Juju & Jordash, Morphosis, Skudge, San Proper and Redshape are among the artists featured on the Dutch label's anniversary EP series.
Dekmantel got its start in 2007 as a small techno party in Amsterdam, and has since developed into a promoter and record label with a distinctly left-of-center style. Both in its bookings and it's vinyl releases, it tends toward the deeper and weirder side of house and techno, from the likes of Morphosis and Vakula to the label's core duo, Juju & Jordash.
The Dekmantel Anniversary Series EPs highlight artists that have appeared on the label in the past or have been regulars at their parties, such as Makam, San Proper and Juju & Jordash. The parties in March will show the full breadth of the label's palette: the first night features a live set from Laurent Garnier's LBS project, the second is an all techno affair with Surgeon, Robert Hood and O/V/R (AKA Regis and James Ruskin), the third is all about house and disco, with Todd Terje, San Proper and label co-founder Casper Tielrooij.
Earlier this week we checked in with the label's other founder, Thomas Martojo, to get more insight on Dekmantel and its history:
What were the early days of Dekmantel like?All five parts of the Dekmantel Anniversary Series come packaged in artwork by Orpheu de Jong, who's done all of the label's sleeves and events flyers for years. The first of the series is currently available, and features tracks from Juju & Jordash and Morphosis.
When we started out we were doing parties that were much smaller. Then it was possible to do more alternative music, but now they've grown into quite large ones actually. We started off with really banging hard techno. We still like that stuff, that's why we have Robert Hood and Surgeon at our parties. But when we started our parties that sound kind of vanished from the club scene. Then we got introduced to people like Moodymann, Theo Parris, etc, and we met the guys from Rush Hour, they showed us a lot of other stuff. But yeah, our upbringing is techno, and that's what we still like to present in nightlife.
How did you first decide to do a label?
It was because of Juju & Jordash. We already knew them from their releases on Reggie Dokes' label and other small labels, and one day I looked at their MySpace and saw they were living in Amsterdam. I said "how can that be?" because I'd never seen them. Apparently they'd just moved here a couple of years earlier and were making music but weren't connected to the nightlife. We invited them to play at a beach party we were having, and eventually they showed us some unreleased music and we were blown away. We said, "this has to be released," so we started the label simply because we thought this music had to be heard. Almost the first thing we did was their full album. It was so well-received that we decided to take it a little further. As far as the label goes, they're our main men. They have a carte blanche, they really can send us whatever they want and we'll release it. So far we've accepted everything they've sent us.
The nice thing about a label, it's different from a party because it doesn't have to be a particular sound. As far as buying music goes, you find enough freaks out there from all corners of the globe who will buy your stuff. That's what we like about doing a label, we have the freedom to put out whatever we want to put out. With a party, you have to make sure you bring in enough people, so there's less freedom. The label is something we want to be really pure about.
It seems like a pretty tight family of artists. How do you all know each other?
It’s mostly a crew of local guys. San Proper, Makam—they're just friends really, they're all from Amsterdam. Makam, we know him from high school. Most of the other artists, especially the ones in the anniversary compilation, they're mostly just guys we've booked, regulars at our parties. We've had the idea of a compilation for two years, so with our anniversary coming up we just decided to do it. Some of the stuff on there we've been sitting on for two years.
Will you release it all at once on CD?
We're thinking about it, haven't decided yet. Right now it's five single EPs, and we've started putting out the music digitally for the first time. In the beginning we were this vinyl-only label, and then we said, "what's the use, really?" It's better to put it out digitally too so more people have access to it. We're kind of getting over the idea of being a vinyl-only label just for the sake of being a vinyl-only label.
What part of the anniversary are you looking forward to most?
Well, we have Laurent Garnier playing, I think we've tried to book him about 30 times and we've finally succeeded. Then Saturday is darker and harder, with Surgeon, Robert Hood and OVR. Sunday it's more disco and house with Todd Terje and special guests. Three nights and trying to cover the full spectrum of what we've been doing over the years. We sold close to 500 tickets in just three hours so it's gonna be madness. I'm pretty sure it's gonna be a big success.
Dekmantel Anniversary Series Part 1
01. Juju & Jordash – African Flower (Cosmic Dub)
02. Morphosis – Impulse
Dekmantel Anniversary Series Part 2
01. Awanto 3 – Pregnant
02. Lone – Rissottowe
03. Makam – Cleaning
Dekmantel Anniversary Series Part 3
01. Hundred20 – Minke Whale Congregation
02. Hunee – The Lowest Animal
Dekmantel Anniversary Series Part 4
01. Skudge – Silent Running
02. San Proper – Rattle (Station2Station)
Dekmantel Anniversary Series Part 5
01. Redshape – Flexx
02. Fudge Fingas – Light My Life
Dekmantel Anniversary Series Part 1 is currently available on Dekmantel.