Labels to Watch 2011: Uncanny Valley (Beatportal/Beatport)

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Detroit has had plenty of unofficial sister cities over the years: back in the ‘90s, Detroit and Berlin famously fused a “techno alliance,” as the title of an early Tresor compilation put it, and in more recent years, Amsterdam has kept flying the flag for Motor City soul. Still, Jacob Korn’s recent track “Dance Away” might have caught listeners off guard, as Kelli Hand [a] reeled off a list of shout-outs to iconic Detroit producers before moving on to big up “all my Dresden house-heads.” Dresden? Really?

But something is definitely bubbling up in the Dresden Elbe Valley, not far from Germany’s border with the Czech Republic. A rising crew of producers is taking lessons learned from the classic house and techno of the American Midwest and applying it to their own context. At the center of this movement is the Uncanny Valley label, a collective encompassing Jacob KornBreak SLCuthead, and a few other artists you may or may not have heard of. Their two compilation EPs so far balance old-school vibes and techniques—roughly cut samples, clattering drum machines, brooding chords, and an unstinting fealty to deepness—with a playful, creative spirit that goes beyond mere imitation.

What’s the vision or guiding philosophy behind your label, and what sets you apart? Who runs it?

Maybe put it like this: Everyone should do what she or he does best.

Of course, you need a structure to make it work, but we still try to find decisions within the group. Communication is quite a big part of our daily work but since most of us live in Dresden we try to meet up in a bigger group regularly. The label is run by three persons but many more people contribute with their individual skills. But I don’t think that sets us apart. There are many more labels out there that work that way.

What we try to encourage is collaboration between our artists, be it live or in the studio. And in a way we also hope to change the way
Dresden is perceived from the outside, and I think we’re on a good path.

What can we expect to see from the label in 2011?

We’ll be putting out two various artists singles to introduce some more fresh talent from Dresden in the first half of the year. In June we’ll release our first artist EP, which will be by Jacob Korn. Later in the year we’ll continue with maybe one or two more artist EPs, probably by Break SL and Cuthead.

On May 7 we’ll have a label showcase at Panorama Bar in Berlin, which fills us with pride and excitement!

Which record label, past or present, would you name as an inspiration or role model for what you do, and why?

Force Inc. Music Works for incorporating producers with various styles in a coherent way during the ‘90s.

Warp Records for over 20 years of creativity; both in terms of musical output and visual appearance. They have managed to steadily reinvent themselves without losing authenticity.