Session Victim have just left a party in LA. It was shut down by the police, but it was “wonderful” while it lasted, they say, and spirits are high. This alone feels testament to the duo of Hauke Freer and Matthias Reiling’s musical identity; one that is rooted in the underground, and one that emanates a glowing, stoic optimism.
Since breaking through in 2008 with ‘No Friends (No Power)’ the inimitable live act and deep digging vinyl DJs have consistently balanced sophisticated jazz, soul and hip hop sentiment and style with currents Detroit inspired house, disco and downbeat electronica, blending uplifting energy with an inward looking mood. They’ve since gone on to put out some instantly recognisable dancefloor standouts in the form of ‘Good Intetions’, ‘Never Forget’ and ‘The Haunted House’ to name but a few. Despite an ever-rising profile, however, the pair remain loyal to the DIY roots that inspired their ethos when they started writing music and running parties together in their hometown of Lüneburg in 2007, purely because no one else was running them.
Dividing their time between playing live, producing and DJing the duo have released three albums on the excellent London based label Delusions of Granduer. With 2017’s ‘Listen To Your Heart’ pushing their peerless sampling skills to new highs as their own live instrumentation continues to bringing a distinct backbone to the mix.
Not only that, but the duo have launched their own vinyl only imprint Pen & Paper – Freer has run the Retreat label with Quarion since 2009 – with a release of their own. What was the blueprint that inspired the duo to launch the label though?
“Matthias and I were rather productive the last 12 months so we decided to release some of it ourselves and be in complete control of the whole process, you know,” explains Freer. “The label will focus on our own output, including side projects and solo stuff. We’re not really interested in digital at all; what’s important for us is to have a great sounding piece of wax.”
The label’s first release, ‘Puzzle’, finds Session Victim operating on the deeper, heavier end of their palette, with hefty bass groove and rattling percussion making for an intense, peak time weapon. Remixes on the EP come from Iron Curtis and ambient techno producer, Vril. The latter collab might feel unusual, given the vast divergence of style between the artists, but it works seamlessly and was something Session Victim were keen to lock in even before the record was locked in.
“It doesn’t feel like a big leap at all for us,” says Freer, “Both Iron Curtis and Vril have been in our close musical environment for a long time. When we came up with ‘Puzzle’ and thought about who to ask for remixes, they were the first two we thought of. The record itself wasn’t even planned at that time, we just asked them if they’d like to play with it a bit – and they did.”
“We don’t want an album to be just a collection of DJ tools spread out over several records”