Neubau, the Brutalist Sound of Vienna
I’ve been seeing the name of the label in the tracklists of my favourite DJs (or through their shoulders) quite often recently. A radio show called Wiener Brut is among the most interesting on LYL radio, which as a whole is a ridiculously good radio station, by the way. There’s also a record shop called Discus Throwers.
All of the above and much more are somehow juggled by the hands of Florian Stöffelbauer, also known as Heap, a Vienna-based DJ, producer and curator. Neubau is a label he co-runs with his mate Simon Heidemann. They will both be attending the Resident Advisor party in Opium club next week, together with Inga Mauer, Interstellar Funk, V, Siaubas and Manfredas. I bet a lot of the names on the lineup are fans of Neubau. Let’s talk about how Florian manages it all. Seems like a very busy man indeed.
Could you briefly describe the nightlife climate in your city? Are Viennese party animals? Are clubs prevailing or popup parties? Anything is really interesting for me! As a stereotype, Vienna seems like very calm, royal and sweet city with classical music playing in the air. I believe it’s probably nothing like that.
I think that Vienna’s nightlife is better than most people expect it to be. But in general it could be way better if the authorities would not put spokes in the club owners’ wheels. Clubs in Vienna have to face many hurdles including neighbours complaining, maximum decibel burdens and so on.
Though people in Vienna know how to party, they are a bit shy and too lazy to check out off-locations that are out of their safe zone in the inner districts.
Is Vienna changing much?
I have been living in Vienna for more than 3,5 years now and I would say the club and music scene has changed a lot. I wouldn’t say the same about the city in general, Vienna itself is a very slow place where most of the changes take a lot of time.
Where are you from originally? Why did you move to Vienna?
Originally I’m from a small town in Lower Austria called Haag. I’m very happy that I grew up on the countryside which gave me a certain amount of freedom in my childhood I guess. When I turned older, I felt the urge of moving to a big city to be able to unfurl in a different environment. After doing my civil service, I chose to start studying physics at the TU Wien, which I still have to finish.
What is the relationship between the name of your label and the district in Vienna?
The name of the label refers both to the district - me and Simon both lived in Neubau when we started it - and to “new building”, which explains our affinity to architecture and thus the connection to brutalist photographs used for our artwork.
Where is the affection for brutalism coming from?
Brutalism derives from the French word for “raw”. For us it is more an aesthetic approach.
Can you tell me a little bit about the visual aspect of Neubau? What is the main source of inspiration of the general look?
Whatever buildings or places look interesting are an option for the basic idea. The rest is done by our great graphic designer Luca Lozano.
How did you choose Aufgang B for your first release as a label? Did you know them before? What would you say is the most interesting about their music?
We first met Alex from Aufgang B when Simon booked him for his Erdbahnkreuzer party back in October 2015. Alex gave some demos to Simon and when I was in London some months later and had to play a spontaneous gig, I asked Simon to send me a couple of digital tracks so I could play a set. I fell in love with the demos and constantly played them out. At one point, when Simon and I played together, we were like: “Why not put them out ourselves and start a label?”
I think the most interesting about the music from Aufgang B is their distinctive drum programming and the catchy bass lines.
It’s not that you would focus on mates/Austrian artists; the spectrum of the label is rather varied. How do you search for artists? Or do they find you?
Sometimes they find us and sometimes we find them, the most important thing is that it’s a natural process. We’re always open for new stuff but as we want to keep the quality on a high level, we’re very critical about it.
Which countries seem to be the best markets for your releases?
I don’t really have an idea, but I guess apart from Austria people in Germany, UK, France and Spain really like them.
As we've started talking about markets... How much of Discus Throwers is online sales?
It’s 100% online sales, there isn’t a regular shop.
For some reason I thought it's also a regular shop, sorry about that! Well if it isn't, maybe you have considered opening one? What made you focus on online sales only?
I have been thinking about opening a physical store a couple of times, but as I’m limited budget- and time-wise, I have to focus on online sales only. Running a physical store besides doing my studies simply would have been too much.
Do you have a favourite record store in the world?
My favourite record store so far is The Little Record Shop in London. The shop space is tiny but filled with great records and the owner is very kind and fair with prices. It was introduced to me by Brian from Going Good and Sam (Insane Deelay) which I’m really thankful for, as whenever I was there I found really good stuff.
Tell me more about the podcast series “A glimpse of Vienna”. Is it meant to showcase the DJ talents that haven’t received enough international attention yet? How do you choose the selectors for the podcast? As it is strictly vinyl-only, it means there must be a subculture of vinyl junkies in Vienna. Is there?
There are so many great and good DJs in Vienna that obviously need to get more attention and you are right to say that I want to showcase those talents. I do have a list of Viennese DJs and sequentially ask them to do a mix.
The mix series itself isn’t meant to be strictly vinyl-only, but most of the featured artists are focussing mostly on vinyl, so one could say there is a certain record digging subculture in Vienna. And we definitely have some great second hand record stores, but they’re almost only good for German and Austrian obscure records.
The sublabel, Wiener Brut. The story of the first release, a 2X12 by Poligam, is a fascinating one (read it on Sneaker DJ's website, - D.D.). Was it hard to convince Artur Singer he should give you the tapes of Poligam? Was he delighted by that? As there has only been one release, I must ask, will there be more soon? Do you have more stories being uncovered at the moment?
No, it wasn’t hard at all. He was touched by the fact that somebody so young asked him about the music he did so long ago.
There will be more, I’m currently working on the next releases but it takes more time than with the first release as it will be a compilation by different artists and it is hard to find information about the members of the groups.
I really like your radio show of the same name, Wiener Brut. Do you prepare thoroughly and conceptually for each episode, or is it just your never-ending playlist of favourites? Why did you choose LYL radio for your show?
Most of the time I work out a concept for the shows but sometimes it’s just about my mood. In any case, it’s fun to do the show and I’m really happy to be with LYL because they have some of the best programming of the online radios out there.
Selling other people’s music, releasing other people’s music… Music, music, music! Does being surrounded by music help or, on the other hand, disturb to create your own music (A couple of releases not to sweet and not too salty by Heap and Mr. Ho are out on ESP Instutute, - D.D.)? How do you block yourself from too many influences - or maybe you do not?
I never tried to be surrounded by less music, I guess it helps me to create my own music and to get me inspired. I like to have a lot of influences, my approach is the more influence the rounder the overall image of my ideas can be.
What do you aim for as a DJ? What have been some of your favourite gigs?
I always look for a connection to the audience, once I’m connected, DJing turns into fun, before it is hard work.
My favourite gig I ever had was in Paris at the beginning of this year, the best gig I had together with Simon was in Zurich. Both of the evenings were really intense.
What have been the biggest sacrifices you had to pay in order to be where you are at the moment?
I think it was the time I couldn’t invest to progress with my studies.
D.D. 2004 - 2016
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