Permanent Vacation was first started by Benjamin Fröhlich and Tom Bioly almost 14 years ago. Since then the Munich based label has become a purveyor of Disco (and its various incarnations including Balearic, Cosmic, Krautrock and Protohouse). Fast forward to 2020 and it is now arguably one of electronic music’s most exciting imprint. Like many that have come before the label champions the sounds they believe are worthy of their time. The difference, however, is when Permanent Vacation ‘speak’, people tend to dance and have placed their trust in them as a bastion for quality underground music. As such, we sat down with Fröhlichand Bioly as part of our label watch series.
We have read the goal with Permanent Vacation was always to release the music you liked. This approach does not necessarily guarantee a return on investment as you champion more unknown artists based on their musical output and not their perceived value. Do you think this approach limits your shelf life or is it, in fact, the opposite and helps with longevity?
Yes, that is true that we have this as a goal and yes, it is also true that it doesn’t guarantee a return of investment, but we don’t think following the hype necessarily helps you either, especially if your heart’s not in it. It can push you for a little while but it also can be over very quickly. Especially if the tide is turning. We think it’s important to have a healthy mixture between established and maybe lesser-known artists, we believe in. So far this mixture has luckily been working out for us.
We spoke with the Riotvan guys recently and they described having quite a small close-knit group of artists that they release. What is Permanent Vacation’s approach to signing music?
For us, it was always been a bit different too other labels. We’ve never had this close group of artists that we work with. I sometimes envy that, to have a label crew and to do everything together. But from the very beginning, we’ve had artists from all over the world, which is of course also very nice. Unfortunately, you don’t see each other that often or get to regularly exchange ideas, which is easier if you are in the same city. On the other hand, we also like to keep things open without limiting ourselves. So we feel the freedom to release the music we believe in no matter who’s created it or where it’s from.
The label has been operating for 14 years now having released its first record back in 2006. What has been the biggest challenge it has to overcome?
I think we are just now in the biggest challenge to date with this pandemic. Nobody can foresee the effects this will have on dance music culture. It is hard to say how long the shutdown of clubs and festivals or any kind of public dancefloors will last and how that will influence the music. We try to stay positive and find good solutions for the future, but it’s definitely a very special situation to deal with.
Do you think it is solely the responsibility of labels to nurture the next generation of artist’s as well as push the scene in new directions?
Hmmm, good question and one that I’ve never really thought about. I think it’s reciprocity from labels and artists. Every now and then something new pops up – whether it’s an artist or a label – and gives a new impulse.
Permanent Vacation has evolved to become more than just a label with showcases becoming more of a regular occurrence. Do you think people now expect labels to offer more than just a monthly release?
Yes, sometimes I have the feeling that the music alone isn’t enough these days and you have to offer more to the people, who may expect that. Social media and especially Instagram was and still is some of the reasons for that, I believe. Providing other content is ok and fun for the most part, but it also can be a bit distracting from our main interest, the music, and even a bit stressful at times. Especially if you feel a bit shy or insecure.
Is there a track, EP or Album that superseded all expectations when it was released?
The John Talabot album certainly exceeded our expectations in terms of its success. We knew that it is a great album and saw some potential, so we hoped for something good to happen, but it became popular very quickly and still is to this day. The other thing was Tensnake’s Coma Cat and also our second release: the Joakim and Todd Terje remixes took us by surprise by selling 10.000 vinyl copies.
Do you think the ease at which people can release music is beneficial or a hindrance to the growth of the scene?
I think both. It’s great for many people to release their music quite easily without the need for a distributor and a big PR agency, so it got a lot more democratic in that way over the years. But since ten times more music is released these days, the share for each individual party is getting smaller and it’s getting harder to make sure your music is heard.
Finally is there any artists, releases we should be keeping an eye out for?
Of course. You should keep an eye out for every Permanent Vacation release 🙂 We have a new compilation coming up, which is the sixth part of our Permanent Vacation label compilation and it also marks our 200th release, which is, of course, special to us. We are also quite happy with the way it turned out. It will be out on May 22nd.