Neubau might be the seventh district of Vienna, but it’s also the name of a record label. Launched by Heap and Simon Heidemann in 2015, it was the byproduct of a spontaneous, serendipitous discovery after Heidemann booked Alexander Arpeggio of Aufgang B for a party in 2015. Demos were sent and the concept was born, materialising in a 3-track EP and a motto of “Brutalism In Music” that the duo have really taken to heart with their label curation over the subsequent 2 years. Harsh and unforgiving acid-flecked constructions to industrial timbres and biting, angst-ridden EBM, Neubau 12″s have been filling the racks and bags of some of the most esteemed record stores and DJs respectively since the label’s inception.
Releases from Leo James, Karamika and Aufgang B emerged between 2015 and 2016, while the last few months have served up records from Sheila Fleurator, Bocksrucker and Mr. Ho, who happens to be linking up with Heap for a rare B2B at the first-ever If-Only party this weekend. Ahead of that event – which will also see OKO DJ join us in the Bar A Bar basement – we caught up with Heap to talk about the label.
How come you went with Neubau as the name for the label?
There is no in depth reason why we chose the name Neubau. It just felt natural as Simon and me both lived in the district of Neubau at the time we started the label. Plus it is easy to combine it with our love for certain architecture as it also translates to “new building”.
What inspired you to start it?
It only took a wild summer night in 2015 to come up with the idea to start our own label. Simon received those Demos from Aufgang B earlier and I was constantly playing them out and we were always really feeling it. So after some drinks we were certain about doing our own thing.
Is there a label/artist/movement that has informed your curation in any way?
Not really. It was always only about music we received that we were really into and felt that it was the right time to release it.
Neubau was launched as an outlet to release fresh and exciting music you had discovered. Is there anything you would have liked to have signed but for whatever reason it didn’t work out?
Luckily something like this never happened to us.
As the label continues to grow in stature, would you consider changing philosophy to release material from more established names?
We don’t really care about names. It’s all about the quality of the music, anyone can surprise us with their music, it doesn’t need a big name coming along with it.
So if a record came along from a bigger name that you loved and worked on the label, you wouldn’t be opposed to breaking away from the tradition of signing music from lesser-known artists?
No, if the music is good and it feels like it’s the right time to release it, we would definitely put it out.
You’re closing in on 2 years of running Neubau. Any difficulties encountered along the way or has it always been smooth sailing?
As we decided not to create a release schedule and only release stuff when it felt natural and the quality was matching our ideas, we were never facing any discrepancies.
“Brutalism In Music” is a great tagline but do you feel it could be restrictive moving forward?
It is all about the meaning of the term brutalism. Brutalism doesn’t have anything to do with brutality but derives from the French word for “raw”. It is definitely an aesthetic approach for the music we release, but would never limit us in terms of the musical output.
The brutal nature of Neubau releases is juxtaposed against Vienna’s grandiose and stately architecture. Is that something you have had in mind seeking out releases for the label?
When picking releases we solely take into account the musical aspects.
Reviews of Neubau releases often mention a perceived affinity for old-sounding music. How indebted would you say the label is to early experimental electronic music?
Nowadays it is hard to create something completely new or unheard. When it comes to contemporary electronic music I think you can always find parts of the past.
The name for Neubau sub-label Wiener Brut directly translates as ‘Viennese brood’. When did you decide you wanted an outlet dedicated to exclusively releasing music of Austrian origin?
It was when we found out about the amazing Poligam band. We were sure that there were similarly good undiscovered bands in Austria so we decided to start a platform for unearthed Austrian electronic music from the ’80s.
Are there any other Austrian bands in a similar sort of vein that people should be aware of?
You will be introduced to them via future Wiener Brut releases.
Between that any the Discus Throwers mix series ‘A Glimpse Of Vienna’, you appear very committed to championing Austrian music. Has that always been part of your agenda?
I think it is just natural that one occupies himself/herself with the musical past and present of his/her own country.
What makes the Vienna scene stand out in your opinion?
The concentration and cohesion of superb vinyl collectors and DJs plus the well deliberated impulse of young producers.
Any other Vienna-based labels or collectives you would recommend paying attention to?
If you are into techno music you should definitely check out Bare Hands.
Bocksrucker’s recent release is based on samples from Ken Russell’s controversial 1971 film, ‘The Devils’. Would you be keen to sign up more thematic music?
Would you say that art direction is an important part of your label curation?
It is important for us to create something harmonious. Art direction is a tool to reach this goal.
The label artwork to date has been produced by Lucas Hunter AKA Luca Lozano. What can you tell us about your relationship with him? How did you come to collaborate?
I met Lucas through Michael [Mr. Ho] who I have known for a long time already. Back when I was throwing parties with Michael and Paul [Walter Daniel], Lucas was taking care of our flyers. I always really liked his work so it was no hard decision for me to choose him for creating the Neubau look.
You’ve collaborated with Mr. Ho for releases on Lovefingers’ ESP Institute imprint, but while we’ve seen a solo Mr. Ho release on Neubau, we’re yet to seen any Heap productions. Is that something we can look forward to?
There will be something on Berceuse Heroique soon. Additionally I’m working on a remix at the moment.
You play B2B alongside Mr. Ho at our upcoming party in London. What can people expect in terms of selection?
We haven’t seen each other for a long time and each of us has probably bought quite a big bunch of new records, so it will definitely be exciting for us too to hear all that new stuff.
And finally, anything in the pipeline for 2018?
The second release on Wiener Brut plus number seven and eight of the Neubau catalogue are waiting to see the light of day.
Heap plays If-Only presents Mr. Ho B2B Heap & OKO DJ on December 2nd at Bar A Bar, London – buy tickets here.