Much less publicised than the Berlin scene, the techno scene in Hamburg has just as many passionate artists as Berlin. This is why we went to meet Small people. Behind this duo, hides two djs and producers, by the name of Julius Steinhoff and Dionne. In 2005, they founded their record store, Smallville, and a label of the same name a year later. Their label left and still leave good impression in deep German House having welcomed artists such as Lawrence, Christopher Rau and even Moomin. Julius and Dionne release their house, deep and impressoionable on labels such as Underground Quality, Laid and of course Smallville, the main promoter of their excellent album “Salty Days” in 2012.
Jacker / Introduce yourselves.
Dionne / Julius (Julius Steinhoff) and I (Just von Ahkefeld aka Dionne) are Smallpeople, we’re originally from Hamburg. We manage a record store and label, Smallville, which initially came from Dial Records. We’re djs and producers.
J / How did you discover electronic music ?
Dionne / Personally, I’m from the punk rock scene. It was in New York that punk rock and dance music came together.
Julius / Through friends I hung around, they taught me a lot of things. Originally I was a drummer, so I’m more from the rock scene. Afterwards I started to discover this and that, when I arrived in Hamburg, and this is where it all started with clubs and record stores.
J / How did you meet each other and start playing together ?
D / We built the record store and then we talked about production, we told each other we’d do a session together. Ever since, it’s been like a little machine. It was kind of unsaid and obvious, there was a good vibe, it was clear that we had to make music together.
J / Talk to us a bit about Smallville, when was the label and record store born ?
D / The store opened in 2005, a year after the label was born. We simply found a shop at St Pauli, it was more exotic back then and then we just opened it.
J / What was the motivation behind the first project ?
D / The motivation came from Julius. In fact, I had opened the shop with my friends Pete and Stella. We talked about it a lot and I knew I had to something about it, and do it well. It was done quite quickly and the way we wanted it.
J / Why Smallville and Smallpeople ?
D / Smallville is the name of a compilation by Tobias Thomas which appeared on Kompakt in 2003, a really good mix that we listened to a lot. We needed a name and we thought it sounded good. For Smallpeople, we needed a name for producers, we had the idea of a joke on Smallvillage, but it didn’t work out. So it ended up being Smallpeople.
J / Your music is hard to define, somewhere between dubby house and techno from Detroit.
D / I have to say, you described it quite well. Those are definitely our influences, but what it ends up being, we can never really define. We never start a track and say “it has to sound techno”, even if that has happened.
J /Talk to us a bit about the scene in Hambourg.
D / Right now it’s very dynamic, with things like Solomun, quite a lot of Djs that have benefitted from the buzz in Berlin...On the club side of things, there’s PoolClub which is really cool in Hamburg. The rest of the scene is rather free, some of us do deep house...There are also labels like Liebe Detail and Dial Records, Dj Koze is also a great producer.
J / You also have a fairly stong graphic identity
D / A friend, Stephan Marx, was there for us from the beginning and he made us our first calligraphy and the village. Then he became motivated for the project and therefore continued to do our covers. So there you go.
J / What what was it like playing for the first time in the south of France ?
D / It was splendid, we’d love to spend the entire night here. A crazy rooftop party, thanks to One Again and Pandore. Really nice spot.
J / Any last words ?
D / Marseille, we’ll come back. We’ll take a sea dip the next time.
A big thanks to One Again who let us have this interview.