All week long, XLR8R is presenting its annual focus on Labels We Love. Click here to check out the rest of the series.
Running Back is often hailed as a DJs' label, but that notion sells the long-running German imprint short. Founded in 2002, the label has built an impressive catalog over the past decade, and has incredibly done so without relying upon a core crew of artists. Embracing a different model, Running Back has become a place where top-flight producers—including Todd Terje, Theo Parrish, Move D, Redshape, Tensnake, Mark E, and numerous others—deliver one-off efforts, many of which have proven to be standouts in those artists' discographies. Given Running Back's excellent track record, it's not much of a surprise that the imprint has once again been included in our Labels We Love coverage, but this year, we wanted to dig a little deeper, which is why we've asked label head Gerd Janson—who's a stellar DJ in his own right—to participate in a special edition of our Hi-Five series. Per our request, he's taken a look back at the Running Back catalog and selected five releases that were particularly memorable in the label's history.
Second Life "Inner Love (Give It Up)" (RB001)
As it is kind of torturing to talk about the music on your own label, I might as well start with, yep, the first one. Done in two-oh-oh-two, it's quite a bold exercise in US-styled garage house. Oh, sweet youth! The flip might have aged better with a dub version that actually takes some inspiration from the Jamaican technique and the Smallville-soundsystem-approved Black Keys Rework. Deep house then, I guess?
Mark E "Deja Vu" b/w "Beat Down" (RB005)
Four records and four years later, this first non-edit-debut by Birmingham's Mark E—who I met through a mutual friend—also marked the label's extension from music done by people living around the corner to music done by people who should be living around the corner. A slow one though—as is the tempo of the record.
Radio Slave Sex Trax EP (RB012)
2008 was all about planet tech-house. This one by the sample scientist Matt Edwards (a.k.a. Radio Slave) reminded us that the Duke had done it all already and way before. Hence RS and RB took a bow. Furthermore, it's always given me a chill to see that poor woman without a bra making the rounds on a turntable.
Acoustic High-End Research Running Back Presents Strada Professional Sound Effects (RBEFX1)
Its original platter presented to me by me's Kristian at Plastic People (shortly after, the record was lost when his record bag was stolen), I was left flabbergasted by "Acid Child." So I made a logical, innocent attempt to buy the record from its source, which ended up offering a license for Running Back to reissue it. 180g and liner notes by Danny Wang later, everyone interested was able to "learn the happiness of deejaying with vinyl."
Todd Terje/Son Of Sam Digital Dubplates (RB10-inch)
The first split release and 10-inch release, this one had two previously digital-only tracks. "Snooze 4 Love," Todd Terje's mellow counterpart to "Ragysh," comes as its ambient emo-sister, while the British '84 electro fantasy of Son of Sam gets a kind-of-disco update by its own creator. Weird, but wonderful.