This record is yet another exhibit in the testimony that argues that the music industry has almost nothing to do with music and will steamroll anyone and anything that shows an unwavering love for it.
House music was born in the love of music. The industry came later, a locust storm that eats everything in its way and then drifts on to find more to eat. The love of music was Frankie Knuckles and the New York connection passing around scant copies of records literally no on else had. It was John Morales making acetates that sounded worse every time they were played. It was the music that ruled sock hops and sophisticated gay clubs but which nobody really thought to put on record right away. It was the insanity of Marshall Jefferson making records for one specific DJ in the entire world to play. It was DJ Pierre and Phuture taking months and years to mass produce Acid Tracks.
You’re not going to find any of these stories in any edition of How To Make It In The Music Industry. And the music industry is triumphant. Nobody will sit on a hot track for more than a minute before it starts to burn their fingers. Just sharing it with your friends is anathema when Boiler Room moves in to “democratize our scene” in the name of their venture capital backers. The music industry is so triumphant that few people really even understand what we’re talking about right now.
Stephan Hoellermann took a few bites of this and walked away, and none of us can blame him. He got hold of me through Chez Damier, who as I’ve said before has never steered me in the wrong direction when it comes to talent. Stephan Hoellermann has it. He did a mix for us back in 2012 that was just the perfect pitch of deep house — a sensibility he also captured on wax on that year’s EP Heat/Play on Lazare Hoche Records.
I didn’t hear from him for awhile. That’s not unusual, but then his email bounced. That’s usually a bad sign.
Thankfully, he hadn’t lost his life but was reclaiming his soul. All this shit that some people love — there’s nothing wrong with it if you do — was nothing. Too much of nothing. “After a few unpleasant affairs with pressing plants, etc. I stopped releasing,” he says in the liner notes of Untitled. It was to “get back my joy” and avoiding the paperwork and hype that comes when everyone owns a label and employs themselves as its manager.
To the industry, turning your back on it is insane. Expect an answer if you do something like that. Deciding not to turn what you love into consumable product when you have this kind of talent is also viewed as insane. Hoellermann says that “lots of my unreleased productions and edits are around and played quite a lot by a small network of more or less known DJs.” These are the roots of every person playing this music, whether they know the tradition or not. Sometimes it just takes a long time to find them.
A couple of those tracks (actually two versions of the same one) wound up on Bandcamp. From the opening thump I could hear it — it’s that soulful slink and that deep stomp that captures, again, that perfect pitch of deep house. But this time the music is ALL there is. There’s no vinyl, no marketing, no list of eminent DJs that support. There aren’t even titles. “Finding a name is a pain,” he says. There’s just the music, and that irresistible groove that says Stephan Hoellermann was here. Is he back? Maybe he’ll poke his head out, take a look around at this shitshow and decide he’s had enough of it. It’s a better alternative than to fall out of love.
Stephan Hoellermann: Untitled (November 2020/Digital)
1. Stephan Hoellermann: Untitled (Version A) (07:04)
2. Stephan Hoellermann: Untitled (Version B) (07:20)
⚪️ Disclosure Statement: This record was submitted as a promo.