What made you create this label? Why? What is the idea and inspiration behind it?
My good friend Paul Hazendonk of Manual Music and I were already 'playing record company' by putting together mix / compilation tapes whilst attending high school. At some point Paul was already active in the ‘real’ music industry for quite a few years when he asked me if I would be interested in starting my own record label. He had a lot of great music being send to him for Manual Music but he simply didn't have the space to release it all. So it seemed like a great solution for him to let me start a new label and give some more artists a chance to release their stuff. I was exciting about this plan, decided to go for it and in 2010 Cinematique was born with a first release by Giorgos Gatzigristos, indeed a Manual Music artist.
Paul’s plan worked... for a little while. Because people quickly started noticing my Cinematique label and before long I had established a loyal group of resident artists resulting in the same ‘problem’ of Paul: getting too much good music to release.
Now, Cinematique is over 13 years old! It has grown into a mature label under the wings of the Manual Music company with an own and very recognizable sound. To be honest, at the beginning of the label I did not really had an idea of which sound I would like to present at all. That’s why I came up with a tag line for Cinematique: ‘The widescreen of electronic music’, a metaphor of being a home base for all sorts of music. Somehow it organically grew into the sound I love so much now and which can be described as melodic techno and progressive house, with a strong focus on emotive melodies. I do like to release more experimental electronica stuff as well though.
How long had the idea of a label been on your minds before its official launch? What were the challenges running up to its launch
I think the idea came up in just a few months. And apart from trying to find my own sound, I did not really bump into anything as Paul already had lots of experience with running labels. His experience was very helpful in regards to the launch of Cinematique.
What is the inspiration behind the logo and artwork?
Paul brought me in contact with a guy named Aleksandar who was doing artwork stuff back then. Somehow I found the name Cinematique somewhere and thought that would be a nice name for a label, especially in combination with the tag line and the idea behind being ‘the widescreen of electronic music’. Aleksandar created the logo and the first templates for the artwork, and that’s about it. Not much has changed since 2010: still using the same logo and in most of the times the same cover template. It’s recognizable and I find that important in times where it’s already hard to get noticed.
What genre of music the label hosts and what do you look for specifically in a track that gives you that sense of belonging in a track to release it on your platform?
Everything in between electronic/experimental towards the harder side of melodic techno can be a fit for Cinematique. I always find it hard to describe what I’m looking for as labelling good music is very subjective. The key factor is that I need to like it, I’m the one to decide. I would say that music that gives me a big smile or let me put my hands in the air spontaneously when hearing it the first time, is quite essential. Strong melodies making the track more emotional are really helpful as well.
In terms of demos, how do you accept, review and reject from all the thousands you receive? What are the challenges in sifting through the boatload of demos you receive for releases and the communication you maintain with aspirants?
It’s impossible to listen to all demos in the first place. I simply don’t have the time to check it all out. Important for me is that I can read in the first few lines that someone is really interested in Cinematique and not just did a copy-paste e-mail to dozens of labels at the same time. E-mails with CC to many other labels, the file directly uploaded in the e-mail or only containing preview links are a no go anyway.
For me it’s important that someone writes 1 or 2 lines as an introduction which gives me at least a bit of an idea who is writing to me and I can see if someone has actually an idea where Cinematique stands for. A direct playable but non-public link (Soundcloud preferred) with 2 till 4 tracks and of course the tracks need to have a match with the genres I’m releasing. Serious demos I always try to answer, but due to the amount I don’t guarantee I will succeed. If the music really stands out, it will be noticed somehow is my experience.
How many VA and compilations do you release in a year and what kind of tracks you choose? What kind of artists do you select for the VA? Basically what purpose does a VA serve to a label?
I don’t really have a precise method for compilations. Last year I started up again a VA compilation called ‘ Midnight Beats’ after many years of absence. The idea behind this album is to have 10 tracks by various artists, whether they were already present on my label before or completely new. For example it gives me a chance to release (new) artists who are not ready (yet) for a full EP. But also, due to my full release schedule it’s nice to offer a spot on a compilation to resident artists to keep them visible on the label on a regular basis.
Besides ‘Midnight Beats’ I do release various compilation albums now and then with works of the Cinematique back catalogue. This is a nice way to put older tracks back in the spotlight again. And I have also released VA compilations on special occasions like the 100th release or celebrating 10 years of Cinematique.
Which one has been a highlight release and why?
That’s an impossible question to answer. I have done so many fine releases and I love them all, it’s like asking a dad which of his children is his favourite. Following up the previous question, I would like to mention though the 10 years compilation ‘Decennium’. My idea was to create a 20 track album with all brand new tracks from artists who had done something in the past or recently for Cinematique. When sending out this question to a selection of artists, about all of them all agreed upon directly and they were happy to deliver a track exclusively made for this album. I think only 2 or 3 artists had various good reasons to decline my request, which made me realize that Cinematique is a special home base for so many talented artists. To realize that and the feeling it gives, made the release of this album very special for me personally.
What do you expect from new talent when you sign them? What makes you reject them from releasing on your label?
I don’t really have any specific no go areas to reject a new talent if he or she makes good music. If I like it and I want to sign it, I don’t really have any specific demands. However, in some occasions you just don’t meet each others expectations or there’s simply no click during the communication and in that case it could be better for both label and artist to follow their own way. Luckily that does not happen that much.
Of course I do hope that every artist realize that doing promotion is something you need to do together. We all need to put our fair share into it to make a release work, but as long as an artist is aware of that I don’t see anything specific to reject as long as the music is great.
From your country, which other label is pushing the same music as you are and how do you think everyone is helping push the local producers?
There are a lot of labels pushing more or less the same sound. Cinematique is part of the Manual Music label family with every label within this family (Manual Music, MNL, Manual Deep, Magnitude Recordings, 90 watts and Cinematique) being in the same genre of music more or less, but still every label has got it’s own signature. Apart from Manual, there are a lot of cool other labels as well. In my opinion it’s fine that labels are pushing the same sound and I also see many artists ‘cruising’ around on all these different labels. I only stimulate that: for example, usually I can not release the same artist 5 times per year so if he has got the chance to release his music elsewhere as well I think that’s great. It’s better to work together to push the sound we all love instead of seeing each other as fierce competition.
What kind of support do you look for from artists and other parties in promoting your music worldwide? What are the challenges in promoting music to corners of the world where you may not be as popular as in your home country.
It’s always a pleasure to see big name DJ’s playing your label’s music or see a crowd go wild at a release. The biggest challenge is however the amount of music that is being released on a daily basis and thus being noticed. To stand out as a small label with maybe not having ‘premier league’ names on Cinematique is difficult but I know there’s a niche market enjoying the music I’m releasing. The funny thing is, support is coming from all over the world. And I always say there are 3 reasons for me to continue the label: first is the need of good music, second is the need for a crowd that is actually enjoying our music and third is that I need to enjoy it myself to run the label. So far this is still the case and as long as all three of these factors are present, I keep on running the Cinematique label and pushing the sounds and artists I love. I work together with wonderful artists and I would not like to take away the label that some of them consider as their home base.