Thanks for chatting to us Marcel! Congrats on the second edition of HARDPROOF being out this September. What do you think makes a good VA release?
Thank you so much! I was eagerly anticipating the launch of the second release in the HARDPROOF series. I’m a big fan of compilation albums that showcase a wider range of musical styles, all smoothly interconnected. However, while diversity is a key element for me, there should also be standout tracks that naturally grab the listener’s attention. Although, the HARDPROOF concept takes a unique approach as it spans various techno sub-genres. As a result, each release possesses its distinct and cohesive style while shining a spotlight on the carefully curated and ‘hard-proven’ techno tracks, exemplifying diversity within the techno landscape.

How did you choose the artists to be featured? Are they producers you have heard before, or was this through a demos process?
First and foremost, the HARDPROOF concept is rooted in the fact that I received a plethora of demos for my label IMF (Index Marcel Fengler) that I desperately wanted to release. However, due to an already jam-packed schedule for vinyl releases and corresponding delivery times, I wouldn’t have been able to release them until late 2024. This, of course, is not a sustainable foundation for a label and would be disrespectful to the artists. That’s when the idea was born to create a platform where I could release these tracks independently of vinyl. Additionally, I personally reached out to artists whose production work I find super interesting. Therefore, on every HARDPROOF release, you’ll always find some productions from more well-known acts. However, the primary focus is on up-and-coming talent, helping expose newer artists to a broader audience.

The sound is quite different on this release to the first. Can you walk us through why?
As I mentioned earlier, in the initial phase, I assembled a wide range of techno tracks with a clear emphasis on a dancefloor-oriented sound. But it was essential for me also not to restrict the stylistic focus too much to avoid a sense of one-dimensionality. In a second step, I carefully curated these roughly 40 tracks to ensure that, despite the stylistic diversity, each release would have a coherent yet distinctive result. This philosophy is also encapsulated in the title – HARDPROOF primarily signifies the meticulous track selection process, serving as a sort of quality assurance mark, indicating the commitment to delivering both coherence and individuality.

What’s next for IMF?
First and foremost, there will be another HARDPROOF release every 2-3 months, which I’m already looking forward to with great anticipation. On the other hand, there will be also several new EPs on IMF that follow a newly aligned concept. Over the last few years, I felt more and more that there was a kind of rupture between something old and new, like a defined before and after in techno. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of that trend because I think both sides are inseparably interwoven and cannot be opposed to each other. In Order to implement my more connecting perspective in a musical concept on IMF, future releases from very talented producers will be supplemented with remixes from established artists. So, there will be a new EP from me with a brilliant remix by SHDW & Obscure Shape. Then, there will be a massive release from Rove Ranger with fantastic remixes by The Advent, as well as a release from Rodiaz with a dope remix by Slam and so on. Additionally, the first release from STEYA is in the works, which I am also very excited about.

What do you hope releasing these VA’s will do for the label and the artists that it features?
I think releasing these HARDRROF VA’s serves several exciting purposes. Most of all, it adds a dynamic layer to the label’s repertoire, making it more versatile and appealing to a broader range of audiences. For the featured artists, HARDPROOF offers a valuable stage to exhibit their talents to a wider audience, potentially sparking new and thrilling collaborations. Moreover, it aligns with the concept of showcasing artists associated with the younger generation, highlighting the multifaceted nature of contemporary techno music. Avoiding one-dimensional techno is a paramount goal for me in this project.

Finally, what’s the plans for Marcel and your own music for the rest of this year?
I have some exciting plans for my music for the rest of this year. In October, I’m gearing up for my first release since 2015, and it’s going to be on IMF, which is something I’m truly looking forward to. Additionally, I’m diligently working on my second solo album, but fans will have to wait until 2024 to hear it. Right now, my biggest focus is on a live act project that’s in the works. I’m really excited about it, and I can’t wait to bring it to the stage for some electrifying performances.