Jean d’Auberlaque is a man of various of projects. He is musically active and is also a founder of Bellerophon Records. Coming from Germany he started playing guitar at the age of 12. First it was classical but after he heard some of the early punk bands he was influenced to such an extend, that he himself began playing in many bands. Punk is not the only inspiration. He has been also very into "krautrock" and being a part of the scene in the mid to late '70s he attended quite a few concerts. He especially likes Neu!, Kraftwerk and Faust. From late '70s to the end of '80s he was studio musician and at that time he had a few less known post punk bands. In late '80s he and his long time friend Steven Tefkey started playing in a band called She. This was in 1988, which was AOR kind of band and there they met Scarlet, who is singer of Scarlet Utopia; a still going on project. He was playing live and also in the studio and the very first group, that he formed was called Silverheat. The band was based in Cologne back in 2000 and played some very interesting new wave music with psychedelic overlays, but never recorded any albums, cos it was pretty hard to make it happen due to the financial level.
Around this time Jean met Mathias Black, who is an engineer and producer. He was (and still is) working with legendary German composer and electronic percussionist of Kraftwerk, Karl Bartos. Mathias Black is currently in Bartos' band and is touring for their latest release Off The Record. Jean and Mathias decided they should regroup Silverheat and a new band was born; Scarlet Utopia.
In 2009 their Adventures Under Blacklight came out and it was produced by Joachim Heinz Ehrig [aka Eroc] member of Grobschnitt. But before the release of Scarlet Utopia due to the troubles of finding the right label Jean got together with Scarlet, Mathias and Ax Genrich of Guru Guru and started a project called Der Petunienmann Von Metaluna Vier and they released Weisser Alarm. This project is a mixture of space and noise rock music in a way of German experimental bands back from the '70s. Its traces can be found in Jean deep love for classical music form Xenakis and Lachenmann, Faust, Kraftwerk, Morton Subotnick and Mort Garson. Around that time Jean got an idea to start his own label Bellerophon Records and began releasing his own material. Today they feature a variety of music from post punk to space rock, electro and minimal music. He and his nephew Patrick Keuthen started the label and are managing to produce around ten releases per year. Patrick is also their art director.
Please present us artists from your label and tell us what kind of music are they playing?
We have an interesting range of artists with different musical backgrounds. Post-Punk, especially cold wave is a passion that Patrick and I share. So it is safe to say, that Bellerophon is kind of a homebase for acts of that genre. First in line is "Peru, like the Country", which is Patricks brainchild. PLTC is also the first band that we signed on Bellerophon Records. Other groups from this genre are "The Orpheus Replica" and "Tremor of Numbers". The Garage outfit "The Four Horsemen" did a one-off release with us; as did the "Projekt Oktopus". In "Laaud" we have some "krautrock", but with a twisted, very unique approach. Besides that, my Alter Ego "Der Petunienmann von Metaluna Vier" deals with that special sound of German origin. Bass music, electronic beats in general and deep house is represented by "Silverheat", while "Scarlet Utopia" singer Scarlet Rose offers some non-puristic Blues through the side project "Pitch and Brimstone". We just signed the great one-man band "Rocco Recycle", who does some blues-laden, very good and also very entertaining stuff.
My main band "Scarlet Utopia" is another core artist for Bellerophon. Some magazines misinterpreted this group as a progressive outfit, but I think it’s something else instead: a marriage between hawkwindish space rock and new wave comparable best with Siouxsie and the Banshees and/or the Sisters of Mercy. There is no real prog-background in Scarlet Utopia. No instrumental wizardry, no vocal-histrionics, no pomp, just a groovin backbeat under some cold and dark musical landscapes. As the english Classic Rock Magazine wrote: Mazzy Star meets Soundgarden.
Besides that we collaborate with remixers, for example the "Pawn Shop People", our american friend "Cloudroom" and "Ulm West Deep". Patrick - and me as well - are fond of bass music, so we decided to pimp our tiny post punk label with some well crafted deep house and nu rave.
In what format are you releasing your music?
Bellerophon is a download-label mainly. The normal issue for us is a download - EP, sometimes followed up by a special remix edition. Besides that we mainly have CD-releases of albums. Vinyl-pressings are regular for singles.
Sometimes we cooperate with other labels for vinyl releases; Scarlet Utopia released Adventures Under Black Light on green and black wax via Nasoni Records. "Peru, like the Country" have a 12 inch release in cooperation with Microfon Records. The latest "Der Petunienmann von Metaluna Vier" album Magnetbandaufzeichnung is also available on cassette.
So it is safe to say, that we do rather everything, including video. "Scarlet Utopia" for example accompanied the Supernovae EP with a professional HD-Video. In fact, we use every kind of storage medium.
How do you decide to sign up with particular artists?
We concentrate on only a few artists, because we think it is better to have a small but effective high quality roster. We don’t sign any band that we don’t know personally. We don’t listen to demos. Every single artist has a relation to us. Our customers have a special taste, and we feel responsible for granting a unique kind of quality. Sometimes it’s a friend of Patrick that we sign, or a cousin of mine or a buddy of one of our house producers. We want to keep it simple and clear at this very moment. The label should grow gently. Perhaps we will widen the spectre in the upcoming years. The goal is to establish Bellerophon as a label with an own identity. Maybe some people will call that hubris, but on the deep end this is our approach.
Would you like to comment both of your music project. What's the story behind making Scarlet Utopia and Der Petunienmann Von Metaluna Vier and what is the main difference between the two and how was it to collaborate with Ax Geinrich of Guru Guru?
Scarlet Utopia is a bulk amalgamation of new wave admirers that have an affinity to seventies acid- and space rock. That was quite a weird combination in the beginning, but we think that we developed a compelling sound from that mixture. Scarlet herself is pretty much sounding like Siouxsie Sioux to my ears – and not only to mine. This matches perfectly with Stephens and also with my own musical preferences. The co-ordinates for Scarlet Utopia is early Faust on the one hand, serial classical music, repetitive beats, and besides that new wave in general. We all love Gang of Four, Joy Division and New Order.
Der Petuniemann von Metaluna Vier was kind of a "just for fun" project in the very beginning. After a short while I realised, that this moniker could be the perfect place for my leftfield activities. No chance to honour Morton Subotnick or Conlon Nancarrow inside the Scarlet Utopia. But a guy called "Petunia Dude" from a planet called "Metaluna Four" (roughly translated) can do anything he wants! So I did. Some people think, that this is balderdash. But it is not. I am serious. I mean that. I love that. And I also love the artistic mismatch between some single tunes and/or full releases of dPvM4. So the main difference between Scarlet and dPvM4 is, that Scarlet is a band and dPvM4 is a project where anything goes.
Besides these activities I am still releasing proper solo work under my name Jean d’Auberlaque. First I released a tune on our 10inch vinyl - Label Collection "A bellerophon Sampler". Now I am looking forward to my debut 7 inch single: "Turqoise". A long player is also in the making. It is called "The Durutti Column", to be released in this year's autumn. And - before you ask - the title of that forthcoming record is an hommage to one of my favourite musicians: Vini Reilly.
You also questioned about the Ax Genrich connection: Easy to tell. I asked him if he would like to collaborate - and this nice guy and great musician simply said "yes". Thats it. I feel very honoured about Ax‘s contribution to my album Weisser Alarm. He plays a fantastic 7 minute solo on "Rolf Ulrich Kaiser", a tune that deals with the erratic person behind the Ohr and Pilz labels. I am pretty sure, that there is an opportunity for further collaborations.
How many releases do these two bands have?
On Bellerophon Scarlet Utopia have released Adventures Under Black Light Vinyl/CD/DL, the Supernovae EP – Maxi/DL, the 7 inch Supernovae b/w Ralph, the Omega Black – download only, and some material through other labels, on covermount CDs (Classic Rock Magazines Space Rock! 15 interstellar Tracks., f.e.) The first ever release from Scarlet Utopia is a Cassette/CD-R, that was self released and called Fiat Lux! This is very rare – I don’t have saved at least a single copy for myself.
Der Petunienmann von Metaluna Vier was also very busy via Bellerophon: Weisser Alarm CD/DL, Checkmate DL only, Der Mensch hat seinen Stern verlassen Maxi/DL and Magnetbandaufzeichnung Cassette/DL
What are future plans for the two bands?
Scarlet Utopia suffers hard times. Our drummer became very ill in 2012 and still isn‘t able to perform, also our bass player Stephen is not available since 2013. So every release, formerly planned for 2013, has now a serious delay. But there also is good news: The EP Fairytales from another Universe is nearly finished anyway. On the other hand the long awaited concept album Black Halo Pyramid which deals with Erich von Danikens Theories, surely won‘t see the light of day before 2016, I suppose. This is very sad, but inevitable. DPvM4 is working on a new recording called Atomvulkan Golkonda, to be released earliest in winter 2014.
And future plans for the label?
We have just issued the "Peru, like the Country" 7 inch Single Distance. Currently we are building up a bandcamp store for all the physical media of our artists. Next to come are some really good releases from:
The Orpheus Replica – Glory (EP)/ Tremor of Numbers – Toxic Waste (Single)/ Pitch and Brimstone – Starclouds and Planets (EP)/ Jean d’Auberlaque – Turqoise (Single)/ Silverheat – Gravitiy (Single)/ Scarlet Utopia – Fairy Tales from another Universe.
We still have some nice merchandise in stock, like T-shirts, Caps and Stickers from the Label and also some of our core Artists. A goal is to built up a Label-Fanbase in the future, but anyway, this depends on the quality of the music for sure. So let us see what happens.
Would you like to share anything else?
I would really love to turn your readers view onto the superb artwork of our releases. Our Art Director Patrick Keuthen is responsible for the complete Bellerophon catalogue. This means every single record cover, every poster, advertisement and band-logo. These circumstances make Bellerophon an interesting label also for collectors. Given the fact we have a label brand not only musically but in artwork as well. In my opinion, Patrick’s effort is comparable to the iconic designs of Trevor Jackson, Peter Saville or Kate Moross without presumption.
I would also love to invite you and all of your admirers to visit our homepage www.bellerophon-records.com to get an overview. Also our label soudcloud is very interesting, and some of our artists soundpages allow free downloads. Just give the music a try. Here are some examples, please check:
Last but not least I would love to offer your readers a little present: Name the title of the latest PLTC 7 inch single in an e-mail address to email@example.com The first 5 senders will get a free promo package consisting of that particular 7inch record, a dPvM4 Magnetbandaufzeichnung Cassette and a Bellerophon sticker. So just check it out, folks.
Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2014
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