A good label deserves a good name. You might put out the hottest tech-house this side of a certain Cologne label circa 2003, but a dull name sinks your product, consigning it to the bin of a thousand Gmail accounts and dusty virtual shelves of online mp3 stockists.
Lumberjacks in Hell. Now, that's a name that doesn't just float by in the bitstream.
Happily, Dutch DJ Marcel Vogel's edit-heavy label lives up its perfect name. Specializing in beefed-up deep disco refixes that send crows wild from Aberdeen to Abidjan, the LIH back catalogue is stuffed with beefed-up deep disco refixes, four-to-the-floor Salsoul stompers, and oddball Italo, the LIH back catalogue is made for discomaniacs who want to go a bit more out there than Tavares."
The records look fucking wicked as well. Despite what we're taught to remember from the cradle to the grave about the relative unimportance of outward appearance, aesthetics matter. To find out how you make a label look and sound sensational, we decided to strap on our metaphorical boots and headed into the forests of Holland to chat with Vogel.
THUMP: Growing up, which labels had the strongest aesthetic appeal to you? What did you pick up just for the covers?
Marcel Vogel: Cajual was killing it. The logo is just magic to me and they put out the best music by far as well. I loved all the classic disco labels too like Salsoul, West End, Prelude. I also had a thing for hip-hop labels such as Def Jam and Loud.
Is there an in-house Lumberjacks designer?
Apart from three releases, everything thus far was done by South African native, DJ, and designer Chris Keys. The visual side of things on our sister label, Intimate Friends, is handled by Tim Faber from Amsterdam.
Who'd be your dream visual artist hook-up for a one-off release?
Imagine Basquiat designing one of the sleeves. Fuck!
Is it still cool to slave over 12" sleeves?
Dude! You are selling a product. People going to a record store are there to buy a piece of art.
What's been your favorite sleeve in recent years?
I really like the Seven Davis Jr one for IZWID records. Generally, I just like screen prints-we did one for NY*AK on Intimate Friends. I'd print more but it's just so expensive. Every now and then I will buy something predominantly for the artwork; even though the music is good, all the releases by DYNOO stuck out for me in terms of visuals.
Do the releases have an overarching sonic aesthetic?
Hell yes. It's Chicago that's binding everything together.
How'd you go about picking artists to release on the label?
They're all friends. I get sent a lot of demos of course, but usually I hear somebody play something when I'm out, and I'm like, what's that? Lumberjacks in Hell is an organically grown little family.
Which release to date are you most psyched about?
Chicago Service did extraordinarily well, selling over 2500 copies. It is also one of the most beautiful releases as an object. Christoper's artwork is amazing-it really reveals itself when you peel that shrink-wrap off. Apart from that, "Shante" by Hugo H, and Boogie Nite's "Do Your Thang" are my favourites.
What's a lumberjack doing in hell?
The name derives from a bad DJ gig, which can be hell in itself. But I believe in the positivity of our existence, so even though I don't believe in religion, I believe in a good God and that everything has its purpose. A literal hell and afterlife punishment doesn't have space in there. I know that we are all weak and meant to make mistakes.