Half Baked are, without a doubt, one of MEOKO’s most cherished London-born parties. Beginning back in 2009, they successfully transformed the conventional party formula with their epic Sunday afternoon rave-ups that often combined quirky art installations, cinema, live graffiti and stylish people under one, thumping roof. The HB crew threw themselves passionately into constructing parties full time with large-scale productions and awesome lineups that showcased their own love for grooving, forward-thinking techno as well as inviting some of the scene’s most important artists and trend-setters. Since then we have witnessed them grow and grow, taking their inescapable vibe across Europe and around the world and MEOKO are ecstatic to see them flourish into both a booking agency (HBF Agency) AND a record label (Half Baked Records) in 2013. At a crucial time in the history of the Half Baked entity, MEOKO have caught up with Bruno and Robin from Half Baked to chat about the changing landscapes of the future, whether they’re enjoying their new expanded roles, and how they are remaining a family (and a half baked one at that..)
How do you reflect back on the year? What lessons do you take with you in 2013?
Bruno: Last year was a really good year for Half Baked in which we did events and attended different music conferences, such as WMC, Sonar and ADE for the first time and with completely unexpected success! This made us really happy with the results, especially travelling with the HBFamily and bringing Half Baked into new countries for the first time and have such amazing connection with the crowd!
We learned a lot from our mistakes in 2012 but we still have much more to learn and lots of exciting challenges for 2013 with all our new projects!
We are planning to have more solid line ups, which will be linked with Half Baked Records’ artists and producers. We are also really proud of being a vinyl-only label now, growing and sharing our passion for a full music experience.
Which of the (many) parties from the past 12 months especially stand out in your memory? Why?
Bruno: That’s a really hard question! We had many parties that stand out over the summer and winter but personally there are three events that were the highlight for 2012: Sonar, Half Baked with Mike Huckaby & Hold Youth, and ADE with Harry Klein & Jeff Audio Family. Those events all had such an amazing vibe with all the residents and our good friends around.
Robin: We had a few special parties to be honest. I really enjoyed having Matthew Herbert and Fumiya Tanaka over especially, as they are two artists I am particularly affectionate for. I also really enjoyed doing Half Baked abroad, it’s new thing but cool as people had still heard about us! It’s exciting and motivating to play outside London representing Half Baked and to see that people are appreciating my music. I have travelled with the Half Baked family now to Moscow, Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris and the feedback we get is insane!
The greatest change must be the introduction of the HBF Agency. Tell us about the project and how it came to be.
Bruno: We set up the agency in late 2012 to extend the Half Baked platform, with the mission to continue to spread our passion for up and coming talent within the house scene, to bring playfulness and innovation to the table, and always operate as a ‘family’ whilst also being international. Also to spread our belief in delivering a full music experience, which is explored through the Half Baked parties. We have lots of new projects outside of our original Sunday Half Baked parties in East London and the agency will bring all these projects together. Keep tuned 😉
Is it going to be a conventional DJ agency, whereby you represent a select team of artists? If so, who is on the books?
No I wouldn’t say so. Yes, we have at the moment four talented resident artists – Rainer, Robin Ordell, Greg Brockmann & Rudolf – but we are a bit more forward-thinking and try to be more creative than just another conventional agency. We are lucky to have with us our latest family member, Nicole, who is working as our Marketing & PR manager as well as taking care of our boys and the whole family. Nicole is managing the agency, a very creative process. She is also building new partnerships abroad for Half Baked showcases involving our resident DJs – Seuil, Le Loup, Yakine, Mike Shannon and Julietta.
With the HBF agency we aim to promote culture and innovation in the modern music industry, targeting music lovers that want to connect with the sound and the artists.
2013 will also mark the release of HB Records 001. Is the label part of the wider agency project? What is the vision for the imprint?
Bruno: Well, I guess it was a natural flow of the HB brand, as one of our aims is to have a solid underground name. HBF Agency has initiated the record label in order to complete the Half Baked platform, working with our friends, creating an imprint representing the music and artists we believe in, and each release will be released on vinyl only.
Robin: the Label is our latest project, operating under the agency. The idea behind it is to release music we like from people we’ve been working closely with – our friends mostly.
The first release carries a strong HB identity, with tracks from residents Seuil, Yakine, Le Loup and Robin Ordell. Will the following releases feel similarly homely or are there plans to branch out and include non-family artists?
Bruno: The idea for the future releases is to have our residents releasing their music and getting different artist, not from the family but good friends, to do the remixes.
Robin: There will be a bit of everything. It is important for us to keep a strong identity by working with people that are close to us but if I receive a great demo from an “outsider”, I won’t turn it down.
Bruno, as co-founder of the HB enterprise, will you be fully involved with the agency and the label or will the parties remain your priority?
Funny question. Back in the days I worked in different booking agencies for two years and I learned a lot doing it. I always wanted to have a booking agency on HB and the better option was when the label came along. Anyway, Half Baked is my baby and whatever it takes to run it properly, I’ll be involved.
And Robin, how has your role changed – I take it you’re more than simply a resident DJ now? Will you be more involved in the record label A&R side of things?
Robin: Yes indeed, I’m working on the label’s A&R with my friend Fede. It’s a very interesting experience, especially when it comes to listening to new material and choosing music for the records. I don’t find the paperwork and administration stuff that thrilling though, I guess that’s why I’m not in charge of it…
Will the agency be an opportunity for HB to expand the family or is it simply a way to further consolidate the ties that are currently in place?
Bruno: We are simply consolidating the HB brand with the existing residents. So this way we can have more control of the Half Baked showcases and better manage the artist bookings.
Robin: We’re happy with the crew we have, we’ve been working altogether for a few years now and we’re getting along well too. There is always an opportunity to make things bigger but I’d rather focus on what we have at the moment.
Will the advent of the agency/label have any impact on the parties? Are we going to see a similarly busy schedule in 2013? Any special plans? Tell us about the next HB event.
Bruno: Not really, the agency will be bringing all our projects together, such as Half Baked Records, bookings of our resident artists, and Half Baked abroad. Regarding the parties, to keep them truly HB style we have a few new ideas on how to control the crowd, such as being stricter at the door with guest list only, as well as bringing in new Half Baked specialties.
Regarding our schedule in 2013, we are looking at having a similar amount of gigs in London but abroad we are planning to have more showcases promoting the label and the artists.
Robin: Many many special plans! But you guys will have to wait to see it coming. For future events we are having some really nice guests such as Bruno Pronsato live, Thomas Melchior, Mike Shannon, and many more that I can’t mention the names of yet.
Thanks to Bruno and Robin! MEOKO wishes you all the best for the future and we shall definitely see you at the next party…