Get Physical Music have been a dominating force in club music since the labels inception back at the turn of the millennium. Instantly making their mark with releases from names like M.A.N.D.Y, Booka Shade, and label founder DJ T.
Now almost two decades later, the Get Physical crew continue to push boundaries, through releases from industry veterans and newcomers alike, as well as various compilation albums, live events, and runs of bespoke merchandise.
We caught up with label mainstay Philipp Jung, and current co-owner Roland Leesker to chat about the past, present, and future of the label, including how they found success all those years ago, what they look for in a potential artist partnership, what we can expect to hear from them soon, and any advice they would have for would-be label owners.
You first launched Get Physical back in 2002, do you remember some of the obstacles you faced in the beginning?
Philipp: To be honest everything was a hustle, but it didn’t matter as we were very determined and there was nothing we worried about. We pressed the first EP, M.A.N.D.Y.s ‘Put Put Put‘, ourselves and ran to every distribution company but no one wanted it, until DJ T. said he knew the owner of Intergroove in Frankfurt. This guy showed some heart and agreed to work with us, and from then on we sold at least 5000 vinyl copies of every release for quite some time.
And you’ve since released music from Booka Shade, Andhim, Vince Watson, and Catz ’n Dogz, what kind of things do you consider when looking at an artist for a potential release?
Philipp: A certain dignity and humbleness and the understanding that we should be very lucky and thankful to be able to do what we do. Also to not take success for granted and that we all work very hard for all this and that teamwork is very important to achieve goals. We always want to work long term with the artists we sign, so it’s important to have a mutual understanding about all those things.
Who else can we expect to see on the label over the next few months?
Roland & Philipp: Thandi Draai with Africa Gets Physical, DJ One Five with Detroit Gets Physical, Cook Strummer with Berlin Gets Physical, and exciting new projects from Karol XVII & MB Valence, Birds of Mind, the legendary band “Los Abuelos de la Nada” from Argentina remixed by Verlk, Anthony Middleton of Audiofly, Rej&Kjavik, Sailor & I, and last but not least, our dear friends from Halle: Monkey Safari, with Body Language Volume 25.
And will you be doing anything special for the 20th anniversary in 2022?
Roland: Monkey Safari remixed and re-edited a lot of our classics for their Body Language Vol. 25 album, which we will release next year. We think this is a really nice way to celebrate some of the releases from the past 20 years and we are also hoping for more live date possibilities around this release of course.
We will also release some new merchandise: “Getting Physical Since 2002”. Besides that, we do not want to squeeze this date out too much on a publicity level, but rather focus on the reorganisation of our company internally to make it fit for the future. We have a particular focus on Get Digital, our label management and distribution wing that we recently started together with our distributor Zebralution. This will be receiving a lot of attention and investment on the technological as well as the personnel level.
Was there a particular release that when you signed it you thought, this is really taking things to the next level?
Phillip: Djuma Soundsystem’s ‘Les Djinns’, the Trentemöller Remix and Samim’s ‘Heater‘. I knew these 2 releases would work really well. And they did, all over the place! We still love them!
Roland: I think every new release brings us further on many different levels and I am very happy to be part of the realisation of all of them.
And what is one piece of advice you would give to any aspiring label owners in 2021?
Philipp: That is very difficult. I think it’s important to do your very own thing. Don’t listen to people who don’t have to face the consequences. Just put all your love, energy and creativity into your project, find very good reliable friends and just go for it. Don’t compare yourself with anything or anyone. Just believe in what you are doing, even if a thousand people tell you otherwise.
Roland : Get a good distribution partner, take care of your administration properly from the first release onwards, build your own network on all levels, be fair with all of your partners, spend your money wisely and keep on learning.
You have been involved in music long before streaming, and digital stores in general were the main way people consumed music, what are some of the biggest differences you’ve noticed between then and now?
Philipp: I don’t know where to start. Everything is different. How people consume music nowadays, to special edits for Spotify, and all the algorithm stuff. You can’t stand still. I am very happy to have a team who is very motivated and very well informed about these changes.
Roland: When I started selling music in our record store in Frankfurt in the early 90’s the best records were limited to maybe 5 to 10 DJs. You really had to be privileged in a way to get hold of the hottest record and you had to work hard for this privilege. So a few DJ´s played these exclusives and made them “their“ hits. Demand was literally created like that and only then when there was real demand for a record more pressings were manufactured.
Nowadays the opposite is the challenge: everybody can basically release everything within a few minutes. So how to make yourself heard in a sea of billions of new tracks? And how do you find that special record nobody else knows? Maybe following a label you trust is still a good idea.
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, is there anything else you want to mention before we go?
Philipp: Thank you for the great work you guys have been doing for years now, it’s a big part of the whole business. Otherwise just spread love and always check the facts.