Interview with Hypersound Productions
During 2007 Hypersound Productions has been the most productive label in the spacesynth genre while counting the number of releases. We have earlier read about Humphrey Robertson in person in other interviews but so far no one has made an interview about their label. Therefore we got in contact with the owners of the label, Patrizia and Humphrey, and asked them about their journey with the company and how they see the future of the spacesynth genre.
Discography and Biography: Hypersound Productions
We begin the interview with asking questions to Humphrey Robertson about how it all started.
The company was founded back in 1995. Tell us why you started it and why did you call it for "Hypersound Productions"?
The idea was to create a label especially for Synthesizer Dance music. The Music at the time was more Techno and Trance orientated. Patrizia came up with that (Hypersound Productions) name.
Was it hard to startup the company in terms of financing and establishing connections with other partners?
No, not really as I had many connections and experience in the music business. Distribution partners etc. Looking back it was a good idea as there is still a market for this kind of music. It has been hard work to get to the position where we are today.
When you released the first Synthesizer Dance album and some albums with mindXpander, Anders Lundqvist and Protonic Storm, where did you find those artists? at mp3.com?
I think so, I'm not sure but I think I found them via the internet. Some artists introduced us to other artists.
The music that your company releases are called by many names. What do you call it and how do you describe the music to somebody that haven't heard it before?
Synthesizer Dance, Synthesizer music instrumental, timeless music.
The expression spacesynth is the most common one when this kind of music is discussed on the web. Do you know who invented the expression Spacesynth?
No, must be a new generation. The name Synthesizer Dance was used way back upon releases of groups like Koto or Laserdance in the mid eighties. Most probably it came from the name Italo Dance and Synthesizer Dance was a side affect from that genre.
Who are involved in the albums that you are releasing, and what are those people doing?
Our CDs are all pressed in Switzerland. We are working with the same pressing plant since the start of Hypersound Productions in 1995. The rest is done by us, mastering and div Studio Production work. On the last 6 albums we did the artwork as well. Before we had a company doing this for us.
Who made the album cover for the first two Futurespace albums?
Patrizia had the main ideas and the rest was done by a local graphic company.
Recently you announced on your website that you have included a third person in the team (Andreas Bosseler) that will take care of the promotion part. What kind of promotion will Andreas take care of?
He has been helping us with promotions in the past years. He has taken over some jobs and organizing things related to promotion and sales. Another reason was when he was contacted by musicians he could refer to us as a member of team.
Some year ago Stefan Bieri was included in the team. What was his task in the team?
He was solely responsible for the Synthesizer Dance Nights as a DJ. He had access to some public houses for presenting these nights.
Are you both doing this for a living, or do you have some other work besides Hypersound Productions?
Yes, we do this for a living. Patrizia has also a part time job in an office near by.
I've read on the web that you have made jingles and soundtracks for tv. Is it something that people have heard?
I did many different things for commercial broadcasting.
What do you do yourself and what do you hire people for?
For the creation of our website we hired a company. The updates and changes we do ourself. Radio Jingles are done by me and recently we also do the cover art too.
What did you do before you started up Hypersound Productions and What education do you have?
I always have been in the music industry. In the eighties I was a salesman for a german record company. By the side I produced a lot of italo disco music. In 1989 I went to self employment my first studio was called D-Line Recording Studio where I did all the famous projects like Ciber People, Hypnosis, Daylight till 1995 when Hypersound was founded.
I'm a sound engineer.
What do you think that you would doing if Hypersound Productions didn't exist?
I would be working in some part of the music industry. Music has been always a very important part of my life.
How does a ordinary day look like at Hypersound Productions?
Working 24/7 Studio and Office. Generally you unlikely see me in the early mornings as I usually work till late in the studio.
Most composers on your label are from Europe and I assume that's the case for your distributers too. Are the people that order your albums also from Europe? If that's the case, do you have any idea why it is like that?
We have customers from all over the world. The role of the distributor has changed over the years. At the start of Hypersound we had distributors in different countries otherwise we could have not reached the customers. Today the situation is that most customers order from our homepage directly.
Do you think that it would be possible to sell the albums also in the United States?
We have a distributor in the US.
What can you see from your sellary statistics? Are there new people that order the albums or are there just the same people that order from you over and over again?
Our company is constantly growing. 2007 is going to be the best year in our 12 year History. Our expanded shop with items from the 80's, 90's, Italo Disco etc has proven to be a very good idea and along with these items we got many new customers who took in interest in our own releases. I donít have a suvey at hand but the customer base is growing day by day. The customers that order opon release date has grown too. That can be hard to handle.
Nowadays everyone has the possibility to start making music without big investments. I suppose you have seen this effect as I assume that you have received more material during the latest 2-3 years than before?
Yes, thatís a reason why we stopped receiving demos. We simply could not handle the income of these (returning CDs, writing why we did not like, getting letters from people who did not get a reply within a weekÖ.etc)
What kind of differences can you see between todays and yesterdays artists?
Today anybody can record music at home with a laptop. Itís not necessary to go and record in a professional recording studio like in the good old days!
What kind of requirement do you have for the music that you are releasing conserning the audio quality?
Iím not sure what you mean. The terms of how someone recorded something is irrelevant. As for me only the end product is what counts.
It is necessary that the musician record their songs in high sound quality or is it enough with tracker songs? Some songs on the Synthesizer Dance compilation albums are definitely made with some cheaper equipment.
It very much depends on the end result.
How do you find new artists nowadays? Are you checking websites with free music?
Both we have people who check out interesting music and point them out to us. On the other hand we have a lot of artists signed.
How much are the artists involved in the album cover making process?
We do this part ourself. In the past we have received artwork to process to fit into a cd production, but in most cases we make them ourself.
Many album covers do not have much information inside. It is the same situation as with the old zyx-releases. Do you have any idea of publishing lyrics, studio pictures or other information inside the cover?
No, lyrics would be difficult as itís generally Instrumental music.
What is your favorite production that has been released by your company?
Well, I stand up to all productions released on our label.
How many copies have been sold of your releases?
The best selling Hypersound album so far was Daylight - Dance (1997) which sold 7000 copies (in comparison Hypnosis - Lost In Space sold 45000) in 1992. I must say this was not alone all through the internet we had this album distributed in 6 different territories. After that the Internet took off and killed all the small distributers, or were taken over by major labels and the doors were closed for small labels like us.
Has that album sold so much that the artist(s) earned something from that release?
Concidering that the artist has no expensives and we pay for all costs, I guess any amount small or big is an earning. Most of our artists do this for a hobby.
There is a gold album hanging on the wall in the Hypersound-studio. Which album is that? Tell us more about that gold album.
The Gold Disc award is from 1991. I produced an album with two fellow producers called M.C.Eugster, genre Disco-Dance sound. It was best selling artist of that year here in Switzerland.
Tell us about the Synthesizer Dance serie. Where did you get that idea from?
Yes, it was to start a platform for less known artists to present themselfs to a wider audience. In Jan 2008 we will release volume 9 from this serie.
That being the case, why have you included your own songs on those albums? Is it because of lack of contribution to that serie?
No, generally because my fans were dissapointed when I was not featured.
We have seen on the pictures at your website that your studio has been equipped with better and more expensive gear. For example the new mixing table looks very impressive. Was there some specific reason for buying that one?
Some years back I moved from analog to digital mixing. The result was not satisfactory in term of sound so I went back to analog. I know you can make music with a lot less nowadays. This is my preferably way of working.
Did you upgrade the mixing table for your jingles work? I assume that the material that you got for the Macrocosm and Area 51 albums didn't need much mixing work before it could be sent to pressing.
No, these albums were not produced at Hypersound.
How long time does it take for you to make release a new album?
Studio work a month or two depends on ideas and mood, in terms of Production for releasing a cd album, now that we do the artwork 2-3-weeks, after receiving master.
Your company have some really fanatic fans, which I assume that you are aware of. They are quick and good at publish news about your releases at the discussion forums on the web. Have you visited the spacesynth-related discussion forums yourself? We haven't seen any post from you there.
If you had the chance to go back in time and change something with your company, what would that be?
Nothing really. I always feel things that are done are done. I make a decision and stand by it. If itís right or wrong can only be experienced by doing it. Iím proud that Hypersound has become a household name in our corner of the music world. Over the years we have made a lot of people happy with our releases and thatís what a record company should do.
Now over to a couple of questions about the future
What are your future plans for Hypersound Productions? What can we expect from you during 2008?
We have some new productions already in planning.
How do you see the future for the genre? Will the music sound the same or will we hear more influences from techno and trance (for example, on SD7 we could hear techno songs).
I would personally like to stick with the 80's spirit. This is what made us what were are today and why change a winning formula. As long as our customers buy our CDs we will keep them coming. The Techno and Trance market that was so big in the 90s has almost diappeared. I know many producers that are either working in other areas or unemployed. Labels like us are very rare and need to be managed with sense and care.
The company is using the slogan "The home of synthesizer dance" and that is just what it is focusing on today. In your CD-catalogue you also have some of Patrizia's old italo-albums that are in a different style. Do you have any thoughts about allowing other styles of music than the Synthesizer dance style in the future ?
Our online-shop is a different matter as we already sell different styles like Italo Disco, 80's & 90's, Dance etc. We have experienced a large demand for such items as most shops donít bother selling them because of lack of demand or interest from the shop owner. This is where the internet has become very strong.
What kind of music you like to listen to other than spacesynth?
I love old 80ís sound. It was for me musicwise the best era. I recently was invited to a local radio show who had a 80ís day. I talked about Fresh Color and the other productions I made back then. The response was amazing.
How do you think that this music genre can grow and be more accessable for people? ie. the music can't be bought in ordinary stores right now.
I doubt this will ever happen. The small shops have all been runout of business by the discounters. I personally would rather sell 100 copies through our shop than a 1000 copies for a very LOW budget price and end up with less in my pocket. Sure the Internet has done itís damage to sales no doubt but even worse is the constant battle price to conquer the customer. And this something we donít want to be part of.
Here are some thoughts about how to increase the popularity for the genre. Comment them in case you feel them realistic:
- do like Hotsound Records did with Laserdance back in the 80s and include some of the songs in the well-spread italodisco-collection albums, to be able to reach a bigger audience.
Many of these samplers donít exist anymore. I recently had a song featured from Fresh Color released on a famous Italo Disco sampler and the licence money was poor. If it would increase our sales I doubt it.
- both Area 51 and Macrocosm have been selected as HurricaneFM's spotlight artist. Has that increased the sellary?
No, not really.
- Start selling some merchendice with prints of the artists Area 51, Macrocosm, Protonic Storm, etc. ie. merchendices like T-shirts with some nice space motives.
We had some t-shirts that were all sold out quickly. But to tell you the truth we invest in CDs as a publisher and record company. Merchandise is not that profitable (unless you're Britney Spears..)
- Produce a video that can be played on some television show. For example a animated space video for some song on the next Area51 album.
You may be aware of the fact that we have had some videos published by youtube made by fans (are in our Video section) that have brought a big feedback to us. Again and professional videos would not fit our budget and the music video space on these music channels has been overtaken by games where you have to call an expensive number and guess something.
Have the synthesizer dance nights been the success that you hoped?
No, it was a test to see how people react.
What is your dream for the future concerning Hypersound Productions?
As it has been in the last years and Iím happy.
During 2007 your company started to sell the music in mp3-format like many other record companies do today. What are your thoughts about this decision so far? ie. has it become a success?
Oh yes it has. We wanted to give the (new generation) who prefer to download music a chance to buy our releases without spending on pressed CDs. It is being used often. At first I was very sceptic. Overall I wanted to have own control on the downloading so Itunes and other download shops was not an option. I think the music would get lost in the jungle of millons of songs at these large major online stores. It has proven an excellent option to choose in our shop between download or cd audio version. Our digital sales will not take over the physical CD just yet, but the reactions so far have been very positive. Even some fans who could not wait till the CD arrives per post choose to buy the download version for the meantime and order both audio and downloadÖ Thatís incredible.
Have you seen any problem with spreading of music over the P2P-networks when it comes to your releases?
This is a global problem that has more effect on commercial music, the on-line piracy. Illegal file sharing has been deadly to the music industry. It is impossible to compete with free.
Do you think that the strict "rules" within the spacesynth genre make it difficult for composers to make something fresh and new?
I think every composer brings his own style into this genre. Some come close to the classical sound of the 80ís and some donít, but still I get thrills when I hear how producers figure out a different formula that still matches the classic Synthesizer Dance sound.
Now we continue with some questions to Patrizia who runs the sales office for the company
Your company was founded back in 1995. Were you involved in the company from the beginning or was Humphrey running it by himself at that time?
We have both been involved from the start. I met Humphrey in his old studio in 1993 as he was looking for somebody to sing and I had an audition with him. 3 months later we had a hit and from then I was around him a lot. I was fascinated by his total addiction to his work.
Was it hard to startup the company in terms of financing and establishing connections with other partners?
No, Humphrey handles these things. Lots of partners who Humphrey had known and worked with in the past were willing to work with us.
Describe what you are doing in the company.
I do the office work, ie orders, backstock items for our webshop and general customer support.
Are you doing this for a living or do you have some other work besides Hypersound Productions?
I also work part-time at an office near by.
What education do you have?
Iím a office assistant.
On your webpage we could earlier see a picture of the building that you are located in. Can you explain what we could see on that picture. Is that the house that you are living in at the moment?
The pictures were removed because we moved last year to a new location.
What do you think that you had been doing if Hypersound Productions wouldn't exist?
Another job I guess
How does an ordinary day at Hypersound Productions look like for you?
Iím tied up with customer support and other things to do with the company.
What promotion are you doing for the company, except for the jingles that are played at the radiostation HurricaneFM?
In the past we have done magazine advertising like (E-dition electronic music magazine) some other local magazines, but unfortunatly most of these magazines no longer exist.
What kind of contact do you have with the buyers. Is it only through email or do they phone you too? What kind of feedback have you received from them?
Generally via email we get all kindís of comments and reactions on our music and of course the usual customer service.
Have you visited the spacesynth-related discussion forums yourself?
During 2007 your company started to sell the music in mp3-format like many other record companies do today. What is your thought about this decision so far?
Yes, this is a new and very profitable part of Hypersound. ie no CD production costs.
Will there be another Silvia album in the future?
No, there were just 2 singles released.
Thanks for participating in this interview. Before we end this interview I wonder if there is something that you would like to say to your buyers?
Humphrey: I would like to thank our customers who have made our company what it is today. It is for us the motivation to produce more. Itís essential for a record company that can only exist when people actually buy the music. And of course to all our producers who have been part of our label success and have made productions for the fans out there.
Patrizia: Generally the same as Humphrey. We get lots of feedback from our customers and that makes us happy and makes us optimistic for the future.
2007-10-14 13:47:18Interviewer(s): Jouni, Lauri and Staffan