A sonic Polaroid of Berlin’s musical culture… 909originals chats to Martyn Goodacre about new label ‘Das Wasteland’

Tim Burgess, Mark Reeder and Fat White Family’s Nathan Saoudi are among those featured on a debut compilation landing later this year on new, Berlin-based record label Das Wasteland Records.

Das Wasteland, the brainchild of renowned music photographer Martyn Goodacre (along with longtime pal Terry Blackburn), was developed at the end of 2020 ‘when the lights remained off across the city that never usually sleeps’.

Its inaugural release, Das Wasteland Berlin Vol 1&2, will be released on 15 August, and also features local luminaries including Stony Sugarskull, Hello Pity, Berlin Diaries and Otto Von Bismark, as well as international artists such as King Khan and Saint Leonard.

Reportedly created to celebrate the ‘incredible musicians and artists that call this freewheeling, free-spirited city home’ during the coronavirus crisis, Das Wasteland started life as a 250-edition record capturing the output of a handful of locked-down Berlin-based musicians.

The resulting compilation is equal parts hope and melancholy, a blend of musical genres that borrows from David Bowie’s ‘Berlin trilogy’ as much as it does the vibrating dancefloors of Ritter Butzke or Suicide Circus… a sonic Polaroid of Berlin’s musical culture.

909originals caught up with Martyn Goodacre to discuss how the project came together.

Hi Martyn, thanks for talking to us. You’re well known for your photography – is this the first time you’ve launched a musical project like this?

Actually not at all. Ive always been in bands – one being Fabulous, who had a single out on Heavenly Records. That was a lot of fun. I also ran Kinglake records in the 90’s with Kieran Flynn.

We put out a few singles, and had a bit of success with Tribute To Nothing, who got signed to a Go! Discs imprint, and also Adventure in Sounds’ first single. I can’t actually remember why I stopped, as the Adventures in Sound single sold out in a day. I must have found a girlfriend.

Why did you decide to launch the Das Wasteland label?

It had been on my mind for a while and the chance meeting of Kieran Leonard and an old pal from Thailand, Terry Blackburn, helped manifest the idea to where we are now.

Who else is involved in Das Wasteland?

Terry Blackburn is the other partner. He’s more of a doer than me. I just dream, but Terry doesn’t seem to have any fear in trying things. If it wasn’t for Terry, it would still be an idea. He has a background in publishing.

Although not a partner technically, Kieran Leonard has also been important in putting together the new compilation and helped us bring in some of the artists, such as the author Rob Doyle, who has a spoken workd track on the LP. Kieran also brought in Brain Destiny, aka Nathan Saoudi from Fat White Family, who gave us an exclusive track for the compilation.

Is it fair to say that this project was ‘borne out of the COVID-19’ lockdown, or was this planned for some time?

The COVID pandemic may have actually helped us, as artists have had more time on their hands and maybe more time to reply to our begging emails.

It started off as a single, low-key Berlin-themed release, with local artists such as Drab City, Hello Pity, Martin Klang, Stony Sugarskull and Otto von Bismark, and then morphed in to a double gatefold, 17-track monster epic – the response was so great. Tim Burgess really helped out with an Anton Newcombe mix and Art Brut showed no hesitation.

We also have an amazing King Khan track, which has equal rights campaigner John Burl Smith reciting a heart-wrenching epic based on his Invaders movement – Smith was with Martin Luther king just before he was assassinated.

Mark Reeder really helped us out with two tracks he produced, one with a Chinese band, Stolen, and another with Alanas Chošnau, who is a Lithuanian singer and songwriter. Not forgetting the others: Berlin Diaries, Mustilide and a new Saint Leonard song.

Beyond the first release, how are you seeking to position the label?

Well, after starting a label with a compilation featuring 17 artists, a rest would be nice, but that won’t happen. We are talking to several musicians that we want to put out, one being Zachery Allen Starkey.

But that’s early days, and at the moment we are involved in trying to promote this LP. I’m more interested in being like a label like Stiff, who would put out all sorts of music. The fact we have two spoken word tracks on the compilation indicates the fact that we are willing to take risks.

Das Wasteland Berlin Vol 1&2 is released in August, and can be pre-ordered here. Thanks to Martyn for talking to us, and to Laughlin McKee for organising the interview.

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