Labels are often remembered for a record, maybe for two or more. Then there are labels that are remembered for an idea, a feeling, something that goes beyond the simple music. That’s the case of Wales-based Curtea Veche, which is celebrating its 5th birthday with a special various artists compilation that includes tracks by Tulbure, Guy From Downstairs, Herck, Clarkent, Direkt and Dragosh. Despite the clearly Romanian inspired name, the label has never got stuck into the fashions of the moment, resulting instead one step ahead of many other imprints, successfully dictating new trends and style difficult to imitate, both because of the top-notch quality music released, and because of the close link with his evocative abstract artwork realized by no one other than Halo Varga. Over the years the label has seen incredible music, including the sister-labels Curtea Veche LTD and Curtea Veche Serii Speciale, straight from studio wizards around like Einzelkind, Giuliano Lomonte, SEPP, Viceversa and Cally, receiving support from heavyweights such as Rhadoo, Pedro, Barac and Raresh, but also coming to hands of unexpected but equally appreciated names like Marco Carola and The Martinez Brothers.
To celebrate the label’s birthday we’ve decided to give the floor to the head-honcho Haydn, and then we will have few words from three of its most representative producers.
Happy birthday Curtea Veche!
Click HERE to buy CV5 Five Years Of Curtea Veche
Starting from the roots: how’s the project started and what the name “Curtea Veche” means? What pushed you to open the label?
So I started the label with a friend in 2015 when the hype with that minimal Romanian sound was rife. My friend chose the name after the old princely court in Bucharest… don’t ask why because I couldn’t tell you haha!! But we were going I guess for that Romanian sound so it was pretty apt.
What’s the artist that you’ve most satisfied to have on the label? And who is the want you still deeply want to have?
I’m happy with the all the artists I’ve had on CV all have given their own stamp on the label and its sound. My good friend Sergiu (Herck) has been with me on my journey from the start with all my labels so I could say him, but no, really, all artists have been amazing and I’m super grateful if the output I’ve been able to give on CV. Going forward I just want to keep the ethos that I’ve tried to stick to, to be honest, good music and artwork, nothing more, nothing less.
Since the very beginning, the label has seen some amazing feedbacks and support from lots of the biggest DJs around. Do you think that there’s one particular release that was a game-changer? Or is it because of the constant quality of the music and research on creating a kind of CV-brand that you’ve provided over the years?
Haha, tough one… there have been some really good ones I guess. Having Arno (Einzelkind) was a big deal for me, especially as it has been his last release under the Einzelkind alias before moving on the Arno moniker once and for all. I’ve been following him and his music for years, so I was pretty chuffed, to say the least, to get him on. That EP with Giuliano Lomonte was great, with the artwork and splatter vinyl was pretty special, seen as it was the 10th release too. But if I’m honest I’ve got to go with CV002 by Herck: Cookie Jar was a huge track that’s been hammered all over the world by people from DeWalta. Barac, Raresh and even people like Carola and The Martinez Brothers. It was definitely a big crossover track, that boosted both the profile of the label and Herck’s one.
Also, having Halo Varga got on the artwork from, I think the 5th release, he has given the label identity. As soon as you see a CV cover, you know it’s a CV cover, so yeah, he does an amazing job, one of the best at his game, and a massive pleasure to have him on as I grew up with his music in the early ’00s.
Tell us more about the 5 years compilation. Why you not here? Will we ever see you on the label?
Yea so the 5 years free EP we are giving away on Bandcamp is just “a thank you to all the support we have had over the last 5 years“. I think it’s good to give our supporters that have spent money on buying our releases something back. There are 6 tracks on there by artists from the past and future, CV favourites Herck and Guy from Downstairs, Tulbure who is on the next CV013 EP, Dragosh, Direkt and also Clarkent. Not a bad EP for a free download for sure! So yeah, thanks to these guys too for providing some lovely tracks!
Regarding the second question… who knows… I’ve got not much time for production when I’m running 4000 labels hahaha! But yes, it’s something I want to do in the near future, let’s see!
After this 5 years milestone, what should we expect in the next 5? And what in the next 100? (or maybe I should ask this to Herck haha)
Haha yes! We just want to keep releasing good music an, that’s the foremost thing I think, keeping the quality high, always!
We have a couple of spin-offs (CVLTD & CVS) so keep an eye out for some really good stuff coming on these, from some well-established name like Cristi Cons, Franco Cinelli, Mihai Pol, and also some amazing up and coming guys that you need to keep an eye on!
There is this amazing duo we just signed from Tel Aviv called Oskar Pink, the demos blew us away, keep an eye out for their Track ‘Donnie’ coming later this year, so good!
Its been good having my friend Martyn (TIJN) on board too for the last year or so, he’s got a great ear and is a godsend with the A&R stuff. He also does an amazing job with the mastering too!
Now let’s get right into some of the protagonists of this stellar VA compilation and lets’ see what they have to say about the label…
“Curtea Veche…ah, just another vinyl label from Wales, with a Romanian name, that releases a specific sound with a soulful touch, leaving its mark on the (so-called) minimal music niche for the last 5 years. Loads of those fit that profile, right?
Difficult to write “just a few words, mate” about the good Olden Yard. Almost impossible to remain objective when you’ve watched it grow and move people on dancefloors around the world since its early stages (is there anyone on the planet that still hasn’t dropped Giuliano & Einzelkind tracks?)
When everything sounds the same these days, somehow, our friend and label-captain Haydn always manages to find rhythmic gems from (known or not-so-known) artists and put together all those releases that are each so unique in style, always different, yet keeping the smooth, impossible to pinpoint, trademark flavour of CV.
It won’t do justice and it’s not easy to choose a favourite release from the back catalogue, but…let’s say that SEPP‘s La Gura Sobei EP (CV006) never leaves my bag. I don’t know many artists that can truly envelop the Romanian traditional spirit in the minimal realm, without sounding clichéd or tedious. Not in this case! Those two tracks are so enchantingly executed in such subtle way that, every time I listen, they really make me feel like I’m on a plane, back in the day, watching peasants working on fields under the sun, but at the same time also grooving with aliens from planet Bass.
“I love the Curtea universe – modern sound, old school, timeless or eclectic, colourful or at times outlandish. I’m happy to be part of it along with other (way more) talented, crazy producers and hope that new music will keep flowing for many years to come!” – Guy From Downstairs
“Well…nothing much to say about the label, the music speaks for itself. My first release there was a huge impact for me, and for the label also because we helped each other to grow in the industry. Haydn (the owner) had and has all his respect for me and I have for him, and of course, we trust each other when it comes to releasing new material on the label. Over time, the label released great music, with great artists, and I personally don’t have a favourite one, because every release has a story to tell…” – Herck
“Since first discovering Curtea Veche through the “Cookie Jar” release it became very clear that the consistency of the output was exceptional and it’s continued that way endlessly. For me, the label is the complete package the sound as well as the detail to the artwork is perfect and work hand in hand. It’s really hard for me to choose a favourite we have so much amazing stuff coming but for now ill go with Einzelkind & Giuliano Lomonte – This N That. its been a goal to release on the label and to now be apart of the projects moving forward it’s even better.” – TIJN
Words by Francesco Quieti