Cab Drivers‘ very own Jens Augustowsky, one formidable part of the legendary duo, better known as “Zky“, is launching his own label. It is called Ground Service and its future output, subliminally effective cult tools, will not only serve as grounding devices for the dancefloor but also deliver some serious fodder for those in wanton for “classic and utilitarian” slabs – particularly neededat moments of highest demand: before or after touchdown.
Whilst Cabinet stands for “Curious Analog Bassline Intergalactic Non-Stop Energy Tanzfloor”, Ground Service stands on its own. It is paramount to point out that itis not a Cab Driver label but lands on its own artistic feet. With its first release just about to drop, Meoko could not resist the call for action, and visited Jens Augustowsky in his Berlin studio in Prenzlauer Berg.
Raw Basic Workouts
“Zky’ is intertwined with Cab Drivers,” points out a highly focused Augustowsky, but Ground Service is not. After quite a few outings under his own moniker on Cabinet Records, “Zky” has become a synonym for stripped down, raw and acidic workouts that work around minimal yet effective structural shifts which function subliminally whilst celebrating strong palettes of vintage sounds.
Strong dedication to the floor thanks to uncompromising grooves and expert sonic trickery complete the picture of the first Ground Service release which will hit the record stores around now and is already gracing the pre sales lists. But, as Augustowsky is keen to explain, Ground Service has more to it than simply harboring his solo excursions.
Ground Service is a departure point into something new: “At the very moment an own release is coming, on a new label, it is not clear automatically what this stands for, and who this is,” elaborates Jens.
“The new label is supposed to transmit something that says: ‘Listen up, there is something new, and it is independent.’ And yes, it is very likely that people will not encounter it straight away. We all know how these things happen – or rather not happen: The record will be released through a distributor, and it will appear on their order list for a few days only,” rounds up Jens who is firmly seated in his marvellously organised studio, filled to the brim with exquisite machinery, with a classic Roland setup marking an energetic center point.
It is very astounding that Zky suspects that the new record label might go unnoticed by many: The news that one of the Cab Drivers is launching a new label is quite a sensation for their fans. Digger DJs, vinyl nerds and groove specialists will be on their heels pre-ordering the new release before the news makes its round.
Ground Servicing the Floor
Nevertheless Jens is eager to take things into a new direction. The label, aimed at a musically-versed spectrum of listeners on the floor, is ready to start off with a string of collaborators and productions that are specially crafted for its dedicated use in the club – something he hails a true “Ground Service style“.
“The genetic code of the label can be encountered in my own musical background. In my participation in Cab Drivers, or in my other side projects, with or without Daniel. And you can surely hear this, now in this very first release, that there is some relationship, some connection. I cannot help it. Just because I make stuff on my own, I will not make folk all of a sudden.“
The question why Zky wants Ground Service to be heard and seen at the very moment it surfaces instead of being a slow burner or insider can maybe answered considering his history. Whilst his Cab Driver project, started off with partner Daniel Paul Behnemann aka Daniel Paul, the other half of the Cab Drivers, was launched in the early Nineties, with Cabinet Records being established in 1995, it took them almost twenty years to become a fully-blown, internationally touring live outfit.
They, with their immense body of work placing them in heavy-weight dimensions, have been at the forefront of things for some time. In true veteran vain, they crank out vanguard material that is setting the pace for generations to come, but in such an uncanny, unspoilt and unconsumed way that they seem the discovery of recent years.
Cabinet has grown into a label with highly sought-after material, and an artist family whose moment is now, Audio Werner, Subb-An and DJ Honesty being some prime examples. Horseshoe, Warten Borgmann, Compass, Abrax, Karo, Zwo Fremde, Princess, The Poor Knight, Feeding Cup are just other Cab Drivers project names, and their outings under all those monikers grace the label regularly.
But Zky does not want to delve into that background. Ground Service comes straight out of Augustowsky. Born and bred Berliner, he was raised in Prenzlauer Berg which is also where the studio is situated. In some ways, with Ground Service, Jens has returned to his roots – despite the fact that he never moved away from them.
Being both, a honed DJ and accomplished producer and live musician – anyone who has seen him set off into spontanious jacking live improvisation sessions with his 303 and 909 knows what we are talking about.
The Moment Is Now
To express something independent, something intrinsically Zky, is the reason why Ground Service is being launched. No time is to be wasted: Ground Service is not only a singular quest but a manifold mission. “Ground Service is a story: like the name suggests, it can be many things.“ The logo is a grounding symbol; it also stands for matter. “And when you are at the airport, the ground service is essential in making logistics work. They are the people who fill up the planes’ tanks, they load the luggage,“ explains a candid Jens.
“The dancefloor is the ground as well, the solid foundation on which things happen. And the label wants to offer its service to the floor: The music is dedicated to the dancefloor,” elaborates Zky animatedly. A true love affair: “A service to the DJ, to the dancers and to the floor.”
Listening to the first release on the label, it becomes clear what Augustowsky is looking for when calling upon celebrating the Gound Service’s services: a varied spectrum of tight tracks, ready for usage in their respective environments. A substancial four-tracker which combines some kind of all-round virtues with the unmistaken thumb prints of Augustowsky written all over.
“Tiny Moves“, the opener of Ground 001, is the best proof. Zky’s hommage to the basic foundation of club life is solid sonic trickery, consisting of burbling acid lines which deliver a straight upward movement spiralling around a sparse and spanking groove. “No Sleep” sneaks in quite subliminally; its sweet bassline and old school claps keep the track in motion until some dissonant chords create some cosmic imbalance.
“That Track” is more of a slow burning mover. Elegantly spaced stabs swirl around a reliable bassline which feels like an anchor in the ever-evolutionising universe of music: That moment when you lose yourself completely on the floor. “Don’t Decelerate” is the message, the answer to any dancer’s problems. Bleeping modulated synth lines work swiftly against themselves, moving one’s mind, body and soul towards a higher state of consciousness.
“This is why”, concludes Jens, “it is a connection of so many things. The dance, the earth, the environment, the service. Music should be accessible for all of us… it should not be exclusive, not only vinyl, not only digital. As an artist and as a label I am happy about anybody who likes to listen and to play my music. It can be anything: Ambient, straight to the floor. The first release is by myself, but the spectrum will not be too monothematic: Ground Service cannot and will not be another Cabinet Records.”
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Text and Interview: Katrin Richter/Kat Kat Tat @ Planetkat