The success of FRISKY Radio is a real model and unique. Ingo Vogelmann, a DJ, music producer and a businessman, would take offence if we would judge him only by this successful brand, which is absolutely right. Instead of this, we dug ourselves into his career and works.
Thank you for accepting our interview and your time as well.
Thank you, it’s my pleasure.
We thought about it many times that how should we approach your work. You are a diverse and also a creative person. But the question arises as to what is your main activity beside being a producer and a DJ?
Back in the old days, when the music industry was very different, you have been either a producer, arranger, mixer, mastering engineer or whatever. People had very distinct roles and jobs, because selling music made money for everyone, from the artist to the label, and in between were those people mentioned that all got a cut from that. That’s why they could do only that and focus on it. They were really good at it what they did.
Today — unless you’re signed with one of the few remaining major labels out there — to get your music out to the people and being heard, you have to fill most of those roles yourself, simply because no one can really afford all those people anymore. Some of them, yes, but not the full thing. That’s why I learned all those things myself, doing mixdown, mastering, sound design, producing, composing, recording … and that’s only the music part of things.
I also had to learn the business side of things — the hard way, btw — marketing and promotion, running a label, dealing with finances, basically being a music business man, without ever having had the desire to be one. I always only wanted to do one thing, and that was creating and performing music.
I’m running a label myself, and the most popular radio and subscription service for underground electronic music, FRISKY, with a rock solid and experienced team. It’s business, yes, but I can use my musical expertise and experience to help FRISKY being the number 1 in its field, by curating content, finding new talent and growing our fan base and business with proper marketing strategies.
I recently got asked to help a company in the travel adventures business with their marketing, so I also do that.
Beside all this I go on outdoor adventures as often as possible in my free time. I get a lot of inspiration for my work from nature, wildlife, the silence up in the mountains and the sound of the sea. I also love photography and try to become better at it. All this stuff recharges my batteries for the challenges in my professional life, and it also helps me to write new music.
We know that your grandfather is a multi-instrumentalist, just like your brother. But when did you realise and how that you are really into electronic music?
This may sound strange, but I never really fell for electronic music. I just love music, no matter if it’s acoustic, electronic, done with a computer or hand-played. I can’t tell you exactly when music started to play such an important role in my life, but it must have been very very early. My mother has a beautiful soprano voice and she was singing all the time, my 10 years older brother was playing guitar and drums at home and in a band, so I was surrounded by music from birth on. I couldn’t really avoid it!
But I get the question. I think it was around 1988 and my first time in Ibiza when I started loving electronic music. Before I used to listen to and play hand-made music, and it really took me a while to learn to love synths and drum computers and all those electronic music instruments.
I remember that in 1989 a friend of mine who was a keyboarder gave me his drum computer, a BOSS Dr. Rhythm, to try it out, and I was totally fascinated by it. Suddenly, I could just compose drums without playing them myself with my hands and feet, and without a drum kit. That’s when I started writing music with the help of electronic music instruments, and I think it was in 1992 when I started using a computer for that.
Pole Folder once said he’s a rock’n roll soul in an electronic body, and I think that also describes me best. I come from rock and classic music, I’m an educated drummer, but today I can embrace all kinds of music. Minus meaningless pop or EDM crap.
FRISKY Radio, as a brand, is 15 years old now. Can you tell us how it started and how did you become part of it?
That’s quite a funny story. Faisal, our founder, was working as an engineer for streaming audio for Shoutcast, and he’d set up a test stream — the geek and music lover he is — and played DJ sets on it. Suddenly, more and more people tuned in and that’s how FRISKY was born, quite unintentionally.
It was in 2005 when I got my own show offered, LIGHTWORKS, that recently celebrated its 11 years anniversary. I can proudly say that ever since, LIGHTWORKS has always been one of the strongest shows on the station. I’m extremely happy about the success of it.
Well, after my show launched in 2005, it didn’t take long until I started working together with the small team, scouting new talent and helping with music expertise and advice. We grew together, organically, it just happened. Of course, the chemistry has to happen, you need to like the people you’re working with as much as the work itself. This has never changed. The team are great people and we love what we do, and that’s the key to success, I think. The people love what we do because we love what we do. Easy as that.
Today, FRISKY has its potential listener circle. It is a great achievement, but how can Frisky develop in the next 10 years?
Oh, there’s always lots to do and we have more ideas and projects on our road map than we can possibly realize in a lifetime. Right now we focus on development of our mobile and web apps, as well as growing our main channel FRISKY and the newer channels DEEP and CHILL. It’s a challenge to both make sure the technical side of things is running smoothly and adding new shows and doing proper marketing and promotion for everything.
FRISKY’s place as the leader in underground electronic music and the fact that it’s been around for so long is because we don’t chase trends but create them. What I mean by that is that while others try to be trendy and follow what’s popular now, we focus on the future and feature what will be popular in the future. We also constantly innovate in our products and were the first music service to launch on-demand music streaming way back in 2010, long before anyone else. We also launched offline listening in our new iOS app this year — also way ahead of Soundcloud & Co..
For the future we’ll continue to innovate and bring new features to the market, traditionally as the first service that does it.
With whom do you work with directly? It would be impossible to do it on your own. 🙂
No, that would definitely be impossible. FRISKY is quite a machinery that you have to run with a skilled and committed team. You can compare it with a space ship and its crew. Main difference? There’s no sound in space, haha.
The core of our team is 5 people, and I work directly with each and everyone. Faisal, Giuliano, Rob, Lauren and myself. And then, of course, we have a good bunch of developers in our back. Most people have no clue how much stuff is going on behind the curtains. Typical show biz!
Everyone has his field of work, but we interact and cross-over a lot. Main goal is that things get done. We work in a — what I call — “horizontal hierarchy”, meaning, there isn’t a real one. We trust in each others abilities and everyone listens to everyone. It doesn’t happen often that one of us makes a decision on his own, without consulting the team.
We feel that when something gets fucked up, we fucked up as a team, and then we fix it as one. Acting as a team is our biggest strength. You don’t form a team like that really, it grows naturally. We’re lucky, I guess, to have found each other. We have a lot of democratic processes and discussions going on, and there isn’t really a classic “reporting to someone”. We know our responsibilities and take this very seriously.
You don’t just pull a service like FRISKY out of the hat. You need to know what you’re doing, and how. You need to understand music and the business behind, you need to know how to communicate with artists and managers — as they’re both quite a special species — and you need to have the technical expertise to have this running 24/7/365. It’s always difficult when one of us is traveling, we always need to make sure to have at least a half-decent internet connection!
I can say that everyone in the team is brilliant in what he or she does. I’m fortunate to be able to work with such excellent and passionate ladies and gentlemen that are all experts in what they do. How many people can say that?
Being a music producer, DJ, composer and an audio engineer, you surely have your own opinion about the profession and the happenings regarding it. Which was your biggest experience this year and which are the things that you did not like?
One of my personal highlights this year was playing a new tune of mine — in which I’m using a Bach theme — on a gig, and the crowd just went completely nuts. I was a bit concerned if it would work on the dance floor, because it has orchestra strings and stuff, but what happened there was just incredible. A girl even came up to me asking if this was Bach, and I totally didn’t expect that! I mean, that someone would recognize what I did there … that was just amazing and a great night to remember.
I’m quite delighted that Beatport got a grip and rid of its mother company, SFX, which turned “EDM” into a rubbish word and literally killed the genre “Progressive House”. That took a toll on the many creatives of the genre and I’m looking forward for things to get back to normal.
No bad things happened in my professional life, really. I’m not too happy with a few things in our industry, but that’s nothing new, and also nothing I could change. At least not over night and alone, hehe, never say never.
Did you attend Amsterdam Dance Event this year?
Oh yes, of course. We hosted our annual Get Frisky ADE event again with a fantastic line-up and great vibes. It was lovely to see the guys running shows on FRISKY, playing live, having chats, a few drinks, discussing stuff that you can only do when you meet someone in person. It was really nice. Unfortunately, I had a very tight schedule, so I had to leave the next day already. On the other hand, that saved me from the bad hangover I had last year!
Have you met such a critical crowd at a party where it does not matter which track do you play?
Indeed, I did. That was a few years ago when I headlined an open-air in the Philippines with 10,000 people in front of me. It was pouring rain, people stood knee deep in water and mud, but they partied as if there was no tomorrow. I had the impression that I could have farted into a microphone and they would have loved it.
As a DJ and a producer, what the future may bring for you? Do you have goals which you still want to achieve?
Honestly, the only thing I really want to continue achieving is making people happy with the music I produce or play. That worked pretty well in the past and I intend to continue doing so. I don’t give much about fame and roses, I’m just happy when everything I do with all my heart finds its audience and contributes to happiness.
Technically, I still haven’t done a few things in the studio that I want to do one day, but I’m very sure I will.
Also, I’d like to be able to grow production work for other people or projects. I’m not talking about ghost-producing, that I’d never do, but I have a few clients that regularly need music for something special, and I really like doing that. Music for film and advertising, for instance. I’m lined up to score a Hollywood movie, and I can’t wait to start the actual work. I’ve done the main theme already, very much to the liking of the film makers.
That’s something I could imagine doing until the end of my days on this planet.
Everybody does his or her own things, which is right. However, the question is given that at your level, it is possible to place music above all things, or it becomes only business after a while?
When you’re a professional musician like me, and you make a living from it, then things are always business, as well. There’s always the artistic and the business side. It’s a challenge to get all this stuff juggled, but I have found a way to deal with both worlds, I guess.
I feel that I never had a real choice whether I wanted to create music or not. It was just inside of me since I was born, and I have to let it out. So, the question if music is above all things is a bit of a tricky one. Of course, the people close to me in my life always come first. But music directly after that, for sure. I can not imagine my life without making music, and sure as hell no one around me would like to bear with me without music in my life! I’d probably start killing kittens or so.
Are there artists who you keep an eye on or discover?
Absolutely. In fact, exactly that is part of my job. I always have my eyes and ears wide open for new talent. As a host of 3 radio shows and DJ I have to listen to vast numbers of new music every week, and I always discover one or the other gem.
Of course, I’m constantly discovering new DJs for FRISKY, and I’m particularly happy about the fantastic ladies and gentlemen that I found this year. They will have their own shows as soon as possible.
Can you tell us information about your upcoming works?
Oh yes, of course! I was afraid you never ask, haha!
I have a 5 track EP that I’m very happy with coming up on Pro B Tech in a few weeks, including that Bach track I talked about earlier, and a fabulous remix for another track on the EP by Andry Nalin!
I also have done a track for a compilation on the Cirque Du Son label, run by my friend Daniel Bruns in Hamburg. Not sure when it gets released, but should be pretty soon as well. It’s a big tune and I can’t wait for it to be out.
But the biggest project is my new upcoming album that I’m finishing as we speak. It’s been 3 years since my last one, “The Great Escape”, which has been my most successful ever — commercially — and since I’ve set the stakes high I’m very excited and working hard to deliver the best I can come up with!
I was able to gather incredibly passionate and professional friends working with me on that album, like Lenny Ibizarre for the mix, Tony “Jack The Bear” Mantz for the mastering, Adam Martinakis for the 3D artwork, Paul Pastourmatzis for the videos. It’s a huge production, a lot of work, and I’m excited beyond words.
Right now it looks like we see a release in January, on my label L2 Music, available as high-end files via Bandcamp and all the other well-known stores. Depending on how well it sells I could imagine pressing really good vinyls of that, for my audiophile fans. That would totally make sense as the album contains a lot of analog stuff, hand-played instruments and such, and Tony will do a proper analog mastering. Honestly, this is too good than listening to crappy compressed files of it. That’s why I will emphasize on buying the FLAC versions, at least.
What do you know about the Hungarian guys, Erich von Kollar, East Café and Robert R. Hardy? What is your opinion about their works?
I know all 3 of them. They’re all very talented guys and I support one or the other tune of them regularly. We just had Robert R. Hardy as “Artist Of The Week” on FRISKY, and he delivered a brilliant set that charted #1 in our weekly top 10!
Hungary is the home of many talented DJs and producers — in fact, over average — and I’ve been fascinated by the Budapest scene ever since I set foot in the city. Lots of good stuff going on, a very vital and constantly growing scene.
I’m very much looking forward to play Budapest as soon as possible.
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