Cesare Vs Disorder doesn’t want any confusion about the myth or message of his Mean Records. “I like to consider Mean as an art platform, not just a dance label. It’s not the usual peak time house or techno music. I don't sign tunes because they are bombs or will sell a lot.”
Digging deeper into his pockets, the Italian born/Berlin bound tunesmith is all about giving music heads a package that not only you can listen to but also watch, discover and collect.Together with False Manners he produces videos for each of his releases, whilst cooking up a storm in the studio with future projects lined up alongside visionaries Inxec, Konrad Black and Tolga Fidan, as well as the Disorder/Rudolf and Disorder/Onirik sessions and his long-awaited debut album planned for the end of 2011.
Ahead of our Room Three tribute to five years of Mean Records next Saturday, we took the time to chat to Cesare on a deeper level about the label, its new faces and its musical development over the coming years. On the audio tip, he’s sent our pulses racing with an elegant, trippy mix twisting tracks between Mean and Serialism with a lot of un-released material from Dumb unit, Vakant, Harry Klein, Konrad black, Miss jools, Anthony Collins, Inxec and a whole lot more...
Starting from the beginning, what drove you to start Mean Records?
The idea came in 2005; I was fully immersed in the London after-hours scene, playing every weekend alongside my partner in crime Alejandro Ross (Rudolf) at local east London clubs. Our sound was different from the main hype at the time. We were experimenting much more, taking more risks on the dancefloor, creating avant-garde mind journeys, getting inspired by labels like Perlon, Contexterrior, Vakant, Playhouse, Spectral, Dumb Unit, Cadenza, Musik Krause, that at that time weren't on everybody’s lips in the Uk capital, where the Electro House, Breakbeat and trendy sounds were more common.
I was (and still am) crazy for artists like Craig Richards, Ricardo, Zip, Luciano, Matthew Dear, Jay Haze, Quenum, Cassy, Robag Wruhme and after years of studying and working, I decided it was the right moment to release some of my work (followed by Rudolf's and eventually other talented close friends like Ollie aka Canary Fontaine), but I wasn't confident enough to send my music to those labels and Mean was born. Without a real goal, without an urge to satisfy a specific industry…
How does it work running the label alongside its sister Serialism Records. Describe your working week & what projects you’re currently working between?
It is actually pretty difficult to combine travelling during the weekends, the nightlife in clubs around the world and the office work that is behind a label, even more when dealing with two labels, that have a different sound and therefore need a totally different kind of artistic direction, marketing, promotion, production and events. Fortunately the main part of management and organization is in the hands of my partner Federico (Onirik). I find myself working more on the A&R side and I guess I’m the one who brings contacts together throughout the network I've created in the last few years of globetrotting. I'm still taking part in the organisational and planning side of the entire project though.
I also work very closely with our visual department that is False Manners (Fernanda Mattos and Federica Marchese) that I consider extremely important in the entire process. I’ve studied fine arts and design and always connected the music to visual arts with the aim to create a package that isn’t only something you listen to in a club, but also something you want to watch, discover, collect. Together with False Manners we produce videos for each release, putting a lot of effort in cover artwork and artist’s image.
Alongside the work for the labels comes my work in the studio. At the moment I’m cooking a few solo EPs and some very strong material with Inxec, Konrad Black, Jeremy P. Caulfield, Tolga Fidan, Sierra Sam, a couple of EPs with Mikael Stavostrand, some edits as Cez vs Ray (with Rainer from our crew), some Disorder/Rudolf and Disorder/Onirik sessions and finally a project I’ve started long time ago with Cesar Merveille that will see the sunlight at some point.
I’ve also been trying to finish my debut album for a while. It’s been ongoing for the past 2 years and if everything goes as planned it will be ready by the end of 2011.
What is Mean Records music policy and how does that fit into the UK’s burgeoning house & techno scene today?
I like to consider Mean as an art platform, not just a dance label. It’s not the usual peak time house or techno music. I don't sign tunes because they are bombs or will sell a lot. I invested a lot to follow this way of thinking but I really need to see a soulful and unique feeling in the sound I want to press on a vinyl and put my effort and passion on. UK is a place where hypes are born and then spread worldwide, where music makes history. I see it as a good market, followers wise, where you can bring some weirdness and being welcomed. Maybe not the best place to sell very refined/deep or difficult sound (at the moment) but definitely a place to cherish.
Let's go back for a moment to the 90's…London and Bristol were the capitals of the new sound: Warp, Ninja Tune, XL, Mowax, Novamute and many more were creating a totally different vibe, a sound that was later welcomed worldwide and actually made its debut in the mainstream scene. Trip Hop, Leftfield, Drum'n'bass, Electronica...music wasn't just a commodity but a life style and the UK was ready to take it all. It’s like with Dubstep in recent years. London always had and still has an edge that you won’t find anywhere else.
How have artists like Kate Simko, Inxec, Sweet n Candy, Fabrizio Maurizi and Akiko Kiyama got involved with the label? Are these the kind of artists that you are inspired by & why?
They are definitely some of the artists that inspire us, sure. They are all good friends, and very talented musicians. That's how my relationship with most of the artists that are or will be on the label starts basically. But yes, of course, I’m very intrigued by their music. Kate, Chris, Rico, Fabrizio, Akiko, they all have that something that make them special and distinguish them from the mass.
How do you see the label developing in the coming years, and what direction are you moving in musically?
We will keep releasing weird, trippy, twisted electronic funk and unique music alongside great videos and concepts. Whether being House, Techno, Trip Hop or Electronica we have some addictions to the roster that are pretty unusual for a dance label. For instance, we just signed Anja Printcez and the Amateurs who are a band from London that makes rock/punk tunes one day and super trippy electronica another day (of course we will release their deeper side) or D.O.T.S (DoubtingThomas and Valentina) that are making smooth jazzy and trip hop beats on the steps of Morcheeba or Moloko. From Karaoke to Stardom, who you might connect to Minimal techno, will release beautiful Techno infused Dubstep.
Describe the vibe of the Mean Records takeover next Saturday? Can you tell us a bit about the other artists selected to play for the night & what will they be bringing to the table?
I’m excited because I've played in room1 and a couple of times in room 2, but never in room 3, even though having some of my best clubbing moments there.
As for the artists playing…Akiko will showcase her unique signature: minimalistic but at the same time so rich, twisted in her melodies and grooves, complex and hypnotic. Rudolf’s sound is very underground, jazzy and deep techno with his specials elegance. He’s not the kind of guy that drops one dancefloor filler mindlessly after another but will always try instead to construct a story of refined and unpredictable grooves. Finally Onirik will bring his groove ridden dubby and trippy sound and, as his moniker suggests, dreamy. Expect some interesting things from him in the years to come.
You’re going b2b with fellow long time friend, Rudolf. Describe your relationship behind the decks & who are some of the best b2b sets you’ve witnessed?
Rudolf is a great DJ and it’s always fun to create a journey with him. We know each other very well (more than 10 years) and the flow is very natural but still complex and built up with passion. We played together in many countries and situations, from raves to clubs, from bars to festivals. I'm really looking forward to it.
Best b2b I’ve witnessed, well, difficult to say. Tyrant in room 1 is a classic of history of djing, very inspiring, always. Ricardo/Zip is another combination I keep enjoying after many years. More recently I would say the Romanians from [A:rpia:r] together are definitely something and also the Visionquest boys are very strong when they tag team.
You’ve just released the Aether EP on Vakant. Can you tell us about the release & give us a behind the scenes of how the tracks came together- were there any challenges along the way?
The EP is a mix of House Disco/Indie influenced psychedelic sounds, quite raw compared to my usual production style, quite musical and melodic, far from the Minimal soul that my followers would expect from me. It’s a product of solo jam sessions where I've recorded guitar, live bass, rhodes, synths and groove boxes all together, without a real goal but just going with the flow and enjoying the moment. Those sessions became slowly tunes after some editing and quite a lot of thinking (as I still didn't have other music of mine to compare it with. You’re asking me something right here, it was a challenge!) How it actually got on Vakant was a lucky moment for me: I was in the studio with Tolga Fidan and during a break from our session I showed him some tunes I still hadn't sent to any other label. After listening to a bunch of them he just told me: "Send it right now to Vakant!”…and I did.
What other things are you & the Mean Records crew working on that we should be looking out for in 2011?
Next releases include long time friends Easy Changes from Russia, an EP by Benjamin Fehr, one by Laps (Digitaline) who will be actually playing in room 1 on the same night of our bday at Fabric, then an EP by Russian new talent Anushka (with a rmx by Mikael Stavostrand and Onirik and a tune in collaboration with Walker Barnard), a V/A EP split in two parts for the anniversary of the label that will include tunes by From Karaoke to Stardom, Anja Printcez & the Amateurs, Rudolf, myself, Akiko Kiyama, Laps, another ep by Rainer, probably an album by D.O.T.S in starting of 2012 with a splendid rmx by Tolga Fidan, then EPs by Rudolf and myself at some point. We are very busy until spring 2012 basically.
Who’s your favourite mean character from the big screen?
Just off the back of my head…Chuck from Child's play…that scary little bastard!