interview by MAREK BARTEK

When Paul and Dave started Dynamic Reflection, many had their doubts about the viability of this new label. Fast forward to this year and Dynamic Reflection celebrates its 15th birthday, producing some of the biggest names of electronic music. On the label’s crystal anniversary, Paul and Dave look back and talk about their experience with the label, electronic music scene and their five part EP Time Crystals.

You can stream Dynamic Reflection’s releases here

Dynamic Reflection was launched fifteen years ago and is now a celebrated label. What was the reason for you to start the label in the first place? 
PAUL: I was still studying at university, and I worked one day a week at Triple Vision. Everyone working there was running their own label. Dave already had his own label back then too, named Audio Sculpture, and it was also a dream of mine to have my own label. At some point, we couldn’t find a lot of new music that we really enjoyed, so in 2008 we decided to start a label, and add something of our own to the electronic music spectrum. 

DAVE: During that time period from 2006 till 2010, there were actually only two main sub-genres in the electronic music scene — minimal and hard techno, and neither one of us felt very comfortable in those genres. There were a few producers whose music we liked — Mike Parker, Counterpart, guys like this. But it was only a handful of them. 

PAUL: It was also quite difficult to get your hands on new music back then. There was no digital era, no people who were playing from a USB stick or even with CDs. Everybody was playing vinyl, and so to get a record out was expensive and took a lot of time and effort. It was a big risk also to start a new label. I remember that my boss Marco, the owner of Triple Vision, told me: “Paul, don’t do it because you’re going to lose a lot of money.”

After I finished my university, I stopped working there (Triple Vision) and I asked Marco one last time before I left. He told me: “I’ve warned you, don’t come complaining to me when you lose money, but if you really want to do it, go for it!” We got the distribution deal and now we’re here fifteen years later. It was a struggle initially, it’s still a struggle sometimes, but we’re so happy with how the label established over the years.

You have once described the music your label produces as “intelligent, dance floor oriented techno in its purest form.” What do you consider intelligent music in its purest form?
DAVE: I think this phrase you’re referring to was already written in 2009 or 2010. It’s actually very simple. It describes timeless music, mostly loopy and hypnotic. You should be able to listen to it for the next twenty years. I think that that’s one of the most important things for us.

PAUL: When I first came in touch with electronic music, it was more hardcore and hardstyle and trance as well. It is quite easy to listen to because it’s catchy. The production is predictable, so you always know what’s about to happen. With techno, it actually took me some time to really understand what techno is because it has very many different layers, no climax, not a lot of breaks. Especially the techno we play is very loop based, very repetitive, a lot of percussion use, sometimes hypnotic, and that’s why I think we call it intelligent orientated dancefloor music. We want to release music that was made for the dancefloor, and just as Dave said it is also very important that it’s timeless. Even now fifteen years later, when I listen to every record we have released over the years it’s basically still the same type of techno, only the tempo changes every few years. 

DAVE: Of course, the production techniques have become better. There’s a lot of gear and plug-ins which changed the sound in a more advanced way. The vision behind it is maybe a bit more evolved, but in the end it all comes from the same source that remained unchanged. 

Over the years, how do you feel your identity as a label developed? 
DAVE: It’s difficult to say that about your own label, because it’s more like a continuous process, which you don’t have all the saying in. We don’t know what others think about things we put out. It’s more that if we think something really fits the label, we will simply release it.

PAUL: I think people create some sort of identity to it. We just put out what we love and think and ofcourse hope, people will like to listen to, and then the audience or the crowd, they decide what kind of identity you develop over the years.

If you do something or put something out or create a company or a brand, you want to create and maintain a certain image. Image and identity goes hand in hand, and I think if people’s perception matches with the way you express yourself or express the music, then you have a good thing going I think. 

Over the years we got a lot of support from artists we have a lot of respect for or who have been a big influence on us and on our music. That’s the biggest gift you can get. I think we’ve managed to create a well-respected label in a certain niche.

DAVE: Fifteen years ago, the label was not really known in parts like South America, and nowadays, a lot is going on for us there. We play there, and we have artists making music on our label from countries like Colombia or Argentina.

PAUL: In all parts of the world, we have some connections with the label, and I think that these connections also shape the identity in a way. They say that music is a universal language that everybody speaks. We can tell you from our own perspective that’s a fact. 

Do you feel you’ve grown to be more critically niche or more open to different artists when choosing who you’re going to produce?
DAVE: That’s a very good but very difficult question, because techno is constantly evolving. There are so many new sub-genres every period, so it’s almost impossible to say how niche we are. In my world, the music is simply here to stay.  On the other hand, I listen a lot to that kind of music, so maybe it’s my own bubble or perspective?

PAUL: It’s tricky to put labels on it. We’re obviously not mainstream techno. We’re in a sort of spectrum, you can call it a niche. But within that niche, let’s call it underground techno, I think what we do is quite broad. It goes from ambient, experimental drones to deep, hypnotic stuff to the more heavier energetic darker side of techno. 

DAVE: We were never thinking like: “But is it going to be niche enough?” It’s not really a conscious process. If it resonates with us, then it’s clearly something that has our attention. 

PAUL: If we receive a demo and it triggers us within the first few seconds, then you know it’s going to be good, and it doesn’t really matter who it is. Quality always speaks for itself. 

Could you share some insights into your label’s creative process? How do you discover and select artists or music for your releases?
DAVE: We both get a lot of promos and demos. If we consider just those two, there is already a good selection. Sometimes, we speak to people at parties, and they hand over us a demo. In the end, it’s all about listening to new stuff. If something sounds really interesting, then we contact the artists. 

PAUL: Someone new can pop up, especially if we go through promos and then the artist shows up in our playlists, and we don’t see them very often or never heard from them before, then it’s always interesting for us to contact that person. Sometimes it’s just to say we appreciate your music and keep up the good work, but if they are interested and have time to send us some demos in the near future, they are free to do that. And many times it results in a new release or discovering new artists.

DAVE: We also get a lot of messages on Messenger, Instagram, SoundCloud, or in our demo Inbox.

PAUL: It’s quite easy nowadays to reach out to even big artists, because of social media. Just send a person a DM and hopefully they will reply. 

You’re celebrating your 15 years with an EP Time Crystals. Can you tell us about this project and the inspiration behind it?  
PAUL: It is also quite complex, but in a nutshell, if you look at our artworks, they are always connected to nature or to the evolution of nature. So it was very important for us that this one was also connected to nature. Time Crystals comes from the fifteen-year anniversary, which is also called “crystal anniversary”. And then there was some scientific news about Time Crystals. Usually if you find a material and you extract energy from it, it loses its energy at some point, but these Time Crystals had an ongoing energy process and never lost its energy, so they kept going on and on and on, which is basically quite similar to the music we put out. It’s timeless, so it would also never lose its energy. 

DAVE: We wanted to connect with a timeless part because it nicely ties to what we want. We are not scientists, and it’s pretty difficult to explain, but it’s a fascinating process. 

artwork of Time Crystals Pt. 5 – Eye of Agamotto
See the full collection of Time Crystals here.

The EP features Infinite Oscillation, Liquid Solids, Quantum Realm, Equilibrium and Eye of Agamotto. How did you decide on the artists?
DAVE: As said before, we love to work with new people who didn’t release yet with us, we love to work with our residents, and of course, with people we continuously admire. And so, we made a combination of artists we thought were a good mix to celebrate the fifteen years.

PAUL: All people involved, have been establishing the sound of the label over the past fifteen years. Some of them are big inspirations for us, like Oscar Mulero, Function or Matrixxman. Most of them became good friends of ours over the years. And then it’s also really nice to have a platform for young up-and-coming talents to showcase their music to a larger audience like Viels, Troy, Luigi Tozzi.

For us, the most important thing is that we can share our love for the music we put out, and help other people with that. They’re all like minded souls where we have created and established personal connections with.

Techno has evolved significantly since the label’s inception. How do you perceive the current state of the techno music scene, and what role does Dynamic Reflection play in shaping it?
PAUL: It’s a topic we speak a lot about, and especially Dave and I and all of our friends around. We have been around long enough in the techno scene to know that everything comes in cycles. When we started the label, hard techno was a really big thing, and at some point around 2011, it kind of died. Same thing goes for minimal music, it also became less and less popular. But now we’re in time that the tempo went up again, especially with this new hard techno going on.

DAVE: There was a time ten to fifteen years ago when it was almost forbidden to play above 130 bpm.

PAUL: I think the minimum was around between 120 to 128, hard Techno was always 145 to 160. So we always put out music between those two, around 136 to 140. When the “Berghain sound” came up, the tempo was around 128 to 130. In the last few years it has become really fast, so it’s just a matter of time when the tempo will go down. The sooner, the better imo 😉 

DAVE: Generally, techno has become so big that by sharing, we are becoming smaller, but I don’t think there are fewer people who like our kind of music. Just in the whole spectrum, our music has become more niche because there is a lot of music that’s considered techno. It’s a very big circle, and we are a little part of us. 

PAUL: For example, pop and hip hop were very big in the US and they still are, but electronic music now became such a big deal, and you can see it at the festivals as well. Also, if you look at the sales of our label the last few years, we sell a lot of techno music in the US. I think people are getting bored of the commercial side of electronic music. People who enjoy listening to artists like David Guetta or Afrojack or Martin Garrix are now finding their own way in the electronic music spectrum, and some of them might end up in techno music similar to Adam Beyer’s Drumcode sound or even our techno or more maybe Afterlife melodic kinda stuff. But what is our role in all that? To be honest, I don’t know. We just put out what we love. 

Besides the EP, are there any other upcoming projects that you are very excited about and share some information with us? 
DAVE: We do have some ideas already. We can’t say so much about it, but definitely, we will be back with something very exciting. 

PAUL: I think for now until the end of the year, we will roll out the rest of the fifteen years anniversary pack. At the end of October we released the fourth one and at the end of November that will be the fifth one, which is the last one. And then we’re moving into the end of the year and I don’t think we’re going to put out anything by then, but for the next year, we’re going to bring some new interesting projects again.