Label Spotlight: Eat Your Heart Out

posted September 15, 2008

by Corinne

Eat Your Heart Out

Please introduce yourself.

I am Alec Empire. I am a record producer, DJ and musician. I was born in Berlin-West in Germany, started my first band Atari Teenage Riot about 10 years ago, but also released many of my own productions at the same time. I love breaking limits. In my view music has to be an intense & physical experience. This is why I specialized in extreme sounds, mostly electronic, over the past decades. The German government has ‘indexed’ some of my records, so it’s against the law to sell them in public or play them in Germany. My political worldview is considered extreme and radical by many out there.

What inspired the move from Digital Hardcore Records to Eat Your Heart Out Records?

DHR still exists, but I felt the brand was limiting my music. It became too powerful and overshadowed anything that was released on there. Eat Your Heart Out has a wider definition of music, while DHR released records only with one intention: to start riots. I lived in London for a couple of years and when I moved back to Berlin, it was time to rethink everything. Suddenly it was very exciting, because people had to make up their minds from new.

I read that EYHO is going to be a non-profit label. Explain how that will work.

Nothing special really. I just think that these days, a record label either creates puppets, like they do in pop and R&B music, to drop them very soon after their first release. It is fast food music in its most true definition. OR record labels become the small finger on the hand of the musician who puts out a record to ....well… have a record out, to promote himself to then tour and do all the other things. We look at Eat Your Heart Out as a brand, a logo which groups certain music together, so people understand the context better. The weight is much more on the musician. We think record making is an art, and we don’t compete with pop music at all. We see ourselves above that ‘market’.

Will DHR remain an active label?

Yes. But we haven’t heard great records which could fit DHR for a while now. So at the moment its focus is on the backcatalogue and its history.

When and why was the label started?

We started in 2007 with the first 12” called ‘Robot Love’ from the Alec Empire album ‘The Golden Foretaste of Heaven’. Our goal is to create the future of music in Berlin, the only place where innovation is possible right now.

What kind(s) of music does the label put out?

We do all kinds of things. My album had mixed tracks on it. Some sound like Velvet Underground using electronics, hanging out with Kraftwerk in an old Nazi bunker in Berlin, while Bowie is banging on the door from outside... The no-wave of no-wave. But we also have a DJ section. Parties and club nights are part of what we do. The DJ tracks mostly contain elements of real songs we have put out before. We love big analogue synth sounds. There is a new wave of analogue modular synths out there. Metasonix, Analogue Solution, Sherman...all these guys push music so much. We use these tools to clean the table from all that thin and flat sounding digital glitch stuff. Music has to be physical and not a pixeled JPEG that one looks at while standing in a gallery.

What was the first release? How was it financed?

I mentioned it above. I have made a lot of money from my past albums, so I can take any risk I want really. The 12” made a profit, which was then re-invested in more music of course. We don’t compromise our music in order to sell it. This mindset has created the worst music ever, and we can witness a standstill in popular music for about 10 years. To us an industry which is shrinking and not risking innovation is dying or has already died...

What is the most recent release?

A collaboration with a more guitar-based indie label called Siluh Records. One of their bands, Landscape Izuma, has asked us to collaborate on a DJ release with them. So we are putting this out next. It has my remix on it which many DJs have tried to get their hands on for months. The Remix EP references Talking Heads, Chicago Acid, mid 80s club music from New York and electro, while putting that into a new context. The Berlin context.

What has been your most successful release?

The Alec Empire album ‘The Golden Foretaste of Heaven’. We got amazing press response, especially in Germany, we doubled our audience with that, and it was very satisfying musically for us. This was just the beginning though.

What do you see as the future of record labels?

I can’t speak for others here. But for us it’s a creative platform on which music can happen. And it’s definitely not a bunch of people sitting in an office who can’t afford cigars anymore...haha...

How has your label adapted to changes in society, business, etc?

We do our own thing, stay away from the bullshit. We develop our ideas in isolation, we don’t follow trends. Another project on our label called VCA has summed it up perfectly in one of their songs: “when the masses are mislead you don't want to be popular...”

Any words of wisdom for those brave souls interested in running their own label?

Keep the prices up. Raise them. Unite with us to prepare the big recording ban. This is a plan by a few indie labels right now. Stop releasing, dry out the music scene, make music become valuable again. Strike. This is capitalism and this means war. We believe that music should be free, but this also goes for education, medical treatment, food, travelling and so on. As long as this isn’t the case, don’t let people steal from you. And the other way round, support people you respect. Music has no price.

Anything else you would like to add?

Nic Endo from Eat Your Heart Out has just remixed The Raveonettes ‘Aly Walk With Me’ for Vice Records. It is up for free download with Trentemöllers Remix on the Raveonettes site. Check that out. Also get the next Patrick Wolf stuff.