20 Years of Compost Records: Interview w/ Michael Reinboth

Compost Records was founded in October 1994 by Michael Reinboth, DJ since 1980, composer, music journalist, club- and party organizer and promoter, producer, scout, publisher of an magazine called “Elaste” in the early 80ties, a football fan and a dedicated record collector (more than 70.000 vinyl).

The first release “Fresh In My Mind” by A Forest Mighty Black went straight to an small underground-hit, sold nowadays more than 6.000 12inches and founding its channels to the playlists of DJs like James Lavelle (who later founded MoWax), Gilles Peterson or Kyoto Jazz Massive. The follow up releases by Beanfield, Fauna Flash or Trueby Trio substantiate the fresh vibe and success. In the beginning the international acclaim was bit excelsior and deeper than in Germany. But after a while the bashfully Germans – who rarely hyping their own artists, actors and cultural scenes, were convinced by the massive good output and the international popularity of Compost Records.

Latest Compost release “Bechno EP” is a Traxsource EXCLUSIVE!

With Compost Records celebrating their 20 years of existence, we caught up with the label founder, Michael Reinboth, to chat about the milestone & much more in this Traxsource Exclusive Interview.

The Interview

1) Hey Michael, thanks so much for chatting with us. I’d like you to give us the Compost back story, where and how did this legendary imprint begin?

I have thought about running a label two, three years before the first release A Forest Mighty Black came out in 1994. I was DJing and writing about music since 1980, during the 80s I was running several parties and end of the 80s starting the legendary Into Somethin’ club night. That weekly club night was the initial booster detonation for starting the label, because a few of our resident fans and Djs were musicians and producers, like Jan Krause, with whom I produced these AFMB 12“s and during the recording sessions, Jan and me were founding our own project Beanfield, while – simultaneous in that week of AFMB production – me and Rainer Trueby, who was a member of AFMB, have planned the legendary compilation series “Gluecklich” rest is history.

2) So Compost is turning 20 years old!? Tell us in your own words a little bit about how that feels for you…

Feels so good, because we’re still alive, we survived a lot of labels (hey where is MoWax, Talking Loud, Nuphonic, Wall Of Sounds, Yellow Productions and all those finest addresses?), furthermore we survived heavy duty bankruptcies of distributors and the hard period of illegal file-sharing, but last but not least the main reason was, is and will be: we are open minded, and with such an behavior or A&R policy we’re proud of.

3) I’d imagine running a record label today is nothing like it was 2 decades ago – what have you witnessed to have been the biggest changes in the industry?

The search for good music changed dramatically. We started analogue with telephone, fax and face to face, nowadays it’s skype, anonymous downloading, emails, Trackfinder, Shazzam and Soundcloud or the likes. Also the old ways of distribution (even digitally) and promotion changed totally.

4) Apart from the obvious quality factor, how does an imprint garnish such an established support base from artists, DJ’s and fans alike?

It’s important to be very flexible in any way with each release in terms of promo, free downloads, timing and aims.

5) What are some of your personal favorite releases from the Compost over the years?

Well, track-wise it changes or differs from time to time, because some old secret weapons are coming back… artist-wise it’s Felix Laband, Beanfield, Rainer Trueby, Fauna Flash, Christian Prommer.

6) What has been your best business decision you made in favour of your labels longevity?

First of all to run the label alone, so no partner, co-A&R or person I would have a serious conflict with. Secondly to launch various subsidiaries sound – or cooperation-wise.

7) Any secrets from within the industry you’ve learned along the way? If so, what?

Not really, never followed or blessed by someone particular. Maybe the fact that I’m more music lover than business man kept me alive and doin’ what I’m doin’. We never signed big names, even if we could, but to work with Compost family and newcomers keeps us fresh.

8) Have you accomplished what you wanted to do as an imprint?

Never! Always searching for the good “tune”. Keeps me young, happy, foolish.

Michael Reinboth

9) What do you think the future of music industry looks like 20 years from now? What does Compost look like?

Well, I have no good future views of the business aspects of running a label, but sometimes I face good tools, interesting ways of promo or just let the music speak to a very limited pool… so we def will slow down things a bit in terms of less is more.

11) What’s next for Compost?

We’re just planning and preparing a wonderful book about our 20 years history, besides some big party events. So the book will be analogue only: 200 photos, anecdotes, memorabilia and interviews. A new Felix Laband album is in the pipeline. I’m planning Future Sounds Of Jazz Vol. 13, we with Rainer Trueby are planning “Gluecklich” Vol. 6 and with Florian Keller “Party Keller Vol. 4”

12) And finally, is there anything you want to say to your diehard Compost listener/fan/supporter?

Big big thanks and love x to all our fans, supporters, artists, remixers, friends, journalists and staff. Without you all out there we were lost with Compost.

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