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Interview: Heiko Laux On 25 Years Of Kanzleramt

The label boss reflects on a quarter of a century of techno

25 years is a long time in business. Most don't even last a year. For record labels, most stick around a few years then disappear. There are quite a few that have managed to stay ahead of the game, such as techno artist Heiko Laux and his Kanzleramt imprint. Since starting the label all those years ago, Kanzleramt has remained one of the most consistent labels in the genre, with releases from some of the biggest names, most recently Alexander Kowalski's 'Inheritance'. After a quarter of a century, we sat with Heiko to learn more about the label and how he has kept it going. 

Heiko Laux Press Pic © Nadia Morganistik

Hi Heiko, thank you so much for chatting with us today. Before we dive in, I'd like to begin by asking you about what the past 6 months have looked like for you both personally and professionally.

Pretty diverse. I had to deal with anything that was thrown at me, from contracts and office work to updating all my sites and pimping my youtube channel, and back to remixing in the studio, and then a lot of track selection work with all artists for the campaign, and that's just scratching the surface.

I'd also like to take a step back to the very beginning of your career. How did you even get involved with electronic music to start with? 

Me diving into all of this was unavoidable. It seemed like it was made for me, like a dream come true. Up to 1998, when techno was still growing, there was no limit for anything.

The big news here is that your label is celebrating a quarter of a century. What an outstanding accomplishment. How does that feel to reach such a large milestone?

OMG, that's already 25 years.

In those 25 years, there have been many changes to both you and the label no doubt. As you get older and gain more experience, priorities and methods change. I'm curious though, what has stayed the same? Have your values shifted since you began?

Not really, still the same belly feel that decides. The experience helps to find what will be used up fast, so it's more difficult to make the bar for release nowadays.

This might be tough, like trying to choose your favorite child, but have there been any releases that have been particularly special to you and the label?

Everything has been released into their time. Then you love it and ask yourself if it is also hitting a nerve with others. Some did, some didn't. The true value I dig the most on the releases comes in retrospect when you hear them back and they cause the same feeling again. So they stay a valid description of how the world feels then and up to now.


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On that same note, were there any releases that you thought were going to make an impact, but for some reason or another, didn't get the love you thought they deserved?

Many, really. If someone was hooked to a tune in the 90s you had to go to a record store and buy the vinyl to hear it and cherish it. Nowadays algorithms tell you what similar playlist to hear of so many more artists with their own label each, so any release needs to be capable of poking through all that to be found. You could describe or hum to your trusted vinyl dealer and he'd give you the record, but you can't sing to Shazam and get to the track which inspired you on the weekend. This personal service of a record dealer gave you a very personalised collection of music. The web is mostly making you hear bullshit in three steps or less.

Were there any lessons that you learned early on in running the label that has stuck with you today? Any that you'd like to share?

Don't release shit.

We've been speaking mostly about things from back in the day, but I'd like to know if there have been any recent achievements for either yourself or the label?

As second releases on a label are always harder as the 1st I'm particularly proud of having another single on Klockworks with "Self". Also being on Drumcode with Joel and with tunes we already made a while ago. They got to Adam by a friendly passing on and he picked them for release immediately. That felt good as they very well could have been Parabel or Kanzleramt releases.

Without getting too political, what do you make of the current techno scenes around the world? Are there any trends you are starting to see that the younger generations should be warry of?

The world is changing too fast to make any prediction. Just stay true to yourself even when peeps are telling you that you've got no chance.

As an artist, label head, and human being, I'd venture to guess that, at times, you are faced with seemingly endless amounts of work. When you find your self in these situations, but you are either frustrated, unfocused or just over it, how to you recenter yourself and get things done?

Work with tenacity. Facing a workload and having problems thrown at you aways hold the chance for an upgrade solution too.

Since we are on the subject of productivity, have you developed any methods or "hacks" that help you expedite the process?

Some kicking in the ass over a productivity issue is rare in my position, and if correct, most welcome. I tend to procrastinate 'til I can think of the best possible thing to do or produce, but the most productive ideas come in the process of making things.

Last question for you. In all of your experience in the industry, if I'm a new artist just setting out on my journey, what would you say is the single most important piece of advice you could give me?

If that's about techno: move to Berlin. You'll find likeminded people to learn from and you can develop yourself.

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