Text: Sven von Thülen aus De:Bug 62

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Seit einigen Monaten – und drei Releases um genau zu sein – sorgt das belgische House Label Hi-Phen für allerlei Aufsehen und wirbelt mit den Tracks von Brett Johnson und Pawel Kobak über die Dancefloors von Brüssel bis Dallas. Vor allem der transatlantische Link zum Soon-to-be-Houseshootingsstar Brett Johnson, dessen zwei EPs von Laurent Garnier über Swag bis Luke Solomon quer durch alle Szenen so ziemlich jeden begeistert haben und Hi-Phen gleich an die Spitze der Labels katapultiert haben, die man sich dick im Notizbuch anstreichen sollte.

DeBug: When did you start the label and who else is involved?
Geoffroy: We released the 1st single in march 2002 but been working on the label way before. I run it with Koenie from ‘Wally’s Groove World’, Wha?roots, one of the early belgian house djs, he created ‘Wonka’ at the beginning of the nineties, maybe u remember that….

DeBug: Is there such a thing as a label philosophy?
Geoffroy: Not really, we tend to cover different bases of good dance music, that will be more evident soon….

DeBug: What does Hi-phen mean, and where does the name come from?
Geoffroy: Well, a hyphen is a link, and -phen is a diminutive term for phenol, which is the element that makes oil and benzine burn, so we stretched it together, with the hi- standing for high, of course, so do the maths and see what it means. It’s only a name, mind you and it’s not really important I think…I also have a very good cartoon artist and graphist doin’ the sleeves, with a little story with two characters delivering records in clubs and some other places…, hence “hi-phen music delivery” that’s the full name.

DeBug: How do you got in contact with Brett Johnson and Pawel Kobak and are there other artists you are planning to work with?
Geoffroy: I met Brett in Miami in 2001 and we had a really good (and long) time talking about music. So after some time he sent me some music and i really liked it! He named one of his tracks with the nickname he use for me “Jiffy Pop”. We”re good friends. I really like him and Pawel is a friend of one of my best friends. The next release will be by two new young british producers, Lo/Rez, and it’s a cross between the drop music tracky style and the sounds (and some live elements) a bit recurrent in Tom Middleton’s house productions. That’s only me describing it, of course. Next is Joshua from San Fransisco with two very different versions of a track and a remix by Rob Mello. I also just licensed “Soul Magic” by YBU off SSR (it’s an old balearic/Acid Jazz/mid tempo Funk track that was quite big) and there’s gonna be new mixes by Charles Webster, Alexkid and Swag, and maybe other cool remixers, but that’s not defined yet And i’m waitin for projects by more deep Techno orientated- and also Broken Beat/Deep House artists, we’ll see…

DeBug: Where do you like to see the label in two years time?
Geoffroy: Well…. alive! That’s the first thing coz in those troubled times, the more important thing is to stay afloat, especially if u’re into trying to have diversified stuff and also with a good quality control. I just hope we can establish the label as a good reference in proper dance music.

DeBug: Who is a musical influence and which people you like to be associated with?
Geoffroy: That’s a tricky one, really, our musical influences within House and Techno, range from Masters at Work, Mood 2 Swing and Trax records to Black Dog, Detroit and Disco and ESG There’s so many things we like so it’a bit hard to describe. I really like Versatile, Playhouse, Laws of Motion and Classic, to name but a few. That’s labels i really dig these days, it’s these people that make our times still worth keeping on doin’ this kind of things. It’s still alive! I’m also good mates with Jef K’s Silver Network and Ivan Smagghe’s Set label. I really like them.

DeBug: You worked for one of the biggest belgium labels, SSR, tell us about it. What did you do, and did it help you to start Hi-phen?
Geoffroy: I was doin’ the ‘Moving House Series’ for them, that was it really,they were extremely well received and i really enjoyed doin’it. It gave me a taste for A&Ring. I was there all the time and really learned a lot of aspects of this business, i think. I just licensed from them that YBU track i mentionned before and i’m really happy with that because that’s a project they wanted to do for a long time and after my many requests, they finally let it go. So i’m really happy they’re trusting me to realize that, even if it’s on my label but that’s a good encouragement.

DeBug: What’s going on in belgium? Where is it happening?
Geoffroy: Club-wise,and for House music it’s really all happening at Food, my residency It is very strong at the moment,and that after six years in different locations. We have a really good atmosphere and nice guests. There are also good clubs at the border of the country with France. And Antwerp holds good parties as well, but all that is for limited audiences (from 300 to 1000). Nothing compared with Techno. Belgium is a very big Techno country and Dave Clarke and Jeff Mills are gods here. Fuse, Kozzmozz and many huge parties are doin’it really good! Trance is quite dead here so that’s good, and we also have that Electroclash thing within fashion(-victims) circles, mainly at the culture club in Ghent. Drum & Bass is getting bigger and bigger, attracting really young crowds, like Techno basically. Music-wise, we have Swirl People who is partly Raoul, my fellow resident at Food. We also have Fabrice Lig, Sven van Hees, Vive la Fête, Kid Crème (and Sharpside), Mayaku (Koenie’s project with Marius and Jan Costermans)….

The Sweet and Sour Sessions EP von Brett Johnson erscheint demnächst auf Hi-Phen.

Hi-Phen 001, ebenfalls von Brett Johnson und Hi-Phen 002 von Pawel Kobak sind bereits erschienen.


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