Permanent Vacation co-founder, Benjamin Fröhlich steps up for our latest artist feature. Fresh from compiling Compost Records’ iconic Future Sounds Of Jazz vol. 14, alongside Tom Bioly, we fired some questions across, covering the compilation, Permanent Vacation, his work as a producer and things to come, next to him carving out a sublimely energetic mix.

Benjamin Fröhlich is a man that needs little introduction in our eyes. As DJ, producer and label owner of one of the strongest running labels at present, the Munich-based virtuoso has delivered a colorful contribution to the electronic music landscape for quite some time now and has done so in extraordinary fashion. The record label in question, Permanent Vacation, has that kind of pulsating energy and spirit surrounding it that we can’t help but soak up. In its 10-years of being operative, Permanent Vacation has been responsible for genre-defining hits by the likes of John Talabot, Todd Terje, Mano Le Tough, Tuff City Kids, Red Axes, Lauer, DJ Koze, Pional and doesn’t show sign of slowing down any time soon.

On top of his dedication to explore and feature rising as well as accomplished artists, Benjamin Fröhlich has emerged himself as a vibrant producer over the last few years with a string of well-received 12 inches and remixes. From heavy percussive layouts and razor-sharp synth jams to versatile house workouts and dubby breakbeat bangers, his compelling approach to modern club music has gathered support around the globe. This compelling approach is showcased behind the decks as well with an uplifting style in his DJ sets, which fuses house, disco and cosmic into hypnotic and enthusiastic arrangements. He has been on our wanted list for quite some time and it’s a pleasure to welcome the man from Munich into our artist series!

Welcome Benji, thanks for joining! How have you been, and where do we find you today?

Thanks for having me. I’ve been good. It was a very long and intense summer. Probably the most intense of my life. I just returned from Berlin, where I stayed over the weekend and played at Renate’s 11th birthday. It’s always a delight and I met a lot of friends and familiar faces.

I have to say, after going through a couple of your previous interviews, you’ve been quite the busy man from an early age on – opening your own record store at the age of 22, followed by co-founding the now hugely successful Permanent Vacation record label. Sounds like you’re a man on a mission. How did you and up opening a record store at such a young age?

After school I started working in a record shop called Into Somethin’, which was also a club night at that time in Munich, hosted by Michael Reinboth, Theo Tönnesen and Florian Keller. Both, the monthly club night and the record shop were a big influence for me as they featured a vast variety of musical styles from Soul, Jazz, Hip Hop, Reggae to Drum n Bass, Electro and Broken Beats and really got me hooked on music. This is what shaped my decision to try to make a living out of it. When Theo and Michael , the former owners of the shop, decided to close it, I borrowed some money and seized the chance to take over, which I did for eight years then.

Tell us a little about your time as a record store owner. What was it called and how important was running the store for shaping your views on the music industry and broadening your musical horizon?

The shop was called Play Records. It was a great experience and I certainly learned a lot from it. Not only music wise, but also a bit about the business – how it works with distributors, for example. Also, I got to know a lot of great people over the years, last but not least Tom (see question below). My favorite days of week were those, when the new records arrived. That was Tuesdays and Thursdays usually and everyone would come around and buy the records for the upcoming weekend. Sometimes you knew the records before and sometimes there were some real surprises. I remember the Justus Köhncke “Timecode” record was a real surprise as I had filed Kompakt mostly under Minimal, but this was more a contemporary fix of an old disco record and blew me away.

Let’s talk a bit about your friendship with Tom. You guys met during a visit at your record store in Munich. Can you tell us a little about that first encounter and what made you grew closer from that point on?

Tom was a regular customer at my shop and he always bought the records I was most interested in as well, so we got to talk a lot about music and parties and what was going on in Munich at that time. Tom was also working at Compost records and I was putting together a compilation for them with Munich artists to represent the scene here. Tom was responsible for the project at Compost, so we worked together on it and got to know each other closer. Oh and of course not to forget ping pong matches: I just had started playing, so I asked Tom if he wanted to join. We played a lot over the years and at the beginning of Permanent Vacation the Ping Pong table was basically our office.

After that, how did the whole Permanent Vacation idea came into the equation?

We both had individually the idea of starting a label and since we already appreciated working on the compost compilation together and had a very similar taste in music, it felt very natural to do it together. We both were very hooked on the cosmic and balearic sound from the mid 2000’s and wanted to be a part of this new movement. We just had come out of an era, where minimal was mostly dominating the dance floors and the development to a more pop and more melody driven sound was very welcome for us.

In its 10 years of being operative, Permanent Vacation has become quite the music institution with a rather surreal amount of well-received releases. How do you reflect on the way the record label has shaped up and progressed over the years?

We are very grateful that we are still able to do what we love to do and that we are a fully independent operation. The overall philosophy behind the label is that we release music we like and hope that other people like it too, has not changed that much over the years. It’s still the two of us running mostly everything, but doing something for a longer time probably makes you more efficient and also more confident of what you’re are doing. Plus, having experienced certain procedures over the years also helps to put things in perspective and hopefully prevents us from making premature decisions. Also, the way of distributing and promoting music has changed a lot since we started the label. When we first began, vinyl and CD was the number one medium to distribute music, but today it’s a combination of vinyl, CDs, digital downloads and streams.

In the beginning a lot of music could be found on MySpace, which was quite an impressive time as you had the ability to upload music and reach people directly. That was sort of a revolution and helped us a lot to get started. Then SoundCloud became the next big thing, and now Bandcamp and Spotify are stepping into this role. There will certainly be something new soon as well. That keeps things interesting as you have to adjust the technical and social progression while staying true to yourself.

2016 saw the release of your long-awaited debut EP, titled “Rude Movements”. After already running the label for 10 years at that point, tell us a little about the coming together of that EP and what that moment meant to you personally.

I had a couple of layouts, but was not sure how I should combine the tracks and that stopped me a bit from finishing them, so I thought of the Rude Movement concept, to have a bit more freedom for the releases, but still keep the feeling that they are connected. That was the initial idea behind the Rude Movement series. Oh boy, I was very nervous before the release of the record, since I had not put out anything under my own name (besides the collaboration with the Drifter) before. But luckily it was well received and it was a very special moment to hold the record in my hands for the first time.

Past September, we’ve seen the release of Compost Records’ 14th “Future Sounds of Jazz” compilation, which you and Tom had the honor of curating. How did that project come about?

As I mentioned above, we always had a connection to Michael Reinboth and Compost records. There was a bigger gap between the 12th and the 13th issue of the FSOJ series and at some point, before number 13th was released, I had the feeling that this would be a good time to compile a new one, as the music was heading more in this direction
again. I wrote Michael to suggest to him to do a new one. He was already ahead of me and had just finished compiling the 13th. But he also asked us if we would be interested in doing number 14. We were really happy about the opportunity as we are big fans of the series that was very influential in our early music days.

Tell us a little about the compilation’s direction. Was there any initial though that sparked the idea behind it and how did you guys go about selecting the tracks for it?

I think we took the term „jazz“ loosely and were rather looking for personal favourites that already passed our test of time and were in the spirit of the FSOJ compilation. Luckily Compost was able to get all the tracks we wanted, which is pretty unusual.

From all the tracks featured on there, can you highlight one that you personally wear close to heart and why that is?

I would probably go with the opener Basil Hardhouse Breezin’ I almost never get tired of that track and it has all the ingredients I love about House Music. Plus it gets me in a certain nostalgic mood about that period of music, although I didn’t witness it, but it feeds my imagination.

Besides the upcoming compilation, what can we expect from Benjamin Fröhlich in the near future – any plans for a “Rude Movements 3”?

There will be more Rudeness yes. Not a “Rude Movements 3” but a collection of all the tracks and remixes (plus some fresh ones) to mark the end of this series. And then off to new shores next year.

What’s on the horizon for Permanent Vacation – anything in particular we should be looking out for?

Yes, we just finished compiling the 5th installment of the Permanent Vacation series (our longest ongoing series) and we are quite pleased with the outcome. Exclusive tracks from old heroes and new stars that will come out in November. And of course lot’s of new music on 12″ are coming your way for a steamy autumn/winter.

Tell us a little about the mix you’ve cooked up for us today. Was there any particular theme you went for, where is it recorded and are there any tracks you wish to highlight for us?

Not really a theme, but I think I went for a club night slammed into 1h 15min 🙂 Most of it is fairly new music I like to play at the moment, but also some older bits that I just rediscovered.

Anything else you want to share with us?

There are no simple solutions to complex questions – don’t let anyone fool you.

Benjamin Fröhlich: Facebook // Soundcloud // Instagram // Discogs
Permanent Vacation: Facebook // Soundcloud  // Discogs