Like any business, Get Physical had modest beginnings. Pre-Get Physcial, the five founders—Bodmer, Jung, Arno Kammermeier and Walter Merziger of Booka Shade, and Monza nightclub boss Thomas Koch—were spread across Germany. Bodmer and Jung, already part-time DJs and promoters based in Frankfurt and Cologne, respectively, were invited by Koch to become resident DJs at his Monza nightclub in Frankfurt around 2000. Booka Shade, who Jung had regular dealings with as an A&R for Jive Records, joined the fold, opening their studio door to Bodmer, Jung and Koch. In 2002, Get Physical was born.
Booka Shade's populist tech house furthered the label's cause and, as a result, Get Physical quickly became a recipient of, and a contributor to, many of the advantages of Berlin's underground electronic music boom in the early '00s. By 2004, the label had exponentially increased its early 12-inch output, and solidified its place at the table among the major European techno and house players. From 2005, it seemed that M.A.N.D.Y., be it on the basis of their own musical endeavours or their role as the face of Get Physical Music, had etched themselves into the collective consciousness of Fabric regulars and Coachella attendees in equal measure.
"It's something that happens to a lot of companies," Jung, the one time major label A&R reflects from Berlin. "Success, success and more success, you get more and more people on staff, and then the trouble is just that. There's so much stuff going on, and you end up needing to create a lot of turnover. It's a very common thing."
This success eventually took its toll on the Get Physical collective's original intent. The quantity of music released became as important as its quality. "All of a sudden we needed to promote this and promote that, and the overheads became so high," Jung carefully explains. "We would bring out so much music that it became too much at some points. We want to reduce that number."
The constant need for careful and strategic business decisions took the quintet's focus away from the label's musical output. The label's transformation from nighttime hobby to an office space on the trendy Kastanienallee has not been without its effects. Eight years is a long time in label land, and, in the case of Get Physical, as Bodmer laughs on the phone from a Berlin terrace, has facilitated the creation of a "monster."
So, times are changing. DJ T. will relinquish his place on the Get Physical staff, while Booka Shade and M.A.N.D.Y. reshuffle their roles. The current budget will be slashed, replaced by a more streamlined setup, leading the Get Physical operation, and M.A.N.D.Y. along with it, back to its true roots. "It's too much business for him," Bodmer says of DJ T.'s decision to let go of their label responsibilities. "He wants to concentrate on his own things, as the label has taken up [an] enormous amount of his time."
The overhaul has sparked a renewed enthusiasm for the label. In Bodmer and Jung, a strong desire for a return to the ways of old has emerged, and is driving much of the change. "We don't want to worry about the business side as much," Bodmer explains. "We were always so worried about the business, about paying all the salaries and licensing costs. We're changing it now... so Philipp and I can get involved with the heart and soul of the label again—the music."
There's more to M.A.N.D.Y. than just Get Physical of course. Changes to the duo's practices are not solely confined to the label and business spectrums. After spending almost ten years immersed in what Bodmer dubs the Berlin "party trap," October 2009 saw Jung relocate to Manhattan. Though the pair expected the move to impact on Jung's involvement with the label—and M.AN.D.Y.'s own production and DJ endeavours—those presumed effects have not eventuated. A relatively small Berlin-New York time difference enables the pair to speak regularly, with "label meetings over Skype" becoming the norm. After all, much of the last eight years have seen the five label heads spread separately amongst the continents for months at a time.
Jung is thoroughly enjoying the change of pace. Cycling, strolls along the Hudson River and fresh food shopping at the Chelsea Market have replaced the once frequent mid-morning after parties. Buddies, a mid-week party collaboration with Brooklyn resident Matthew Dear, has also been born. "In New York, people party for a reason," Jung says of his current home city's nightlife. "They've had a hard week at work, so they go out for a drink—that's the way it should be. In Berlin, people do it because they can. I don't judge it in any way, but that's just how it works."
It's not only Jung that has felt the effects of almost a decade's worth of the Berlin lifestyle. The pair's album, which has been on the agenda for the last ten years, is one of the most significant casualties of M.A.N.D.Y.'s whirlwind schedule. To date, the LP has constantly been second preference to label, touring and, until recently, after party commitments. It's not for a lack of trying, though, as the pair have gone to significant lengths in an effort to get things moving.
"Iceland was too beautiful to make dance music," Bodmer says of his and Jung's four-week stay with Lopazz in an isolated country house in February 2008. "Maybe it's because we're too sensitive, but we were choosing all these places to produce when we were thinking about the LP that were too beautiful. The tracks we made were too laidback for club music. We should give it one more try, and go to the most fucked up, ugly place we can think of. That's why so much good club music comes from cities like Detroit and Chicago."
always be the DJ thing."
M.A.N.D.Y. are rarely in the studio alone. Much of their production career has been spent hunched over synthesisers with Booka Shade and a bottle of wine, resulting in a series of collaborations between the four friends. "Body Language," the most well known M.A.N.D.Y. vs. Booka Shade union was, for many overground audiences, their introduction to Berlin.
It took only four hours in the studio to create "Body Language." After a three year break, "O Superman" and "Donuts" followed, though neither collaboration came close to matching the resounding crossover success of the maiden M.A.N.D.Y. vs. Booka Shade venture. Stress, which had taken its toll on Get Physical itself, started to become apparent in the musical relationship between the two acts. After the subsequent hiatus, recent months have seen the foursome return to the studio. "For a few years, it wasn't the same vibe that it used to be," Bodmer says of M.A.N.D.Y.'s relationship with Booka Shade. "[But] it has come back together. We have a very good vibe again, and more time and patience."
The last 18 months have also seen M.A.N.D.Y. develop a laptop-based live show, which will serve as a side project for the duo. "The main focus will always be the DJ thing," Bodmer asserts. Booka Shade were instrumental in getting the live show off the ground, lending their hands to the technical development and application of the Ableton-powered performance. Bodmer continues: "Without the Booka Shade guys, the live show wouldn't be same."
The immediate plans for Get Physical Music, at this point, remain somewhat ambiguous, though. The European summer period will see Bodmer and Jung spend a great deal of time together, both in Berlin and on the road. As the pair wait for the dust to settle on the label restructuring, plans for further collaborations with Booka Shade, their own music and an ever active touring schedule remain on the agenda. With regard to their growing label responsibilities, Bodmer and Jung now find themselves in somewhat uncharted waters. "It's not easy," Bodmer says of deciding the fate of Get Physical's future. "Now we have all the pressure on our shoulders. We already have enough things to do with ourselves, but it brings Philipp and I together in a very good way."