Sealed with an X: Phace & Misanthrop are currently celebrating 10 years of their flagship label Neosignal with a triple-EP collection of remixes from some of their closest allies and kindred spirits: Mefjus, Culprate, Halogenix, Levela, Black Sun Empire, Rockwell, Proxima, Signal, Buunshin, Kimyan Law are just some of the top shelf names who’ve contributed to the project.
Two of the three monthly EPs have already dropped so there’s a strong chance you’ve already heard some of the neosizzlers they’ve already cooked up. The final chapter lands on June 26… And it’s going to be followed by a whole slew of next level artist EPs and more editions to their recently launched Linked series. 10 years deep and still fully charged – perhaps more so than the label has been in a few years – we called up the longstanding duo and politely ask them to show us a signal…
Two EPs down, one to go. We’re in the middle of a massive 10 Year celebration but, correct me if Discogs is wrong, didn’t it launch in 2008 with Cold Champagne?
Phace: I think we had the wheels rolling in late 2008 but we’ve marked the date from when we registered the company, which by the time the paperwork was processed and everything was official, was January 2009.
Misanthrop: We definitely had the idea and started putting things into motion in 2008 because that’s the year we toured Australia and New Zealand and spent a lot of time together talking about the label and came up with the name.
Nice. So things took off pretty quickly after your first collaboration Off Centre in 2007 then? Remind me how you guys connected in the first place…
Phace: We became good friends pretty quickly after we met in the producer forum on DOA. There weren’t many German speaking producers around at that time. We both liked the stuff we posted there so we met up.
Misanthrop: I think it was around 2002 or 2003 so it took quite a while for the first collaboration to be released but Florian was one of the only people I could talk to about production and really buzz off this music with. The scene in Stuttgart where I was at the time was more jungle-based and Florian shared the same tastes as I did so we started talking and making beats.
Phace: Then we came up with the label.
Take me back to the moment you decided the name when you were touring New Zealand and Australia…
Misanthrop: I remember it well. The name was on a list of ideas I had and we were in Adelaide in a bar.
Phace: In a Formula 1 hotel. We were there for a week and all we did was go to the bars, get drinks, get food and go back to the hotel to brainstorm and we both came back like 10kg heavier.
Ha! Mad time to release a label for everyone out of the UK. Subtitles set the blueprint, loads of great labels coming from The Netherlands, DSCi4 was also pushing loads of European talent. Neosignal was launched in the thick of this…
Phace: To be honest I wish we set it up earlier because it was so exciting and fun to launch and develop. From the moment we launched it we felt a lot more free as artists to do what we wanted to do and have control as artists and follow our vision.
And work with the artists that you wanted to support too, I guess? So many wicked names and kindred spirits of yours on the label from early on. Rockwell, Alix Perez, Noisia, Mefjus, Emperor.
Phace: We even had Spor on it. All the homies! We knew many of the guys in the same way – through the forums – even before we all were releasing music, or were very early in our careers. There was a lot of us coming through.
Misanthrop: Especially the DSCi4 forum. There were so many people on that forum and a lot of them have become way bigger than we have. Chase & Status, Pendulum, Noisia.
Phace: It was a great community and it’s amazing to see how many people have come through from that and make a living off this music. Especially because it’s such hard work, dedication and these things take so much time. Nothing is a given in this game.
Or any game. Things take time! Do you worry sometimes that new producers forget that?
Phace: I wouldn’t say it’s lost but time has changed and the scene does move very fast. It’s become normal that you can become big in a short space of time. The internet is a very different beast now, things have become so professional and network-focused and it is possible to have a quicker trajectory. So no I don’t worry about that!
Misanthrop: I think artists have always been super eager to get stuff out as much and as quickly as they can. That’s part of developing. Then, when you realise you’re on this for the long game, you start to take things slower and consider your releases more. Quality over quantity. A few things have changed, though; today artists have to be professional at marketing, social media, networking, promoting. I feel very lucky we’ve been able to adapt to that ourselves. We are always learning.
Give us some moments where you’ve had to really step up or learn stuff?
Phace: It seems to happen every two years; we sit down and think about how we do stuff and what we can learn, how we can make things better and or optimise them. That’s a constant process; we never want to be an old school label and do things the same way. Musically and professionally. We want to be a progressive, modern label.
Misanthrop: For me it’s how we’ve developed in how we work. Back in the day we did everything; paperwork, design, promotions, social media. So getting a label manager was a massive boost for us and gave us time to make more music and to dig deep for young talents.
Phace: Yes, Badger is the man. We still A&R things and have a heavy role but he’s a machine, he’s incredibly good at making sure the label is running day to day and keeping everything in order. He keeps it alive!
Nice. Let’s talk about the Neosignal X series. It came off the back of the Linked series, right?
Phace: Yes we launched Linked as a new format that can be fun for collective ideas. The artwork is super cool with the two worlds somewhat representing two artists or two stories. It’s an interesting concept and gives the whole collaboration focus, rather than individual artists.
Misanthrop: Especially when we bring in new artists on format, which we also plan to do in the Linked series.
Phace: It’s kinda similar to what we did with Neu after Neodigital. Creating a concept that every artist feels happy on and doesn’t feel like they’re on a ‘new artist’ or ‘secondary’ label to the main one. We’ll have some great plans for the Linked series. We have four Linked releases planned out already and there’s going to be some surprises.
Sick. So onto the Neosignal X collection. So. Many. Amazing. Names! Lots of old friends but not necessarily linked to the label. Guys like Culprate.
Phace: Exactly, it’s all about the homies again. But also we were looking for fresh acts too. A lot of our friends are on label deals but a remix album meant we could include them. Everyone we asked said it would be an honour and it came together so nicely. We were very happy!
That must be wicked, when you sit down and write a wishlist of artists you want on the releases.
Misanthrop: That’s exactly what we did. We wrote a list of people we’d love to work with and felt very proud when everyone came back so positively. That’s the most important thing about this, or any collaboration, is that everyone is feeling it and wants to be involved. And had time too.
Phace: We didn’t want to push remixes on the guys, too. We asked them all to send their top three Neosignal releases that they would like to remix and then put together the list so we didn’t have remixes of the same tracks.
Misanthrop: Another cool thing was when we listened to the remixes as they came in. When you hear a remix of your work it’s quite interesting and sometimes a little challenging. Your work is very personal. So to hear someone else’s interpretation of it can be strange. But all of these remixes really excited us and gave us some fresh perspectives. There was nothing we didn’t like. Every artist did their own signature track and put their own stamp on our tunes.
Phace: And also that the end results weren’t just the obvious bangers. More minimal, more experimental, more dancefloor. Nothing was planned but it came together so nicely and naturally. It had its own natural force.
It also kinda reinforces the breadth of the label this way, too
Misanthrop: That’s nice to hear because that’s exactly what we always wanted. No matter what point we’ve been at with the label we’ve always wanted to do something different and expand what we are about. I would never want to just put out the same sounding record over and over. The labels we were inspired by always had that element of surprise.
Phace: That’s so true. You want to be excited and not know what’s coming up next.
Misanthrop: No one eats the same meal every day. It’s about variety.
Amen! So you teased us with upcoming Linked releases… Is that what you have coming up next?
Phace: That’s coming up for sure. We have so much stuff coming up; we’ve also got Caracal Project working on an EP, we have Buunshin working on an EP, we’ve got another act who nobody really knows yet. At the moment there are a lot of things happening….