Hype Label of the Month: Radikon

We chat with Jonas Saalbach and David Guzy to explore the honest sounds and familial feel of their burgeoning melodic house & techno imprint, Radikon.

11 min
HYPELOTM Radikon Beatportal Header 1536x718 1
Nov 18, 2021
Cameron Holbrook

Always striving to explore new emotional depths with its musical output, German label Radikon believes that having the undying support of your creative peers is the best avenue to creating heartfelt art.

Created in 2018, the Berlin-based imprint is the brainchild of Jonas Saalbach and David Guzy — two established artists and longtime friends who wanted to create a banner under which their familial network of talented artists could express themselves. The word “Radikon” is translated as “roots” in Esperanto, the world’s most widely spoken international auxiliary language that was built with the sole purpose of bringing people together.

Saalbach and Guzy have brought 18 like-minded friends, including YuvenBaimeDahuArude and Yubik, who’ve released a torrent of stunning melodic house & techno, electronica, indie dance, and progressive house, helping Radikon quickly build its reputation as one of the melodic scene’s most promising labels.

To learn more, we caught up with Saalbach and Guzy to find out more about their creative kinship, the mystical sounds found on the Radikon, the intensive support they provide each of their artists, Jonas Saalbach’s new album Headlights, and what comes next for the label in 2022.

In addition, the label heads served up an exclusive mix filled with Radikon gems which you can listen to in the player above.

Check out Radikon’s Hype Label of the Month chart on Beatport.

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Thanks for joining us, Jonas and David! How has 2021 been treating you as opposed to 2020?

Hello Beatport Team! First of all, thank you so much for Radikon being Hype Label of the Month for November, it really means a lot to us. Beatport is a platform we’ve always followed and appreciated, and it’s an important part of any label and artist’s career.

2020 was crazy and confusing for all of us. Besides all the negatives, we’ve tried to take the positives out of it. Suddenly we had so much more time to work on the label and be creative in general. This year we have continued to push the label forward and touring as DJs have also come back into our lives, so the year has been very busy and has gone by very quickly. For us, it’s absolutely satisfying to see other DJs playing our music on big stages!

Any highlights you want to tell us about?

Our first vinyl release! It’s a remix EP of the already released album The Condition by the Danish electronica duo Diamond Mouth. The remixes come from Frankey & Sandrino, Ruede Hagelstein, Jonas and Yubik. The second highlight is Jonas’ album Headlights, just released on Beatport and double vinyl.

How did the two of you first meet? What spurred you to start your label back in 2018, and how has it evolved since then?

We both share a passion for old-school hip hop. At the age of 18, we were both at a festival called Splash. Since friends of ours knew each other and we went with two different groups, we got to know each other. We saw artists like Snoop Dogg, Dilated People, Talib Kweli, The Roots and many others. After that experience, we became friends.

A few years later we were both interested in electronic music and in 2018 we came up with the idea to start a joint project. We started planning the label to give our friends and ourselves a platform to release music and spend good times together. But after a few releases, we also started signing new artists who were not necessarily from our circle of friends.

Radikon is the term for ‘roots’ in Esperanto — the world’s most widely spoken constructed international auxiliary language. Can you tell us more about it and how it inspired the name of your label for those unfamiliar with the language?

Unfortunately, we don’t speak the language but the idea is wonderful. We first heard about it in a German rap song by Freundeskreis called “Esperanto.” The world language is for connecting people and so is the music we release. Everyone understands a melody and a groove. Besides that, Radikon (roots) stands for the deep friendship we have and that is the base for our project.

What are three adjectives you would use to describe Radikon’s sound and dance floor approach?

Emotional, intensive, honest. First of all, it’s very important for us to get a feeling for a track: what emotions the producer has put into his music, how it moves us and what the idea behind the track is. We like strong sound design and leads that are intense and challenging. We think Radikon has a special, maybe mystical sound, but still we release different styles. Some tracks are uplifting peak time oriented for the night, like music from Baime or Arude, and some are perfect for the sunrise to fly away, like Naeiiv’s “Nothing Important Happened Today.”

There is a notable family-oriented ethos that emanates from the label. Can you tell us a bit about the acts that played a crucial role in getting your imprint off the ground and how you plan to grow this family of artists over time?

Glad you mentioned that because it’s an important part of Radikon that the people we work with are mostly part of our everyday life. Sasse who does our mastering, for example, and we have known him for years. And Simon Kneip, who is the man behind the wonderful artwork, has been with us for 15 years. People like Dahu, Yubik, Foreign Guest have been with us since day one, but even before Radikon we were close friends. We would like to create a family feeling and so all our main artists get an EP slot every year. That also means we don’t have as much contingent to sign new artists but listen to all the demos that come in through our website. Sometimes we listen to a song and love it so much that we just have to sign it. In any case, we need a connection with the artist and we always communicate on a friendly basis and not just business.

What are three Radikon tracks that hold a special significance in your heart?

That was the hardest of all questions here because we stand behind every Radikon release 100 percent. But these tracks were kind of milestones for Radikon for different reasons.

Hollt – Halos

Dahu – Cataphract

Alma (GER) – Fear Of Opacity

Jonas, you’ve recently released a new album titled Headlights. Can you tell us about the time and place when your album first started to focus and some of the elements and situations that helped inform its sound?

I started producing the album last winter in Berlin but couldn’t focus at all. I produced a few ideas but I felt the need to leave the city. So I went to Gran Canaria for a month and did a lot of sketches in a small bedroom studio. Long producing days combined with hiking and yoga gave me a clear focus in which direction the album should go musically. It’s a great experience to make an album on my own label, because we are responsible for all steps in the team and I could move completely free musically. On the Radikon YouTube channel, you can find making-of videos that give a good insight into the album production.

What can we expect from Radikon in 2022?

We will kick off the year with our annual Reto compilation, mainly featuring our friends, and then we signed some new artists for EPs and remixes from the likes of Coeus, 8Kays, Sascha Braemer and Martin Eyerer. We are already looking forward to next year and are super motivated to improve the whole idea with every little step we take.

Cameron Holbrook is Beatportal’s North American Editor. Find him on Twitter.

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