«Family Business» is probably the first expression coming to our mind when we are looking to the nebula gravitating around the two Zenker Brothers. Originary from Munich Dario and Marco manage Ilian Tape since 2007. In few years, they released more than 23 Ep and developed a sub-label ITX. What’s arousing interest with Ilian Tape is that even if they adopt the main code of the current techno scene, their universe sounds pretty funky, modelled on the two-label managers’s profile.
If we linger on the career of the oldest brother, Dario starts the first. In a 8 years span he did a slow but certain transition from minimal grooves to a dark but party oriented techno often delivered with a certain lyricism in the narration process. He leaves some traces on different imprint such as Esperanza and Telegraph or Vakant, Tresor or Concrete. Aside of this, he built his profile during Harry Klein’s golden age and illustrate himself all around the world for many years now.
Marco, the youngest, had a slightly different development as he start his discography conjointly to the emergence of the label, and he stay closely linked to it. On stage, he started to be renowned as a live performer but he plays more and more as dj with his brother.
The triggering element which probably gathered all eyes on the two brothers is probably their first Ep together, Berg 10, on Ilian Tape in 2011. Afterward, the two Eps released on Tresor were true successes. They just released a new one on their own structure.
Those last years, the name of the two brothers appeared several times on Parisian’s bills. During seven years, Ilian Tape never stopped to grow putting forward original artists as Andres Zacco, Leonel Castillo or Imugem Orihasam in the beginning to become, in the end, the advocate of a more techno sound those last years. Consequently to their gig on the infamous boat near Gare de Lyon on Friday we decided to ask them few questions.
From where does Ilian tape name comes?
About the name – it’s a fantasy name. The word « ilian » comes from a track by Kode 9 and Spaceape. Spaceape says the word alien in patois the Jamaican slang, and it sounds like ilian. Tape because we grew up with tapes and love them.
– You were born in a family who was naturally driving from your youngest age to do what you’re doing now. Could you explain us a bit in which way you grew up surrounded by the club culture?
We didn’t grow up in that environment. More like normal kids. Our mum raised us, and she had nothing to do with techno or club culture. It was just one part of our family, our aunt Dorle and her boyfriend . It didn’t affect us at all. We went our own way and didn’t take advantage of the family connection. Actually, we just started working with them for the label nights at Rote Sonne about a year ago.
– After Ultraschall, there was Harry Klein and Rote Sonne in Munich. How did you arrive at Harry Klein?
Dario became a resident there through the Stock 5 crew, which organized party there. Marco started going out there and naturally became part of it. Then the club moved to a different location and changed a lot. So in 2012 we decided to quit our residency there. We don’t want to go into detail here. It just didn’t make sense for us anymore because we had totally different opinions about how everything should work.
– Ilian tape seems to be more than ever focused on a little group of artists, you Stenny, Andrea, Jonas Kopp… how did you came to this group? How do you think it will evolve?
We met Stenny and Andrea in Turin on a label party and stayed in touch. They sent us some of their productions, and we loved it very much. It seemed that the label inspired them, so it fitted perfectly. Since then we became good friends. They work hard and spend a lot of time in the studio. From a label point of view that’s a perfect relationship with an artist. We focus on them, and they focus on us. If an artist does too much on different labels, he or she becomes less interesting for us.
– Is it important for you to stick to the people certain core value when you choose to release an artist?
Not necessarily, we just put out what we love. First of all, it’s about the music. And most people who make good music aren’t dickheads.
– It seems that Ilian Tape also did digital. When did you switch totally on vinyl?
We started with vinyl, but after four records we had to stop because of bad distribution deal and the collapse of the vinyl market. Then we did digitally only for a while to pay back our debts. After that, we made a party in Munich and earned enough to pay for the whole production of IT005. Since then, the focus is back on vinyl.
– Recently you released the brilliant Stenny with his studio mate Andrea and also Schiari which if I am right is also Italian. Is it where all the new producers are? We can see that you put forward several new names those last years, in which measure the idea to bring something new?
Italy is funny; it’s a very diverse country. Some of the best and the worst demos we get come from Italy. Also to play there can be incredible, but also horrible. Of course, it’s always great to release newcomers and to build the reputation together. We also started our own booking agency to represent Stenny, Andrea, Rupcy, Regen, Philipp von Bergmann and ourselves.
– How do you consider your involvement in the Munich’s nightlife?
Since about a year, we are running regular nights at two clubs. Four-label nights a year at Rote Sonne with artists like Surgeon, Levon Vincent, Reeko and Anthony Parasole. At Kong, we have a more house and UK orientated night every two months with artists like Shed, Ryan Elliott, Pev & Kowton, Paul du Lac and Coni so far. We often try to bring people who haven’t played in the city before.
– As a party promoter what do you want to provide for a party to the crowd and to the artists?
First of all it’s always about the music and not about filling the club. We do our best to book fresh artists and to provide a great vibe for them and the crowd.
– In the eyes of many strangers there is only something happening in Berlin, which is very wrong, however what are the coolest things about clubbing in Munich?
As in most cities you can have great but also bad parties here. The important clubs here are all not too big, so there is a nice intimate vibe if you catch a good night. Besides that Munich is more about a pretty high quality living standard in terms of nature, safety and strip clubs.
– Ilian Tape came recently reached the 20th release and seems to have a more and more refined sounds in terms of techno. Could you explain us how did you arrived at this kind of techno?
It just evolved naturally, and we are always looking for tracks with soul, funk & personality.
– Dario is is also working in a record shop. It should be a great input as a dj I think? Does it help you in the management of the label?
Optimal, the store where I work at, is pretty wide in terms of genres and, therefore, I learn a lot about music in general. It’s also nice to see how the whole business structure between distributions and shops work. But it doesn’t affect that much the way we manage our label.
– As now you’re touring a bit more with the Ilian Tape Crew, what does it makes to dj more together and not to do that much live + dj?
It’s great to have Ilian Tape nights. At the beginning of the month we had one at Tresor in Berlin, which was great fun and we are really looking forward to the upcoming night at Concrete on July 25. It also affects the vibe of the night if the music comes from one crew, one group of friends. Lately, we are mostly playing back to back, and we enjoy that. It’s a totally different thing, and it truly makes sense.
– The last word for the reader?
Thanks a lot for the constant support France. You were really supporting us and the label in the last years, and we love playing here! Merci beaucoup!
Dario Zenker On facebook
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