Drumcode boss and techno don Adam Beyer has dominated the underground scene for over 25 years. His releases, remixes, and reputation as a DJ, as well as his label, are familiar to almost every techno fan.
Drumcode has grown to become an institution in the global techno scene, encompassing a radio program, an event series, and a home for the musical vision of its artists. But how much do we know about the history of the biggest techno label and the tracks that shaped both Drumcode and techno sound itself?
We have a chance to hear the early Drumcode releases freshly posted on label’s YouTube channel.
A year before launching the now-iconic Drumcode Records, the Swedish DJ began incubating the idea with the maxi-single ‘Drum Codes 1’. The release (Planet Rhythm Records) introduces Beyer’s early acid-leaning sonics.
Adam Beyer recalls DJing hip-hop, early hip-house, and acid house at the age of 12 in the late ‘80s — “for me, hearing a 909 sound was revolutionary” . But when he was “bitten by the techno bug” a few years later, things were set in motion.
“It was all nice and fun and glossy, but then I finally found techno in ‘93,” he said in an interview he gave to Beatport a few years ago, remembering discovering early Jeff Mills records at Berlin record store Hard Wax.
Struck by the “seriousness and political messages” of techno and the feeling of it being an “outsider society,” Adam said it resonated with him more because “it had a message to identify with.”
While working at iconic Stockholm record store Planet Rhythm, Adam launched his own “pure techno” label in 1996.
It was the result of young Adam restlessly waiting for his tracks to be released. He’d been releasing on labels like Planet Rhythm, but was making so much music that he wanted to speed up the process. “I realized that thanks to the connections I had made, I could take control of it.”
Investing £3,000 of his own money to get Drumcode up and running, Adam “took a chance” and the first release sold out. Some of his heroes began playing the tracks out, too. “I remember we gave Jeff Mills a box of new records and he played them straight away in his set that night,” Adam recalls.
First official release, ‘Drumcode 01’ was a collaboration between Adam Beyer and Lenk. A couple of following releases kept shaping the fierce techno style of the label and those are Beyer’s iconic track ‘Tasty Bits’, RND’s ‘Cold base’ and Cari Lekebusch’s ‘Bråkstake.
What followed was a string of limited releases — “people started buying them, so they got popular and the label grew fast”, Beyer remembers. With Drumcode and its early releases, Beyer had a chance to capture and release the early hymns of techno that marked the European scene in the late 90s and early 2000s.
Like Beyer himself described it, early vinyl releases were more raw, an homage to the underground, and a bit less dance-floor ready than the label’s recent releases. These early vinyl releases were more DJ tools than finished tracks like today. It was an era where it was common that DJs were very much creating the sets by merging the different beats and sounds from 2 and more turntables, generating a whole new track or composition rather than just presenting the tracks the way they do nowadays.
There are so many good tracks out there that it is impossible to do them all justice. However, hopefully, this list was a good starting point to either go down to the early music from Drumcode.
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