With their new label's first single out this week, check out our exclusive interview and mini-mix
Hold the front page - a new dance music record label has been launched!
Okay, so given that around 239* labels are set up every single day of the year (except Shrove Tuesday, when everyone's making pancakes), a new label isn't that big news in and of itself. But it becomes bigger news when the folks behind it are two well-established industry figures with long dance music CVs behind them - as is the case with brand new imprint DB Stereo.
In the red corner, and wearing the hat in our picture, we have Tim Healey. Emerging out of the psy-trance scene in the late 90s - often alongside Return To The Source promoter Mark Allen - under aliases such as Quirk and Goat Ranch 7, Healey would go on to dabble in a range of different styles, working with the likes of hard dance star Nick Sentience and progressive house fave Pete 'Slide' Martin (of Cass & Slide fame). It was with the latter that he formed successful mid-00s electrohouse outfit Coburn, before going on to set up Giant Pussy Records with Deekline in 2009.
In the blue corner, we have Tomcraft, or Thomas Brückner as it says on his passport. Another studio veteran who started out in the trance arena, he's undoubtedly best known to the general public as the man behind 2002 chart smash Loneliness, though industry types will perhaps more readily associate him with the Munich-based label he set up with Sebastian Bohnenberger and Erik May in 2003. Great Stuff Recordings would go on to be instrumental in the phenomenal rise of tech-house at the start of the current decade, while his own Craft Music label has put out music from the likes of Lützenkirchen, Wehbba and Ramon Tapia.
More recently, Tomcraft and Great Stuff parted ways and now, in 2017, he and Tim have set up DB Stereo, which makes its debut this week with Healey's near-eponymous Death By Stereo. So what, in these turbulent times for the dance music industry, made them do it? There was only one way to find out...
*This figure may not be strictly accurate
What made the two of you decide to launch a label now?
Tomcraft: "We are friends, music lovers and DJ buddies for a long time."
Tim: "Absolutely that. We've worked together on-and-off for over 10 years, so it was a case of, 'Why didn't we think of doing this years ago?'!"
How did you come to hook up in the first place?
Tomcraft: "I was in Milan airport and Tim wrote to me to ask if I would be interested in doing a label. The funny thing was, I had just been telling someone that I was really interested in starting a label again, after I finished with Great Stuff."
Tim: "I wanted to work with a consummate professional music head, and Tom was the obvious choice. I also wanted a vehicle for my new releases, including the Bennun & Healey project."
How would you describe the label's music policy?
Tomcraft: "So far it's very techno-orientated, but you never know what will happen - we are always aware of what's going on on dancefloors worldwide. But definitely no EDM - we like quality!"
Tim: "We are definitely mining a deep, peaktime club sound. But we've got a breaks remix from Deekline lined up, and a techno remix from Jhothi, as well as the Bennun & Healey material which taps into multiple genres. Anywhere where the bass is king!"
What are your plans in terms of frequency and format of releases?
Tomcraft: "We plan to release every four weeks on digital and of course, we've planning to release on vinyl too."
Tim: "Vinyl releases from DB Stereo will start early next year - there's a real resurgence, and I want to add our releases to my vinyl collection!"
Tim, while Tom's known for Great Stuff and Craft Music, you also ran Giant Pussy Records with Deekline. Any lessons learned from that experience that you bring with you to DB Stereo?
Tim: "Nick [Deekline] I and are still very good friends. I launched a restaurant in 2015, and at that time it seemed most sensible to let Nick run the show full-time, which he continues to do with aplomb. One of the great things that is different now, is the emergence of companies like Label Worx that offer cloud-based label management. It's far out how much time it leaves you to focus on the creative stuff, rather than the back-end of running a label."
Tim, you've worked with a bewildering array of collaborators under a bewildering array of aliases over the years. What is it you enjoy about working with other people, rather than on your own?
Tim: "I do write on my own from time to time, but I'm really happiest jamming with another studio producer - someone like Tom, or the sonic surgeon that is Colin Bennun, who also does our label mastering. I love mashing-up styles and vibes, and I find that getting a vibe going in the studio happens easiest when there are two of you."
Reverse question, Tom! You've mostly worked on your own - do you think Tim'll lure you into the studio with him for DB Stereo at some point?
Tomcraft: "I didn't always work on my own! I also love to work with studio partners, friends, artists, etc, because the result is always better. I love to work on ideas myself and the buddy always knows how to do it even better."
What else is going on with DB Stereo (or with either of you individually) right now that iDJ readers need to know about?
Tomcraft: "We'll have a lot of very nice releases in the future, and plan to get some even cooler remixes. After I was busy with my bar in Munich I'm back on track with the music and fully back in love again! So this is what you have to expect in the future: releases, remixes, DBS parties, movies, videos, world domination and of course lots of fun!"
Tim: "Some of the tunes we have lined up to release are just monsters, and the artists that are approaching us to work with us - like Nytron, from Brazil - are at the top of their game. So watch this space!" iDJ
Words: Russell Deeks
Tim Healey's Death By Stereo is out on DB Stereo on 21 July. Below, you can check out an exclusive mini-mix from the man himself.