INTERVIEW ANT-ZEN records (Stefan)

ANT-ZEN (Stefan), 17.08.2001, Lappersdorf, Germany

1. What are the orientations of Ant-Zen (musical preferences, goals...) and how did this all started?

I like electronic music since the early 80' and during the years everything went into this more experimental genre. In the mid 80' I worked as photographer for a local newspaper and explored the black/white photography (photographing, darkroom). Besides this, in the late 80' djing and concert-organising became more and more important for me - nearly every weekend I had some dj-gigs in clubs in regensburg & munich. Together with a friend of mine, Alex Pickar who did a music mailorder-service we set up a lot of festivals during the years '89 - '93.

More personally: I'm an engineer for electronics and I do not like fish - even when some friends from belgium want to change my mind. Some favourite interests: japanese culture, layout & design, travelling, photography, nutella (hi John!), single malt whiskey, swedish cookies.

In the early 90' my friend Alex Pickar managed an independent mail order service in munich with special contacts to the japanese noise scene. Besides our activities to organise concerts we were quite active in the experimental tape scene and in touch with several musicians who had no chance publishing their music. We both were very interested into industrial, noise ambient and electronic music.

At this time, most of the labels refused releasing vinyl - only cd-releases. Vinyl became a little bit unfashionable. well, the time had come and alex and me planned our own label. In early 1993 ant-zen was formed by Alex pickar and myself. We started with several tapes like also the very first production: reynir & tilarids, a double tape compilation in a videobox and original photo-covers. We both compiled that release, alex managed the distribution and I created the artwork for. We had never awaited that success and that positive feedback - so we decided going on with our releases. The first act was done.

In late '94 alex began working less for ANT-ZEN, because he was more interested in his own musical projects and he also worked for several human rights organisations...and went to india for a while and now he's back in germany. But he's not interested anymore in the music business anymore.

Since some years my wife and me had to lead the label. In '97 we started a new department, called hymen records. HYMEN stands for a little bit more technoid & ambient material, also with influences of harshness, drum'n bass or electronica. of course there are common thoughts between HYMEN and ANT-ZEN, but it was necessary to divide, as hymen is ranging into another direction.

2. ANT-ZEN is not only a record label but also a distributor. Which labels do you distribute, in which countries?

Basically we're a label and we have some release from other label in stock. Labels from friends of ours or where we're involved with. In the future there will be some few more

3. Does Industrial music, like a lot of people seems to believe, is a bad-selling STYLE?

For some people industrial music is no music. So the bad selling style is yes and no. It depends how you compare it. We personally are very satisfied with our releases & bands as well as all the feedback from the audience.

4. What about visual arts?

It was and is our interest publishing the releases we are interested in. We defined a release as an audio and visual concept. There are enough others who do not care (or too less) on the visual aspect. In the beginning the name ant-zen came from anti-zensur - the german word for anti-censorship, and we still do not censor. Also, we wanted to have a show our interest in japanese culture and the ant is still one of favourite insects. Even today computer network structures are based on the organisation of an anthill - so take care.

When we started with the label we had no money to pay a designer to set up any cover-artwork and as I was the only one with experiences of photography and because of my job with the newspaper I started working of designs and I really did enjoy it a lot. As much as I did explore much more myself and I did join some seminary to get some more info.

Once I'm working on a project I collect all material which I have in mind for it - in terms of covers of music releases there is additional input from the music or the mood of the music of the artist as well as ideas, fragments, imagery. The only thing I do is transferring everything to one visual concept, which often includes not only a booklet for a release - also everything around it: different prints like cover, postcards, stickers. I lost my heart-blood in the labels ANT-ZEN and HYMEN records and so the artwork I do for the labels basically reflect my very personal taste - in it's full variety and in it's limitations and this is meant for the music as well as for the artworks. We want the music with it's intention and then the artwork as a visual aspect to point the listener into the mood of the music.. And here it's less a question how it will be done, but it will be done in a certain way.

For example more obvious and more confronting or even in a confusing way. The graphics should be done well done for each release and should fit into the concept of the release.. It's also art like the music, so it shall be treated like it and we spend a little bit more time and ambitions to create it. The final release must satisfy our artists and us in the same way...

5. From your point of view of international record label & distributor, what is the position of Belgium on the industrial scene?

We like Belgium quite a lot. We have several friends & artists in belgium, which we really enjoy to meet. And you guys have truely the best kip-curry there. We also have a nice fan crowd over there joined several parties. Nice ones.

6. Perspectives, next orientations?

We just prepare a spoken words album of David Thrussell (aka Black Lung) which is entitled 'the voice of reason' and it includes the obscurest thoughts by our australian friend. They also just finished a video-track for this release, which will be available on this cd as well. These texts and the interpretation opens the sphere of thinking in quite unusual dimensions.

For the Maschinenfest 2001 in Aachen (de), we finally release the long awaited album of Vromb. half of the recording is already finished, and I only can say that it's once again another evolution for this artist - the atmospheres are getting much more intense. There will be also a boxset for this release - a really heavy one again, with a lot of small details.

Axiome - the collaboration of Olivier Moreau (Imminent, Ambre) and C-drik (Ammo, Ambre) - will finish their 2nd album, which is more extreme / minimal in a certain way.

We also welcome a new band from sweden, which is called "Azure Skies" (btw. We did release one track of Aazure Skies on our compilation "Xerosma" act11 a while ago). There was a collaboration of Converter, Asche and Morgenstern which is already available now at the concerts in this summer - this cd will be also available in shops anywhere in late august.

Resources about ANT-ZEN:
Wreck this mess article (02/1999, fr)