Marc Romboy – At the end of the day it’s all about the love of music

Marc Romboy’s influence on the electronic music scene has stretched over two decades. He founded his first record label, Le Petit Prince, in 1993 and today is the driving force behind his current imprint Systematic Recordings. The label has released the work of many esteemed producers including Ripperton, Blake Baxter, Dusty Kid, Stephan Bodzin and Robert Babicz.

Alongside his hugely successful record label Marc also broadcasts his weekly Systematic Sessions podcast series which has now racked up over 250 episodes. Marc’s hectic DJ schedule still sees him trekking the globe on a weekly basis, but he’s also been making time for his own studio work and February saw the release of his latest double-header ‘Elgur/Nasa’ released on Systematic and April will see a much anticipated follow up EP called ‚ ‘Simi/Bylgja’.

Marc took some time out of his incredibly busy schedule to chat to Decoded Magazine about his musical past, his podcast series, and what gigs he has locked in for 2015.

Hi Marc. I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to speak to us at Decoded Magazine. What have you been up to with your time so far today?

Well, it’s that typical Monday morning with starting the day kinda slowly with a nice cup of green tea, checking emails and preparing the up and coming Systematic releases with my partners, nothing very spectacular really.

You currently reside in Moenchengladbach, Germany. When most people think of electronic music in Germany they tend to think of Berlin. What is the scene like in your home town, and what are some of the best venues?

Having only Berlin in mind is wrong for sure. Germany is not a country with such a strong central capital like London and Paris. Germany is much much more than Berlin. Towns like Hamburg, Munich, Cologne and Düsseldorf are not to be underestimated and the last two mentioned places are in my neighborhood. Düsseldorf has a traditional electronic music scene which is comparable to Manchester and its influenced me a lot. Cologne is full of interesting creative cells, and we should mention my distribution partner Kompakt here. To come back to my home town, it’s also easy to reach to many further towns like Amsterdam and Brussels from here. It gives me everything I need and of course my friends and family.

Can you take a few minutes to tell us about your biggest musical influences, and how you first new you wanted to be involved with electronic music?

My biggest influence is without doubt Kraftwerk, who are also from Dusseldorf by the way. But it was not only them. A popular local club called Sunrise was a place where I was educated in a way. The jocks played everything off beat which was not listed in the sales charts, from Italo Disco to Breakdance, from Chicago House to Electronic Body Music. Everything was pretty much open minded, something I’m missing a bit nowadays.

You launched your first record label in 1993 named Le Petit Prince alongside Klaus Derichs. What made you want to begin your own labels?

It was no more than a practical reason really. To have the possibility to bring out your own music and the tunes of friends we appreciated. There were not that many labels around in 1992 so we thought, hey, lets do this. We didn’t have any money, just visions and somehow we made it work, incredible.

Most people today will know you because of your work with your label Systematic Recordings, and your podcast Systematic Sessions. What made you decide to begin a new label, and what was the reason behind your podcast series?

The decision to establish the label was an easy one as it was the first label of my own, without the contribution of a partner. I love to collaborate but when it comes to A&R I find it more efficient to come to the decisions on your own. Running a record label is a heart thing and compromises aren’t a great influence. That’s why in the end I said, I have to create my own ‘baby’.

What do you think has ensured the massive success of Systematic Sessions? Did you envisage it taking off like it has?

Always hard to say what the reasons are but for sure my experience is one essential factor, no question. For the rest I’d say that decisions which come from the heart are always the best. Not an easy one from time to time but it’s getting better and better.

Your label, Systematic Recordings has featured a host of quality house and techno music from the off. What releases are planned for 2015? Any exclusives you can tell us about?

Oh, too many to mention to be frank. From the album point of view I’m about to prepare an album by a Swedish artist called OCH. Some of you might not know him but his music comes from the heart and I’m a big fan of dark and Detroitish tunes and atmospheres. He’s also running his own imprint Autoreply but it’s an honour to release this album with him. And from the single side we have three EPs by myself which is a series, and remixes of Stephan Bodzin’s smash ‘Sungam’ from Fur Coat and Rodriguez Jr. Plus much more.

One question many of us would like to know is how you find the time to run a record label, podcast series, produce music, and tour as a DJ? Do you have clones of yourself?

Ha, ha, good questions. Sometimes I think so. To be frank I really don’t know. I can only explain this with the support of my wife Tascha and the matter of fact that I don’t have that many further hobbies. As I display on my Facebook page, electronic music is my life. There’s not much to add to be honest.

Your Elgur is now out, and is a corker of a track. What else do you have planned in terms of studio productions or remixes for 2015?

Thanx for the flowers. Well, I’m currently busy with a remix for my buddy Stephan Bodzin, the track is called ‚Ix, and will appear on his upcoming album on his imprint Herzblut. Besides this the second part of my EP series is now in production, it’s called ‚Simi and Bylgja. The third part is about to be produced in the studio now. I hope I can release it swiftly after the summer.

When you find time to hit the studio are you a person that has a strong idea at the beginning or do you just go with the flow?

This is a good question. Of course I do have my sound signature where I feel comfortable. But at the end of the day I try to go with the flow. This is maybe a reason why my output has such a wide range.

Can you talk us through some of your favourite studio gadgets, and why you always turn to them?

I love to work with a mix of both spheres, digital and analogue. I’m a fan of directing sessions with old gear and record these sessions. Afterwards I have a careful listen and include parts of those recording in my tracks. With this, let’s call it a ‘strategy’, I always keep the momentum of spontaneity in the sessions.

You recently just had your Rhythm Ace drum machine refurbished. Are you a man that prefers the analogue sound?

Definitely yes, the spirit of this old gear is simply incredible. You can’t beat this old, soulful and warm sound at all. My friend Jürgen Driessen invested a lot of time in refurbishing this old drum computer from 1968. It’s lots of fun to record and use those sounds.

As a DJ you have always been very open minded when it comes to using technology, and you recently were a early adopter of the touch screen for use with Traktor. How did this opportunity come about, and what were your thoughts on the technology?

I’m always open minded and like to live the aspects of science fiction movies I was watching in the past. This touch screen Traktor program called Emulator was a great idea of people with great visions. I’m thankful that I could be part of it.

What is your current preferred DJ setup?

It’s very easy, only my flash drive connected to the Pioneer CDJs. It’s funny that I mention this but it gave me back that good old feeling of spinning vinyl after I used Traktor for a little while.

You have a strong relationship with Stephan Bodzin in both the DJ booth and in the studio. How did the pair of you first come to work together?

Stephan released an EP called Caunos on our first label Le Petit Prince. He did it together with a friend called Oliver Huntemann, ha ha. Since then we are friends and work together.

A great deal has changed over the years since you got involved with electronic music. What have been some of the must significant changes in your opinion over the past 2 decades of house and techno music?

I don’t think about this too much. At the end of the day it’s all about the love of music, independent from the media you play. The sound and the vibe of the dance floor people is what counts, the rest is not really interesting.

As we start to approach the summer many of us begin to turn our attention to festivals etc. What festivals are you set to play this year, and when can we next see you live in the UK?

I’m playing the usual suspects like Tomorrowland in Belgium, Inox in France and Dancevalley in Holland to name two of them. UK wise I’m playing Gottwood in Wales. It’s my first time that I perform in Wales and I’m really excited about it.

Finally is there anything lease you would like to mention in regards to future gigs, releases, or just some gossip?

No, everything is said, just one thing, thanks for this nice interview!

You can buy the Elgur/Nasa release here

The ‘Simi/Bylgja’ release will be out on Systematic Recordings on 27th April

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Ian French
About the Author

Director and DJ, Ian French (Naif) is passionate about every genre of music from Breakbeat, to Drum & Bass, to Techno and Progressive House. If he was to describe his preferred style of music he would probably describe it simply as electronic music. Besides his love for music and DJing his other passions are fine cuisine, wine, and travel.