Get to know: Pomelo Records - 20th Anniversary

Hailing from Vienna, Austria and sharing a common love for Detroit Techno and exotic fruit, Art Vega, Daniel Lodig and visual artist Dextro founded Pomelo in 1993. Then In 94’, Pomelo released their first record, the double album “Pomelo Compilation” which featured acts who played during some of the notorious Pomelo nights in Vienna, that had started one year before.

Today they are celebrating the 20th anniversary of Pomelo with this release entitled “20 yrs #1” which is the first of 2 EP´s with exclusive tracks by some of their original recording artists. We sat down with current label heads, Dan Lodig and Art Vega to talk about the releases, the parties, changing times and 20 yrs in the music business. Get to know: Pomelo Records.

The Interview

1) Thanks so much for chatting with us, please give us a brief bio about you and the history of Pomelo.

For the last 20 years Pomelo has been run by Dan Lodig and Art Vega. We met in Vienna in 1992 at the weekly Techno Club ‘Space Jungle’ where Dan was the resident DJ and decided to organize a monthly Party of our own. Soon our club night became pretty big and an important part of the then evolving techno scene in Vienna, so we thought it would be a nice thing to release a compilation featuring music from artists and friends of our scene.

What first was thought of as a one-off release, soon transformed into a label, as the compilation had sold well and people continued giving us good demo tapes, so in continuation we released maxis by artists like Richard Bartz, Gerhard Potuznik, DJ Elin, Christopher Just and others asking them to use pseudonyms.

This was the time of the second wave of techno, there were small scenes evolving in many European cities but all of them were interconnected, so our label was immediately well known throughout Europe and at the time we would regularly do label nights in other countries.

By 1998, Art left Vienna, and Dan left Vienna in 2000 and he currently resides in Mallorca, Spain.

Leaving Vienna meant no longer being part of any scene and the 2 of us would now no longer live in the same city either. In consequence the label became a very private affair, defining and enduring our friendship. We would first send us demos on CD, later via internet and discuss them over the telephone. The label helped us to stay in touch although being thousands of miles away. The release frequency went down to about 1 per year.

By 2008 we had both returned to Europe and our releases became more frequent again, now with a more international roster of artists including Alex Cortex, Atom TM, Stingray, Tin Man, Brendon Moeller and others.

2) What is the imprint’s direction, mission, and overall goal?

From when we started the label it was clear to us that we wanted to do it for fun, we had no intention to ever depend on it for a living and see it as a business, so we would not to need to compromise, having to think about sales figures, trends etc.

Our idea is to release quality dance music that to us is special and timeless and to release it at our own pace, the artists in general being friends, people to whom we have a personal relation. The style can probably be described as techno in its broadest sense, rather old- than new school and usually with some experimental touch to it.

3) Tell us about the latest release compilation “20yrs #1”…

To celebrate the 20 years we kind of wanted to go back to our roots. Our 1st release was a compilation with artists forming part of our scene in Vienna, so we decided to do the 20yrs celebration series again exclusively with artists based in Vienna.

All of them are great artists and good friends of ours. We began contacting them about the idea a year ago but when they started sending the tracks in we couldn’t believe our ears. They really came up with some great music to celebrate the occasion.

4) Any specific parties or events to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Pomelo Records?

We are currently planning some events for early 2015 with artists featured on 20yrs compilations, Tin Man, Patrick Pulsinger, Elektro Guzzi plus ourselves Dan Log + Art Vega but we cannot give you dates yet.

5) How do you A&R a record for Pomelo, what are you listening for? (describe the process, if any)

It’s actually quite a difficult process because we tend to have different tastes. So, often when listening to demos, one likes the tracks that the other dislikes and the other way round. We discuss a lot (over messenger or phone) and usually it’s not easy to find a compromise and can take us a long time. In general we listen to the groove, the sounds, the music should ideally be deep, funky, kicking and original.

6) Describe running a record label today – what keeps you motivated? (compared to even ten years ago)

It has changed quite a bit, 10-15 years ago all we would do is put the music on vinyl and have the discs send to the distribution, nothing more, if the music was good the records would sell. Nowadays it seems that the promotion has become almost more important then the music itself. Today without proper promotion people wouldn’t even realize that you have a new record out. Today there is definitely much more work and time involved in running an underground label. You have to keep up with the social networks, soundcloud, write texts, do mail-outs and so on…

Our motivation is the music itself and to help the artist get their music heard. The other big motivation is the vinyl. It’s always a moment of joy when finally you have the finished product in your hands.

7) Who are some of the upcoming artists/releases on your label?

After 20 yrs #2 we will release Anet K, a Latvian artist who lives in Berlin, she was introduced to us by our friend DJ Stingray. It is a modern electro-bass record co-produced by Sam Barker with great remixes by DJ Stingray and Egyptian Lover. We also have lots of good material by Dan Lodig lined up, furthermore 12“s by Group Niob, Alex Cortex, the Exaltics

Pomelo label page & releases on Traxsource.