Label of the Month: Correspondant
Label of the Month: CorrespondantJune 5, 2023
Jennifer Cardini’s schedule is as busy as it’s ever been. Catching up with her in Lyon, she had played a b2b with Gerd Janson the night previous as part of the Nuits Sonores festival. The founder of Correspondant Records continues to tour as a DJ whilst running the label. Established in 2011, Correspondant started from a club night ran by Cardini in Rex Club, Paris. For the past 12 years, it has grown to include an international roster with artists from Mexico to Israel. Going from strength to strength, Cardini is now leading her label to global success as more and more emerging artists make their debuts under her guidance.
Correspondant’s French spelling contains the true meaning behind Cardini’s project: “When you’re a kid, you can travel to England for a couple of months, stay with an English family and you would learn the language,” says Cardini. “The English would do the same thing and stay with your family, speak French. That’s a Correspondant.”
Swap out learning the local language for collaborating on club nights and Correspondant was born. Cardini’s residency in Rex saw her invite artists from Germany to give the French capital a taste of what was happening in the German underground electronic scene. “It was really fun because people would come over and would crash at my place. I would cook for them because there was no budget… We’d go to a city for one night. We’d take the temperature of the counterculture or the underground there. Then, we’d bring back whatever impression it made on us. It was like a mirror with DJs from other countries, so it came from that.”
The time spent as a warm-up DJ gave Cardini time to big up more down-tempo music, which in turn led to the theme for the first releases on Correspondant. “At Rex, I was doing a warm-up for 3 or 4 hours. You build the tension and an atmosphere for them which is what a warm-up DJ is supposed to do. Most of the first releases of Correspondant were down-tempo with a bleep-y slow-mo vibe. That came from me digging for warm-up music.”
Cologne-based record label Kompakt was key to Correspondant’s foundation. Cardini’s connection to Michael Mayer got her to be part of the agency and with Michael Mayer being the German penpal, the music exchange was in full swing. “There was a flow of creativity and energy between people who share the same love for club culture and the same vision for electronic music.”
Cardini moved to Cologne and with Kompakt’s help, the label had a blueprint to follow: “They taught me how to run the label and gave me the distribution structure and they took care of uploading everything. Then we had a release schedule. I learned how to be on time, not always but I try. They’re long-time professionals so it was great to learn from them.”
After 14 years as a DJ, Cardini wanted something more tangible to work on, something where she could help nourish the careers of younger artists. “I started to think ‘it’s been almost 15 years. Where am I going? What am I doing?’ I was 30-something. I also started to think about what I wanted now. I’m a first-generation DJ, so we started DJing because we were just partying. Suddenly it became a job. How much do I want music to be part of my life in the future? I didn’t want to party so much anymore. I wanted a healthier life and then I thought I know everybody now, so it was a way to offer the network that I had built to younger artists.”
Once the label started to grow, Noura Labbani joined the Correspondant team where she took charge of the production end of affairs. “I got really lucky when Noura joined because at the same time, my schedule ad a DJ got busier as well.” With the likes of getting pre-masters, mastering and PR exchanges taken care of, Cardini is able to focus on A&R where she listens to submissions and finding the next big release for the label. “I’m the ears. I hope I have good ears.”
In 2021, Correspondant had its 10-year anniversary, which coincided with the label’s 100th release — headed up by Zombies In Miami. Cardini stays focussed on the day-to-day as the release schedule gains momentum: “I’m very happy that we made it to 10 years, and I’m super proud of all the releases we’ve worked. I think it’s great we’ve been doing it for this long. I’m constantly thinking about the next release and the next release after that.’’ The label’s longevity lies in its ability to adapt to an ever-changing music industry. When they first started, they were reaching the end of the modern era for vinyl which was quickly replaced by digital releases and streaming. Now competing with the rapidity and virality of TikTok, Correspondant quickly decided to stick with singles rather than EPs or albums.
“I’ve worked with others and learned so much. I think this has been the most amazing experience of my life. To work on a project with someone else, it’s a wonderful thing. It’s such a rich experience. There are some really super beautiful moments. When we did the Man Power record, he was so happy plus we got him to play at Fabric [London]. When we released Red Axes, Rebolledo did this super crazy remix when we knew the label was still new. When we also had Polina from Agents of Time, it was also a big moment for Correspondant. There were the compilations as well. Compilations 3 and 4 really put the label out there. The fact that we had a roster with so many nationalities like people from all over the world. A lot of Mexican artists, Israeli artists. It’s really nice for us to have such an international roster.”
Not only is the label becoming more diverse with its roster of multiple nationalities but its striving to be more inclusive of LGBTQ+ artists too: “Correspondant is not as diverse as I wish it would be, but it’s definitely becoming that. In the early 2000s when electronic music became more mainstream, I think globally it lost its connection to its roots. Everything became more heteronormative. The label is definitely morphing at the moment. The future releases and the shape of the label are changing. We’re working really hard on this.’’
The changes that have happened during Correspondant’s lifetime include encompassing more genres. Correspondant is also the parent label of Dischi Autunno, which set up in 2017 and goes beyond electronic, house and techno with tracks varying from experimental ambient to indie prog. “The idea was to have something different. It’s connected to the fact that my sound shifted as well. I was more into EBM, electro stuff again and Dischi’s more in that vibe. I received Dollkraut’s beautiful album [Holy Ghost People] and that was the beginning of Dischi.”
What’s on the cards for Correspondant? “The year is packed. I took some time to myself after something happened in my personal life, and after Covid, we’re back on track. It’s a completely new chapter for the label. I’m really looking forward to having more female artists on the label. They can send me demos through Instagram which I check all the time. There’s so much good music out there and most of the tracks I play at the moment are from female producers. It’s a great time music-wise.”
Sofia McDonald is a freelance writer living in Dublin. Find her on Twitter.