“We couldn’t be happier with the result” – Circles & Stones release their debut EP “Various Gems I”
Circles & Stones release their debut EP „Various GemsI“ with four various artists who, at first glance, hail from varying corners of the music spectrum. The EP opens with “Cloud 9”, an ode to summer by Thomas Atzmann. Born in the morning at a time when the world is just waking up and creativity flows freely, its joyful tune and catchy breakbeat set the tone for an uplifting kind of melancholia, tugging at your heart strings all the while. “Kabale & Liebe”, in which O/Y interprets Robosonic’s original version with his own recipe for organic grunginess, combines euphoric synth lines with organic percussions and haunting vocals, finally releasing the tension that builds gradually within the track’s own story.
Side B begins with Arutani’s slow burner “Back in Time”, a track that conveys a flavour of darkness that’s never heavy and always intriguing. The groove is easy, almost playing with a lightness that permeates the whole track, all the while alternating with a bassline that gives a contrasting twang and reminds us of his individual, pervasive sound. And last but not least, Midas 104 delivers a multi-layered, textured production for a perfect close called “Quixotopia”. The melody cascades into waves of throbbing synthesisers, complex percussive patterns and static sounds that are characteristic of his style, and gives weight to an otherwise floating track.
A small compilation is the prelude of your record label. How did you get the idea for the release?
Caleesi and Sarah Kreis: We’re super excited to kick off our label launch with a small, curated compilation of four unique tracks by exceptional artists: Thomas Atzmann, Robosonic, O/Y, Arutani and Midas 104. We knew from the beginning that we wanted to do a compilation – but since we wanted to press it on vinyl, we decided to keep it the size of an EP in order to ensure the best possible quality and to give proper attention to each track. And we couldn’t be happier with the result.
A few years ago, you started the agency. Tell us about the beginnings.
When Sarah and I met three years ago, we were both DJing here and there and involved in other labels and projects. We really bonded over our taste in music and became good friends quickly. Soon after that we both realised that we would love to start our own project but didn’t want to do it alone, so we decided to join forces and try to build something together.
How did you select the artists and their tracks for the compilation?
We both made a list of our favourite producers whose music we love and play in our sets and approached them whether they would be interested in releasing with us. Once we received the demos, it became pretty clear which tracks would fit together, yet still offer a broad range of styles and moods.
Did you have a concept in mind for the first release?
We didn’t know exactly how the EP would be structured at first. But soon we realised which tracks would fit together for the A side, and which ones would suit the B side of the vinyl.
The A side starts off with “Cloud Nine” – a beautiful ode to summer by the amazing sound designer Thomas Atzmann. We played this track in one of our sets in Mexico and are blown away by the response it gets every time! It’s followed by underground virtuoso O/Y’s grungy, sexy revision of Robosonic’s classic “Kabale & Liebe”. His is a refreshingly unique version with haunting vocals that was the heart of Clarissa’s Beatverliebt podcast and has been in our own hearts ever since then.
The B side continues with our extremely talented friend Arutani’s “Back in Time”, which showcases his signature groove and style. We also represent him in our booking agency so we’re obviously two of his biggest fans and so happy to have this subtle, melancholic track on our release. Last but definitely not least, we’re lucky to have the incredible Midas 104 contribute one of his beautiful productions as the closing track of our release. We are big admirers of his productions and love the beauty and complexity of his track “Quixotopia”.
Why did you decide to start a record label?
When we started as an agency, we wanted to take things slowly and grow organically before we move on to the next step. But after 2 years, we’re super happy with how it’s been going and are in the groove of things enough to be able to evolve into a music label. In essence our decision to found a label was rooted in the same reason we became DJs, and the same reason we started a booking agency and music family: we want to find, showcase and spread good music around the world through our sets, our events and our label platform.
In an age of streaming: How difficult is it to establish a record label in these days?
Running a label for sure isn’t easy. We just started so it’s hard to say how it will go – but streaming services are a big part of the music industry nowadays and are a natural element in contemporary music consumption. Without SoundCloud, many of us wouldn’t have a music career. And Spotify is becoming an industry mainstay that is to be aknowledged. So maybe the best course is to focus on quality and try to see the big picture, no matter how much it evolves.
What about passion? Do you need passion to establish a record label?
A lot! Passion and willingness to work a lot for little money.
Will you release vinyl too?
Yes, we decided to press our first release on Vinyl. We wanted the first one to be special, and we wanted to kick off our label with something that will last physically as well as digitally.
What are your goals with the platform?
Our goal is pretty simple: spreading quality music that we love with the world.
Have you already planned your next releases?
The next releases are in the pipeline. We don’t want to reveal anything yet but trust us, it’s going to be good.
What are your near future projects?
We’re super excited to celebrate our label launch and record release with a big party in Kater Blau Berlin on 14th July, a week after the release. Our lineup includes all the release artists, some of our Circles & Stones artists and some incredible guests: Madmotormiquel, O/Y, Doob, Renga Weh, Ryan Davis, Midas 104, Janoma, Arutani, Shepherd, Lukas Endhardt, Thomas Atzmann.
01. Thomas Atzmann – Cloud 9