From electronic free jazz and IDM ballads over ambient and hypnotic techno to influences from traditional music – the sonic palette of the label On Board Music spans a wide range of styles. The same goes for the eponymous booking agency, whose diverse roster reflects its founder’s Laura BCR motto to neglect constraining genre boundaries. Five years ago the French DJ and powerhouse laid the seeds for what has now grown into a strong and healthy agency/label/management/party organization. To celebrate this milestone, we caught up with the artist to reflect on past, present and future.
On Board Music is turning 5 this year. Could you share with us five key moments that defined these “early childhood years”?
The very first key moment was of course when On Board Music was born in 2015. I was running the Bass Cadet Record store in Berlin with my friend Etienne from Arcarsenal, at the time. Initially, I established the booking agency as a central point to develop and help friends who were underrepresented. The roster was very diverse – from deep to techno and disco. No particular boundaries. Back then, my best friend Ophélie was also working with me. It has grown up a lot since then, but it’s still oscillating between many different genres – a reflection of my taste. Working in a record store gives you the opportunity to get to know many different scenes within the music culture, which I really appreciated.
The second key moment was when I moved from Berlin to Portugal and then to Spain. This has definitely shaped what On Board Music is today. Since then, I’m back in Berlin but travelling, meeting people, and getting to know very local scenes has been truly inspiring.
In 2016 the label was launched. I wanted to have my own label for quite some time, and now it felt like the right moment had come, especially when I received Healing Force Project’s productions. Antonio (Healing Force Project) definitely helped me get the right start. It was completely obvious that this record would be the first one!
Starting the first parties at Tresor or ://about blank, and some collaborations with amazing people like the Paral·lel Festival crew were a big impulse and definitely helped On Board step up. I, as many people, love curating parties and producing events. This asks a lot of time, which I don’t have enough of these days unfortunately. Now, On Board is normally producing 2-3 parties a year maximum with a main event at ://about blank in summer.
And I have to say that 2020 is definitely a turning point for On Board – or should have been. Our roster is stronger than ever with a really good team of artists, producers, designers, writers, video-maker, promotion and management pool.
You had planned a 5-year birthday tour in April, which is now postponed, due to the current public measures relating to the coronavirus. Like most actors in the scene (and society at large) this is affecting you badly. How do you keep the spirits up as a group of artists, and how is the situation developing for you?
I had been working on that tour for such a long time. We were working on an announcement mid-April with SONJA, who is doing all our flyers. It should have started at the end of April with dates at Rex Club in Paris, Gare in Porto, ://about blank in Berlin, Moog in Barcelona, Jasna1 in Warsaw, Culture Box in Copenhagen etc. … We were going to do both house and techno parties with artists from the roster and friends (Luigi Tozzi, Estrato Aurora, Spekki Webu, Nems-B, Zozo and more). We tried to move it to the summer but then that got complicated, so now we’re circling in on November. Things keep changing very fast, and it’s all still quite blurry.
To be very honest, I was in a bit of a shock when everything started to get serious all over Europe. I was travelling at that time, we had our party in Barcelona at Moog. Then, I was supposed to play in Mallorca, so we were there and then everything started to happen. We had to go back to Berlin in a very stressed climate. I started to get so many e-mails with cancellation of dates, the tour of one of our artists, who is releasing an album, got cancelled too. All these amazing dates were just gone or postponed, our own parties cancelled and so on. Months of work completely lost. This put me really down, but then you still have to keep rolling for the artists as you’re the first contact point.
We are a very small family at On Board, almost everyone knows each other personally. I’m a very caring person for each of them, so I always try to motivate those who are a bit down. We’re helping each other by giving tips and proposing solutions. I really love how we care for one another.
At the moment, everything continues to move, and it’s very difficult to plan things. But I’m very lucky as we work with very nice promoters, who I’ve known for a long time. Everything has been so smooth with everyone. I’m enormously thankful for that to anyone involved here. At the moment the only thing we can say is “wait and see”. There’s no other solution anyway. I’m working more on promo or management at the moment – and on music, to counterbalance all the postponed dates. And we are also working on “The Meaning Of Time”, a digital charity compilation which should be out next month with friends and artists from the label.
Last week the label’s fourth output, “Various – Point B” was released. Please introduce us to this fresh add to your catalogue.
Point B features French experimental artist Diane Barbé, Madrid-based duo Uanamani and Valencia’s very own CORE (aka Daniel Kyo). Neel did the mastering and Natacha Mankowski the design. It has been built very organically.
I’ve known Diane for quite some time and I was particularly into her work. I got familiar with Uanamani in Madrid when I was playing for Alfonso (F-On) the very first time. He introduced me to the Madrid scene, which is one of my favorites. It is very strong there with Alfonso himself, who runs a couple of labels such as Alpenglühen, which I particularly love. The Calma parties and a_mal_gam_a curations are also very vibrating. My friend Jaime (Estrato Aurora) advised Daniel to send me some tracks. I was very impressed by the full package and I finally had to pick two.
I’m also super stoked for our first music video with the label. It’s for Diane’s track and is directed by one of my oldest friends, Clémentine Decremps. She made an impressive job and I’m very moved by the result.
It’s the second VA on the imprint in a series of VAs showcasing works from up-and-coming and more established names. Can you already tell us about what is planned for the next “episode(s)”?
We are doing two different series with the label. On the one hand we have some mini LPs dedicated to one artist only, an art piece somewhere between experimental and ambient, but not exclusively. We had Healing Force Project and Mesak doing some beautiful and crazy tracks. The next one will be from Uanamani, but this time with a full length LP. The tracks are beautiful – as always, with Derk and Iterbio – they honestly gave me goosebumps when I listened to them the first time.
Then, for the “Various Artists – Point C”, which are more dedicated to the dance floor, we have a couple of excellent composers like Alan Backdrop and Hiver amongst others. And I’m finishing a track as Laura BCR, which might also be on this one.
Interesting! Can you tell us a bit more about your own forays into music production?
These are my very first tracks, and I have so much fun doing them. I still have a lot to learn, but it’s so interesting. A couple of years ago a producer and friend, whose work I love, proposed to do a collaboration. Then I didn’t have any time whatsoever for anything like that. But now that I have so much free time, I get to practice more and I’m really into it! It’s very exciting to have this way of expressing yourself on top of DJ-ing.
When establishing the label, central inspirations for you were other imprints such as Macadam Mambo and Firecracker. Now that five years have passed, which labels have especially caught your attention lately?
Oh yes, I remember very well, I said that a couple of years ago. Back then I was working with both labels through the agency. They are amazing and diverse labels, which developed a real identity and are run by excellent and talented persons. They were and still are very inspiring.
It’s difficult to pick just a few labels as there are so many good ones. But if I had to choose the one that moved me most this year, I would say Astral Industries. There are only beautiful things coming from that label. Other than that Archives is one of my favorite ambient labels and Silent Season, of course, always. Amenthia for their always very original searches. Or Mirror Zone. Alpenglühen always on point. Appian Sounds always excellent on many sides of the deep music. Kynant’s Richard has an amazing taste too. I got to listen to the next releases, they’re all 10 out of 10. And Delsin, a big classic, which is a key label with a great new sub-label called Mantis. Envra, Fold, Deep Sounds Channel, Auxiliary or Konstruct are perfect ones. I also love Edit Select Records’ latest release with an Oscar Mulero remix. Harmony Records, Nullpunkt, Kizen, One Instrument… These are really the labels I always go through without any doubts. I also like Supercinema Records and Valian Kollektiv. Random Numbers’ releases are super nice, as well as some from Norite or Nous’klaer. A Colorful Storm EPs or tapes as well.
In your own DJ-sets, you don’t let genre boundaries confine you and you’ve said that being surprised by music is something that’s important to you. Which artist or track has lived up to this recently in your opinion?
When I play I try to combine many different things. I’ve never been into one-genre-only sets. I like when someone is going from 4/4 techno to breaks, to IDM, electro and more. A DJ-set has to move and go through a story with different key points. Patrick Russell is, for me, one of the few artists who is able to do that perfectly. I remember very well his set at Paral·lel Festival 2018, as many of us I think. I wish he could have played 8 hours actually, haha. Of course, Donato Dozzy is also a master in this genre. We all know it. F-On has got some very diverse tastes and he stays for me a true master. Or the guys from natural.electronic/system. I got to share the decks with Valerio (one half of n.e/s) a couple of months ago, and I was very impressed by how strong and different his musical tastes are. My great friends and favorite B2B partners Spekki Webu or Nems-B are also some very edgy selectors when it comes to DJ-sets. Most recently my favorite sets are coming from Mattikk. I got to listen to him when we played together on a festival in Leipzig last year. It was very early in the morning. I was just waking up and was so touched by what he was playing. And all his DJ-sets online are just so good! And I would like to mention Margaret Dygas. She is obviously and historically one of the best for that. Vicki Siolos, who I recently hosted for my radio show on Rinse France, has a very particular taste with the edgy kind of selection I love, such as Timnah Sommerfeldt, who is always going in interesting directions.