Felicite is a new indiepop label. Now based in Hamburg, it was first established in the smaller German town of Brunswick, and, launched in September of last year, is run by Tom Hilverkus and Johanna Maier, two best friends, who also work together as DJs under the moniker of the Happy Couple.

Felicite has to date released five singles and EPs, all of which have come out in sumptuous packaging on 7" vinyl. The first of these releases was an eponymous five track debut EP (CITE 02)by a local Brunswick band, Les Asperiteurs. Tom and Jane have since gone on to put out records by the London-based singer-songwriter, the King of Luxembourg('Sweets of Japan', CITE 05) ; a long-defunct Glaswegian group the Catalysts ('The Catalysts', CITE 04), and Roy Moller ('Maximum Smile', CITE 03), who also comes from Glasgow, and who, as well as having a solo career, also fronts the band the Wow Kafe. Felicite's latest release is 'The Four Seasons' (CITE 01), the debut EP of the Happy Couple.

As well as a launch party in Brunswick last September, there were two Felicite nights in Britain in June, one in London and one in Glasgow. Pennyblackmusic caught up with Tom and Johanna to ask them some questions by e-mail about their rapidly developing label.

PB : Why did you decide to call your label Felicite ?

Happy Couple : Obviously, our being fans of Orange Juice had something to do with the choice of the label's name... Also, it goes well with the "Happy Couple" thing.

PB : Before you established Felicite you already both had successful
careers as DJs. Felicite was established after a night out in Berlin in early 2002. Why did you decide to set up Felicite ? Was it simply because you weren't hearing enough of the type of records you wanted to hear in clubs, or were there other reasons as well ?

HC : It was the fact that we hardly ever heard our favourite music in clubs that lead us to DJing. Setting up our own label felt like the logical next step as we became more and more infatuated with music and records...

PB : You work together under the name of the Happy Couple, as you state on the Felicite website www.felicite.de, because you're "in love with the pop moment". What did you mean by that statement ?

HC The "Happy Couple" thing was really a joke in the beginning, being best friends and, incidentally. a boy and a girl - like: "here we go again, just like a happy couple..."

The "pop moment" could be both the often indescribable reason why the soundof a voice, a jingle-jangle guitar, a brass section, a perfect line in a song suddenly take your breath away, make you smile or want to cry or get up and dance... and also the phenomenon of reality and music momentarily blending in a perfect way (e.g. being crazy about someone and listening to 'I Got A Feeling') - like a soundtrack. Or, simply: the pop moment is what´s so great about music, what it´s all about.

PB : Your first signing was Les Aspirateurs, who, like you come from the German town of Brunswick, but since then you have branched out and all your other signings have been British. Roy Moller and the Catalysts both come from Glasgow, while the King of Luxembourg is from London. How did you first discover these acts ?

HC : We met Simon Fisher-Turner during his stay in Brunswick as a teacher at the Art School -it was a bit strange to meet the King of Luxembourg there, of all places...

And it was a matter of more good luck that a friend of ours, Geoffrey
Ingram, introduced us to the recordings of Ulric (The Catalysts) and Roy, whom he knew from the time he spent in Glasgow a few years ago. Once the contact was made, it was easy.

PB : The Catalysts EP was recorded originally in 1985. What made you decide to release an EP that was made nearly 20 years ago by such a short-lived and little known act ?

HC : The decision was taken after listening to the demo tape - almost right away. Because the songs are really good! Of course, we like a lot of the music from that time, the typical sound with that special immediacy about it - which makes the Catalysts´recordings sound "fresh" after all those years, too.

PB : What criteria do you generally look for when you sign a band ?

HC : We listen to a demo and it all comes down to: Do we like it? Is it special, exciting etc. - it´s impossible to more specific... it´s that pop moment thing again! Also, we´d like to feel that our enthusiasm for the kind of music we admire is shared, and our attitude, what we want to achieve, understood by the artists we work with.

PB : All your releases to date have come out on 7" vinyl, In such a
currently CD-dominated market, why have you decided to opt for vinyl ?

HC : As our love for music got us into DJing and record-collecting, the latter (in combination with a preference for stylish design in general) induced a soft spot for records as artifacts... And isn`t the 7" vinyl the most beloved format anyway?

PB : Each record is lavishly packaged, coming in a really attractive
sleeve,and sometimes appearing, such as the Roy Moller and King of Luxembourg releases, on coloured vinyl. Aesthetics seem to be one of the most essential components in each Felcite release. Would you agree with that ?

HC : Yes! We believe that the sound and the look should go together, that a good song deserves a good sleeve.

PB : The first release of the Felicite label was originally going to be a Happy Couple EP. That record was delayed, but is now going to come out in September. Why did you decide to delay the release of this by nearly a year ?

HC : We´ve got to confess that the delay was involuntarily - that is, we simply didn´t have the time to finish our recordings and the artwork earlier.(Sorry.)

PB : The Happy Couple record is an EP, 'The Four Seasons', and has four songs. Is it true that you recorded each song as a love song for a different season ?

HC : The single wasn´t originally planned as some sort of "concept" EP. But we noticed, we had one song about meeting someone special, another about being in love and spending time together, the next about breaking up und finally one about regretting it. And, though not initially intended, this order just happened to fit in perfectly with this "four seasons" idea we hit upon!

PB : Who else was involved in the recording of this record ?

HC : As a no-budget, rather lo-fi pet project, we did it all by ourselves! - With the assistance of Tom´s friend from school-days, Göran

PB : As well as a launch party in Brunswick last September, there were two Felicite nights in Britain in June, one in London and one in Glasgow. What were these events like ? Who came and played with you ? Do you hope to organise other similar shows in Britain and Germany ?

HC : In London we were invited to DJ as the Happy Couple for How Does It Feel To Be Loved, together with Harvey Williams. It was more of a warm-up for the Félicit?night in Glasgow, really.

The launch-party for Roy´s and the Catalysts?singles in Glasgow was a
fantastic experience. To witness the performance of these songs we first heard on tape months ago and then released on Félicit?- somehow it had all lead to that evening, and it felt great.

PB : What else have you got planned for the near future ?

HC : Right now, we´re impatiently waiting for the video documentary about our Glasgow connection and the concert to be finished (which will be available in a limited edition). We´re planning the next releases, first of all the Happy Couple EP (finally), and there´s no telling what else might come up - there are a lot of things we might spontaneously decide to do.

PB : Thank you.

Related Links:

Commenting On: Interview - Felicite

ie London, England

tick box before submitting comment

First Previous Next Last