An interview with Johannes Albert

Johannes Albert is a fun-loving Franconia-born Berliner, and it seems fair to say thats exactly how you would describe his label and the music it produces. Having bounded about Germany under the alias VinylGroover, Albert eventually found his way to the capital where he continued his trade as a disk-jockey and producer with tracks such as “People Say” getting attention from Groove Magazine and local DJs alike.

He has since set up his own label, Frank Music, that incorporates Albert’s “No boogie, no party” mantra, and has acted as a platform for artists such as Session Victim and MOON.

So to coincide with our First Play of Philip Lauer‘s Lohret De Main” on Frank Music, we thought we’d let the label’s founding father set the scene:

From what we read it sounds as though you were obsessed with house music from a very early age, when you were just 14, did you know that this love would develop into a career, were you worried that doing what you love might not pay the bills?

Well I am still obsessed with house music to this very day. I hardly believe that this thang is still in my heart after such a long time but it’s just the best dance music ever made and there is still so much freshness in today’s music, so this one’s gonna stick for some decades to come … well there was never a plan to make it career or something. Even today it only pays a part of my  bills which is perfectly fine. For me music is still something I feel and I don’t wanna catch the business aspect of it too much. So no I was never worried to make it a career. Maybe one day but you never know. When I get asked to DJ I still feel like this 14 year old crazy kid. It’s supposed to be fun and games. And not some lame job you have to do. So as weird as it sounds, my daily job gives me the freedom I need for music on the weekends. No pressure to release records, no pressure to go out each and every weekend to p(l)ay the bills. No need to think about it too much.

You describe your early DJ career, as ‘small-town-biz’ but then describe your life in Berlin as ‘small-town-biz in a greater city’. Does this mean that moving to the capital was a smooth process, or was initially tough to establish yourself with so many other people doing the same?

Berlin made me start to think bigger in some ways. Before I didn’t even know how to start a record label and stuff. All of a sudden I met the guys who actually made the music I played for so many years. It was a bit tough for sure at the beginning but I got lucky since my first record came out on a Berlin based label just before I got there. Played for the label a couple of times and that’s how I got started. Plus some of my mates moved here before. It didn’t all happen in a heartbeat, you know, it’s probably as they say good things may take a while. word is spreading after all. Actually the small town biz I was talking about is more like most music people live close, you meet in the street, in the club or recordshop or whatsoever. So as big as the city might seem I still feel kind of a towny vibe sometime. Damn I love this place, I really do.

finished records

Your label, Frank Music, is about to enter its 5th year. Is there any advice you would give yourself when you first started in 2011?

Make sure your distribution pays off each and every month!

You’ve released tracks by Session Victim, Monosoul and Tilman. It seems to fair to say the label has a particular taste. How would you describe this taste?

Maybe something like a classic longdrink you really like. You have had all the ingredients before in different ways but this glass seems to have it all. You know, like a just perfect pimm’s no 1 or just a gin tonic. Not more but certainly not less either. Haha I don’t really know – I love classic house music, especially music with edges and rough corners but I still try to be open and curious for new music and new fields. I just like to release solid, good dance music that is not too obvious (can’t help it every now and then…) and comes from the heart obviously. Tempo or anything like rules don’t apply to me. I just have to feel it. We should get over rules anyways. So my kind of house is probably called ”ruleless house wit a twist”? We better cut this short: Lousy Dance Music!

There seems to be a very personal touch with Frank Music, is this an extension of your own ethos?

It most definitely is. It’s fair to say the label is 105,78 % myself. I just can’t take it too serious that’s why I write all these shitty release sheets, call my records “THE H.A.N.S. EP” or try to sell absolute non-sellers like “thee worst selling record ever. Tip” It’s just a fun thing. It seems one can get mad – especially these days – when just watching the news or reading the paper. Too much to think about, too much to watch, to do, to be, to like, to dislike, to blablabla. Music is always a good way out so I think it can be fun and I am just adding my 3 cents. In addition there is this term I’ve always liked … “to be frank”. Speaking frankly I consider myself as an honest person, hence the name. Also all the artists are friends of mine. It’s the only way I can do it, I need like some sort of personal connection. Be careful, no the esoteric stuff is coming… Take the latest two records. Tilman became such a great friend of mine it feels like his 12” is a physical proof of our friendship. Or the Moon project I do with Iron Curtis. He was part of first frank music record and he will probably be on the last one too. There is no such thing as music that comes out of a strong personal connection.

jap flyer

How is 2016 shaping up for you and the label?

Now I should say something like I have my Croatia open air hits ready for the summer but wait… I haven’t. There is a second anniversary record coming in march which I’m really thrilled about since it will offer tracks by Fred P, Session Victim, Tim Toh and Iron Curtis. These days we are also planning a tour which will see dates in all major cities within Germany. So I def look forward to take the label to the streets and meet all of you in small, dark and perfect clubs! Further down the road I hope I can continue to write and release half-interesting-records and play loads of mind-bending dj gigs. Oh not to forget I hope someone gets me to the UK in 2016, since it is about time, right? I heard they call places “royal albert hall” so I’m still wondering why I never played over there.

So we’re premiering one of you artists; Lauer, how would you describe his sound, and how does he fit into the Frank Music family?

Phillip Lauer is some sort of melody titan. He’s from Frank-Furt which explains why I need him so badly on the label. All jokes aside – he is a guy that has a good humour if not the best and I love his music even more than his attitude. He can do 13 remixes a week and still sound fresh as ever. The other day he described his track as “einmal acid salat bitteschoen”. Sums it up pretty much.

Would you care to introduce this track?

Ladies and gents, welcome to Lauer’s world. We enter “Lohret De Main”. It’s a safe haven for all tings fun.