Without Boundaries, Modselektor and team Continue to Evolve Monkeytown

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Without Boundaries, Modselektor and team Continue to Evolve Monkeytown

Most quality dance fans have had a relationship with Modselektor’s innovative tracks at one point in their journey. Either from their early-stage alternative originals or supergroup Moderat’s game-changing future electronica, these two have always been an advocate for the future of production and inspiration through music. The Berlin-based duo has always paved their own path in executing upon underground sounds without conforming to the familiar dancefloor pattern. Their label Monkeytown has been a long-running platform for their music and a small group of like-minded artists. The label’s steady stream of records over nearly a decade span genres and scenes curating a truly original sound.

As the team push near 80 releases, the label prepares for the next phase in the exploration of dance music. Records like ">Mouse on Mars’ recent single are set to revive dancefloor culture by driving exciting and intricate studio sounds into a pulsing techno drum sound. Jumping to the other end of the spectrum, Monkeytown’s ">latest by CEE is a refreshing blend of bassline and catchy as hell. This adaptability of the label, both team and A&R, is a sure sign of taste that sets the pace for the top end of innovators in music and production.

Keeping a busy schedule of content-rich releases and showcases near and far, the Monkeytown crew shows no signs of slowing down. Steaming past legendary status their growing catalog continues to catch ears and respect across the globe. We had the opportunity to ask a few questions to the guys at the helm. Hearing about their experimental approach to A&R and a bright future for the label, we’re stoked to see what’s next for Monkeytown.

What started almost a decade ago as an outlet for sounds of your own and friends has grown to be a trendsetter for forward-thinking production, how important has Monkeytown Recs been in the growth of your artist projects?

Since the beginning, Monkeytown has been a platform to release the music of friends, before it became what it is today. Artists like Siriusmo, who released the first ever Monkeytown record, grew with the label. He’s now released his fourth album, and we count almost 80 releases. It’s definitely been a mutual benefit. We made our artists grow, and the other way around.

The sounds of the label have evolved through the years always ahead of the curve, though releases always have a fresh edge on the production side. How does Monkeytown approach A&R?

We’ve always been fans of the out of common. It’s easy and safer to release only one kind of music. But that is not the approach we had for Monkeytown. It was always important to us, that we present something to the people, which is a little different to the rest. Something that you remember, something that is weird but cool in its own way. We have techno artists like FJAAK or Shed on one side and artists like Gajek, who do more experimental stuff, on the other. It’s all about having a diverse roster, that somehow fits together in its own way.

As an innovative team in both studio and live technology. What company, hardware brand, etc are pushing electronic production the most? Is it all about old machines or anything new driving the next wave?

There are so many brands, pushing the possibilities to levels, that were hardly imaginable only a decade ago. You can now create whole albums with apps, for example. Like Mouse on Mars who created their own app called fluXpad which was used to produce their latest EP “Synaptics”. Some might like that, some others would never touch them because they’re faithful to their machines… Music producing is like taste in food. You have your favourites, but one day you might discover something new that is just as good…

The sound of Monkeytown skirts the frame of dance floor without adhering to any boundaries. Never too gritty, but always pushing the limits of commercial acceptance. What do you think best defines and influences the collective vibe of the Monkeytown Recs catalog?

It’s mostly about this absence of boundaries. Being able to inspire yourself from something, but then turn it around and do something completely different that no one would have thought of.

As a crew that’s bred in Berlin, what’s your take on the city’s current state? In the dance limelight, your town has become the epicenter of the new wave. Healthy for creativity or overwhelming?

Berlin has become a hotspot for music producers and DJs from all over the world. We can call ourselves happy to live in a city with so many possibilities. On the other hand it is true, that the hype around it can appear overwhelming. Everyone has to decide individually, how much you wanna get involved in the scene.

It’s possible to create music with almost nothing. It’s not about having the most expensive machines and gigantic modular systems.

What are your thoughts on the role expensive rigs and massive racks? Have any techniques or ideas for young/cash-strapped artists to challenge themselves and create quality output without breaking the bank?

It’s possible to create music with almost nothing. It’s not about having the most expensive machines and gigantic modular systems. They’re worthless anyway if you don’t know how to use them. It’s easy to think, that with more money you’ll do better music. But there is a lot of high-quality gear, that is absolutely achievable. It flies under the radar because when you’re getting into the producing game, it’s unimaginable, that anything “that cheap” can make you the next DJ Star…

What’s next in the evolution of Monkeytown? You continue to dish out deliver stellar records; any changes in your approach to the label now that Moderat is taking a break?

Moderat as a project took a lot of time and energy out of everyone involved. The band, the management, the label. Now that the band is taking a break, we can also refocus on the future of Monkeytown, on future projects with current but also new artists. We’ve just released new stuff by Siriusmo, Mouse on Mars and the latest Gajek album! Modeselektor is working on new material as well! The future looks interesting!

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