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Label Insight: Radikon

Photo credit: Daniel Heitmueller

Radikon is the term for ‘roots’ in Esperanto, an international language that sought to bring people together. We share this vision, using art and music in lieu of language. Radikon is a group of like-minded artists that came together to release records that are more than music, each with its own individual soul and lifeblood. Producer and painter work closely together at Radikon to craft genuine, heartfelt art.

The Berlin-based imprint was founded in the autumn of 2018 by Jonas Saalbach and Guzy, who embarked on a journey with their close friends Budakid, Dahu, Foreign Guest, Tony Casanova, and Yubik. Effortless grooves, organic synthesis, haunting melodies, and the masterful subtleties of Simon Kneip’s artworks drive the captivating atmospheres at Radikon.

Electronic Groove: Hi, Jonas & Guzy! How are you today? What a year it’s been, right? Where did you guys spend most of it? How did you handle the lockdown and the whole pandemic situation?

David Guzy from Radikon: Hey, guys, thanks for taking the time. We are actually feeling fine, knowing we spent most of the time with label work. Since clubs were closed we have been focusing on new goals for our project. Just spending time together is also very important for us. Our studios are in the same building in the historical Funkhaus complex in Berlin and next to us are the studios of our Radikon friends Dahu, SKALA, and Foreign Guest. It’s a pretty inspiring and beautiful community feeling in this place.

Electronic Groove: What’s the origin story behind Radikon? How did it all begin? What does Radikon mean to you?

Jonas Saalbach from Radikon: Radikon means everything to us! It has become an extremely important part of our everyday life. With the first coffee in the morning, we update ourselves on ideas and what needs to be done next. I’ve had the idea to create a platform for me, friends, and like-minded artists for a long time now and in David I found the perfect partner for it. Our relationship is very respectful and above all, there is always something to laugh about at work.

Listen to Radikon’s special mix by Jonas Saalbach & Guzy

Electronic Groove: How would you define the sound that comes from Radikon? Do you feel that your vision for it has evolved over the years?

Guzy from Radikon: We are super satisfied with what we’ve done so far. We always try to evolve the idea that we had from the beginning. At the same time, we still stick to the sound that we came up with from the start. If you want to put it into words it has a groove-based mystical vibe that transports a lot of emotions. Most of our tracks are peak-time orientated with a touch of cinematic and industrial sounds. To get a good feeling for our definition of sound, Jonas and I have put a mix together that includes tracks released on Radikon in the last two years. Just listen to this continuous mix on Spotify or Apple Music and get a feeling yourself.

Electronic Groove: Do you guys feel like a label must mutate over the years as the scene does in order to stay relevant?

Jonas Saalbach from Radikon: If you mean that a label should musically adapt to the scene – no. I think you should stay true to your style and try to create something unique and sometimes unexpected. But a certain influence of the current trends is normal and I think it is exciting to observe the scene and look at its changes.

“Most of our tracks are peak-time orientated with a touch of cinematic and industrial sounds”

Electronic Groove: Did the pandemic change the course you had planned out for the year as far as releases go? Will it affect the way you plan things out in the future?

Jonas Saalbach & David Guzy: Not that much actually. In the first weeks of the pandemic, we talked a lot about what will happen and what we should do. We decided to stay on our path, and we think we did nothing wrong in doing so. Also, we hadn’t any label parties planned yet that would have been canceled so the only thing we had to consider was postponing the releases, which we didn’t do at the end. But we are very much looking forward to when the pandemic is finally under control and we are able to host our first Radikon label nights.

Electronic Groove: Were you ever inspired by other labels or artists when setting up Radikon? What did you want to ‘emulate’ from them?

Jonas Saalbach from Radikon: Of course, we did our research to see how other labels work. We figured out what we like and what doesn’t work for us. But we think it is very important not to be influenced too much in order to create your own atmosphere around your label.

Electronic Groove: What is the creative process like for you when selecting a new track or EP for the label? Do you have some sort of blueprint? What about the artist? Do you look for something in particular image-wise?

Guzy from Radikon: If you take a look at our back catalog, you can see we support a lot of new artists whose image is not 100% settled yet. It’s mostly all about the sound and the feeling, the emotions that are created when we listen to demos. The personal connection to the artist is also important to us. Radikon should feel like a family that grows over time. We mainly work with our artist roster but there is always a chance to become part of Radikon. There is no blueprint but being friendly, very motivated, and having a vision definitely helps.

Electronic Groove: Do you guys have any recommendations for anyone looking to start their own label?

Guzy from Radikon: I think being patient is the key. Take your time and don’t make important decisions in a hurry.

Jonas Saalbach from Radikon: I agree. Taking enough time and constant work are the keys in my opinion. Building a label is a creative job but also be aware that this is also a business and comes with a lot of paperwork. We spend at least 2-3 full days a week working through everything and if you still want to produce and maybe have another job, that can be a lot. But when you work with passion, you really enjoy every single step of the way.

“Radikon should feel like a family that grows over time”

Electronic Groove: Which one has been your favorite Radikon release this year? Why?

Guzy from Radikon: This year has just started, in 2020 there was so much good stuff going on. I think ‘Reto III’ is what I’m most proud of. It really represents the diversity that Radikon has to offer.

Jonas Saalbach from Radikon: I’m really happy with all the releases, but if I had to choose exactly one song it would be: ALMA (GER)’s ‘Fear Of Opacity’. The song triggered a lot of emotions when I heard it for the first time.

Electronic Groove: What can we expect from Radikon for 2021?

Guzy from Radikon: A new website will be launching soon that includes exclusive content and a brand new online shop. We are currently working intensively on a small collection ourselves. At the same time, we are also working with some Berlin fashion brands to put out unique collaborations. In the field of music, you can expect some new faces and well-known names from the scene as well as new eps from our inner circle such as Dahu, Yubik, Baime, or Arude. We also have our first release on vinyl. It is a remix EP of the already released album ‘The Condition’ by the Danish electronica duo Diamond Mouth. This is a really exciting project!

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