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Label Mix Interview - Mansions and Millions

Nina Label Mix

Leftfield pop from a label out of Neukölln, Berlin.

By editorial


Though Berlin is known for its thriving techno and experimental communities, the city is also home to a great little leftfield pop scene. Since 2015, the local label Mansions and Millions has been a chronicler of weird pop songs from Berlin and beyond. Their Nina Label Mix veers in many directions, but usually comes back to the idea of the song. “Ideally, I would also like to be part of the broader conversation about defining pop music itself,” label founder Anton Teichmann told us. “I hope that listening to our label's catalog can provide new perspectives and ideas on that.”

Listen to the mix, and read an interview with Teichmann, below.

Where are you based?

Anton Teichmann: I am based in Berlin, specifically in Neukölln. Coincidentally, this is also the city where I was born and raised.

Can you describe your label mix?

It offers an overview of the different kinds of artists I've released in the past, including some deep cuts hidden within and a subtle nod to the future. I also tried to pick some of the weirder and less obvious choices. People familiar with the label might associate the sound with a certain type of indie pop music but there are certainly some stranger sounds tucked within. It goes through all the moods and all the styles the label has to offer. I hope you like it?

What inspired you to start a label?

I've worked for other labels before, but I wanted to do things my own way instead of just following someone else's lead. I feel much more connected to my work when I'm involved right from signing the artist to releasing their music. Working so closely with artists is way more motivating for me, so starting a label just seemed like the perfect next step. Also, hearing from people that it's an absolutely idiotic idea to start your own label was inspiring and maybe they were right, but hey, I’m still here.

Does your label have a sound or a mission?

One mission certainly is to showcase the vibrant underground pop scene in Berlin and connect it with an international audience. While the experimental and electronic scene in Berlin is prominent and actively sought after (and rightly so), there's a gap for the type of more leftfield pop music that I tend to work with. I aim to provide a platform where people from Berlin and beyond can get a glimpse of what's happening in the city beyond the experimental electronic community, which I personally enjoy and participate in as well. I strongly believe in community as an integral part of what it means to be a label in this day and age, and not just as a buzzword. 

Ideally, I would also like to be part of the broader conversation about defining pop music itself. I hope that listening to our label's catalog can provide new perspectives and ideas on that. Coming back to the question of a shared sound: to me there is a more metaphysical link between all these artists. In my head, all the label signings somehow make sense and fit together. I tend to work with artists early on, most of the releases are debut EPs or albums. I like being involved right from the beginning. 

Besides that, I aim to carve out a less toxic space within the music industry. I don’t really resonate with a lot of the industry, partly because of my background in DIY and my politics. But I genuinely hope there's a niche for labels that want to do things differently from what the major label/tech giants dictate. I think we all need to be a bit more political in everything we do, without being too polemical or performative. It’s mad how we seem to be stuck in this capitalist realist hole without a way out. Many actors in the independent music realm have given up on finding even just small alternatives within our system. 

So to sum it up, maybe my goal is to draw attention to the great music coming out of Berlin while also maintaining a degree of credibility? Apart from that I also hope to release music you might like.

Tell us about your scene(s).

It’s a very cute and vibrant little scene. A few key figures pioneered it here in Berlin some years ago, people such as Molly Nilsson, Sean Nicholas Savage, Magic Island, and Touchy (Mob). Around these individuals, a vibrant underground scene began to take shape, showcasing a range of music from pop, experimental, and electronic to more folk or indie type music.

This scene also revolves around physical spaces such as Internet Explorer (R.I.P.), the bar Das Gift, and our community hub, the amazing Tennis Bar, and a bunch of other places. I met and signed artists I’ve been working with there and have put on many events there. It really feels personal and tight-knit even though it is constantly evolving with people leaving, joining and reappearing.

What's your A&R process?

I try to do this crazy thing where I only work with music that I actually like. So far, my A&R process doesn't involve signing acts based on demos I receive. Instead, it operates within my immediate personal circle. All the acts I've signed were people I knew beforehand, either as friends or through recommendations from artists I already work with. This approach isn't about being elitist or secretive; it's about establishing trust and compatibility. When making potentially risky financial investments, trust is paramount. Working with individuals I know personally simplifies the process, although it can occasionally present challenges of course. But overall, this approach has been more positive than negative. 

This isn’t to say that I might not sign artists in the future who aren’t from within my immediate personal bubble, but for now, I enjoy the way things are and there is so much more music coming out of this vital scene.

What labels do you look up to?

I come from a more punk/hardcore background, which influenced my perspective on how to run a label. Like many people adjacent to that scene, I was particularly inspired by independent or DIY labels like Dischord, SST, Touch and Go, Ebullition, and Gravity which prioritized community, politics, and opposition to contemporary industry paradigms. There's still much to learn and draw inspiration from labels like these, and applying some of their philosophies to the current state of the industry and our system as a whole.

As for the present, I look up to labels such as RVNG Intl, Music From Memory, Leaving Records, Escho, Stroom, West Mineral. Mangel Records and La Vida Es Un Mus Discos are great labels, too. I also have close relationships with Arbutus Records and City Slang, both of which I greatly appreciate. The people behind these labels are the best.

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