NoHope with NovaFuture Blog (Mute Special)

Welcome to my NoHope session. I wanna tell you something how a label influenced my whole taste of music and changed my life. For sure you know the name – always wearing it on my shirts - Mute Records.

The man behind the label is nowadays already a legend. His name is Daniel Miller who worked as DJ at Swiss holiday resort and in the film business in the 70ies. He wanted to release his own single in a Doing- it-yourself way and was looking for a distribution. At Rough Trade shop he gave it to the guys there and they had a listen. As the guys there liked it, they ordered some copies which sold very well. This was in 1978.


You have perhaps recognized his single : Warm Leatherette. Daniel had his address printed on the backside so he got demos. Some day he received a one from Frank Tovey aka Fad Gadget, loved it and they started to work together and record the single „Back To Nature.


Daniel was really into German stuff like Krautrock. He loved Can. Kraftwerk. And so on. So the first full- length a lbum on Mute, „D ie Kle inen und D ie Bösen“ was by the German electro punks DAF emerging from the arty group of people in Düsseldorf.


Still being a small label he got also the attention of a band that became very important for Daniel and the label. But for the time being Daniel ignored and declined the demo tape. This tape was from none other than Depeche Mode. He met them later at a concert of Fad Gadget where they played as support act. He really like d what he heard and so offered a deal for a single shar ing costs and pr of it 50/50. DM agreed and sealed the contract with a hands hake. But before releas ing the f irst single on Mute another track by Depeche Mode was released: „Photographic“. Some of you may know Marcel Dettmann's edit he ofte n played at Berghain. It appeared on Some Bizarre Compilation. So this is the first ever released Depeche Mode recording.


According to a legend: Stevo Pearce of Some Bizzare and Daniel Miller agreed that Daniel gets DM and Steve Soft Cell but in return Steve can release the first DM recording and Daniel produces a Soft Cell single.

Interjection 1: For many people elder brothers-and-s isters have a huge impact on their own music taste. Also having an older brother this is valid for me too. My brother was already a big Depeche Mode fan when I was 8 years old. But grow ing up in the GDR meant that there was one regular release - an extra edition of the first single collection. For young people it was very popular/common to record the stuff from the youth radio station DT64. There was a radio show playing each week a track from the just released DM album "Mus ic For The Masses" without be ing interrupted. For sure the a lbum was not ava ilable officially in East Germany so my brother recorded the tracks... Unfortunately he always had to wait another week for a new track so he played the already recorded stuff again and again. This happened with "Strange love" so I started to hate this song ... It felt like torture ;) … some years later I became a big Depeche Mode and bought in 1993 my f irst DM album right on release date.


It was/is very common that Mute artists that started new projects stayed with them. Famous examples are Yazoo and Erasure (both brainchilds of Depeche Mode founder Vince Clarke after his split) and the solo activities of Dave Gahan and Martin Gore (who reunited with Vince for VCMG).


(In the past) Mute had several sublabels for different topics : The Grey Area for reissuing back catalogues of industrial heros like Cabaret Voltaire, Throbbing Gristle... The Fine Line for movie scores … Blast First starting with guitar-based music but also released ambient-esque stuff like Labradford or bands like Suicide …


In the late 80ies/early 90ies a new music style reached the music enthus iasts : techno/house. Mute already experimented with early variations of these styles like acid house in the mid 80ies by running Rhythm King Records where acts like S’E xpress, The Beatmasters and Tim Simenon's project Bomb The bass released. Not knowing much about techno I hate it - or better said I hated what I believed it is – like eurotrash & gabber. But Depeche Mode were always upfront for new styles and music genres so they also engaged some techno producers for their 12 " remixes. I really love the ones released for the Ultra singles like „Barre l Of A Gun“ or „It's No Good“. They had remixers like Plastikman, Speedy J , Darren Price etc. Now being interested in what these guys make I had a closer look and just realized that they are all signed by a sublabel of Mute. It was the in 1992 started imprint with technoid approach called novamute. It started with licencing stuff from Berlin's Tresor and later signed or licenced acts like Plastikman, Luke Slater, Speedy J, Cristian Vogel and so on. 7 years later they also established a label for the housy side of the electronic music styles, Future Groove.


Interjection 2: In 2002 I wanted to register for a new collectors platform: Discogs. I was thinking about a username and saw the album "Mission:Statement" by Si Begg's S.I. Futures on my computer desk. The booklet contains a text that is signed by „CEO of SI Futures“. So I created my online name "CEO of NovaFutures". nova taken from the label name. Futures from … yeah you see it. Later it became NovaFutures and for the blog, label activities also the s disappeared. Another act on novamute who had a big influence on my life was Luke Slater (it was the second track you just heard). Already running other websites about music I started a fanpage about him because I didn't like the official one which just promoted the album "Alright On Top". So I built one with LS discography, dates, news - keep in mind: facebook or gigatools were not so popular like today. To get the permission for using pictures taken for his mix cd "Fear and loathing 2" I sent a mail to the label with a link to my website. And they forwarded it to Luke himself who liked it and we got in contact which leads to the fact that I became Mote-Evolver label manager in 2007. Working with Luke meant that you get in touch with a lot of other DJs and artists.

Back to Mute: In the late 90ies Mute had a difficult time financially. Britpop was popular but Miller wasn't into that hyped style. Fortunately Moby saved Mute in 1999 by releasing the million seller „Play“. That was the benefit of Miller's policy of giving the artists a wide range of freedom. Before „Play“ Moby made an album with punk song in 1996. If you are a well-known dance producer like Moby there would be no way to release such an album on Major label but Daniel released the album knowing that it won't be that big success. After releasing “I Like to Score” in 1997 the next thing Moby did was Play and it became a megaseller getting Mute back on track.


After these difficult times Daniel was thinking about a way to reduce the risks. So he decided to sell his baby to EMI in 2002. Already worked with them in some countries as distribution partner he thought they could be the right partner. He still wanted to care for his artists but saw the necessary of bring the company a bit of safety. He discussed the issue with his artists and most of them agreed so they stayed with him. Some understood it but didn't want to work within a major company (Luke Slater etc) so they quit the contract with Daniel. At the beginning of being a part of EMI everything was fine. Daniel had total artistic freedom but a financial spine. And most funniest side effect of the new situation was that a dream came true: like said he was a big Kraftwerk fan and always wanted to work with them. EMI is their record company and they was thinking about a nice imprint for releasing Kraftwerk's remasters in the UK. So Mute became the UK label for the remasters.


In 2006 EMI was bought by private equity/investment company. For sure these guys just had their eyes on the financial side and wanted to make profit. But the music market was difficult and shrinking more and more. Vinyls was mainly bought by DJ, CDs by mid-30ers/40ers. Young people downloaded illegal or legal. So the situation at EMI got more more inacceptable for the artistic visions of Daniel Miller. In 2010 he could manage to get a deal to leave EMI. Unfortunately some big artists like Depeche Mode, Goldfrapp, Richard Hawley had to stay with EMI to fulfill their contracts but Daniel licensed the name, logo and some back catalogue from EMI and started a new company celebrating the restart with a big festival in London (May 2011). I already knew the guys from Mute Germany, because one of the managers always had a good connection to the crazy Depeche Mode fan base in Germany (Mute had an own department in Berlin). And I also run several Mute-related websites like In London we talked a bit and on accident I became the Social Media Manager for Mute Germany. But the wheel kept turning so Universal bought EMI. The regulatory authorities in EU and US decided that this deal is only possible if Universal sells some companies and catalogue. So also the Mute back catalogue was sold - to BMG. Nowadays BMG owns the catalogue and licences the major part of it to PIAS except the Depeche Mode catalogue which was licenced to Columbia where the band released their latest album "Delta Machine". Daniel now operates 3 companies under the Mute umbrella: the label Mute Artists plus the only existing sublabel Liberation Technologies (A&R Patrick O’Neill), the publisher Mute Song and the Mute Management. Running the label is still difficult but Mute Song is going well with artists like Luke Slater, Underworld, Bob Geldolf and many more.


That's the current situation. PIAS releases a lot of the back catalogue licensing it from BMG. Depeche Mode's catalogue now is now owned by the band itself but they still licence it to Columbia/Sony. Thanks for listening to my lecture about Mute, my influences and so on. Now let’s listen to some more music from Mute.


Remark: The song „Kebabträume“ by DAF is not taken from STUMM1 – it was released as single MUTE005.


Bonus Playlist

Bonus - "my first concert 16th June 1993"

23 years ago I attended my very first concert – for sure it was Depeche Mode. It took place at Waldbühne (Berlin), a very nice ampitheater for approx. 20,000 people.
In 1993 all promotion was offline. So you knew that there will be some concerts (because of the single release etc) but you had to check the music magazines for dates and the start of the presale. Also posters were very important these days – they really announced new tours etc. (not like today when you already know it from the www).
So after my brother and me got the news that the presale started we were walking around to find some tickets. Not only the announcement and advertising for the concerts were offline, but also the sale of the tickets. For sure a lot of Depeche Mode fans wanted to attend the show, so everyone was hunting tickets. The first shops like WOM etc were already sold out so we had to find another store. It was always a good way to know smaller and unknown ticket sale spots, so they perhaps had some tickets left. Finally we got our tickets.
On the day of days I was heading home fast as possible. My parents already prepared some rolls with “bulette” and salad plus some small bottles of water. After leaving home we took the Ubahn with direction Olympiastadion –each station more Depeche Mode fans dressed in black entered the train – my excitement was growing and growing.
Arrived at Waldbühne we were looking for a secondary entrance. So we were waiting there and already heard some sounds waving from the stage to the audience standing at the entrance. Then the doors got opened and everybody ran trying to get a place at the first row. We also hurried but not for the first row just for a good place.
Now sitting on the bench (found a good one on the middle) my brother fetched some beer (yes also for me). Waiting. Waiting for the support act. Then the band “Miranda Sex Garden” (also signed by Mute, Alan Wilder later married one of the musicians) started. Depeche Mode fans are impatient and “bad” people. They shouted down, were waving their tickets (very impressive view) and throwing fish rolls.


Finally the band stopped and technique guys wanted to prepare the stage for Depeche Mode. Part of the by Anton Corbijn designed stage was curtain in front of the stage so the audience cannot look at the stage and see what is happening there. But because of the rain that started during the Vorband it was too heavy and came down a few time. So they decided to start the show without the curtain.
The first sounds of the intro and “Higher Love” started fitting well to rain because they sounded like a storm. The stage was ful of water and the stage crew had to wipe the floor in front of Dave Gahan performing.


After performing two songs Dave undressed his shoes and did the rest barefooted.
We really enjoyed it and sang along all the time especially the hits “Personal Jesus” and “Enjoy The Silence”. The guys made a lot of mistake - forgetting lyrics and playing strange sounds. I was in heaven. After “Everything Counts” and crying “in large amounts” it was over. We all had lost our voices.
Leaving the area I bought a cheap t shirt from one of the many dealers with posters and t-shirts .
A night to remember – for sure.


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