It’s a question that has puzzled scientists for years – what does space sound like? If the boffins at NASA are looking for an answer, DJ and producer Marc Romboy might be a good individual to ask.
Since last May, Romboy has curated a galactic-themed podcast, Music From Space, which has given rise to a compilation, Music from Space (Dimension A), set to be released on 15 October on his own Systematic imprint. As well as his own otherworldly productions, the compilation features artists such as Hunter/Game, Petar Dundov, Rodriguez Jr, Scan X, Pôngo and others. You can pre-order it here.
Through Systematic, one of the most influential record labels of the past 20 years (which helped launch the careers of Stephan Bodzin, Robert Babicz, Booka Shade and others), Romboy has been at the forefront of cutting edge electronica for some time now; in fact, his first label was Le Petit Prince, founded alongside Klaus Derichs in the early 90s.
Along with well-received albums such as Gemini (2006), Contrast (2008) and Luna (2011), the Mönchengladbach native has delved into neoclassical territory with his more recent projects, such as Voyage De La Planète and Reconstructing Debussy, a reappraisal of the French composer’s work, recorded alongside the Dortmund Philharmonic.
909originals caught up with him.
Hi Marc thanks for speaking to us. Your forthcoming compilation, ‘Music From Space (Dimension A)’, draws inspiration from your long-running Music From Space podcast. How did that concept originally come together, and has space been a longtime passion of yours?
The idea for Music From Space came up when I one day asked myself how I could describe the music I was producing. I was sick of all these standard categories like tech house, deep house etc. I wanted to define my style more precisely and make it more timeless.
After a few seconds it was clear to me that my music is ‘music from space’, and nothing else. Another explanation is that aliens kidnapped me and flew me to their planet, where I got inspired for the music and radio show. This is the actual truth but no one really believes this story. 🙂
We presume that by the name ‘Dimension A’, there are going to be more Music From Space compilations in the future. Are you going to use these compilations to showcase new artists, and/or are these compilations going to have a particular theme?
It’s not so much about showcasing someone, it’s much more about having soulmates who can share the idea of making space music. I’m very happy that I could convince so many artists I love to join the project.
We’re now emerging out of the pandemic, so we have to ask the question, how was it for you? Was it a particularly busy period?
The funny thing is that the pandemic broke out in a time period when I was about to plan the radio show. The first edition was broadcasted in Spring 2020. This, as a matter of fact, backs the theory that I met aliens who warned me that the pandemic was about to start…
Tell us about the new studio setup you have – how does it differ to what you were using before?
I finally found my space capsule, as I have always wished it. I make music for a long time but I never had a hideaway where I was completely separated from my environment. Here, i’t’s like I’m in a different dimension, or world, or galaxy. Call it as you want. I have finally arrived in my parallel world… and I love it.
Your label Systematic continues to release quality music close to two decades on from its release. In what ways has the label evolved over time?
In summer 2023, we are going to celebrate 20 years of Systematic. This is sick. And to come back to your question, yes, Systematic has evolved to a platform which more and more features special products, as well as albums with concepts, like the Music From Space compilation.
In times where listening to any song is just a click away, I find it important to create counter aspects like special vinyl products, so that fans and supporters have the possibility to purchase something to hold in their hands, instead of just streaming music.
Most labels only last a few years. To what do you attribute Systematic’s longevity?
The spotlight is always on the music and not on a fast moving trend or fashion.
Systematic was one of the defining labels of the mid-2000s for us, and you recently released an ‘Early Tapes 2004-2005’ compilation. Was that a particularly special time for you?
Yes, of course, because it was the beginning of it all. My first label, ‘Le Petit Prince’, was established in 1993 but my very first own label was Systematic, and the time in the beginning was very exciting insofar that friends like Booka Shade, Oliver Huntemann, Stephan Bodzin and myself began with a new style that wasn’t around before.
Due to the fact that the original 12″ records weren’t available anymore, the idea came up to release a compilation featuring the must essential and crucial tracks released within the first two years. The realisation of the project took us two years, by the way. The process of remastering, compiling the right tracks and finding contemporary artwork which contains the vibe of the period around 2004 was a challenge.
You have run a few Systematic Masterclasses, offering insight on music production, marketing, etc. Has it always been important to you to – to ‘give something back’ and guide up and coming producers?
Yes, absolutely! Sharing is caring. I love to share my experience and knowledge and I love to listen to others as well. We should do this more.
What up and coming artists on the Systematic roster (or elsewhere) should we look out for?
Please watch out for Pôngo from Italy. Extremely talented fellows – two brothers from Pisa who are DJing and singing when they perform. We are currently putting together their first album, I can’t wait.
As you mentioned, long before Systematic, you ran Le Petit Prince alongside Klaus Derichs. That label brought together the various mix of styles of the early 90s: techno, trance, house etc. Today, a lot of producers keep dipping into that period for inspiration, why do you think it was do important?
Well, it was the beginning of it all, in a way. Yes, electronic music was already around before but during the beginning of the 90s the scene really exploded like it never happened before. I was part of this event and I’m proud of it, but now it’s time to do new and fresh things.
One of your more remarkable projects in recent years was your performance alongside the Dortmund Philharmonic, for ‘Reconstructing Debussy’. We presume Debussy was a huge influence on your musical career?
Debussy is much more influential as most of us might think. He is one of the people who was responsible for music for motion picture soundtracks. Listen to his music and you know what I mean. He was also a pioneer of cross-covering different music styles. His works are partly influenced by the pentatonic gamelan music from Bali and Lombok. This was possible due to the Expo in Paris 1889, where he reportedly visited the tent of Indonesia.
How does a project like that come together, and have you any plans to do something similar in the future… reconstructing Stravinsky perhaps?
Funny that you mention Stravinsky, because the aliens asked me the same. I also answered them that we had the idea already – because his Firebird is simply an incredible piece of music. Maybe in the future, who knows?
Do you think anything has changed in electronic music/clubbing as a result of the pandemic, or have things gone back to the way they were before everything ‘closed‘?
Good question. I think people had a lot of time to dive deeper into the music production. So, the quality should be higher from now on, who knows? But I will ask the aliens next time I see them what they think.
[Music from Space (Dimension A), is released on 15 October on Systematic – pre-order here]