Back in 2013, Berlin based artist Walker, along with producer friend Mark Renker, launched the house and techno Käse Kool imprint – and since the inception the label has been growing at a rapid pace having seen releases from the likes of Berlin figureheads like Nick Beringer, Vincenzo Maurice and stevn.aint.leavn. Label head Walker has already made his name in the thriving Berlin scene. With a new release on Cinthie’s Beste Modus VA compilation, label nights at venues like Paloma Bar, Berlin and Roxy, Cologne – the label head and his Käse Kool imprint have already garnered a glowing reputation in the city.
The ethos of Käse Kool is difficult to sum up I guess. For the most part, I would say dubby, minimal with rolling grooves...Originally started as an output for authentic club music – the label has now branched out with a subdivision entitled Ci, which is a new project exploring the ‘sensual grooves’ and dub-minimal side of Käse Kool. We caught up with label head Walker to learn a bit more about the Berlin imprint…
Thanks for joining us today! Can you tell us a bit more about the ethos of Käse Kool? Could you describe the Käse Kool sound in 3 words?
My pleasure. Yeah the ethos of Käse Kool is difficult to sum up I guess. For the most part, I would say dubby, minimal with rolling grooves.
You launched the imprint along with Mark Renker in 2013, what were the reasons behind starting the label? Did you see it more as a platform for your own releases or did you want to start an imprint that offered something different from other labels in Berlin already?
The reasons we started the label seemed right for the time and place. The timing was right and the location was ideal. I knew some producers already and was pretty familiar with the scene before starting the label. That's when Mark came on board. Mark has a background as an audio engineer and was into the scene already, so it made a natural fit for us to work together.
The imprint was never really an outlet for my personal tracks. After being encouraged to release some of my own work on the label, I cautiously went forward with my Track Schiller which was featured on our Strata Series VA. After hearing some feedback, Mark and I soon launched our Ci~ imprint.
With Berlin often being described as the centre in Europe for house and techno, is it challenging running a label there? What sets Käse Kool apart from other labels in Berlin, and Europe?
I wouldn't say it's difficult, but there certainly are some barriers of entry in the scene here. Lot's of already existing labels doing amazing things. We have really great relations to a lot of the record stores here.
Both my art and music have commonalities, I think they influence each other in a way like a Ying & Yang...Notably Spacehall, who have been heavily backing us from the beginning certainly helped our upbringing in the scene. Our vision was to do something a bit different and release a sound that didn't seem to have so much attention at the time, especially with artists in our friend circle here in Berlin.
You’ve been heavily involved in the art scene for many years after studying at art school; do you think it was your passion for art that led you to start producing music? Do you think the art influences your music at all?
That's a good question, I often think about that as well. For me producing and painting is a balance, I can't seem to have one without the other. Having both as a creative outlet grounds me so to speak. Both my art and music have commonalities, I think they influence each other in a way like a Ying and Yang. Funny enough, I started producing when I took up painting a bit more seriously.
Ci is the latest extension from Käse Kool, what prompted you to start this subdivision label? Are there any plans to expand Käse Kool any further?
Mark and I always wanted to start another project, one that was aimed at what we're now releasing under Ci. Additionally, at the time it felt like a good decision to do so as we freshly switched distributions to Subwax Barcelona. I can't really say if we will expand it further, it comes in time of course.
Ci is something that's a bit more sensualistic I feel. Something that isn't necessarily a club driven sound but still being techno orientated....You’ve said before that Ci combines both imagery and music, and releases with Ci are combining limited edition printed covers with the EPs, are you going to be designing the covers? How do you go about deciding which artists release with Käse Kool and which release with Ci?
Ci is something that's a bit more sensualistic I feel. Something that isn't necessarily a club driven sound but still being techno orientated.
As far as the covers go, I will be designing further covers for the future Ci releases, but for the next two, we are doing something a bit different. The full details I can't give out at the moment, but I can say you'll see more work from our other label artist, DEK.
It does get difficult distinguishing demo material for Ci and KK sometimes. But since we are keeping Ci restricted to only a few artists at the moment, there aren't so many difficulties keeping the two separate.
Names are a funny thing, it's what identifies you and labels you....What was the inspiration behind the name for the imprint, and the subdivision label? Did you design the visual aesthetic for Käse Kool? You’ve already had some huge releases on Kase Kool, is there anyone you’d love to work with in the future? Any releases with Käse Kool that have really stood out for you?
Names are a funny thing, it's what identifies you and labels you. With Käse Kool, it was a funny story of a word play between German and English and the name kind of stuck. As with Ci, the name comes from my fascination with space and astronomy, Ci is the scientific abbreviation of a cirrus cloud (haha).
It all comes down to what we're feeling and of course which producers have been doing what...Yeah the visual aesthetics of the label is all me. For the most part, Mark gives me the artistic freedom to do what I want on that front. It serves somewhat of an outlet of merging my photography with music; another element that I guess distinguishes us.
We can't really say in particular any one producer who we would like to work with. It all comes down to what we're feeling and of course which producers have been doing what. I can't seem to really pick a favourite release in particular, but at the moment I have a soft spot for DEK's A side of our Ci.01 release. There's a really nice story behind DEK and him getting on board with the label that we reminisce on.
Thank you! Finally, have you got anything exciting coming up in the near future? Any exciting releases forthcoming on Käse Kool?
Besides Nick's Transit EP dropping next month, there's not much light I'm allowed to shed at this point as we are still finalising Ci.2 with the artist. All I can say is that you'll see more from DEK.