Interview: Louisahhh!!! & Maelstrom about new label RAAR

Interview: Louisahhh!!! & Maelstrom about new label RAAR

Recently we've already been writing about RAAR, the new label that Louisahhh! and Maelstrom started. RAAR is a technolabel for punkrockers, or a punkrocklabel for technolovers. That's the all-saying baseline on which they've continued their labeljourney. If you ask us, their first release, that you can read here (in Dutch), hits the mark right away. For that reason we thought it was a good idea to ask both successful technoheads about their journey of creating their own label. 

FUZZ - Who came up with the idea to start something new?

Louisahhh!!!: I feel like Maelstrom was actually the one who realised the possibility of us starting a label. I felt that this was a project that we should do or could do like maybe 5 years down the road. I really appreciate his why-not-now-attitude because it has been really inspiring for both of us to be able to get something of our own.

Maelstrom: The thing is, we realised at some point that we had so much in common. We were sharing so much love for music that this was the right moment to start our own label. We had all the energy and the ideas and the will to do it now, so why not give it a try. We’ve been talking about it for maybe 6 or 10 months and after that we said: Let’s do it!

FUZZ - How did you come up with the name RAAR?

Louisahhh!!!:  We originally had a different name. The translation of the name made it so unique (RAAR). It felt really good because in French it means ‘rare’ and it sounds like a roar. I like whenever I translate it on my computer, it translates as roar, which I thought was pretty cool. And in Dutch it means weird so I definitely think it speaks the warrior language of the label and because Resident Advisor wouldn’t give us a review (laugh).

FUZZ - Something off-topic for a moment. How did you two meet? 

Louisahhhh!!!: Good question. I can’t remember the place, the time nor the event when we met. We were set-up like an arranged marriage. Back then I was working on my first EP for Bromance Records, Transcend and so I literally took my things, arranged an Airbnb in Paris, where Maelstrom lived, and then the day after I got on a train in the middle of winter.

"A few weeks later we had already finished a tune. I don’t think I ever felt that kind of musical synergy ever working before, in retrospect I knew how magical and powerful that was but I think I took it for granted. Like 'Oh wow, this is interesting' " - 

Maelstrom: I haven’t worked with anyone that much before. I used to work alone. That's why I did not know what to expect because we had never met before. Eventually the result was great. We went on making amazing music almost instantly and it kept going. We had our first tune finished in like 3 or 4 days.

FUZZ - Are you both in charge for releases and scheduling? 

Louisahhh!!!: We both are doing A&R and art direction. Maelstrom is much better with French administrative duties. We ask appropriately skilled friends and family for help when necessary. It is a family affair, a labor of love. Truly!

Maelstrom: So we're both in charge of everything, which means we're talking to each other quite often and each decision about the label comes from both of us: choosing the music, deciding over graphic design and website, distribution, etc...

Fuzz-  You both used to release on Bromance and other successful labels. Is there anything going to change in that area or are you solely going to release on your new label now? 

M: Yes, we have a great relationship with Bromance, Zone and the other labels we work with in the past and we will keep on releasing music with them when it feels right.

FUZZ - Besides this collab you had succesful ones in the past. Can I summarize it with the words, ‘arranged marriage’?

L: Haha, I think it's so much more than that. We bring something to each other that we don't have separately. It's unique and precious. Especially playing live, we then become a psychic machine!

M: I often prefer being alone in the studio, but with Louisahhh!!! it's different, it feels like we have the same ambitions. 

"We have the same aspirations about the direction in which we want to lead our music and label, but we have also a completely different background, therefore  it's so interesting to work together." - Maelstrom

FUZZ - How are things going with upcoming releases?

Maelstrom: Releases 002 to 004 are already completed. We will showcase the work of newcomers, heroes from the French hardcore scene, midi hackers and footwork experimentalists. We don't really want to have a schedule. It's also not good to plan ahead too much I think. So we will release new records when the music and the desire to do so is here. It has to feel necessary.

Louisahhh!!!: We want to give each release its necessary time and energy, but we are really eager and excited to put out the work we think is important.

FUZZ - Can you tell us how you came up with the collaboration Roijacker? We already knew Mr. Jones and Dave Clarke like to work together, but suddenly Black Asteroid shows up to top things off!

Louisahhh!!!: That was something of their own doing. We wondered if they might have music that fit our label's description as these guys are our acquaintances and heroes. And what they presented to us was really magnificent. We are so excited they're on board.

Maelstrom: I actually just learned that the name 'Roijacker' comes from an unreleased album of Depeche Mode. Just for informational purposes (laughs).

FUZZ - Personally we think the Unsubscribe Remix on the first release of RAAR is absolutely mental. Did they suggest the idea of doing the remix?

Maelstrom: Yes, again, that was coming from them, and you're right it's a real monster.

FUZZ - I like the whole thought and idea behind your label. Everything really fits like a puzzle, was that meant-to-be or did you have issues completing this puzzle?

Louisahhh!!!: It feels like every obstacle was actually creating the perfect path. That's not an exaggeration. Like whenever we get a 'no' it is turning into, 'wait, something better'. Like 'wait, no one needs to approve this. We can do whatever we want! It's on us to make it happen? OK, let's go!'

Maelstrom: Exactly. I think it all started to make sense when we decided do go D.I.Y. and embrace the 'punk rock' way of releasing music and arts. After that everything came together quite organically: the artwork, but also the will to not use classic digital distribution channels.

FUZZ - Getting used to the fact you are your own boss now?

Maelstrom: Indeed, more work but total freedom and totally worth it.

FUZZ - And more satisfaction I presume?

Maelstrom: It's just different, I also love working with other labels because you get feedback from the label's A&R, and it's just a different challenge.

Louisahhh!!!: It feels good, I really like that the work we are doing matters in a different way.

FUZZ - How will you select future artwork/photo’s or poems? 

Louisahhh!!!: It's really cool to be able to ask friends and heroes on what they're working on fits with our creative creed and get a response. And then have a lot of people - strangers - seemingly really excited about the energy behind RAAR.

Maelstrom: Hopefully it will be a relationship and a discussion between the music, the artwork and every other aspect of each release. We'll just make sure we're keeping the channels open, if that makes sense.

FUZZ - When will you be able to feel like it’s been a success?

Maelstrom: It's already a success. Having the music on vinyl and shipped to record labels around the world is all that matters.

FUZZ - Ok, but there aren't any specific goals you wish to achieve other from spreading your musical vision and the freedom to release it?

Louisahhh!!!: We don't need outside validation, the project is about existing in freedom. 'No gods, no masters' as they often say here.

Maelstrom: I guess every single EP is a success in its own way. When we can spread the music, when we love and share it with an audience, and also expand the way the audience perceives the music. 

"There has to be a sense of exploration, a discovery, which means that those who buy our records will feel like they'll have discovered something new, set foot in an unknown territory." - Maelstrom

FUZZ - You celebrated your first EP with an awesome party in Nantes. Are you planning on doing this more frequently or is it a ‘one-time-thing'?

Maelstrom: We were lucky enough to have both Dave Clarke and Mr Jones travelling from Amsterdam to join us. But there will be more events normally. We're currently working on RAAR-parties in Paris and Lyon and hopefully outside of France next year.

FUZZ - Sounds very promising! Thanks Louisahhh!!! and Maelstrom for this interesting chat. We wish you the best of luck with upcoming releases. We'll be definitely watching you!