Incredible is the superlative Luciano used to describe a Memoria Recordings release earlier this year. It’s not hard to see why the Swiss superstar DJ has been getting so excited; despite being less than a few years old, the Dutch label has already established a penchant for honing and releasing fresh sounding techno and tech house.
In a musical environment where it sometimes seems that you can’t move for nondescript dance music, Memoria Recording’s back catalogue of uncompromised cuts from underground producers is a breath of fresh air.
Ahead of their label showcase party at this year’s Off Sonar festival, I Voice caught up with label founder Fares Benouhiba, who has recently left the label, and current owner Izaak de Bruin to chat about what they’ve been doing behind the scenes at one of the most promising collectives in town.
What were your backgrounds previous to launching Memoria? Were you both in the music industry prior to running the imprint?
Fares: Well, my only connection with music before launching Memoria was as a clubber. I had studied marketing and I was working for a medical systems company, [when] I realized that I wanted to be in the music industry, not as a DJ or producer, but as an artist and label manager.
Izaak: I was working as a bookings agent for artists like Ultrasone, Hermanez, Massimo Girardi, Egal 3, Arado and some others. That is how I met Fares, he was an artist manager at that time and we were working together on some of the artists. We really connected musically and since he was just starting with Memoria Recordings we decided to join forces.
Fares, how did you decide on the name ‘Memoria Recordings’?
Fares: It took me almost one month to decide on the name of Memoria, as well as the logo which I designed myself. I wanted [the label] to be unforgettable, just like our memories and to create memories through music, whether in a club or festival or a candlelight dinner with your love.
Is there a specific ‘Memoria’ sound, do you think?
Fares: Everybody says to me that Memoria has a specific sound, but to tell you the truth I don’t agree with them. In reality, the label has a big range of music genres, from house to techno. We never focus on a specific sound. The most important thing is to release quality music.
Izaak: I don't like to put name tags on music. If you listen carefully to our catalogue we release different styles, but always [with the same] quality. That’s the keyword for Memoria Recordings. If you put a gun to my head and I had to specify our sound, I would [describe it as somewhere] between the laidback and dubby Romanian sound and more groove, dance floor records.
Your first record was Miguel Lobo’s ‘Neighbourhood’ back in 2011. Tell me how that first release came about.
Fares: First of all I want to thank Miguel Lobo for his trust. It was quite hard to find exclusive music at that time, as we were new to the scene. I asked Miguel for some music and he sent me a track that I really liked.
The recent track ‘Mostly Numb’ by Ernesto Ferreyra exhibits yet another side to Memoria with its jazzy piano keys and submerged basslines. Can we expect to see you guys expand your musical range, with similar releases, in the future?
Fares: Yes! We don't want to be a label that just releases one kind of music or sound. As long as it's quality we will consider it for Memoria Recordings.
Do you welcome demos being sent to you?
Fares: Yes, as long as they are exclusive. We will never sign music that has been sent to a hundred labels [at the same time]. We are always looking for high-quality production in everything from house to techno, regardless of it’s from a well-known producer or a young talent.
Despite being a relatively small and fledgling label, you’ve always put out vinyl record releases. Has this been difficult? Why is it important for you to release physical records?
Izaak: It has been difficult because it's expensive. As you said we are relatively small and this makes it even harder, because we don't sell [them] automatically. We have to push hard. But we strongly believe that vinyl DJs [should] have the chance to play our music. House and techno music started in vinyl and still nothing sounds better than the good old vinyl.
You’re celebrating two years of Memoria with a big showcase at Off Sonar in June. What have you got planned for the event?
Fares: Last year we held an official after-party at Wildvilla in collaboration with East Ender Festival. The energy was amazing, so it was a good start for us in Barcelona. This year we are celebrating our second anniversary so we wanted to do something special. We found a great venue at the Poble Espagnol Touristic Village, La Terrrazza and have created a line-up with our own label artists [as well as] friends who have supported Memoria Recordings over the years. The event will all be comprised of exclusive ‘back2back’ sessions with artists like Valentino Kanzyani, Andrea Oliva, Vera, Fabrizio Maurizi, Martinez and many more.
Can we expect to see more Memoria Showcases in the future?
Izaak: Everybody in the music industry started because of parties I guess … at least we did! There is no better feeling than watching your artists playing at your own Showcases. We are planning now one, or [maybe] two events, for Amsterdam Dance event this year. We are looking for new venues and promoters that are interested in our Showcases. We have already thrown parties in London, Paris, Marseille, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Athens & Brussels and we are hungry for more.
Finally, what’s next for Memoria Recordings?
We hope to grow together with our artists. Egal 3, Massimo Girardi and Bjorn Wolf are three big talents that are connected to Memoria Recordings. We also hope to continue working with amazing artists like Andrea Oliva for example, who supported us from the beginning. Discovering new talents and helping them to grow into the music industry is also one of our goals.
Address: Breda, Netherlands
MEM016 - Stathis Lazarides – Stepping Up
MEM015 - Okain – Welcome To The Hood
MEMX002 - Youri Donatz, Bjorn Wolf & Joey Daniel – Clogs
MOST SUCCESSFUL TRACKS
MEM009 - Andrea Oliva & Egal 3 – Yaself
MEM013 - Martinez – Pygmalion
MEM011 - Egal 3 – Titlu & Poveste (Hector’s Disfunktional Mix)
MEM004 - Lilith – Freak You (Filsonik Remix)
MEMX003 - Leon – New Modernism EP - June
MEM017 - Andrea Oliva – Backstage E – June
MEM018 - Memoria Remix Package - July
Dan Casarano EP – August / September
Dragosh EP – August / September
Kashawar Album – August / September
Okain, Hermanez, Andrea Oliva, Youri Donatz
Martinez, Ernesto Ferreyra, Bjorn Wolf, Egal 3
Marko Nastic, Vid, Franco Cazzola