Dutch DJ, producer and entrepreneur Paul Hazendonk started Manual Music label eleven years ago since his company has grown from being a simple record company to manage others labels such as “Hey! Records” by Michel de Hey and “Atomnation” by Applescal; taking care of digital distribution for dozens of others imprints; running a strong promo pool, publishing a steady podcast series and not counting promoting regular label nights. This month “Manual Music” reached the 200th mark with Sanction EP, three cuts from the boss itself with remixes from Hernan Cattaneo & Martin Garcia and Boss Axis.
It's been a good year that has gone by before I knew it. And reaching 200th releases with my brainchild Manual Music, of course! I Voice caught up with head honcho Paul to find out about the label's progress, the significance of the 200th release and more…
Hey Paul, thanks for taking the time out to chat to us. How’s your year been so far? What’s been the early highlight?
My pleasure! It's been a good year that has gone by before I knew it. Highlights included my own nights in Amsterdam at Recycle Lounge, finally making by Lebanon DJ debut and playing in the fantastic intimate Habitat venue in Calgary. And reaching 200th releases with my brainchild Manual Music, of course!
What was the driving force behind your decision to launch Manual Music?
At the time, it was 2005 and I was working at Basic Beat, a record store and record company based in Rotterdam. I was taking care of the A&R for several techno labels when I received some interesting music that didn't fit the labels that I was taking care of, so that made me create a new imprint for them. This imprint became Manual Music.
Musically, I trust in my own judgement, I always sign the music I like...You started Manual Music in 2005; more than a decade is a long time in this industry - you must have seen many transitions, from vinyl to digital to the domination of social; has the direction of the label changed much, or have you stoically stuck to your guns?
Musically, I trust in my own judgement, I always sign the music I like and this hasn't changed a bit in the 11 years the label has been around. It has been a challenge though, to adapt to the ever-changing way of how people consume music, to keep up with new initiatives, technologies and the way the younger generation consumes music. Even though I'm not the oldest guy around, I've been a vinyl buyer since 1995 and worked in this scene for 16 years now. If you look at how much has changed in these years it makes me very curious to see where we'd be in another 10-15 years.
What's the most important lesson you've learned from running the imprint over the years?
Always trust your gut feeling and make sure you've got the business side of things covered. And that sometimes you need to invest in order to move forward. It's one thing to arrive on a certain level, but the real challenge is to stay there.
Always trust your gut feeling and make sure you've got the business side of things covered...What’s been the biggest highlight of the label? Looking back, what’s your favourite release that you’ve done?
I can't possibly highlight one particular single or album out of it. Thinking of it now I'm actually most proud that the label is still doing well and is alive and kicking after , whilst many have came and gone in this same time period.
Manual Music has grown from being a sub-label of a record company, into a record company itself, and what many people don't know is that we also take care of label management for various labels including Hey! Records by Michel de Hey and Atomnation by Applescal, take care of digital distribution of dozens of labels, run a strong promo pool, host a steady podcast, regular label nights etc.
Of course the label has a certain sound or feel to it, I'm totally aware of that, but I don't want limit myself by thinking in a certain box, or at least not for the Manual Music label...You’ve now had 200 releases on the label over the past decade. What do you look for when it comes to signing material and artists and how do you know when a release is right for Manual Music?
I know when I know… it's a gut feel thing. Of course the label has a certain sound or feel to it, I'm totally aware of that, but I don't want limit myself by thinking in a certain box, or at least not for the Manual Music label.
I'm receiving on average around 50 to 60 demos a week right now, so I can afford to be really picky, as of course the artists that have worked for the label before also keep sending music on a regular basis.
I do sometimes ask artists to do something for the label, but this is simply based on the fact that I like their music and play their music a lot during my DJ gigs.
Your MAN200 release ‘Sanction’ comes from you with remixes from Hernan Cattaneo, Martin Garcia and Boss. Can you tell us a little about the making of the tracks on the release and the remixes that accompany them?
‘Sanction’ actually started out as a loopy jam session in my little home studio - just groovin' away and adding percussive elements, cutting up loops and sampling stuff. Then I left it for a bit and when I picked up on it again, I added the melodies and arps, it was a really smooth process.
As it's the 200th release, I wanted to ask some guys I really like and respect to get involved... As it's the 200th release, I wanted to ask some guys I really like and respect to get involved. It's been many years since Hernan last appeared on the label but he always supports it a lot, so I decided to ask him and he fortunately said yes the same day! I always play a lot of tracks from the Boss Axis guys, so I thought it would be so great if they'd remixed one of my songs, and they truly delivered something massive here, I'm very happy with the final results here.
If you were able to make some changes to the industry, what would they be?
With the risk of sounding like an “everything used to be better” kinda guy, I really wouldn't mind to return to a time where everything seemed to be more about the music and not about the reach on social media and about the hype of the moment.
Be unique, write a good plan, believe in yourself, invest and don't be afraid to ask advice from people who've been doing this for many years...With all your years of experience, what are some of the key tips would you give to anyone thinking of starting their own label now?
Be unique, write a good plan, believe in yourself, invest and don't be afraid to ask advice from people who've been doing this for many years. And don't be a quitter as there will be ups… and downs.
Finally, what are your plans for Manual Music going forward into 2017?
The first releases confirmed that I can tell you guys about include artists such as Guy J, Namatjira, Arjuna Schiks, Acud, Clawz SG, Steve Slight and more. I'll also release the long awaited debut album of Alessandro Diga. Next to that, I've just bought the legendary 90watts label and will bring new life into that early in 2017 as well, so that's a project I'm very excited about at the moment.