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October 2004 - Setalight Records

For me, Berlin is closely associated with a pulsating and vital music scene. And I don't talk about brainless fashion shit like the fucked-up "love parade" or  crap like that. Since the 60's, this city was always a good ground for creative handmade music, and especially the end-70's were the beginning of a highly creative period when the first Berlin Punk-Rock bands like PVC were born.  Now we write the year 2004, and there is still a big amount of rock clubs and a lot of diverse rock bands are still around, ranging from heavy psych to garage rock to metalcore and more. Andreas Voland, the label boss of the Berlin-based label Setalight Records, had the genius idea to pick out fourteen bands of the the Berlin rock underground for a compilation, entitled "Berliner Ring". Well, I really like this compilation, because it gives the listener a perfect overview about what's going on, and due to the included diverse sytles it's a very entertaining ride. All in all, it was reason enough to make this interview with Andreas Voland, talking about "Berliner Ring", his hometwon and more. Go and get it... (The photos had been shot by Dominik Giese and the Jan Krzyzanowski)

Welcome Andreas Voland to the Cosmic Lava webzine! The reason for our first interview is the "Berliner Ring" Independent Rock compilation that will see the light of day at September 23rd released by your label setAlight Records. Before we check out the details about the complilation I would ask you some questions about setAlight. First off, when did you start the label and what were your intentions?

Hello Klaus, thanks for the interview. Setalight.records was founded by Marco Wirth and me in the beginning of 2003. The main idea was local presentation, to build up a platform for any creativ output of ourself , our friends and other artists.

What  kind of music do you release, and is there any kind of special philosophy behind the label?

Well, that's very open. It's not fixed on a certain music style. More important are the feelings and authenticity that the music transmits. We like this warm and natural music, I mean, it has to be pure, coming directly from the heart and it needs that kind of inner quality. It hasn't to be over produced when you are a beginner, you know what I mean? This is what we try to produce, present and of course sell. I mean, we are still a young label. Our radius is at present as huge as Berlin, so we released especially music and art from Berlin. This will change with the time, things are growing.

Let's talk about "Berliner Ring", a compilation that is focused on bands of the Berlin underground rock scene., although a few of the included bands like Ojo Rojo or Liquid Visions have gained a pretty good reputation not only in Germany, but worldwide. What were the criterions of choice?

I was trying to make a gimmick for our mailorder www.slr-shop.com to present our bands and one night I said to myself: Fuckin hell, why not making a real sampler to combine all these good and mostly unknown bands of Berlin? So I engaged Alex of 2DFABRIK to do the artwork, Willem of SWAMP ROOM to distribute it, Dominik of KILLERDOM MEDIA to make the multimedia track and Timo of BETWEEN EVIL AND PEACE entertainment to organize the record release party. With that basics, I was able to ask the bands I like most in Berlin and wanted to have on the first ring.

One big plus about "Berliner Ring" is that nearly all of the tracks are unreleased! Have the bands composed exclusive cuts or have they sent you material that was already recorded?

Some bands created new songs and recorded them , others sent me outtakes from their latest releases.There were no rules for me. I just wanted to present the bands as they would present themselves.

There's a pretty good stuff to find, but some of my personal faves are Liquid Visions, Arvid Noir, Stonedudes or Drive By Shooting. Which songs do you prefer?

That's hard to say, I like each track.  Some specials are: SULA BASSANA 'cause it has its own deep funny meaning. You know, mourning kids that like to have that chocolate flash!! and they get non and this seems to be the "end of the world"?! I like KIND very much, its hard and heavy and slow, its doom. I like THE OCEAN because its brutal. I like DRIVE BY SHOOTING , too, that's real lofi, fast and with that fuck of attitude. I like ELECTRIC LIZARD, its groovy rock and you know, they just splitted up and so the song on the Berliner Ring will be their last release. And of course I like SAMAVAYO. It's the latest and newest stuff we recorded; Finally, there are lots of exclusive songs on this sampler.

You've celebrated the release of the cd with a party at September, 23rd. Have you invited all of the fourteen featured bands or how can one imagine this event? Please, tell us more about it!

Yeah, you're right, we invited all 14 bands to play 2 songs: the one from the sampler and another one. Finally, 12 bands played. It was a really nice and diversified evening with lots of people and fun you can soonly read about it on the Berliner Ring webpage (http://berlinerring.setalightrecords.com)

I think that the compilation shows how vital the guitar-oriented scene in Berlin still is. What's your point of view?

Thats right! 1000s of bands are making rock, it's very various.

How is the current situation in Berlin for bands? Are there still enough clubs, who are interested in heavy and/or psychedelic rock or is everything contaminated by brainless mainstream techno/hip hop shit?

No, there are still a lot of clubs like WILD AT HEART, KNAACK, MAGNET, ROSIS, MAD N CRAZY, MUDD CLUB, SCHOKOLADEN. It's mostly in smaller clubs where rock concerts take place. The point is that people are filled up with entertainment. I mean, you have about 200 concerts in only one week whereof about 80 rock concerts and maybe 20 others by bands, incl. Beatsteacks or Monster Magnet play the same day you make a concert. So its damn difficult to get some people coming to your show. That's why we like to play gigs elsewhere in Germany, because people outside of Berlin are much more thankful for our music.

Please, tell us abit about your musical background? Have you been involved in any scenes, or with which kind of music do you grew up, and what were your strongest musical influences?

I grew up with country music, Johnny Cash was my first LP. Later I listened to Nirvana than rugher Berlin Punkrock , then for a very long time I listened to Jimmy Hendrix, The Doors,Led Zeppelin , Pink Floyd, Deep Purple and of course to The Beatles, until Marco gave me Kyuss and I came to Stonerrock. I loved that sound from the beginning on. It's like Jimmy's riffs but much heavyer. Now I'm listening to nearly any kind of music: electronic, ambient sounds, of course rock, metal, punk, psychedelic actually it's the new Hidden Hand LP.

I started playing the guitar with 16 and I wanted to play in a band very soon. I wrote texts and after 1 ½ year I found some people to make music. But as I always was kind of an outsider, making my own stuff, it was the same with the music at the first time. We had some bands at school, but they had a different style and they were more experienced and toffy nosed in course of that. So I never was in a special music scene, until I gave our first Samavayo 4 track demo to Timo from beap.de… That's how we got involved and grew into this scene. We help each other, splitting up music bizz. Everybody takes his part in there and so we're making our own scene.

What do you think about Berlin? Do you like to live there?

That's a difficult question.  Berlin is an always vibrating Shitzoo. Never silence, thousands of thoughts and dreams swirrling around your head even when you're sleeping. Of course, in a way I'm proud of beeing an original Berliner, having the opportunity to go to parties, concerts, cinema, theatre, parks whenever I want… having this large cultural spectrum to live. You can have your own style and nearly nobody cares about , but if you like, you always have the opportunity to reach people. There is this huge potential in Berlin and it's still growing and we can be a part of this process. That's cool.  Due to this chances and opportunities, I'm always happy to get out of Berlin, to smell fresh air , to see the nature, to see much more than only 100 meters until my eyes are catched by the next house wall. I like seeing a starry sky with more than only 30 stars and I like total darkness at night.  It's nearly impossible to earn money as a musician in Berlin and other "surviving-jobs" are hard to get, because thousands of people applying for the same job. Another point is the lost of humanity, the unnatural living style, those stupid problems. I hate seeing all this people e.g. in the morning train getting carried to their work with ugly faces, hating their work. I hate to smell thousands of odours: sweat, fresh showered people , this mixture of thousands of perfumes. I hate seeing their dead eyes. Zombies... So, living in Berlin is like: yes and no. In, Out, On, Off, runtime error.

What can we expect from setAlight Records in the future? Please, give us an insight in your further plans!

Following our philosophy: Creating, making, producing and releasing music, keeping our spontanity and energy, surviving maybe one day creating an art community outside in nature. There is nothing fixed. We're open-minded… maybe there will be a new Ring, maybe with bands from all over Germany. Bands can apply for that under andreas[at]setalightrecords.com.

Thanks a lot for your answers. If there's anything you like to add feel free!

Yeah, Thanks to all freaks supporting and helping us with the Ring, Thank you Klaus for making this interview possible and you for reading it.Support bands you like, be modest and act consciously.Please check out our websites and maybe listen to the sampler.