The relaxed atmosphere surrounding liebe*detail goes some way toward describing their low-key success, but it belies the great deal of hard work that goes into the label. Both Eix and Fischer have full-time jobs in the music industry. Eix works at local distribution powerhouse wordandsound, while Fischer helps run a booking agency called Sensational. Despite their obvious house and techno bona fides, however, the duo's paths have only relatively recently come to these genres.
Eix grew up like most kids in the '80s listening to synth pop from the likes of Depeche Mode and Kraftwerk, and then moved onto metal bands like Metallica. It was an unlikely jump, but the DJ/producer has always had a penchant for variety. Sonic Youth and Pixies are also major parts of his musical diet, and he's recently begun working on a Krautrock project with some friends. That, combined with his second job as a father and the full-time gig at wordandsound all explain why Meta.83's production resume isn't all that lengthy. But it should soon get a little bit longer: "I have a lot of ideas and I have a new studio with some good old machines...so I'm up for a comeback," he laughs.
Fischer held many of his parties at one of the city's most famous venues, The Golden Pudel Club, and it's undoubtedly where he and Eix first started connecting with house and techno producers from around the city. As Eix began to produce tracks for other labels such as Festplatten, Poker Flat, Force Tracks and Source (the latter three in collaboration with close friend Benjamin Wild), it soon became clear that it would be just as easy to release his own music on his own label—a haven for friends that were just starting out in the scene, much like himself.
When I ask Fischer about the label's beginnings, he tells me that it was, indeed, their inexperience that was exciting: "It's not as though we had been in the scene for such a long time that we decided to make a label because we know the business. We didn't know much about the scene, or how a label works." But once they had a name: Liebe—"tracks which represent our love for the dance floor"—Detail—"tracks which should go deeper and explore the more detailed aspects of electronic dance music"—things quickly fell into place.
Eix knew the guys from Einmusik, and told them about his plans. "They gave me 'Rose,' which was a real shuffle burner. I really liked the track from the beginning and it was different from all that came after from Einmusik. It has a special atmosphere; [it's] moody and energetic at the same time. Layer after layer, it became more bombastic without exploding. I couldn't get the track out of my mind." And Fischer describes Nick Höppner—the current label manager of Berlin's Ostgut Ton, and producer of one of the tracks on the imprint's second 12-inch—as one of his "oldest and best friends."
But despite the ease with which the first records came together, it was no haphazard operation. The duo soon developed a pattern. Each 12-inch paired two acts with each contributing one song to the release. As a result, the label ended up with the artist's best work. Tracks like Lawrence's "Place to Be," Efdemin's "Lohn & Brot" and Move D's "Anne Will"—one of Eix's favorites on the imprint—are highlights in amazing careers, and others reached heights that they haven't come close to matching since. And, indeed, each of the aforementioned trio have been immortalized by remixes on the liebe*detail spezial sublabel.
Even so, things got off to a slow start. As Fischer tells it, "The first two records didn't sell very well, maybe about 300 or something. We [were] just learn[ing] how this scene works and what people like." But, in this case, their naiveté helped them: "We had no idea how many sales were good or not. And before we learned how many we sold from the first one, we already had the third one out....Even after the tenth record or something, we were still going crazy when we saw that a famous DJ had our track in his playlist. When we went to Berlin and talked to people, they were like 'Sure, I know your label, I play your records.' And we were like, 'What? Really?' Because we were living in our small space here in Hamburg, and we are not in this Berlin business, where you meet all the big guys every day in the record store like Steve Bug or the Tiefschwarz boys, you know?"
This small town spirit is apparent in almost everything that the label does. liebe*detail's regular Hamburg night isn't on a Friday or a Saturday, when the crowd is large, and the punters are ready to party. Instead, they hold it on a Thursday. Fischer tells me that they used to go the weekend route, "but they were always too crowded and too many people were coming not because of the music. They were just coming because of the weekend, so we had too many assholes running around…. People are different when they go out on Thursdays, you know. They go out because they know where they are going, and why they are going there....It's a friend's thing, a family thing."
Before that, though, there will be a small celebration of the imprint's fifth anniversary. It will be marked by the first-ever CD release, a double disc affair that will showcase both the clubby side and the deeper—and more detailed—aspect of the label. "Most of the tracks will be special edits," promises Eix. "With some exclusives as well." For a label that has remained resolutely unassuming over the past half-decade, it's a rare moment of exultation, and one that is very well deserved.