Meet The Label Interview: Tonzonen Records (Psychedelic Rock, Space Rock, Post Rock & Ambient)

Meet The Label is our new blog interview series presenting indie record labels and their records all over the world.
Do you have a label you want to see here? Then send a few words about it to diana@vinyloftheday.com. The first label in our series is Tonzonen Records, a German-based indie label which releases Psychedelic Rock, Space Rock, Post Rock and Ambient albums from bands all over the world.

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What makes the label stand out – besides the intriguing selection of bands – is the high quality every release offers: from the upscale packaging to the sublime sound quality of the vinyl, you can feel the love and attention to the detail which the label puts into every release. We have talked to the founder of the label, Dirk Raupach, to get to know Tonzonen Records more.

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Tell us a little bit about your label:
Since when does Tonzonen Record exist? What sparked the idea to found the label?

I founded Tonzonen Records in 2012, so the label is five years young.
Basically, my whole life has revolved around music. In 2012, I founded the band Sounds Of New Soma with my good friend Alex Djelassi. We had the idea to release an album autonomously, which led to the founding of Tonzonen as a label and mailorder.

How did being a musician yourself influence your plan of founding a label?
Next to the above mentioned initial spark with Sounds Of New Soma, I was also intrigued by the idea of releasing compelling music off the beaten track, far from mainstream and distributing it via mailorder. I was always interested in musical outskirts and was especially attracted to the re-discovered Psychedelic Scene, in which I already thrived in the 90’s.

Is the label specialised in certain genres?
The large majority of our releases are bands from the Psychedelic, Space Rock, Neo-Krautrock and Post Rock genres. But this is not fixed, I release everything that I personally like – I am a fan of each band I release. With Autumn Of Pækward – and recently Björn Gögge – we also have two Modern Classical/ Ambient representatives in the catalogue.

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Since 2017 is now almost coming to an end – from your point of view, what were the highlights for the label?
This is hard to answer. I don’t want to highlight just one album specifically. As I mentioned before, I am a fan of each band we release and enjoy listening to all their albums again and again. Be it 70’s Prog sound like Karakorum – an extremely talented young band – offers, or Space and Post Rock like Kalamata and Nazca Space Fox, the Neo-Krautrock of Knall or the Oriental Space Rock sound of Gombira… each album has it own individual charm and perfect moment to listen to it. Just as an example, I really dig the sound of the Volvopenta album: the intense, almost claustrophobic sound in the form of end 80’s style may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but for me, it’s one of the special gems of 2017. I am also very happy with the band project I did with Alex Djelassi. Our new album turned out pretty damn well, not only in my view. And let’s not forget that three real gems will be released at the end of the year with the new albums of The Spacelords, Vespero and Les Lekin. All three bands are highly regarded in the scene.

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When I think of all the different bands from all over the world which your label releases, for example Cholo Visceral (a Prog band from Lima, Peru) – How is the contact with the musicians established? Do they apply for a release or do you discover them yourself?
Thanks to the digital age, this is incredibly easy. We get several applications of bands every week, usually via mail. Every once in a while I stumble over a band which I find interesting myself, be it via Facebook or via Bandcamp, which is always a great source for discovering terrific bands. Twice a good friend and helping hand at Tonzonen, Christian Trampnau, brought my attention to a band we have released. Karakorum for example, was a band he discovered via YouTube.

The Tonzonen releases offer top-notch quality with every release concerning sound and packaging: what are your own demands concerning a release? Which is the most important part for you when you release an album?
Being a small Independent Label, the overall quality of the product is incredibly important to me. All albums are exclusively made in Germany. It’s important that every album receives a mastering which is exclusively made for vinyl. If the band doesn’t have a sound engineer on their own, I usually hire Eroc (of the Krautrock legend Grobschnitt) to conduct the mastering. He is an expert in this field.

180-gram pressings are the standard at Tonzonen, as well as gatefold covers now for some time past. We also like to add an inlay to the release. The customer is supposed to get a high-quality vinyl and packaging for the money he spends. The end product should be enjoyable on all levels, sound-wise as well as haptic-wise. It is also really important to me that the musicians can fully identify themselves with the end product. This means I am working closely together with the bands during the release process – in the end, it’s their music and work that is released.

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Since Tonzonen is an independent label: do you prefer smaller and more selected ways of distribution?
Since a few months now I am working together with a bigger distributor from Germany. This results in making all releases available world wide, not only in small, specialized record stores, but also in big chain stores and shops. I am aware of the fact that the oppinions on this are very diverse, but I want the promote the good quality and outstanding music further and not only make it available to a very small group. I want to gain more customers, not only for Tonzonen releases, but for all the small labels in the scence which deliver astonishing releases. Therefore I am investing a lot of work into promoting the label.

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Can you give us a small outlook into the Tonzonen Records releases that are coming up in 2018?
We have already scheduled 2018 completely. In January the English band Psychic Lemon will release their second album, it will be the first one that they release on Tonzonen Records. In February we will release the luscious Retro Rock album of The Shadow Lizzards, a band from Nuremberg. Afterwards, we have the releases of bands like Automatism, a Swedish band consisting of members of Kungens Män and New Rose, new albums of Sounds Of New Soma and Autumn Of Pækward as well as the debut of the Psych Post Rock group Pavallion in the pipeline. I am also currently in negotiations with three bands, from which two already have released sucessfull albums. But I can’t spill the beans on this yet – so have to keep you in suspense.

Part II of the Tonzonen “Meet The Label” series will introduce some of the releases of the Tonzonen catalogue, including a giveaway with the chance of winning one of their 2017 releases. Stay tuned!

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