Marcus Richter, aka Stigmatique, is one of the men behind the up and coming Leipzig based techno label Seelen records. In our interview he give us insights in how he and his friends are running the label, which philosophy drives them and what their background is.

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Could you please introduce yourself to our listeners?

My name is Marcus, I am 28 years old, I was born and grew up in the music district of Leipzig. I went to school as usual in Plagwitz, finished my secondary schooling and started an apprenticeship as a cook, which brought me over many detours later into the arms of the Leipzig music scene 5 years later. Of course, it wasn’t the job itself, but individual situations, people and influences that brought me to the electro scene in the end, because I started my enthusiasm for music actually in the genre Metal, Metalcore, Heavy Metal and Hardcore, which drifted through constantly changing futuristic changes and influences into electronic. Now I’m studying audio design, working at the Distillery in Leipzig, the oldest techno club in East Germany, as a technician and would call myself a musician, producer, label owner, promoter and first of all a music nerd.

(source: wikipedia)
source: wikipedia
Are there certain spots / spaces / places / clubs that had an early impact on you?

Of course there are. Without these particular places, I probably wouldn’t be where I am now. The first really big music event in my life, which allowed me to get to know the big music business for the first time, was the ‘With Full Force‘ festival near Leipzig, where my father took me to reward me for passing my exams. A really powerful feeling for the very first time to see the meeting of international stars live with my eyes. Of course this was only the beginning, because this moment was followed by countless other similar situations at other festivals, band evenings and concerts. The influence of electronic components in this scene grew steadily and began to fascinate me bit by bit. At that time I couldn’t even begin to guess what effects it would have on me. Years later then the second drastic experience and indeed my first real club attendance. As it was not to be expected differently, this was in the Distillery in Leipzig. The first contact with a mighty pulsating, pushing PA and an audience that was completely new to me at that time. Through the love and energy I saw in people’s eyes and faces, I began to understand that music is omnipresent and can take on all forms.

The following time was sometimes the most memorable in my life when I started sneaking into illegal parties, be they DnB parties under the Koburger bridge or behind the Wildpark, to satisfy my musical desire. Of course not only the Distillery was a drastic pioneer for me! With the opening of the ‘Institut fuer Zukunft‘ in Leipzig my musical taste began to specialize. My love for techno was born. Under no circumstances should I forget the venue of my first performance, the Pferdehaus or Westwerk. All these places began to shape me musically, to educate and to form me. Of course all places where I have played or still want to play like the ‘://about blank’, the Berghain and countless other institutions have also strengthened my will that my current path is exactly the right one.

Who are the people behind the label and what’s their background?

I would like to say now that we, the people in the background, are all those who support us, who come to our gigs, to our parties. All the people who buy our records, play our tracks and help us with the labels and we are infinitely grateful to them for that.

We are still a very small label with 6 artists. Jan (JANEIN) and me are the two founders. We take care of everything that concerns the label. Jan takes care of the contacts, the bookings of the artists to our label parties, the label parties themselves and partly the remixers for our next releases. For example, I take care of the pressing plant, the communication with the artists, the billing of the fees and the direct distribution of our test pressings, although we really do share this well. It has even happened lately that I had my debut taking care of he bookings for our artists.

A really big task for Jan is our distribution. He takes the orders and packs the records and then sends them. So we don’t have a big office in the background to do the work for us.

To the label belongs Nicolas (Narciss), Mario (Verschwender), Chris (Inhalt der Nacht) and recently also Shaleen who came to us from ‘Surd’. The person who has supported us the most from the beginning, who creates our website, presents our tracks on their blog, manages our entire web presence, advertises us, comes to most of our gigs, is a great guy and a great person, is Jürgen Mayer from NovaFutureBlog.  Without him we probably wouldn’t have got this far. Rarely have I experienced such unlimited commitment without demanding anything for it. We can be happy to have him at our side.

What made you start the label and what obstacles did you need to overcome?

I met Jan for the first time through mutual friends at the Wilde Möhre Festival 2015 when funny enough I was doing his Artist Care at his first festival gig. I will remember this moment forever, because I never dreamed of founding a techno label with him at that time, because both of us were still, well I say now greenhorns. Three years ago it happened that we went together to FUSION Festival where we really got to know each other and became good friends. A Fusion thing. At the end of 2017 we made it our main task to found a label that offers people who love music a platform to realize themselves musically. To be able to market themselves. There are so many young artists who are never heard because they simply never have the chance to introduce themselves on a platform like ours, and we wanted to change that. We wanted to create something new. The biggest obstacles that stood in the way of this project were of course the building of a kind of community that could support us in every situation and also in every city in which we are travelling. A thing that every young label or artist has to do with. It’s all a matter of time, I would say. Another topic was of course the fear that our plans could not be implemented because the influx of people and the interest is not shared. All in all it was a few very rocky first months until we could finally draw the first resonance and were more than satisfied.

Who is doing the artwork for Seelen and what is the visual vison behind it? How do you approach each new catalog number?

For the first two catalogue numbers we had the young up-and-coming artist ‘AntoniaArt‘ on board, who actually painted the first two covers by hand only with pencil, which was a really unique selling point for us at that time.

But unfortunately such a picture doesn’t only take one or two months until it is finished, which is why this idea was unfortunately no longer sustainable in the long run of the production, the requirements of the pressing plant and the very busy schedule of her and our site. To our regret. Since then Jan (JANEIN) with whom I founded the label does the artwork. But how exactly he does that remains our secret. The vision behind every release so far has been to create a record that stands out from the previous one in every respect. For us every track, every piece of music, every set and every element has its own ‘SEELE’. (soul) which we wanted to make unique with the artwork, the selection of the artist and the remixers.

What does punk personally mean for you and where do you see connections to techno music?

As you might have read on our website or on our events… 
”Punk is a music genre that developed in the mid-1970s widely known through it’s production style of fast-paced songs, with hard-edged melodies and stripped-down instrumentation paired with an embrace of DIY-culture and the rejection of established rules”.

These are precisely the points on which we agree. We are an independent music label which does the distribution itself and does not depend on the industry. Each of our members comes either from the punk scene, still has a lot to do with it or carries a punk mentality in the heart which is exercised without deviation from the music. Our artworks have more to do with the artworks of punk bands or metal bands than with today’s electronic artists. In addition to that we want to distribute our label completely by ourselves and move away from the big distribution machinery. Our musical basis also has a lot in common with ‘punk’. We are a closely working group of people who pursue only one goal. To create music, to create a scene that works off the beaten track. Music that lives only for sweat, tempo and hardness. We are not ‘eel-slick’ artists, we are ‘punks’ who want to touch and do this.

What is the subversive (punk) element of Seelen and how does the label differentiate itself from other (techno) labels?

I think the subversive (punk) element with us is quite simply the fact that we are not looking for profit, sales figures or ‘fame’. We love to make music, alone or together and therefore our main goal is music. When producing, when hanging out or also when organizing events. We want to bring our music with exactly this message to the listener or dancer as good as possible and as long as only one person internalizes it while listening to our music, we have achieved something that makes us happy. I wouldn’t necessarily say that this fact sets us apart from so many other labels, because there are so many artists and labels who pursue exactly the same goal with just as much or even more lifeblood. That’s why these are only points that connect us even more with similar labels. And that’s the music and the love for it.

In song by Refused Dennis Lyxzen sings:

I’m tired of losing myself to some stupid childhood dream
Of what I could have been
Money proves the point and
I’m stuck between summer holidays and punk routine.

Music mostly starts out as a hobby (summer holidays) and sometimes evolves into a job (punk routine). The singer finds himself in between the two options and asks himself which is the best option? What are your thoughts on that?

A very good question! I find myself quite often in this question. Everyone has hobbies, things in which he is more or less good. Many people make their hobby their profession and just as many simply don’t succeed in realizing it. I can say with a smile on my lips that my job is also my hobby and vice versa. There is nothing I would change about it. A friend asked me a few weeks ago what I would do differently if the fact occurred that all jobs would be paid equally. I replied that I wouldn’t want to change anything in my life because everything happens exactly as I intended. I have the opportunity to make my hobby my profession and to practice my profession in such a way that I have the same pleasure as in my hobby.

What’s your favorite punk song and why?

Some may laugh but in answer to this question I choose the band ‘Greenday’ with the title Boulevard Of Broken Dreams. The lyrics say… ”I walk this empty street On the Boulevard of Broken Dreams Where the city sleeps and I’m the only one and I walk alone When I heard the title for the first time, I could identify very much with it, because at that time I had no label, no musician friends and only contradictions for my dreams. ”My shadow’s the only one that walks beside me My shallow heart’s the only thing that’s beating Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me Til then I walk alone Now more than 15 years later I still think the song is really good, just because it doesn’t fit into my life anymore. This song reminds me of everything I’ve done so far and been able to work through.

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