Stefan Alt

Stefan Alt- The logo of Ant-zen is an ant. Why an ant? Do you have any working virtues similar to those of an ant?

The name comes from the German anti-zensur (=anticensorship) - in short ant-zen. A perfect symbiosis, as we into zen and we just love the ants.
The ant applies four simple rules in its task of food-gathering: if you find food, take it home, marking a trail to show your route between food and home. If you cross a trail and have no food, follow the food trail. If you return home with food, put it down and go back along the same trail. If the first three rules do not apply, wander about at random looking for food. It's pretty similar to us: we love music and food!

- What made you decide to produce and release music? What inspired you to create Ant-zen? What kind of music do you personally prefer? What else are you interested in?

We started Ant-zen in early 1993: together with my friend A. Pickar. Actually the label was born in an opera house in Munich after a concert of Diamanda Galas (still quite impressive btw). Our own label did allow us to release the music we wanted to get released - music and impressions we'll never forget. The music of the first releases was from friends, who had no opportunity to release their music on any other label. In that time we started with tape releases and became pretty active in the tape scene, which was a great existing network around the world.

Personally I do listen to a lot of different music: from krautrock & electronic music from the early times (Harmonia is still a killer – never outdated), industrial (the original definition, not the usa version), noise, ambient, illbient, filmmusic but also electro, idm some pop and country music (not the modern one), bit metal & experimental hip-hop.

Besides film and music I'm very interested in photopgraphy, design & art. I started photographing in the mid 80s with my own black&white darkroom, then I jobbed as photographer for a local newspaper, did 2 solo exhibitions and had several publications in different magazines as well as frontpages for magazines. In the meanwhile I work for several other companies as well: for some projects I just provide photos and some other projects I take care of the layout & manufacturing as well. So far it was always possible for me to choose on my own if I want to do this work and most of these projects are very interesting any enjoyable.

- Every Ant-zen release has an identification code with a word act+ in it. What do you mean by this word? What are the messages of the Ant-zen acts? (tell us about philosophy, values and vision of Ant-zen)

Well, it's quite an act to finish a release and once it's done it is "the creation" or "the act". We're working together with different artists all over this planet and in the meantime I did meet most of them in person. I found friends and I really don't want to miss and working together in a creative process is expanding everyone's own small universe, which is a very satisfying side-effect. It's the honest, respectful & creative together which is the heart of our label. We release nice music in nice packaging which we & some other people enjoy. It did allow me to release the music I want to get released.

- Ant-zen and Hymen have been releasing very specific music for many years. What is happening now on industrial, idm scene? What are the trends today? Up or down?

Trends are just names. For sure some influences have left and other are popping up. Most of our artists and friends are very open-minded and interested in very different kinds of music and art – they are not only stuck into one genre of music. I think this is also part of the reason, why our bands always move on with their sounds and influences and creativity, instead of producing one album sounding the other. It's part of the creative process and I encourage them to move on to new territories. So... We'll see what the future will bring us.

- Is it possible that in the future Ant-zen and Hymen will stop making real releases and become net labels, distributing their music through the net? Or, the importance of the visual contact between a person and a real release prevents you from delving into net releases?

The entire music scene had absolutely changed, primary because of the technical evolution and it's new possibilities. It seems that several people enjoy listening to mp3's only or primary. Besides CD's and vinyl releases we also do offer mp3 as download of our releases. At this point I can't forecast any net releases only.

- Are you a person of principles? If yes, what are your main principles?

Faith, honesty, friendship & complacency.

- Where and how do you get your inspiration? Do books, music, trips with a camera contribute to your inspiration? Are there any other ways you get inspired? Is there such a film director, writer that inspires you these days?

Inspiration is all around: every time at any place. I enjoy travelling and really love taking photos: the best thing to explore new worlds and having marks to remember. Speaking about films we could probably speak for days. A lot of films of very different genres which are important, breathtaking or shocking for me. A kind of similar addiction like music. The latest 6 films/DVD's I've seen (some I've seen several times already): "No Country For Old Men" by the Coen brothers, "Control" by Anton Corbijn, "Meet My Friend Harvey", "Itchi The Killer" by Takashi Miike , "Dead Man's Shoes" by Shane Meadows and "Irreversible" by Gaspar Noe.

- salt. photo gallery
- ant-zen
- hymen records

february '09

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