Tracking Imprints: The Healing Company!
Frankfurt-based fine house label The Healing Company established a solid reputation with releases from Johannes Regnier, Alexander Antonakis, Victor Shan, Tom Simmert, young talent Philipp Triebel,who also released on Uncanny Valley, and Sascha Vucko alias S/O/M recently. We caught head honcho Constantin Sankathi for a chat and he kindly contributed a superb mix for our DOGMATIC radio show on Istanbul’s finest Dinamo FM. Enjoy!
Hi! How was your first contact with music and what motivated you to embark on a musical career?
I am not sure if I would speak of a musical career as I am just releasing a small amount of vinyl records. Usually a career means making money, and we don’t make any money with the label (smiling). I am running the label together with René Herbst and we both have a rather eclectic approach to music. We met each other back in the days in the scene of hardcore punk and screamo. But, more or less simultaneously, we were listening to house and techno. There was this small club in a town called Baden-Baden where we used to organise hardcore shows and house parties at the same time. That means in the early night we were stage diving at hardcore shows on the ground floor of that place and late night we would dance to some deep house shit in the basement. The spirit of those times left its mark on us until today, and still in my all time top-ten there are, besides Marvin Gaye, Moodymann and Ron Trent, also Bands like Rites Of Spring, Fugazi or Hüsker Dü.
Why did you decide to launch The Healing Company?
The whole project started because of one track: ‘Sundog’ by Johannes Regnier. We knew each other from the old goa and psytrance days, he was quite a famous artist in this scene but lost interest in that sound due to the constant decrease in quality of psy music. One day he dropped me a line: ‘Hey, I made a house track, how do you like it?’. I listened to it and was deeply impressed. What a killer track, it had to be released! But I had no idea at all how to release a record. So I called my old friend René, as I remembered he was running some music labels for punk and noise rock long before and I asked him: ‘What about launching together a house music vinyl-only label? I need your experience! “ He answered me: “That’s indeed a shitty idea, but I will join!” — The Healing Company was born.
How would you describe the label’s sound aesthetic? Is it important that people associate a certain sound with a label?
It’s more of an emotive thing — if we like the stuff and the artist and if we are having the feeling that it will fit us, then nearly everything could be possible. There is this quote from Pablo Picasso: ‘I don’t search, I find.’ That’s the same with us. On the one hand, its kind of cool if a label has a certain reputation and people associate it with a certain sound, but on the other hand, it can be difficult: what to do if your trademark sound becomes out of fashion? Suddenly your audience gets bored and you have to invent yourself new … not too easy.
After the first release in 2013, you put out further versions of Victor Shan’s ‘How You Want it’ including also a Tuff City Kids remix. Did you expect such an overwhelming success when signing the track and do you want to supplement future releases with remixes as well?
I personally think you cannot plan a hit record or success. It happens or not. With ‘How you want it’ it was quite the opposite: we were not really sure to release it since the track was so different from our first two releases. But I loved the track and so we decided: let’s bring it out! The reason why we pressed only 200 copies was not to generate an artificial ‘rarity’ hype. It was just because we were not sure if we could sell 200 or only 50 copies and at this point of the label history we didn’t even had a distribution. I am pretty sure that until today, we would have sold only 50 copies and nobody would know the record if Klaus from the Tactile Record store in Frankfurt wouldn’t have given one copy to Roman Flügel who played and promoted it a lot. It was pure coincidence! Speaking about remixes, the problem with remixes is the price since we always want to pay our artists fair fees, it’s difficult to finance such a project. So our upcoming THC 07 release, with three remixes at once, will ruin us completely I guess.
What is your release policy? Why did you opt against digital distribution?
Of course there are also thousands of average house vinyl records around — but billions of digital tech house tracks. Nearly everybody can produce a track nowadays but it needs much more effort to bring it into a physical format. I don’t like that Beatport bullshit with all its pretty charts and I love vinyl. That’s why so far, all our stuff was released on vinyl only, except THC 05. But now we were asked from our distributor to release it also on the digital way, and maybe we will do it in the future. With a good quality vinyl release, it’s really hard to make any profit, and to sell a few digital files could certainly help. You can stay on vinyl only if you have too much money or if you have a lot of bookings to finance that all. If not, digital can help. I am not really dogmatic in that case. But hey promoters, I am open for bookings, with the help of some gigs we will stay vinyl only (smiling).
Assuming you have to choose between vinyl quality and artwork, what would be your pick?
Definitely vinyl quality comes first but we try to achieve both, fine vinyl and cool artwork, especially in the future. THC 07 will be released with artwork from myself, and for one of our upcoming releases we are happy to work together with Oskar Rink, who is a fantastic artist.
Do you have a preferred mastering studio?
Of course, it’s Calyx in Berlin and our favourite engineer there is LUPO Lubich. He is such a wonderful person and every attended session is like coming home with some member of our family. It’s not only the quality of his work, it’s also the vibe, the energy and the nice talks and laughs we are having together.
How important is video, social media and the selection of the right distribution company for promoting the label’s output nowadays?
There are a countless youtube videos and even more Facebook pages. Even if it’s kind of boring, it’s nonetheless really important nowadays. But I try to avoid that ‘how many likes?’-competition. The distribution is in my opinion the most important thing and I am really happy to work together with Clone.nl. They are doing a really good work.
Do independent labels receive a fair share for their music that gets played?
Not at all. The whole procedure before you have the vinyl in your hands is sucking too much money. Just a proper mixdown can be horribly expensive, and then you have not yet paid for the mastering, the pressing plant and the artist! Supply for gain becomes really hard if you are only pressing and selling low amounts of vinyl copies. It’s ridiculous in some way.
What’s next at The Healing Company?
2015 will become our most productive year so far. This month THC 06 will hit the stores with some great jams from S/O/M aka Sascha Vucko, next is THC 07, which is an old track from Dan Curtin aka Prototype: The Path. It was released in 1992 on the ‘Panic in Detroit’ compilation and is one of my favourite deep techno tunes of all time. Dan didn’t have the original master DAT, just the two inches reel-to-reel tape with all the stems. We sent it to the United States for restoration and we did a completely new mixdown that sounds fantastic. The record includes also remixes from Kim Brown, Orson Wells and Johannes Regnier. THC 08 features Gwen Torino with somehow strange but massive tunes. THC 09 are two guys called PT/B which some will maybe know from their fantastic record on Downtown Romeo Records. And there are even more new signed artists in the pipeline, watch out! Thanks for your attention and interest in our label!
The Healing Company on Soundcloud
PT/B ‘Don’t Leave Me’