The Hello?Repeat co-founder mixes up this week's RA podcast.
The general consensus these days is that it's extremely difficult to make a name for yourself on the international DJing circuit without also being a producer. Hello?Repeat boss Jan Krueger is one of the few that has successfully proven otherwise.
His passion for house and techno music began in the early '90s when he was still living in his birthplace of Düsseldorf, and as the decade progressed he found himself more and more immersed in the scene, working in a local record shop while hosting the likes of Daniel Bell, Matthew Herbert and Steve Bug at his parties. It was around this time that he met prolific producer Marcus Manowski, AKA Daze Maxim, with the pair collaborating on a set of minimal house tracks that would become Krueger's sole released material. A job as sales manager for Hamburg-based distribution powerhouse Word & Sound would ensure that he kept his finger on the pulse of electronic music, and it was through this position that he was able to start the Hello?Repeat label alongside Manowski.
Krueger has recently left Word & Sound and moved to Berlin in order to focus on the label and his DJing career, already holding residencies at the city's Watergate club as well as at NYC techno institution The Bunker. Jan is known as an afterhours specialist, and this is exactly the style he's gone for on this week's RA podcast, working a slinky and hypnotic minimal house groove over the course of ninety minutes.
You've just come back from NYC. What were you doing out there?
NYC is really one of my favourite cities in the world! The first time I got there was last year together with my former girlfriend. We spent our long-awaited holiday in Manhattan, and I just fell in love with the city.
I met also Bryan Kasenic, AKA DJ Spinoza, who runs The Bunker in NYC in Detroit a few years ago. At that time, Bruno Pronsato and Sammy Dee were going to play a week after DEMF as Half Hawaii and we made a last minute Hello?Repeat showcase out of it. Since then I've had the pleasure of playing a couple of times at The Bunker, and one day Bryan made me a resident. It's one of my favourite places to play and I'm happy to get the chance to come more often to NYC. Also, once in a while I need a fresh dose of MY MAGIC which I can just get in NYC!
Where and how was the mix recorded?
The mix was recorded in my living room, surrounded by my two cats and my new palm tree which I got on my birthday last week. It's kind of a Club Tropicana feeling here. But to be honest—it wasn't that easy to get this mix together. I don't know how many times you asked me for a mix, but it was not the first time. The main problem is that I can't grab the feeling at home. I'm always too unrelaxed when I try to record a mix. I think I just need the action in the club, lovely people and some Vodka 7, which is my favorite drink.
I just have one record player at home. I never owned two turntables and a mixer by my own and I'll never go to change this. I used to work for a record store in my hometown Dusseldorf called Flipside Records. I listened to so many records over the day that I didn't want to listen to the same music again when I came home. I never had the feeling that it is necessary to have a setup at home to do what you love and feel.
Luckily my friend Axel brought over one of his Technics and a Pioneer Mixer for my birthday party recently. We just wanted to listen to some funk, soul and disco records. As he was too tired when he left the house, he just left the stuff at my place. Lucky me! But not really. After my birthday I got really sick. I had a stomach flu and I was not even sure if I could make it to NYC to play at The Bunker. After three days of being sick I couldn't stay in my bed anymore, or on the couch watching TV and movies. I got really bored so I thought, "Let's play some records instead." I don't know why, but I recorded it and after a listen I thought, "Wow, that's not that bad." Probably because I was high on medicine and finally relaxed enough.
Have things slowed down with Hello?Repeat? What's in the pipeline for the label?
Yes, you're right. 2009 was really quiet at Hello?Repeat. We actually just had one record from Daze Maxim in the beginning of the year. But we never had a real release schedule or a politic before. We release music when we have music we like. If not, we don't, and this year was just quiet. I have a very
individual way of selecting tracks for the label—it's a really emotional thing. If I listen to a demo, it has to conjure a smile on my face. If this happens. I know that we have to do it.
But don't worry, 2010 will be even more busy. The next release (hello015) is of Patrick Specke, a very close friend of us from Dusseldorf. He sent me some tracks he produced together with Daze, which were finally released on Desolat and I was so impressed (and sad too, because I couldn't have them for Hello) that I asked him to finish something for us as well. We got two killer house tracks and an amazing remix from Delano Smith. Bruno Pronsato will return with a new project together with Sergio, who just released an incredible record on Bruno's own thesongsays imprint. The project is called NdF, and the ladies finished a wonderful romantic techno song for Hello?Repeat. Daze Maxim just sent me some breathtaking tracks for his next 12-inch, and he's working on his album which will be hopefully ready in the first half of 2010. DJ Qu from NYC will release a 12-inch as well. Who knows, maybe 2010 will be my year! And! We'll have our fifth anniversary so there will be a nice present for you all!
Tell us a little about your t-shirt line that's coming out next year.
Hello?Repeat was never standing for music alone. We founded Hello?Repeat to have a platform for us and our friends to do what we like. Even if it's "just" music and art, but now it can be everything else in the future. We really love to wear t-shirts and we have amazing artists on Hello?Repeat who are responsible for the artwork.
So from the beginning of next year on we will release at least one new t-shirt a month, designed by an artist we love. This can be an unknown graphic designer or a well-known contemporary artist. The shirts will be printed on a high quality shirt which we will produce by ourselves, so they will also have their own cut. As color there will be just black and white. Furthermore the shirts will be limited to 99 pieces, numbered and hand-signed by the artist, and you'll get the shirt in a special package. Right now we're working on our website which will be re-launched in January. Here you'll find a store where you can buy the t-shirts, and of course everything else from Hello?Repeat.
What are you up to next?
The first thing I'll do after I finish this last question is feed my cats Paul and Lilly. Paul is purring the whole time, asking for food. And believe me, he is annoying when he is hungry. I'm really looking forward to play together with Daniel Bell at my Wednesday residency at Watergate and to go to Japan the next day to play in Tokyo and Osaka. Furthermore, I joined a new agency, Solid AM, who will take care of my bookings from now on and I'm super happy about it. Oh, and I have to finish painting my doors at home—it looks crazy here!