20 Years of Australia’s IF? Records
Acclaimed Australian underground techno label IF? Records celebrate their 20th anniversary this month with a series of parties including Sydney’s Something Else, Saturday 15th August and Melbourne’s Machine, Saturday 29th August.
IF? founder Little Nobody aka Andrez Bergen and compadre Seb Bayne (who took over running the label in 2011) chatted to Skrufff this week about both their journeys and the state of Australia’s club scene today.
Skrufff: 20 years on; how does today’s club/ techno scene compare (generally?): key differences/ key similarities?
ANDREZ: This is the hardest question because I’m not so up on the scene nowadays. I guess in 1995 the scene was fresh and open and ready to be plundered. Now it’s slicker and more entrenched/institutionalized? I mean, a whole generation has grown up around techno — a baby born in 1995 is now going to university. Key similarities? Good music is just that — good music.”
Skrufff: What about the state of Sydney nightlife: how big a crisis is it from your perspective?
SEB: There is a lot of governmental interference at the moment in Sydney with the recent ‘lock-out’ laws which are in place in an area of the city centre. They have decimated business for club owners in those parts of town forcing them to effectively close early, by limiting the sale of alcohol and restricting entry after 1:30am. That said, there are still lot of good parties, events and festivals going on as always. And of course there are parts of the city which are not affected.
The more worrying thing is that it looks like they may expand the area of lock-outs to include other parts of town. It’s a complex issue but at the end of the day it’s a real affront and assault on people’s rights. Personally I don’t think it will last, I have to hope that the people will mobilize and change things. “
Skrufff: What’s been the peak moment during 20 years of If?
SEB: It’s hard for me to pick a peak moment as for much of IF?’s 20 years, as it was run by my predecessor Andrez Bergen for most of those years. Certainly in the time I have been running the label, since 2011, it’s been great to see IF? re-established in Australia, particularly its involvement in events and the party scene. When I took the label over from Andrez, he had become pretty much focused on only releasing music. IF? originally was as much about events and performance as it was about releasing music.”
ANDREZ: Peak moment is easy; passing on the baton to Seb. Seriously. Knowing that a baby I treasured and had nurtured so long, but I was relatively jaded with, was being handed to someone fresh, energized, and whom I trusted 110%. I think the label would have vanished way before now if not for him.”
Skrufff: What about your biggest crisis?
SEB: There was an ongoing crisis for me, for about 5 years after I left China, went to London and then Australia. When I lived in Beijing I was part of a club and had the full support of my old boss, which enabled me to, within reason, do the type of projects I wanted and to DJ three or four times a week. When I left China the security I had enjoyed was gone.
Upon returning to Australia some years later, a good industry friend of mine gave me some advise. He told me not to rely on others and to just do my own thing. It took me while to realize exactly what he meant, then after a while I understood.
I realized that you can only count on yourself at the end of the day, and as long as you are prepared for that you’ll be okay. Certainly there are moments where you receive support from others and work well with others. I count those moments as a bonus. This is true to life and true to anyone.”
Skrufff: What’s been the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn?
SEB: The hardest lesson I’ve had to learn in the last few years is that I am not invincible. Time waits for no person, and you have to make the most of life. I wasted a lot of time when I was younger – but it was fun.”
ANDREZ: Dealing with the constant administration and promotion slog, and just the constant struggle of trying to get this insanely cool music noticed by other people.”
IF? Records first ever release, Zeitgeist, will be offered as a free download on the labels Bandcamp https://ifrec.bandcamp.com/ to coincide with the events. Nominated by Mixmag editor Dom Phillips at #4 in his choice of the Top 10 Melbourne-made records leading up to 1996 Zeitgeist (1995) and Zeitgeist 2 (1996) achieve cult status.
Little Nobody & Sebastian Bayne, Saturday August 15, Dugout, Something Else at The Burdiken, Sydney
Little Nobody & Voiteck, Saturday August 29, Machine at My Aeon, Melbourne