Indie Days05.09.2018 Autor*in: Verena Blättermann

VUT 25th Anniversary Presents: 30 Years of Independent Dance Music – A Fireside Chat with the Pioneers Martin Heath and Renaat Vandepapeliere

Wednesday, 19.09.2018, 16:00 – 17:00 @ Schmidtchen

Language: English

The renowned UK newspaper ‘The Guardian’ once wrote “In the late 80s, acid house became the biggest youth revolution for decades, uniting one ecstatic generation while horrifying parents, politicians and police”.

While genre names may differ from country to country, with some calling it ‘house music’, others ‘techno’ or others simply ‘dance music’, they all describe the same phenomenon. It changed youth culture and became a part of culture and lifestyle. 1988 in particular was a special year, with several underground tracks in commercial top 10 charts, more media attention and the founding of several iconic independent labels.

Now, 30 years on, more than 90% of dance music is released by independent record companies, making it by far the biggest sector among the indies with an output of releases second to no other genre; Beatport, for instance, releases more than 10,000 tracks a week.

We want to look at dance music from its underground beginnings to its present-day commercial success. Two big names and pioneers of the scene, Martin Heath (founder and Managing Director of Rhythm King Records, 1987-1997) and Renaat Vandepapeliere (founder, A&R and the factotum of R&S Records) will give us their insights into the past and present, as well as their perspective and opinion on the evolution of independent dance music.

Renaat Vandepapeliere’s career spans almost 4 decades in which his visionary soul has given some of the most prolific and forward-thinking artists of the electronic music scene a platform to express themselves, such as Derrick May, Juan Atkins ‘Model 500’ and Aphex Twin. Today, Nicolas Jaar, James Blake, Paula Temple, Benjamin Damage, Talaboman, Lost Souls of Saturn and Mariel Ito all bask in the glorious heritage of R&S.

Over 25 years, Martin Heath’s involvement in media, popular culture and pioneering technology has enabled him to understand the DNA of successful innovation in culture, business, and technology. Martin achieved early success in 1988 with his first music label, Rhythm King, the pioneering electronic label, bringing the world numerous acts including Bomb The Bass, Beatmasters, S-Express, Betty Boo, Leftfield, Moby and D’Ream. As a business Rhythm King was a collective of artists engineers and professionals operating on 50-50 net profit deals, aligning the company and its artists as equal partners.

Martin Heath, Founder and MD, Rhythm King Records, UK


Photo: Martin Heath

• 1985 – 1986 Producer - Trillion Pictures. A TV production company.

• 1987-1997 Founder and Managing Director - Rhythm King Records.

One of the UK’s most successful independent record companies, which in 1997 was sold to the Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG). 16 mio records, 42 UK top ten chart acts, two number one acts. Developed indie label system with sub labels Warp, R&S. Operated wholly owned affiliates in Europe and the US.

• 1990 – 1994 Founder and Director - Renegade Software.

Renegade became the UK’s leading 16-bit games company, combining three development teams, Bitmap brother, Sensible and Gremlin, award winning games for Sega and Amiga. Sold to Warner Bros in 1994, and became Warner Interactive.

• 1992 – 1996 Co-founder of Sony’s Licensed Repertoire Division (LRD).

JV between Sony and British Indies, Creation, Nude, Rhythm King. LRD sourced Oasis, Boo Radleys, Suede, the Farm, and Echobelly. In the US created the first “downstream” project with Sony 550 via RED with Echobelly.

• 1994 – 1996 Founder and Director - Perfect World.

Pioneering web and CD ROM development company which created the world’s first full motion video for Phillips New Media CDI format, and first artist web sites (INXS).

• 1995 – 1998 Managing Director Arista Records UK, a division of BMG.

P&L Responsibility for a full service major record company, artist development, marketing, and international. Developed Hub, a decentralised artist development system.

• 1998-2001 Founder and CEO - Dreamtime Group.

Consisting of Mousepower, a digital design company for web, CDROM and interactive displays, and Cu3ed, a systems integration and media asset management company. 2001 Sold to the Winsome Group based in Brussels.

• 1999 – 2001 Founder and CEO –

A web, radio, and TV based 360° music company database driven with publishing, syndication, and mobile marketing services. Focused on fans, thus allowing record companies direct marketing through CD UK, ITV’s TV music channel, (3mio), the web sites, radio and mobile chart and news updates. Worldpop became the first company to sponsor the Official UK Chart in a £4 million deal. Negotiated the acquisition of Trinity St, the premier UK music direct marketing company. Worldpop was sold to iTouch Plc in 2002.

• 2003 – present Co Founder and Director - LK Records t/as Lizard King Records

UK and NY based indie company, signed the Killers in 2003, 6 times Platinum in the UK.

• 2011– 2014 Founder and Director – Digital Animal

Cross platform analytics technology focused on Telco’s and insurance.

• 2005 –2010 Founder and Director – WMG New York Indie label group.

Signed Santigold, a Grammy nominated artist of 500k sales and The Pierces, currently featured as the title music for Pretty Little Liars series. Artists assigned to WMG USA and Polydor UK for certain territories.

• 2015 – present Founder Seed Media: Innovative personal and product event tracking personal tools and data management company. Architect of software. First deployments in 2016 across Hit/Mattel, BigFM and Publicis/Rimmel.

Renaat Vandepapeliere, Founder & A&R, R&S Records, BE


Photo: Renaat Vandepapeliere / R&S Records

The Boss, A&R and Factotum of the all-mighty Techno label R&S Records needs little introduction. His career spans over almost 4 decades in which his visionary soul gave some of the most prolific and forward-thinking artists of the electronic music scene a platform to express themselves, artists such as Derrick May, Juan Atkins ‘Model 500’ and Aphex Twin. Today, Nicolas Jaar, James Blake, Paula Temple, Benjamin Damage, Talaboman, Lost Souls of Saturn and Mariel Ito all walk in the glorious heritage of R&S.

Renaat and his label have earned him the title of being an uncompromising pioneer, and although his role as boss and A&R of the label is very time consuming, Renaat is a remarkable selector who truly enjoys taking risks beyond trends.

You can catch Renaat playing at some of the world’s best venues & festivals such as: Berghain (Berlin), Studio 80 (Amsterdam), Rex Club (Paris), Stardust (Madrid), Block (Tel Aviv)), Egg (London), Kompass Klub (Ghent), Razzmatazz (Barcelona), Shelter (Amsterdam), Le Sucre (Lyon), R33 (Palma De Mallorca), BPM Festival (Playa del Carmen), Tomorrowland (Boom), ADE (Amsterdam), Astropolis (Brest), Moga Festival (Morocco), Bozar – Le Nuits Sonores (Brussels) and many more…


Monika Dietl, Freelance Journalist, GER

Photo: Meike Hofmann

Having escaped her native Munich and having escaped university Monika set out to learn journalism at big Berlin radio-station SFB. She joined the team of a renowned political youthprogramme called “sf-beat” and was soon regularly hosting the show. As a presenter she would also introduce her own musical selection.

The sounds of Acid House and Techno were not quite everybody's favourite in 1988 but they generated a lot of interest and were of course welcomed by the emerging scene, of which Monika was a part.

When Radio 4 U was founded in 1990, she got her own show, three hours every Saturday evening. It was followed by a big audience and is now regarded as influential. A few years later the former East and West stations merged and the old radio frequencies were being redistributed. Her collegue Christine Heise and Monika applied for one of the open frequencies to seize the chance to found their own independent music station.

When the application was rejected, she took a break to relax and visit a friend in San Francisco. That break turned out to last until 2011. In her San Franciscan time she enjoyed the unique dance scene there and made her teaching certificate in Ashtanga yoga. After her return to Berlin she joined the NGO “mörchenpark”, the Urban Gardening project of the now famous Holzmarkt and even published a magizine for it, “möRRR”. Apart from the occasional article in the Berlin newspaper “taz”, Monika nowadays spends most of her time on the mat.

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Verena Blättermann

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Mail: blaettermann(at)vut(dot)de

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Bayerischer Landesverbands der Kultur- und Kreativwirtschaft e.V.
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