Munk is the alias of German producer Mathias Modica, a man with a lengthy history when it comes to crafting electronic music. The owner of two labels, Gomma and Toy Tronics, MUNK is a dizzyingly eclectic individual, and his is a sound preference that’s more geared to NYC labels a la DFA than it is German labels such as Ostgut Ton. That said, he tends to keep his feet firmly in both camps, which perhaps explains the two very different labels which he more than adequately helms.
With a recent DT podcast behind him and his latest EP, the brilliant Southern Moon – a collaboration with vocalist Lizzie Paige – out now on the almost on-cue Exploited Records (and featuring remixes by none other than Darius Syrossian), we thought it an apt time to nab the man himself for a quick chinwag…
So… How does MUNK differ from Mathias Modica?
Under the name of Munk I do my music. Under my real name of Mathias Modica I run the Gomma label and the small new house imprint, Toy Tonics, with my friends.
And yes, in case I will marry – my wife will probably be named Modica rather than Munk!
Tell me about Gomma; it’s not typical of other German labels in that it’s more geared to ‘DFA’ type sounds rather than house and techno?
Our new sub-label Toy Tonics is full on House and Techno with releases and remixes from the likes of Ricardo Baez, Hard Ton, DJ Sprinkles, Volta Cab, S.K.A.M. and all the other dudes who do music on the label.
But for Gomma, you might be right. People say that we are much more open musically then most of the German electronic labels. It’s possible, as when we started -10 years ago- it was quite rare to do a label that releases so many different kind of artists with such a different musical vision. We were always trying to evolve our sound. Never repeating. Finding artists that have a very own sound. Other labels often have many artists that have ONE sound. It’s the opposite at Gomma.
When we created Gomma we were inspired by open-minded UK labels from the 90s like MoWax, Warp or Rephlex and not so much the German techno scene of the day. That’s why we did more collaborations with US artists from DFA or French and Japanese people rather than Germans. But that doesn’t mean that we didn’t like German music! We love Techno!
But in the last fewyears things changed a bit: more German labels started to be more open. Now you have disco, indie pop or weird house releases on many other German labels – which is great. And maybe a bit of a Gomma influence?
A good example is what happened with Kompakt: Kompakt took over WhoMadeWho from us 2 years ago. The Danish Gomma band started on Gomma in 2005 and did 3 albums – we saw their music as a reaction to the techno/ minimal thing. We would never have expected that it’s Germanys biggest techno label who would take them over from Gomma in the end. Times change…
What’s the most challenging aspect of running a label like that?
Every marketing guy will tell you: if you have been successful with one type of sound: you have to stick with that sound… to satisfy the consumer. Then you can make money. And many labels follow that rule. That’s the easiest way to have success.
But at Gomma we do the contrary: we always do something different from the last release. So I imagine a lot of people get irritated by whatever the next Gomma release is or will be. But at least WE never get bored. But it also happens that many of the “strange“ records that we released – later became one of the blueprints of a whole musical wave. I mean: we started to release disco records in 2002 – strange house records in 2005 – and chilled down DIY pop in 2006. Things that later became big musical trends. So maybe on a long term makes sense to stick with our Gomma philosophy!
How has running a label changed over the years at all?
Of course after a certain time you start to not be free to do everything you want to do anymore. Sometimes it’s business before passion. Especially these days. You have to be active on social media. You have to use Soundcloud – which we avoided until a few months ago – you can’t release every single on vinyl even thought we try to with most of our releases. The list is endless.
But I am lucky: because my friend Manuel Kim, is the Gomma label manager and the best dude you can hope to work with! An excellent DJ and label head at same time. So we try to make the most fun out of this business. 100% passion.
Record Store Day has recently passed us by – with your love of pressing to vinyl did you mark the day in any way?
I started to sell parts of my record collection. I had around 12,000 vinyl. I decided to give away most of the music recorded after 1997. Around 7000 records. Just keeping the rare Jazz, Funk, Latin and Classic music records that you can’t find on Youtube, Spotify or iTunes. So some of my vinyl was sold at record Store day too.
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