MMM:039 – Benjamin Fröhlich
Benjamin Fröhlich’s story speaks to every young person who loves underground music. From owning his own record store in Munich to running his own record label Permanent Vacation, throwing and DJing at parties around the world and now releasing his own music – he’s basically checked off every stage of the cliché childhood wish-list.
My first experience of the German’s output was an excellent mix for Australian producer Dreems’ Sleepmix series, a mix series which unsurprisingly focuses on the more relaxed nocturnal sounds out there. With a little further research I discovered that Benjamin was the co-founder of Permanent Vacation, one of Europe’s most well respected dance music labels with releases from house music luminaries such as John Talabot, Mano Le Tough, Todd Terje & Tuff City Kids among many others. Fröhlich has spent most of his adult life helping to hold the fabric of the underground music industry together.
Recently he’s taken those experiences and put them towards his own musical production. His 2016 debut EP ‘Rude Movements’ showcased his eclectic tastes with acid, breakbeat and electro influences holding equal footing across four excellent tracks. A second EP is on its way and the remix EP for ‘Rude Movements’ which just landed features edits by Lauer & Shan. You can grab both the original, and remix 12”, over at Permanent Vacations online store here.
I spoke with Benjamin about producing an ambient mixtape for us and picked a good moment to reach out. What he has put together is a beautiful drifting celestial odyssey where the first signs of percussion don’t arrive until the final chapter, scouring the corners of dance musics more subdued cousin. It’s a mix that shows the label chief’s eclectic ear and appreciation of the IDM, left-field and ambient spectrum. Whilst mostly a departure from his 4/4 foundations, Métron Musik Mixtape 039 still features a whole gaggle of names familiar to most electronic music fans, including Kornel Kovacz, DJ Harvey and Lord of the Isles. It’s a beautiful, tranquil listen best enjoyed in a quiet space.
I got a chance to speak to Benjamin about living in Munich and starting Permanent Vacation. Check out what he had to say below.
What was the thought process behind this beautiful mixtape?
I did quite a few mixes around that time that were fairly clubby and was looking for a breather. So I was happy you asked for a mix and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take a short vacation from the 4/4 and dig a little deeper in my collection to see what remains after the bassdrum has stopped.
Where did your interest in ambient music come from?
In general I listen to a relatively wide spectrum of music depending on my mood or the situation I’m in and Ambient is a part of that. It’s also one of that spongy genres that consume a lot of music from different times and places, which I really like. In my youth the different styles of music were much more separated and more defining of your choice of clothes and friends you hang around, whether you were listening to Punk, Hip Hop or were a Club Kid. This sometimes made me feel a bit torn. As I became older I felt a certain relief, because I did not have the feeling anymore that I had to choose between genres, but could listen to everything instead. I am also quite a big Reggae and Dub head. So maybe for the next mix… 😉
Can you tell us a bit about your involvement with Permanent Vacation and the ethos of the label?
Tom Bioly and I founded the label in the tropical summer of 2006 in Munich. Tom was working at Compost records and I ran a record shop back then. We both felt a bit lost in the clubs at that time, because we were both not huge Minimal fans and not too keen on Electrochlash either. So we were both hooked with the New Wave of Balearic and Cosmic Music that had a comeback at that time. So we were pretty excited of the new developments and it felt really natural to start a label together. The ethos of the label is probably very basic: We only want to release music we really like that fits in the Permanent Vacation universe and will hopefully last longer than one season.
Obviously people commonly associate Berlin as Germany’s musical capital, Munich is perhaps lesser known to outsiders so what is it about the city that has kept you there for so long?
When I was 22 I opened a record shop in Munich and I guess that’s the time, where lot’s of people go exploring different countries and cities to study there or whatever. So I was kind of tied to the city, but that was never really a problem for me. I always liked it here and felt quite comfortable with with having most of my friends and family here and for me it has just the right size. Not too big and not too small. You get around quite easily and within a 25 min bike ride you are surrounded by great nature. Besides that my girlfriend was studying in Leipzig and moved to Berlin later for 7 years so I went back and forth a lot, which gave me the opportunity to check out different cities without moving there completely.
What do you have planned for 2017?
We have our 10-year label anniversary this year (well actually last year but we didn’t make it in time 😉 ) which we will celebrate with a compilation of new exclusive tracks from our artists. We’re also going to throw a big party for that in autumn. I am going to release my second solo EP this year and I did a couple of remixes which, hopefully see the light of day soon. Plus DJing and label work.
We always ask for a few recommendations of stuff that we might have overlooked over the years, any suggestions?
Not really a hidden gem, but I am very obsessed with the “Sky Girl” compilation on Effecient Space. I listen to it a lot. Thanks to Andrew from Huntleys & Palmers for introducing it to me. Also Frotee Records from Estonia re-release some great music. Especially the Velly Joonas 7″ is quite addictive. Also the Reissue of Rolf Trostel “Two Faces” LP on Bureau B is worth checking out. Apart from recorded music, I had a really great time at a Zombie Zombie concert recently. They are a fantastic live band. So if they come around — go there! And if you plan a Block Party anytime soon, make sure to get your hands on Misa Negra’s “Hype Me Up” (Jump Up).
Manmade Deejay & Palta – Improvise in Order
Versatile Ensemble – Meandres
Barbarella – Barbarella (The Irresistable Force Mix)
Prins Emanuel – Oran
Planet Funk – Inside All The People (Dj Harvey Ibiza Sleepy Mix)
Obalski – Wind_s
Gigi Masin – Almanac
Lord Of The Isles – Tocpe
Andres Aguirre – Last Call
Dj Sports – Emotional Endeavour
Kornel Kovacs – Szemes