Label owners Jeroen and Maxim reflect back on five years of Anagram

After five years and fifteen releases and with the starting of a new vinyl only series, Jeroen and Maxim asked each other a few questions regarding the label, inspiring artists and experiences in the industry.

M:  Looking back on five years of Anagram, can you mention some key events that helped shape the label?

J: Damn, there has been a few actually. Cheesy as it may sound, but I can't believe that it has been five years already. When I look back I think of a few events that were important for me as an artist and for the label as well. The release of my 'Intra' EP was one of them. There was some pressure after our first two EP's for me to deliver again on my second solo EP and less time because the label was already live at that time. I remember being a bit more frustrated than the first two releases, but the payoff was totally worth that. When Boris (Octual) and myself were in Israel to play at The Block, somebody told me that they played Crystalline there in random bars. I was totally astonished by this, but it gave me such a good feeling that all sorts of people were enjoying my music. 

Hitting a million plays with Anetha's 'Acid Train' was another one. Still so sick.

And last but not least, you joining the label was an important change. This might sound like a lot of bromance (haha), but I have to really credit you for being your honest and overlooking self. I think we complement each other in a lot of ways as friends and entrepeneurs and I couldn't have done it like this without you.

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J: What was your experience like joining the Anagram team while the label was already running? Do you think this fact gives you a different perspective and in what way?

M: To me this felt as a very natural process. I had always been the biggest fan of my friends that were producing and performing as DJ’s. I tried to support them in every way possible from the beginning and was always involved in some way. I was very happy when we got to the point where you asked me to fully join and run the label. Around that time I did an internship at Octopus Agents where I learned a lot about this world. I also worked for Spazio Disponibile; the label by Donato Dozzy and Neel. Having worked with international artists and people from the scene, I was happy and confident to put this knowledge in to practice at Anagram. I don’t think me joining in later gave me a different perspective on the label and running things, but as you know I tend to have different perspectives on lots of things happening in- and outside of music haha.

M: What is your vision for the next five years of Anagram?

J: I want to keep on growing the Family worldwide. That means more creating, more exploring and more conquering internationally and intercontinentally. Creating more community within our existing fanbase and connecting with the ones that have been supporting us. Occasionally people tell me that we have our own lane of doing things and I have always had this feeling too. I really believe in sticking to our guns and I want to take our own original vision far as we can. We have a lot of music ready to be released and I can’t wait to share that in the next period of time.

J: You are the label manager and booking agent, so you are dealing with a lot of creative people. From your perspective, what is it that sets the interpersonal relationships in our industry apart from other industries?

M: Well it’s hard to compare industries for me since next to studying I’ve only worked in music so far. In my opinion it can be quite challenging working with people that get hundreds of emails every day. I’m the kind of guy that likes to have a close and intimate relationship (including small talk) with the people I work with, even though it’s in an email thread. Adapting to people that don’t feel that way, or who are just to busy, is very interesting. As a lot of creatives have their own special way of thinking and dealing with things (communicating, organising etc.), recognising elements that can be worked on together can be different from other industries. For instance I can imagine in a more corporate environment, dealing with people can be more predictable and maybe more easy (??) because off strict set rules and frameworks that companies handle.

M: If you would have the chance to work with a few artists (not strictly electronic) that inspire you, who would that be?

J: I would start by saying Four Tet. I have seen a couple of video's of him working in the studio and I was completely blown away by the state of flow that this man seems to create for himself. As I get deeper into production, I see the importance of not having to think about what you are doing too much and just going with the flow and he seems to have figured that out for himself. I always love it when an artist creates the most complex art like it's nothing and I think I would learn a lot from him.

Second one is Tzusing. I saw him close the Greenhouse on Dekmantel and I credit him for a feature I deeply respect: not giving a fuck about genre. I think as a DJ or artist this is very important. This is where new territory is created and he seems to go for bending and breaking that status quo. I have loads of respect for artists that mix so much different kinds of music which in his case floats together perfectly. I could challenge myself a lot being around that kind of creativity.

Last but not least: Tyler, The Creator. Everything he's doing is so on point. It's not about that I would like to make his type of music. It's more that I really like the fact that he doesn't care about any conformity and completely does his own thing and he does it with a lot of flair. I love to see artists being this wholesome being where every aspect of what they do and convey is corresponding with one another. The music they're making, the clothes they are wearing, the subjects they like to talk about, their personality, etcetera. It's authentic and I think that authenticity is very inspiring. He also strikes me as a really nice guy :)

J: What was your number one highlight from the last years and could you go into detail why?

M: It’s hard for me to name one highlight as some have different value to me. I can easily say setting up our South-Africa tour was a big highlight for me personal. I was, and still am, quite new to the whole booking thing. Unforeseen things happened in the process of sorting out flights, contracts etc. I learned a lot from my mistakes, as well as other peoples mistakes. I’m very grateful for that. 

Another highlight, and also a motivation to always keep pushing our music and artists, is hearing tracks that you released in cool clubs and being played by artists you have lots of respect for. Getting the proper recognition in this industry can be hard sometimes but things like this really make me happy and give me the energy to keep doing what we do.