super well-produced deep, atmospheric soundscapes by Sean Pineiro in long play format. To continue our series of split EP’s, we are preparing a record featuring Daisuke Tanabe and Hiroaki Oba and I’m about to release an extended EP and my second album as well.”
You’re based in Hamburg; we heard some positive stories about a flourishing scene full of artistic personalities. What’s going on in Hamburg the last couple of years?
“We’re not really based anywhere. Ki was based in Cologne and Paul moved to Hamburg a year ago, I live near Rostock at the moment. Mitch is running the Cologne Sessions party in Cologne and that is the only city where we are really connected to a local music scene.
Talking about Hamburg, there are many things going on there and it feels as if the art scene is catching up recently. Not comparable to Berlin though, but you can feel a certain drive, many artists are currently moving to the city.”
What is your vision on the recent developments within the music industry and what specific elements should a label nowadays contain, which qualities are required to publish the music you would like to publish and on the other hand reach the listeners you’d like to reach?
“I feel as if the majority of the music which is being released today lost its identity. Often it’s music that has a half-life period of 3 to 6 months. I fear that this development, in combination with the amount of tracks being released today, creates this obscure feel for music being a disposable item.
“The artists who are creating music should come to the surface and built their fan base again. The label plays a major role here to give them the possibility to stick out of the mass and to create a unique identity that one can relate to.
Some labels are doing an excellent job like Ghostly International, Erased Tapes or Morr Music to name a few. But it also depends on the music itself. At Ki we don’t aim at the trendsetters but at the music lovers. There is nothing better than listening to the same record over and over again and talking about it, even years later on, this would be the ultimate goal I’d say.”
Christian Löffler Live