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Toni Tress talks about his label Twin Town Production

Get to know this up & coming label: Twin Town Production

Twin Town Production is an up-and-coming record label owned by Toni Tress. To him, Twin Town is the result of 20 years of passionate disc-spinning, preserved onto black plastic vinyl.

His process begins with examining the existing music scene while simultaneously keeping things spontaneous, mysterious and fresh right until release time. His style and reputation stem not only from cementing new approaches to the “mainstream”, but also embracing the unconventional and original. This, of course, offers the chance to meet and work with many different kinds of people, establishing strong networks and close friendships.

Gigs take him from Stuttgart to Berlin, from Munich to Strasbourg, from Barcelona and back to Saarbrücken. He observes the world from his favourite viewpoint; behind two turntables, surrounded by euphoric dancing and never-ending amazement. But his other great love is promoting new talent. He enjoys watching things develop from the start and being part of their progression to success.

We had an exciting conversation with the DJ, producer and label owner.

Connect with Twin Town Production on Soundcloud | Spotify | Instagram

You have been active with your label for a few years now and have experienced ups and downs. What was the worst and the best of the years?

Phew, there were many ups and downs over the years, a lot of crazy and very special moments, and also some tragedies. But that’s life, I guess. There was one special moment in our journey that completely changed my outlook on life and enabled me to view good and bad times in a different light. Twin Town was founded on the day of a historic event – the day the Twin Towers collapsed in New York. Our first vinyl record came fresh from the pressing plant on September 11, and TWIN TOWN PRODUCTION was born.

An exhausted UPS worker rang the doorbell at my studio in the Saarland to deliver 550 records, and through the hallway, we both kept glancing at the TV showing images of the towers burning. I’ll never forget that day. The release of our first baby was a moment of great personal success and happiness for us rookies, which we wanted to celebrate accordingly – while at the same time following the constant news of horrific human suffering, death and terror. It was one of these situations that got you thinking.

And you realize that every moment from now on is precious, that everything around us will change, and not only for the better. But what did we learn from this tragic event? If something bad happens in our beautiful world, something good happens to keep the cosmic balance. Everything is a circle and all things are connected to one another!

The first EP is called “On a Mission” and is still part of our label catalogue. Combining sophisticated electronic music with friendship, skills and an awe-inspiring culture; working at the international level while honouring our local roots; connecting innovation with technical skills – that’s what we stand for.

Our scene has an important mission to inform, educate and foster peace. At the same time, we need to create special places that make other people happy while embracing diversity and wisdom with open arms.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, political conflicts and wars happening all over the world, I still feel this way 20 years on, as clearly as I did on September 11. Our scene has an important mission to inform, educate and foster peace. At the same time, we also have an important function within the music scene; we need to create special places that make other people happy while embracing diversity and wisdom with open arms.

What challenges do you currently face as a label on the international market and how do you deal with them?

In our early years, we only released vinyl records and were far removed from the digital world. A vinyl pressing, a distributor, a promo agency that collected and screened feedback from DJs was all it took to book the right gigs and enable our artists to make a name for themselves internationally.

This would be completely unfathomable today. In this context, I also try to stick to a very old strategy. :::Evolution::: We try to adapt continuously. Everything is possible. There were some years (from 2012 on) in which we didn’t press any records at all and instead fully immersed ourselves in the digital world. We focused on DJing and ticked off one club after the other, organised raves, founded clubs and helped build artist-run spaces. Let me give you two examples.

In 2018, renowned DJ Roshan Bay decided to issue his debut album on vinyl (TTP014) and we were there to support him. But this time around, we added a sick video (see produced by “Keine Zeit Medien” and a strong remix by Hofuku Sochi, who was also involved through his VHS/cassette label called AV Limited and contributed the visual material for this project.

For our 20th anniversary, we are currently working on a 3LP vinyl compilation called “The Sound of Twin Town”, recounting the label’s history on vinyl and bringing everything together in the digital world. Nicolas Molina compiled the tracks and mixing and mastering was done by Stachy.Dj. Graphic designer Manuel Wesely (from the MM&M agency) came up with fancy artwork. It was definitely a great idea to create a compilation of all the music previously released on vinyl and add the digital tracks from newer artists. Everything will be available digitally in the form of a DJ mix compilation on streaming platforms and YouTube. This approach offers something for all of our fans out there, however, they wish to listen.

You can probably already tell what I’m trying to get at without going into the marketing side of things. Everything must be fresh, accessible and contemporary in order to stand out from the crowd. Managing the label was always exciting, and I guess this excitement will never fade.

You support local acts but also internationally known artists. How does your A&R work – how do you decide?

It was always about recommending artists who had already released some of their tracks with us and who enjoyed working with us. So, it was really a natural process. The Saarland region produced many great DJs and producers in the last 30 years, mostly in the techno and minimalist genres.

For all genres in between, there simply was no label in Saarbrücken bringing together producers from the electronic music subculture. We started out with breakbeat, big beat, chill out and electronic music (2001) and now also cover melodic house & techno, downbeat, vaporwave and cosmic funk. Our catalogue always holds a lot in store for open-minded listeners.

We also really need to say thank you to our artists who always contributed to our label’s A&R. I am really proud of how everything has come together, especially thanks to Nicolas Molina, Philipp Brausch (aka EZRA) and our graphic designer Zymryte Hoxhaj, who gives the label a face. Andres Klein (aka Ackermann), Stachy.DJ (Hofuku Sochi) and Jan Schulz (Agja) are responsible for mastering and shaping the unique and polished sound of our releases.

When Daniel and Felix from Acado (formerly Techno Frühstück) moved to Berlin years ago to live and work there and release their tracks on major labels, they always took care to direct like-minded artists to our label and support our growth. This enabled us to establish some sub labels in addition to our main label. Philipp all but single-handedly built up our BIG M PRODUCTION catalogue on Bandcamp, while also managing the KLEINER SALON 22 cassette label together with his partner Marie Stolbini, who is now a household name in the DJ scene in Saarbrücken. Without your crew, you’re nothing.

Such a simple and yet exciting question: Why the name Twin Town?

Twin Town Production’s name originates from the theory behind “partner city”. The basic idea of “partner cities” is mutual cultural exchange, fluid communication and shared economic interests. This partnership also aims to provide and maintain international networks – building intellectual bridges, so to speak. These principles hold true for Twin Town – your friendly record label from the Saarland. The intellectual property in this case is art, especially in the form of music.

Driven by the desire to enrich the world with our own brand of music, Mick and I established the Twin Town Production record label together back in 2001. Since the release of our first single, the groundbreaking “On a Mission”, many more have followed. And although much has happened and some things have changed, our original mission still remains intact. Now more so than ever. It’s just the beginning.

It feels like you live what you do – where does this deep love for electronic music come from?

I started out as a DJ back in 1996, playing in dark and sweaty basements and youth centres all over the Saarland. Together with my friends, I spent hours practising mixing on two-channel mixers and belt-driven turntables. This was also the time when I bought my first records from Goldie’s Metalheadz label, Knight Force Records and DJ Hood.

I’m the first in my family to make a living off of being an artist. Looking at my CV, I can hardly believe how time has flown by. I guess now I’m one of the veterans in the game. But there are still so many things to discover and create in the world of electronic music. This is still the youngest of all music genres. Classical music has been around for more than 300 years, so we’re still a small little fledgling compared to that.

It’s never too late for anyone to discover their passion and love for electronic music. It keeps you on your toes and challenges you to keep up with the immense pace at which this genre is moving forward. I’m very happy to be a part of this movement and to contribute to keeping it going.

And what lessons have you learned from the Corona crisis?

We need a universal basic income for EVERYONE around the world!

Which ten tracks on your label should you definitely have heard?

1. Roshan Bay – _ (Vapor Club by Hofuku Sochi 報復措置) (Video) (Vinyl) (TTP014)

2. Balm – Be Yourself (Erlenbrunn & Stachy.DJ – Brother Smoove Jazz Kid Remix)(TTPD066)

3. AGJA – Der junge Falke (Knockout Knob Remix) (TTPD064)

4.0 Ezra – Eros (Video) (TTPD061)

4.1 Ezra – Futur 2 (Video) (Original Mix) (TTPD061)

5.  Marian Mueller & Erlenbrunn – Magnetic Love (Strip Up Mix) (TTPD048)

6. Baba Sikander – Too Little, Too Late (R.EK Remix)(TTPD052)

7. Selektivton – Wunderladen (Felix Reiter Remix) (TTPD056)

8. Hernan Cerbello – Free Forms (TTPD060)

9. SHBL – Insight (Original Mix) (TTPD058)

10. Modest Crow – Araucaria (Original Mix) (TTPD050)

What are your plans for the next year?

2022 will be an exciting year, for sure. After all, we will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of TWIN TOWN. The first thing on our agenda is the international release of our 3LP compilation, including DJ mixes and videos. Nicolas Molina and I are planning to pack our bags and bring “The Sound of Twin Town” on tour to the cities where our artists live.

Besides that, we will try to keep things moving and will release some great tracks and goodies, including from Agja, Beat Boy Marc, Erlenbrunn, Hernan Cerbello, Hofuku Sochi, Hi!Kai, Riklós, and Marian Mueller.

Stay healthy, always be positive and stick to things that make you happy! Let go of everything else!

Thank you!

It matters little whether you are an artist or a visitor, the love for music is the unifying factor.

We are a magazine & record label dedicated to quality underground electronic music. We do not look for just any music or anyone, we are looking for music, and people who create memorable experiences, that inspires and invokes emotion. Let’s create timeless music.