Æntitainment: an interview with Christopher Braucks and C. Constantin Reineck

“What we do is similar to what a male seahorse does. After the act of, well, fucking, it carries its babies and gives birth.
We do so as well. And as the seahorses we care a lot about our babies. We don’t want them to be sold at supermarkets or megastores. Like good fathers we carefully choose their environment, because we really don’t want them to share a cashdesk with toasters, nosehaircutters and mobilephones.” – from the Æntitainment website

Chris & Constantin Reineck1 – How and why did you come about starting Æntitainment?

Chris: We needed a platform and we wanted to have control.

Constantin: Chris and I came a long way and were producing music before. We got to the point where we had a lot of creative output that we felt was ready to publish. But neither one of us was up to shaking hands with labels and record companies. We felt extremely disturbed by the paralysis of the traditional music industry. Old concepts…

Chris: Worn out concepts! And ways that lead nowhere.

Constantin: …traditional products, lame connectivity with the people – we did not want that to be associated with our music. So we chose freedom and founded Æntitainment.

2 – When you started Æntitainment, were there any labels that you could say were a reference/inspiration for your efforts?

Constantin: There are a lot of labels I admire for their music and their appearance. I can’t say that there is a specific label I see as a reference to what we do.

Chris: I choose Warp, because of their informal philosophy and because they care about their artworks. And Anti, the sub-label of Epitaph, because they just don’t care about the style of music but the quality. Tricky, Tom Waits and The Locust have been there at the same time. And Epic! Because they’re out of business, aren’t they?

Constantin: Some years ago I was a fan of Motor Music, back in the days when Tim Renner was rebuilding it. I also am a big fan of Mute. But for us, Æntitainment is a completely new approach to dealing with music. We do not see it strictly as a label in the standard terms. Æntitainment is a publishing platform. We are partly distributing, partly publishing, we are connecting, and when you browse our website, you will find out that it’s really not just about music promotion.

We serve broken music, of course, but we also serve the natural habitat of it. Our idea when founding Æntitainment was to give ourselves the freedom to publish anything: PDF magazines, pictures, essays, videos and music.

3 – Almost mandatory question: how did the name “Æntitainment” come about?

Constantin: Chris had the idea; I liked it. It seems he is the creative person when it comes to names. He also was the one having the idea to call our magazine the “OBJEKTS.”

Chris: Plain and simple: A combination of the words “anti” and “entertainment” plus the usage of the great letter “Æ.” This doesn’t mean we’re anti-entertainment, but…

Constantin: …well, I guess analyzing it to death might not help, just try to feel the name. Anything can be entertaining. I am extremely entertained listening to Radiohead, while others would speak of it as “disturbing.” I think the approach to our name might best be described with the words, “Against dumb and stupid entertainment for the masses, let’s create and express ourselves with attitude.”

4 – Since the inception of Æntitainment, are there any events in the history of the label that you’d consider as particularly relevant, from difficulties and setbacks to successes?

Chris: All-time favorite setback No.1: The music of utopia:banished is “too much rock.” All-time favorite setback No.2: The music of utopia:banished is “too electronic.” On a personal level, the Elektroanschlag 8 festival this year was a great success. We met many cool people and we got to hang a whole day with Nicolas from Ad Noiseam and Dave (Detritus), who are the probably the nicest guys on earth. Experiences like these help to ignore the difficulties.

Constantin: Æntitainment has a short history of 3 years or so, but there certainly are some people and events worth mentioning. I was extremely proud of the first vinyl. I am even more proud of the artists and music we serve on the “Whiteline Vol. II” compilation, and the best moments with other people were: meeting Nicolas of Ad Noiseam, Dave (Detritus), Rob (Bob Humid), the guy with the uniform at this years Elektroanschlag – called Nathan – and a hell of a lot more. All those events were absolutely entertaining on a personal level and valuable on a professional level. But apart from all these “outside moments” I don’t want to miss one single moment Chris and I had in the studio, engineering the vocals for utopia:banished or when we are driving to an event together – priceless days!

5 – So far what would you consider as special highlights (or successful) releases and artists in the history of Æntitainment?

Constantin: That is not up to us to decide.

6 – Are there any releases in particular that you would recommend as good “introductory material” to the Æntitainment label?

Chris: I guess the current issue of the WHITELINE series, along with the latest record of utopia:banished could make a good introduction. Both records offer a great variety of styles and influences. The WHITELINE shows our appreciation for ambitious DJ-music while “Dirtward” is a modern approach to what songwriting can be.

Constantin: Nothing to add.

7 – Looking back, do you have any regrets with the label? If you could go back and change something, what would it be?

Chris: I’d go back to give the production of WHITELINE Vol. II into the hands of another company. This was really a pain in the ass… But I don’t want to waste space to go into any details, so just five words: more than three months’ delay.

Constantin: My biggest regret is a constant one – not having enough time in this world to do what we could and would like to do.

8 – An obvious question, but what is Æntitainment’s relationship with the Internet? From promotional tool and digital sales to file sharing and piracy, how has it affected you?

Constantin: Since we are a very young label we see no need to go on about illegal downloads destroying our sales. It’s a saying you hear a lot these days. We can approach the Internet from a fresh point of view: it exists and serves as the best way to connect. Our artists come from literally everywhere. We exchange files, we communicate and we promote them by using this great tool of the ultimate connectivity.

Chris: The ‘net changed the faces of everything. Communication, business, art, creativity… Though I prefer to go to a real shop to buy my stuff, I like the availability of information. This is definitively the time of the ‘net. So who are we to ignore it?

9 – Slightly related to the previous question: how do you see the concept of netlabels and, as a label head, what is your perspective as to the future and evolution of physical media (CDs, vinyl, etc.)?

Chris: I like physical media better. The case, the artwork… it’s touchy, you know? Everyone says the CD is dying, just like they said before about vinyl. I read an article about the vinyl sales from 2006 in Germany: a big, fat PLUS of 30%.

I guess it would help when people stop crying and go back to work which is actually selling records. I’m not sad that the old structures of the market collapse. Let’s check out new ones. Maybe netlabels? I’m fine with them as long as they care about the quality of music and the quality of their files. 192Hz is the minimum request for an mp3.

Constantin: This is a very interesting topic. The one and only deciding view on music is the experience of it. So how do you experience music today? You listen to recorded music – maybe you turn on your PC, maybe you put on a plate or you shove that disc up your – well – CD player. Everyone has his or her own habit that fits his or her lifestyle. So who are we to decide how our people experience their music?

Chris: Our people!!! *laughter*

Constantin: We are not here to make rules; we are the providers and catalysts. To make it short, we serve it the analogue, digital and mp3-style reduced digital way. Let’s see where it heads to. I am pretty sure that there will be people who want to hold that black plastic and people who want to hold that shiny plate in their hands, and there will be people like me who are slaphappy with ripping the shit down to disc and listening to it via wireless everywhere around the house and in the garden.

I am really done with big companies and their impudent cockiness trying to rule over your music listening habits. We are here to provide you with music. So we offer all ways. And well, netlabels? Yeah, some have good mp3s.

10 – Perspectives for the future: what lies on the horizon for Æntitainment? Can you share some long-term goals and where would you like to see the label heading?

Chris: We have plans for three other records to come. But mostly it’s about making music-business on our own terms.

Constantin: Convergence in broken music.

11 – What other labels/artists would you recommend at the moment and why?

Chris: Anyone who crosses borders! Labels like Ad Noiseam, Anticon, Ipecac, Hydra Head and (of course) Alternative Tentacles, which is the blueprint for contemporary DIY-business. Well, artists… We have been at Bob Humid’s studio lately and he played some tunes to us which were so great that I fell into despair. Moogulator’s live sets are better than ever, and the latest DJ Hidden record was a blast, just as the Peeping Tom record was last year. Strangely enough, my most-listened-track these days is CocoRosie’s “Rainbowarriors.”

Constantin: Moogulator, he is so damn skilled. Live. Recorded. Any way. CTRLer, with his new album. He really has evolved from a live sound to a more fat studio sound. And finally the classic: Lamb. I am still waiting for something new to arise from them.

12 – Thank you for your time, do you have any final comments?

Chris: Our pleasure. Thank you for your interest and support.

Constantin: Y’all have a great day!

Relevant links

Æntitainment

— interview by Miguel de Sousa (September 2007)