Thorsten Lütz – “The finanical was only an irrelevant fact. The main thing was that running a record label was and still is fun”

 

I see a lot of Karaoke Kalk in these images, in these LP covers you wanted to show me: irony, arty things, kitsch, pop culture and experimentation at the same time, a little bit of darkness and pure enjoyment. Do you agree that these terms relate to this LP covers and their music and to your creature KK?

Well, to be honest I chose the covers basically randomly. That means I have not heard all these records lately.
For instance Nick Cave, Spacemen 3 or Sonz of a Loop da Loop Era. But I used the opportunity to listen to them again and I can say that they are still very good.
Every record is basically representative of a time where I used to listen to a special genere of music and discovered it for me.
I daresay that I have a wide choice taste of music. From Bossa Nova (Jobim), Indie Rock (Spacemen 3), Techno / Ambient (Alec Empire), Hip Hop (A Tribe Called Quest), Experimental (David Behrman) and Pop (Steely Dan/Prefab Sprout) for instance.
And I think my taste of music is one of the reasons why so many different artists and styles of music have been released on Karaoke Kalk over the years.
The Artists and the Label work very closely together and for example the artists have the freedom to design their own artwork. I do not interefere here. Of course that also leads to that the LP covers are always very different from each other. That means again that people remember the artist more than the label but I don’t mind about this.
To come back to your question: I would agree that the selection of images and the music have something to do with the label Karaoke Kalk.
Even if I would give a hand for it to have the possibility to release a record like Steve McQueen or Stone Flower.

 

There’s quite a lot I don’t know: who’s David Beherman? And what is that LP with the girl in the frame on the cover? It tells me something but I can’t remember…

David Behrman is an American composer. I discovered his music when I lived in Cologne and constantly visit a record shop called A-Musik. By the way if you are in Cologne you have to go there. It is a great shop managed from friendly and music enthusiasts people. Berhman’s record “Leapday Night” showed me the beauty of experimental and minimal music.

The LP with the girl is an album on Karaoke Kalk called “Wunder” which was released in 1998. This record was released one and a half year after I started with the label and it was a very important one. In my opinion the music on this record create an own style and was kind of unique in these days. “Wunder” was the first release which had a
kind of success and this also led to it that I almost made my profession out of a hobby. Making a record label became a full time job almost overnight.

Well, so it seems that your label goes pretty well, even if working overnight does not seem the most agreeable of the jobs! I don’t like very much to talk about the so called ‘crisis’ in the music industry, as it makes me sad, and I sometimes I feel that this topic is approached in a shallow way, but: how are you feeling the changes since the release of “Wunder” and nowadays, in terms of selling, formats and so on? How is the relationship with your clients/fans now?

Oh, I am sorry for the misunderstanding. I meant with “overnight” from one day to the next and/or that it was a kind of surprise that my hobby became a profession. No worries. Usually I do not work through the night!

Generally the label had a lot of ups and downs in the last 20 years. And there were also some moment’s where I thought to shut down everything and quit the label.
Economically speaking I had the best times between 1999 and 2003. That was the time of indie – and electronica. Then came the first big crisis when music became digital.
It has taken a while that the situation has returned to normal. Though at a lower fininacial level but it still worked. Besides I was very happy when I discovered Bandcamp in 2015. After a long time I had the feeling of reaching people again. Especially people who did not know the label from the late ninties and/or the early noughties. I felt connected again.
Nowdays we are in the streaming age and the so called hype of vinyl is over. It looks like that we have to reorganize the whole business again. I do not know anyone who can give me a reliable statement how the music business will look like in the next 2-3 years. But I am not frustrated rather still optimistic, because the most important thing was that I always enjoyed to make a record label. Spotting and releasing music. Working with artists. The finanical was only an irrelevant fact. The main thing was that running a record label was and still is fun.

Thorsten - Karaoke Kalk (6).JPG

What is also that Knef album “Halt Mich Fest”? I searched for it, and I see it’s an easy listening Schlager record. I never made any connections between your label and the “Schlager” musical genre (if we can call it a genre), but it might make sense. We, from abroad, honestly find those songs pretty ‘basic’ and somehow funny, but at the same time there’s always some element, like the repetition, that I somehow connect to German music, especially the krautrock (that I love) and bands like D.A.F. (that I also love).

Her lyrics are feminist, smart and entertaining. She was so far ahead in her time. Hans Hammerschmid, who arranged most of her songs and Knef formed a congenial duo.
I can find so much good in their music. I adore them very much.
Your comparison with DAF is very interesting. Hildegard Knef wasn’t a great singer but she had this special voice. She performed more spoken word like than she sings.
Maybe that’s a similarity to DAF.

 


Karaoke Kalk was never anything more or anything less than a bunch of kind-hearted people who would invite you to have tea with them without thinking twice.
This is how Thorsten Lütz puts it himself. If anyone knows, he would – he’s the one who founded the label years ago. In the meantime, Karaoke Kalk has put out records by Bill Wells, Hauschka, Toulouse Low Trax, and many others in a collection of music bridging the genres of electronica, ambient, and techno. Lütz still runs the label to this day, as always with a genuine love for niche.
For 16 years now, he’s operated it from Berlin Mitte rather than the from the Cologne Kalk district for which it was named.
From time to time Lütz also plays records under his moniker Strobocop.

karaokekalk.de
Thorsten Lutz - Karaoke Kalk - PHOTO.jpeg

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