"Look, don't call it esoteric," says Thomas Morr gruffly. He's discussing one of the myriad adjectives often ascribed to his label, Morr Music, and is slightly irritated. "That word makes me want to kill myself, or somebody else. We are not esoteric," he continues via phone from his Berlin offices.
If not esoteric, then Morr and his eponymous label certainly are eclectic. Morr's extensive roster–which includes Múm, Lali Puna, and Electric President–tends to pull from both electronic and indie rock worlds; in fact, genre-twisting and crossover are major tenets of the label. "When we started, we worked with artists that were sick of being in bands and wanted to start producing electronic music," says Morr. "Sometimes they came from electronic music and wanted to get back into playing in bands."
Morr started the label in 1999 after a lengthy stint working for record distribution company Hausmusik. "I was a passionate electronic music listener, and mainly into small and indie labels from the UK like Earworm," he explains. Frustrated with the relative dearth of quality electronic labels, Morr and high school friend Jan Kruse (who guides the label's visual aesthetic) made a calculated decision to do it themselves.
Initially, the label was envisioned as a tiny, niche-y vanity project, but soon after its first release (B. Fleischmann's Poploops For Breakfast LP), Morr realized there was money to be made and a gap to be filled. Soon after, he relocated the enterprise from Munich to Berlin, where he quickly fell in with the city's emerging wave of electronic artists and labels. "There was loads of media that supported the music scene, and we had a very vital club scene in Berlin," says Morr of the city in the late '90s. "Every couple of months a new club was opening, and there were shitloads of new artists and companies starting up."
Morr now says Berlin's glory days are over, and that sluggish sales of electronic music have translated into increased factionalism and tension within the city's electronic music community. "I'm just trying to withdraw from the whole Berlin thing," he explains.
But a lack of coherency in the scene isn't going to stop Morr from releasing music he believes in. "Ten years ago, I was into really minimal, experimental electronic music, but I can't listen to that anymore," he says. "[Now] everything is more diversified. Now we're defining our own genre."