Michael Mayer
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Michael Mayer

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On top of that, Mayer oversees not only the label’s artists but also Kompakt’s distribution wing – home to over 50 record labels. Amazingly enough, he also manages to find time in the studio to produce his own music and remix the likes of Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode, Foals and Rufus Wainwright.

Likewise, with Total Confusion, Michael Mayer and partner in crime Tobias Thomas established one of the cities longest running club night.  Bringing with it is a unique formula for club culture that remains unrivaled and uncompromised the night in Koln features everything from the warm-up to the ecstatic peak. Total Confusion’s focus is on the dramaturgy and not only includes techno, house and ambient music, but also aspects of pop and even R&B. 

 “2013 was a pretty exhaustive year,” he says. “I’ve been celebrating that; I’ve also done some specifically dedicated releases as well as played some really cool gigs in a lot of great cities. So yes, things have been very busy, but we’ve received very good feedback.”

Not so trivially either, that little record store – opening back in 1993 – led to the creation of one of electronic music’s great labels that happens to be celebrating it’s 20th birthday in 2013 as well. “Yes,” as if to suggest he’d forgotten, Mayer takes great pride in the achievement. “It is amazing to think that we’ve been around for so long now,” he says. “Creating a compilation to commemorate that great moment is something I took great pride in,” he adds.

Indeed, the label is one for the purists, releasing everything on vinyl or CD. “Nothing has really changed there,” chimes Mayer with pride. “Sure, the pressing numbers have gone down a bit over the times, but when pressings come, it is a very special moment for me. It gives me a sensation of a new baby being born; if it’s a digital release, I don’t get this sensation,” he admits. “I can’t take it as seriously as a physical release. The label now has almost 500 releases and over that time, we’ve gained a lot of trust from record buyers who want to check out what were doing. As well as this, we are always doing a broad range of music and that has always been a way of defining us.”  

Musically too, while the label provides artists with suggestions about how to approach music if necessary, Mayer claims they are in the comfortable if not enviable position of not having to define themselves. “It is what it is,” he reflects nonchalantly, as he adds he isn’t a fan of tags or genres. “It’s music and I don’t like being specific about it. Artists like to act freely and take freedoms as much as they can. In my opinion, genres are keeping us from listening to music – at least this is my thinking.”

So with the little studio time he does have, Mayer still manages to do a remix or two but admits he can’t really focus on a full suite of releases right now. That said, he hopes that after his Australian tour can take some time off during February and March where he hopes to come up with something. “I’m definitely very keen to do something next year,” he says. Regardless, he admits being a DJ is his first love despite only finding the time to do it on weekends. “I do need to work all week in the office and on the label; it’s like my step child because I can’t find the time to do everything I’d like. I still get a lot of pleasure from being a DJ though. I guess you can’t have it all.”

BY RK

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