Todays premiere comes from German duo Tuff City Kids, which consists of Phillip Lauer and Gerd Janson. Their track ‘Murphy’s Lawyer’ is part of Berlin based imprint Suol’s annual “Summer Daze” compilation series, which we have the honour of exclusively premiering today.
For the third time, the Berlin based imprint is collecting shimmering melodies, lucent pads and sunlight grooves primed for the changing of seasons, and all curated by Suol heads Chopstick & Johnjon. “Summer Daze” is a compilation of 17 exclusive and unreleased tracks from many members of the label’s family, such as Larse, Jimpster, PBR Streetgang, Smash TV, Tender Games, Fritz Kalkbrenner, Meggy and many more.
Tuff City Kids contribution is a track full of infectious organ stabs that fits perfectly into the sunny vibe which rings through the whole release. Simply the perfect soundtrack for those indelible summer memories spent by the pool, on the beach and in the club.
We also had the chance to sit down with Chopstick & Johnjon to talk about Suol, Amsterdam, the idea behind the compilation, and more….
“Summer Daze” is available 26 June on Suol Music, which you can pre order on iTunes – here
After a decade, how does Suol keep things fresh? What motivates you continue building the label?
The artists! You grow with the artists if you take them seriously, which you should. You get all the information from them. They keep you up to date. Tender Games is 20 or 21, so there is a very fresh perspective on things.
What characteristics make for a successful Suol artist?
We have the main rule that we all have to get along. Especially in a small group that wants to work together, you see that you want to get along with everyone. The worst thing is if there is internal miscommunication. We want to meet and artists, have a talk and notice a shared vision.
How much stock do you put into the idea of “relevancy”?
In the recent, the conversation comes up every week. When we started SUOL we were quite happy with the idea that music speaks for itself. If you present good music it will find its way. I think this is still the same but the importance shifted a bit. Back in the day, when there was no Facebook, you didn’t even know how an artist looked until you got to the club and saw them play.
As I mentioned, we talk to our artists a lot about this kind of stuff. The younger ones tend to have a totally different approach. They never bought records. They found people on Soundcloud.
I think we are still a bit apprehensive to feed into social media, as we still see our artists make money off their music, which sometimes is the opposite from streaming for free. We are still old school where we want to build the platform for artists, take the work away from them so they can focus on music, get them enough of an income from events so they can focus on music, and so on.
Two things about SUOL as a brand struck me: the artwork and the clothing line? What is your philosophy towards the visual picture of the artwork? What was the motivation to launch the clothing line?
Since the two of us are artists ourselves, we understand the idea of total freedom. When it comes to design, like our approach to music, we let them do what they need to do. We have a designer who does everything for us. We loved his idea of where he wanted to go with the design of the label and said, go with it. We rarely change anything he does.
With the clothing line, we wanted to do merchandise. We did not want to take a random shirt and put our logo on it, but wanted to have our own cuts and designs. We also wanted to make sure it was made in Europe. So, we needed to find our own clothing designer and our own manufacturer. Since this doesn’t make sense to do with only one T-shirt we made a whole line of them. We basically fell into it by mistake.
As a duo in both creative and administrative roles, how do you balance the two? How do your approach the process of creativity and how does it relate to your administrative approach?
All in all the approach is the same. At the point where you leave your ego at the door and recognize you each have your respective skills, it works well. In the studio we just know what the other person can do well and divide tasks accordingly. With the label it is the same thing. Of course we bounce ideas, but we respect each other and understand each other’s strengths.
As you have the third edition in your ‘Summer Daze’ compilation series ready for release, what was your approach in constructing the compilation? How would you compare it to your approach to a mixtape or podcast?
Most of the tracks are exclusive, but I think, if you put out a compilation these days you want people to pay for that compilation. With this, tracks have to be exclusive. I can only think of DJ:Kicks, which people regard as such an art they would pay to listen to it anyway.
The second part is the same as we have talked already. We know everyone personally so the process can begin anywhere: at dinner, a gig, etc. It usually begins in conversation where one of us approaches the other and proposes a track. So, it is based on the family idea surrounding our tight knit group. I don’t know if you can tell this when you listen to it but, for us, it is important to have a relationship with all the featured artists.
How did you want the mix to play out?
The compilation comes in 2 forms: single tracks and continuous mix. In the continuous mix you react to what people give you. The Slow Hands/Tanner Ross track is around 100bpm, for example. Of course then, we build up from the slower stuff. It features like a long set of ours.
For the tracks themselves, our label management and us listen to all the tracks and slowly sculpt a playlist accordingly. It is a work in progress with all the people who are around us. Since we have the office next to the studio we have a lot of minds that can provide input.
What is the timeline like getting a compilation like this put together and released? When do you start thinking about the compilation?
The last Summer Daze came out in August, which didn’t make too much sense to us. The compilation does have to, at least, come out in high summer so people can enjoy it. We set a date there and count back. We take things like pre master deliverables, master deliverables, and promotion all into account. It makes things a bit weird because when you ask people to participate because that point is usually in the winter. There is barely any light in Berlin and you ask people to think about summertime vibes. We actually found this interesting. People like to feel like summer is coming back.
What is your relationship like with the city of Amsterdam? Do you have any particular memories from here?
Last ADE we ran into some DJ colleagues at the airport. They said to us they were playing Amsterdam and hoped that this time it would be a good gig. This was unbelievable. We asked them 10 times. The Amsterdam we’ve played has been great every time! There are always super professional and super nice people to work with. The parties are always great; 10 out of 10, everytime!