Florian Stöffelbauer aka Heap, and Florian Bocksrucker are the minds behind Viennese power label Neubau and sub label Wiener Brut. I met with them for a chat at Andrius aka MSCLN’s home in New York City before the three of them played at his Rhythmic Discourse party in Brooklyn. Sharing their thoughts on the effect of environment, youth involvement in nightlife and future expectations, the three of them expanded on what it means to push their uncompromising, niche sound without borders.
I had the opportunity to catch all of your performances at DT Camp this summer, lets start with your relations and impression of Lithuanian underground scene?
Heap: You can feel that people in Lithuania are very interested in the music, specifically the young people. It is not as much about going out, and showing up and being cool; they are much more concerned with what music is being played in the club. My first time in Vilnius was 2 years ago, I played at the Resident Advisor party at Opium Club, but did not have the chance to see the city. However, last summer after DT Camp we stayed in Vilnius over a week and really got a feel for the city which was nice.
Bocksrucker: I only had the chance to see DT Camp and the bar scene with Manfredas, but I think there is much more going on than people would expect. It seems like young people there are more interested in music. Also, when you see the people who are from Lithuania and are involved in music, you can really tell they know what they are doing.
MSCLN: I have not lived in Lithuania now almost for 10 years, so maybe I am not the best judge. But seeing the artists and niche names that Lithuanian promoters can bring to the club and still have a great parties is very inspiring.
“If someone really wants to hear what type of music we play, then they will find it. You have to make people interested or curious in what it is that you are doing.
You emphasized the amount of young people who are involved in Lithuanian music scene, do you find the same to be true in other cities you play?
Bocksrucker: In Vienna there is a young crowd, however, they tend not to dig so deep. Of course, Vienna has a nice scene, there is definitely a lot going on there, as well. I am not throwing parties so often, but the people who are attending are very dedicated to the community that surrounds the music.
When it comes to our niche, the scene in Vienna is a bit small, you can typically expect around 150 people to attend.
Heap: For the type of sound we play, we do not have many young people showing up to our parties in Vienna. A lot of them would say they are very into electronic music, yet end up at the big club or party and do not know what they are listening to. But I have a feeling that in Vilnius they really know where to go and what to expect from the music. There are also a lot of people who stay there to help develop the music scene further.
MSCLN: My theory is that underground music is always associated with some sort of rebellion. During times of Soviet Union it united people resistant to system and after collapse of it, at least in Lithuania, poverty and frustration among youth might have led young people to find shelter in raves from otherwise hostile world. For the same reason (very strict and isolated system) we also didn’t have so much exposure of Western culture during Soviet times, therefore gain of independence perhaps gave electronic music a better chance to find followers in open-minded Lithuanian youth. And this is how it gets passed on.
Are you hosting many events in Vienna at the moment?
Heap: We do not have a consistent venue that we can hold parties at, so our events are rare.
Bocksrucker: There are venues around, it is just very expensive to host parties at these locations. So if you are paying for the parties with your own money, it is very difficult to break even financially when you have to pay for the venue and artists.
So how do you then begin to make people, specifically in places like Vienna, more interested in what you are doing?
Bocksrucker: Maybe you just have to catch people who are not really interested in this music from the beginning. People who show up at your party for the first time and approach it with an open mind.
Heap: If someone really wants to hear what type of music we play, then they will find it. You have to make people interested or curious in what it is that you are doing.
Where does Neubau fit in the scene in Vienna?
Bocksrucker: People are definitely aware of the label, and appreciate it, but many of them just do not know what to do with it. Vienna has a really nice music scene outside of typical electronic music, so there is some respect and appreciation for what we do.
If we were having to play the same clubs every weekend in Vienna, it would become a bit boring. It does not make so much sense to have a live set in Vienna every month. We host our parties for Vienna, and the people who are coming to our events have a strong dedication towards what it is that we do and really appreciate it. But there are ups and downs, when it first began there were a lot more venues to host events at and so on, but as time goes on, things change and you have to adjust.
Heap: The sound of Neubau is not a very popular sound, it is a bit odd and weird. You typically have a house scene or a techno scene with something in between; but with our sound only a small amount of people actively engage in what we are doing. People definitely know about it, but when we are playing in Vienna, it is usually at our own parties. There is not a massive hype around us in the city, but that is okay because we are not interested in attracting hype.
“We try to stay very open to all artists who are interested in submitting music to us. If either of us gets something that we like, then we will share it together, and from there decide if we would like to move on with that project.
What is the dynamic between you two in running Neubau? Do either of you hold specific roles, or is it a flexible partnership?
Heap: Very flexible I would say, also a lot of people confuse the two of us together because of our names. In the beginning a lot of the music we were releasing was through people we knew, but as time goes on we are getting much more people asking if they can send demos.
We try to stay very open to all artists who are interested in submitting music to us. If either of us gets something that we like, then we will share it together, and from there decide if we would like to move on with that project.
Bocksrucker: Sometimes we receive music through friends, sometimes it comes to Florian, and sometimes it comes to me. We are much more concerned with the music – if people are sending us good stuff, then we do not care who it is.
Andrius, you moved to New York nearly 3 years ago and are currently running your party, Rhythmic Discourse. What are your intentions behind this party?
MSCLN: I am not sure I would call it running the party because it is really not a very structured thing, but now I am really trying to focus on not organising these parties alone. Now there is another couple of people who organise a party called Weird Science, so we have been trying to do more things together. I find this much more exciting and manageable, because when I was doing it alone, it was too much.
Do you have a vision behind bringing these niche bookings to New York?
MSCLN: Maybe I started a bit naive because when I first arrived in New York, I looked around and thought there is definitely a niche for the sound I was/am into. But after 2 and a half years of running these events, I still don’t see much of a change. Of course, there has been some progress, and it is changing a little bit, and trends are also shifting in that direction. I also have to accept possibility, that I might not be the best promoter around.
Do you feel that the Brooklyn scene has been accommodating and open to the sounds and bookings at your party?
MSCLN: It has been accommodating. Of course, with every party it’s a hit or a miss depending on different variables, and it is very risky to try to book an up and coming DJ or an artist in this environment. I understand that clubs do not want to do that because there is a big chance for financial failure, New York is very expensive city. Many of these bigger venues prefer to play it safe and follow the masses hosting large (and in many cases local) bookings. These names would play here over and over again, similar line goes for underground raves, while smaller venues don’t have enough financial capabilities.
The sound you all play creates a certain environment, do you feel this environment is compromised when playing in different cities and spaces?
Heap: There are a lot of factors, depending on the crowd – the club, the interior design of the club, how the sound system works, and so on.
Bocksrucker: Really depends on where you are playing, if you are feeling comfortable, or if you are prepared well. Also, if you are playing a live set, you are not able to really change your sounds much, you are forced to stick to what you are doing and you must seem self-confident, otherwise people really will not dig it. When you are DJ’ing, you are more flexible, and really need to read the crowd and adjust accordingly. Maybe with records you are also forced to go some sort of direction and do not have so much room to navigate, but with digital DJ’ing, if things are really not working, you can at least have a backup to change the energy.
Of course, it is not only about playing to please the crowd – when you are feeling uncomfortable and knowing that the party will end soon, if you are unwilling to change how you are playing. So as mentioned, this level of confidence and comfortability is very important while playing live sets. You must stick with what you are playing, so I am always trying to clear my mind before I begin set, because otherwise it can be a bit too hectic.
Do you have an established preparation before performing live sets?
Bocksrucker: I am actually always doing my live sets differently, so I am starting from scratch every time I am performing live. Especially when I have more time between bookings, I am really able to change the sound and energy that I approach each set with. I am preparing patterns more or less, but the rest of it is done live – when you are using a modular system, you are not able to just save all of the settings and replicate over and over. I try to switch it up and make each performance a world of its own.
What is the future direction for Neubau label, upcoming releases? Future for Rhythmic Discourse?
MSCLN: Currently I have stopped planning things, but it comes in waves. Weird Science events are planned till May and we will probably continue, some sporadic Rhythmic Discourse things might happen, too. I have a very demanding profession, so it is definitely more of a hobby for me. At some point I’m planning to move back to Europe, perhaps sometime next year, but I am certainly open to staying involved in music.
Heap: Our next release is scheduled for end of March. We do not have any schedule, and we plan to keep it like this. When we get some music we enjoy, and it feels natural, then we will move forward to release. We do not rush to release projects and plan to remain very flexible, which is what we have wanted from the beginning. There are already two more releases planned but we do not know when we will do that. It is good for us to take our time, we are much more focused on quality than quantity. We do not have some sort of major goals for the label, it is just fun for us to release good music.