Despite boasting some of the biggest names in neurofunk and beyond, Germany can sometimes be an understated player in the drum and bass game. Hanzom Music, however, are one of many independent labels looking to change that, splicing the scene with their underground spin on the genre for the last three years.
Hanzom have pushed the boundaries of the label over the tumultuous landscape of the last two years, fostering a wide-reaching roster that possesses the sleek, neuro-tinged sound that they do best. The recently released Best of 2021 LP is a perfect glimpse into this, featuring artists like BorkerBrothers, Hybert Philips, BIONYK, Brain Wave and Manta all flexing their musical muscles.
Their latest offering comes in the form of Snapshot, a head-turning neurofunk chugger from Greek duo Disphonia. With previous releases on heavyweight labels like Eatbrain and Blackout Music, this long-awaited release is a testament to label manager Rene Badlokk’s commitment to releasing music he loves.
We got in contact with him to discuss Hanzom’s place in the wider scene, their ever-growing list of achievements and where they’re heading in 2022.
Congrats on the best of 2021 LP! It’s a perfect reflection of where Hanzom is sonically right now.
It has definitely been our strongest year. We had a great connection to all the artists involved, and for them the pandemic meant more time in the studio and more time to work with labels like ourselves.
What has the pandemic taught you about running a label?
There have been good and bad sides to it. The main positive is that we had a lot more time to focus on putting out music; the negative is we can’t bring the music to the dancefloor. That was our vision from day one, to connect the artists between the label and events and eventually run bigger parties.
A lot of artists wanted to hold their tracks from the public until clubs were open, so it did make things difficult. For example, we’ve just released a track from Disphonia which is our biggest release so far, but we made the contract for that two and a half years ago and decided to wait until the dancefloor was open. We were meant to have a release party recently but unfortunately Germany is still in lockdown. Generally, we think the tracks speak for themselves now though. We’re keeping it rolling.
That’s the great thing about drum and bass. At heart, it’s a genre built for the clubs, but it won’t stop the fanbase from listening and supporting at home.
Is your plan to push more events as soon as possible?
Yep. The next plan is for April, but we can’t say for sure. We get no information from the government regarding the opening of clubs, bars, etc. It’s difficult seeing videos from raves in the likes of New Zealand and the UK and here we’re just sitting in our homes on the weekend crying haha!
The recently released Burning Tree EP from BIONYK certainly felt like an EP less focused around the club. Tell me a bit more about this.
We’re always looking for dancefloor smashers and high-end productions, but we sometimes want to put out music destined less for the club and more for streaming/listening purposes. We struggled a bit to begin with because half of the EP is non-dnb, but we love the dubstep and breakbeat styles and thought it would be the perfect time to bring out something different. It’s also a charity release, with all the income going to Kindernothilfe, a children’s emergency aid charity.
Love the charity cause. What was the motivation behind this?
One of the guys from BIONYK had a child last year during the process of making the tracks. We ended up having a big chat about the future and how that can change after having a child, which led us to creating this charity campaign around the release. We wanted to do a bit more for people out there who need our help, and to get away from the profit-oriented motives.
Amazing, it’s refreshing to hear. It was great to see a music video as well, something that feels like a rarity these days in drum and bass.
Yeah it is very rare, most likely due to the rapid output in the music industry. We love to work on content like this. We have put out six music videos in the last three and a half years which is a lot for a label in the drum and bass scene. The message that videos can bring to the music is just amazing.
Definitely! it solidifies that it isn’t just another tune for the club.
Exactly. Every release should be something special and presented in a unique way.
Are you going to continue exploring this form of visual media then?
100%, much more to come.
The artwork direction feels unique to Hanzom. Who is behind that?
Most of our artwork is from two different graphic designers, Laura Abelen and Grizzlyarts. Those two girls have made a lot of impact on the label with their work, and we couldn’t wish for more talent. We always try and stay with our red/orange colour scheme because it makes the label unique and cohesive.
Tell me a bit about your own introduction to drum and bass.
I got into drum and bass back in 2008 through gaming. We played an off-road racing game called Motorstorm Pacific Rift literally all day and night and we were obsessed. One day we were wondering what made this game so enjoyable for us, and we realised it was the music. We checked the track list and it was full of names like Pendulum, Noisia, Black Sun Empire & State Of Mind, The Qemists and many more drum and bass artists. I was also hooked after the first events I went to. The crowd, the vibe, and the connection between people is unbeatable.
When did you take the music into your own hands?
I started DJing around 2015. In 2016 I started a label with a good friend of mine which was a great experience. It was more jump-up focused which was never really my sound, and even though I do love all styles of music, my passion lies within neurofunk and deep drum and bass. That’s why I created Hanzom in 2018 and started to follow my own vision. We now have a lot of people working on the label like our mastering engineer Smeerlapp, our graphic designers, and our artists. Some people like BorkerBrothers and Surge have been there since day one. The family is getting bigger and bigger and I’m so thankful for everything. I can promise you that the journey is only beginning as well.
Germany has always had a strong neuro-leaning edge when it comes to drum and bass, with artists like Phace, Current Value and Misanthrop being frontrunners in the scene. There’s a strong influence here on Hanzom but it doesn’t feel bound by it. How would you describe your musical ethos?
It’s all about deep, dark drum and bass, whether it’s straight up neurofunk or something deep and vibey. While it’s mostly music for the dancefloor, we are also looking for something special and unique. A great example of this is our release from Shadow Sect, Cyperpunkers, and The Qemists singer Fickle6. It’s neurofunk in a way, but it’s not neurofunk in your typical dancefloor drum and bass sense. It’s hard to describe, but its reminiscent of old The Prodigy.
How is the scene right now in Cologne?
It’s amazing! The people love it. We usually have events every week here on Fridays and Saturdays and the people go crazy for it. We want to integrate the neurofunk and deeper, more experimental stuff in Cologne. We are in contact with one of the best clubs here ‘Artheater’, who now trust us and want to work with us more.
Who would be a dream artist on Hanzom?
I would cautiously say we’ve already got them in the form of Disphonia. It’s been our dream since before we even launched the label. It’s finally happened and it’s a huge achievement for us as they are one of the pioneers in neurofunk… I have goosebumps man! We spent a lot of time on the label to get to this point, and it shows that hard work pays off. Another dream signing would be Mizo for the harder stuff, and Amoss for the deeper sound.
Sounds like a testament of what is still to come then! What is next?
The next release is another big one from man like Finalfix from Belgium. He’s doing an LP which will be coming out in multiple parts. The guy is smashing it in the modern age of neurofunk productions and has already signed on some major labels. We also have a lot of newcomers this year from places like New Zealand and Czech Republic, including guys like Notequal who are a trio from Slovakia and Czech Republic and have been smashing it recently. In March we will have been releasing music for three years, so we’ll be putting out our first VIP EP, containing VIPs of our best tracks yet. We also released our first vinyl record last year and we’re definitely going to be doing more of that – despite the pressing delays. Finally, we’re also looking forward to doing some label events and tours.
Can’t wait for it all! Any final thoughts?
I want to give a big and final shout out to all the lovely people enjoying our music. We can´t wait to be back in the clubs with you and the crew. Big up Smeerlapp, BorkerBrothers and Surge for always staying with the label since day one. Shouts to Shadow Sect again, Manta from Austria, and literally all our artists. There’s too many to mention… bring on 2022.