Updated: Dec 12, 2019
Battery Park Studio has, for many years, been one of the finest digital labels in the Electro scene, and perhaps arguably in the Electronic Music world period. Since its inception back in 2010 featuring founder Marv Liegat's solo debut as Prototype, and building upon with a discography to make heads turn and ears listen, the label has gone on to recruit heavyweights over the years such as Phil Klein (Bass Junkie) and Keith Tenniswood (Radioactive Man) as their shortlived duo "The Brink", as well as Luke Eargoggle, Dez Williams, Max Durante, Pip Williams, Mike Ash, and so many more, it would be hard to lay it all out right here on this page.
For Marv Liegat however, this is more than just a label or another Electro project releasing music, it's a lifelong mission that began at a young age, and will continue for years to come. It's never been about the end, but the means of how he will get there, if ever, and how that is accomplished. A man with strong musical and audio engineering skills, and a figure behind a label that displays through everything it does, a tremendous amount of dedication and thoughtful attention to detail to ensure every release is presented with pure class and professionalism.
In this interview, we take some time to learn about how it all began for him, and how this incredible label rose to its feet along with Liegat's musical project "Prototype", solidifying their place in the long running history of Electro music as one of the key players of the new school sound. Let's begin!
Santino Fernandez: Welcome Marv! I've always been a huge fan of your music and label, but let's talk about how you got into music back in the day, particularly as a child? Who would you say truly introduced you to the wonders of music?
Marv Liegat: This was clearly my father. He had been playing the bass in a band before I was even born. Because of this, he had been a great impact in my childhood. Back in his workshop, he constructed an amplifier on his own. I would sit next to him and watch his work. What clearly struck my eye was the so-called oscilloscope which he always used to check his machines.
At the age of 10, my father bought me my first Casio keyboard. The keynotes of the greatest hits of the "New Kids on the Block" were delivered with it, and soon I was able to play all their songs on the piano by heart. When I was twelve, my dad installed the first music program on my computer. With it, I was only able to draw notes and then play my compositions with 128 GM MIDI instruments. With this way, I composed my first track that included a broken beat that is commonly known in the Electro genre. Back in the days I was utterly proud of this track. After that, I received my first Behringer 16 channel mixing board which I used from time to time, but at the age of 16, I started to use it more regular because from then on more and more drum machines and synthesizers started to pop up in my tracks.
All in all, I guess that my father was my greatest influence on becoming the musician that I am today, and I am thankful for him.
Very interesting! Truly nothing beats our own father's influence on our lives, and yours sounded like a hell of a guy. I'm sure he is very proud of you.
How about Electro then, when would you say your taste in this particular music began? Was it mostly a solo journey for you, or were there any other close friends who shared your passion for the music with you during that time?
I started to love the Electro genre when I was 13 years old. At this age, I started to do graffities and therefore, got in touch with the Hip Hop scene. However, Hip Hop did not interest me quite as much, only little pieces of it. It was the Electro tracks with the broken beats that I loved. When I first listened to them, there was no stopping. I have been loyal to this genre since then. Though I exclusively produced Drum and Bass tracks up to the age 16.
When I turned 16, I produced tracks more slowly and only Electro instead of Drum and Bass. My fellow peers did not enjoy the music as much as I did, and up to today, I am a lone wolf around my friends. I also do not care that there is only a small scene around me.
When I founded my own label, it was the first time that I started to get in contact with other people of the scene to whom I was able to talk to. However, in small talk, I barely talk about my music.
I can definitely relate to feeling like a lone wolf about Electro, not sure why some particular places have such little support or even knowledge of the sound.
But now, we are talking a bit more local in respects to this. How has it been in your experience as far as the popularity of Electro music overall in Germany as a whole? Has it been a struggle to get the masses to pay attention, or have you always noticed a strong interest for the music in your country?
In my opinion, the Electro scene in Germany started to continuously grow in 1996, due to the "Love Parade" and the "Mayday" that grew big, and songs were also played on the radio. The climax was reached in 2002 and continuously decreased by then. In 2006, the Electro scene almost completely disappeared. Since then, we only have small scenes and at parties, barely any Electro tracks are played.
It is sad because I enjoyed the time around 2000. During this time, I was also active as a DJ and organized my own parties. Since 2006, nothing much has changed. The hype is gone and for the next generation, other types of music became interesting. However, I do not consider myself as someone to follow the trends, therefore, I stuck to my Electro music. Of course, there are others who create Electro music in Germany, and maybe, the scene will get a push forward. I will always continue to produce Electro music and try to shape the scene actively.
You founded Battery Park Studio in 2010, about 2 years into the so-called digital revolution that at this point had basically erased the vinyl market for Electro Music. Were there any plans for BPS to originally enter the market with vinyl releases, or would you say its founding was more of a response to the growing digital market perhaps?
When I started my label in 2010, my main goal was to get an impression on what the world thinks about my music. Up to this day, I only played my tracks at parties, I did not send any demo tracks to other labels. What many people don’t know is that I actually published 6 releases on vinyl, however, as you mentioned, the market for vinyls in the genre Electro was crashed at that time. Nowadays, the market has changed and I actually want to start publishing my tracks on vinyl again. I believe that the people have had enough of music that they cannot actually grasp, and I think that the vinyl version transmits this kind of magic.
I agree, there's just something important about owning a tangible piece of music that you can really connect with.
With that however, your label Battery Park Studio has been, at least in my opinion, one of the most illustrious of all the Electro digital-only labels. You have always presented your label in a way that shows true professionalism, and that at least instinctively you understood the areas that mattered most: Artwork, mastering, and a broad catalog of very varied styles of Electro. What would you say is the philosophy and inspiration behind the label? Is it just you?
Yes, it's just me. But without all the great artist on the label it wouldn’t be what it is today. I created the name "Battery Park Studio" in 2002 with the goal to fully use my creativity, and that’s what I wanted to symbol with my name. Around this time, I actually did not plan on founding a label with such a name. However, there you have Battery for energy, force, advancement and future, Park for a green place; fresh and a wonderful surrounding, and finally Studio which stands for my studio in which all the lights are lightened up when I work in it. I just love it when my sequencer starts, and all the lights of the synths, drum machines and so on dance when I play my music.
Battery Park Studio is important to me. It is my religion, my church, and my home. I try to create everything on my own, from the graphics, to videos, the texts, and programming the website. I just feel comfortable and have fun when working on it.
...My father was my greatest influence on becoming the musician that I am today, and I am thankful for him...
Electro is becoming kind of a big deal again. What's your opinion? Where do you see things going?
In Germany, Electro became more common, especially in Berlin. Even Graffiti has recovered, but more in the creative, legal section instead of the illegal one. Because of this, we have more Graffiti jams where the old Electro style can be heard. Europe in general starts to develop forwards, especially the Scandinavians are leaders of this movement. Their sound appeals to me. However...there are still things bugging me! Especially when talking about Electro, I ask the people what they connect with Electro. Of course, when the people answer this question, they do not give the meaning or definition we want to hear. Therefore, we need to continuously fight for the right definition of Electro worldwide.
Let's talk about your project Prototype for a moment. Anything coming up for you? Any remixes, or new EP's or albums heading this way?
My own project‚ Prototype, started to suffer heavily in 2013 because I discovered another great hobby at the end of 2012: Geocaching. Anyone who knows it, knows that it can take a lot of time if you do it by heart, and I am the kind of person who does. This year, however, I have decided to start again with Prototype. At the moment, I'm working on a few remixes and trying to produce my own tracks, but there are no concrete plans for an album so far.
Great to hear, I am personally a big fan of your sound. Hope to hear a new EP or LP soon enough! So what is your approach in-studio then? Are you mostly computer based, or are you into hardware as well?
I'm more of a fan of hardware. I really like the amount of options of buttons, knobs, and lights, and it's always easier for me to produce with these options. I find it harder to produce only with the mouse arrow, I get the feeling that I can implement ideas on such a slower rate using this method. The nice thing about hardware is that you can move from device to device in order to change and implement things in the track. Each device has its own charm, which I find exciting. In addition, I think that hardware can produce a nicer sound. However, I do not want to miss any software because I use it as a preferred instrument for fine tuning and mastering. The basis I built on my music is the Mac as a sequencer with Ableton Live.
Any tips for the aspiring producers out there? What does it take to get a track sounding really big without killing dynamics?
Oh this is such a difficult question. Generally, I think it is the most important goal to get the most out of the mixdown. In my opinion, this is already the basis for making 90% of a track sound good. If this is already bad, the mastering will not make the track any better. On the other hand, mastering is a maximum of 10% I think. Additionally, I'm not a friend of these extreme volume increases because I rather work with senses, since I can control the volume of the finished track with the amplifier. In general, I think you should be gentle with everything like compression or limiting, otherwise you'll destroy much of the dynamic. But there is no secret recipe, in fact, I have often achieved positive effects and results by over-stimulating the modulator.
I agree 100%! And that is also the irony, is it not? How we should "always" be gentle with these things, yet sometimes it does take pushing everything into overdrive to achieve what we want. A bit of an analogy of life itself perhaps.
Alright, let's move along. Let's talk about vinyl! It seems to be selling really well these days. At least, I should say, it appears that way. My understanding is that sales for Electro are about where they were mid-2000's. Do you have plans to enter the vinyl market with Battery Park Studio?
Yes, I would like to release on vinyl again. Now that the vinyl has developed positively on the market over the last few years, I have a great desire to join in again. I already have finished the graphics and am currently in discussion with different distributors.
What's in store for the future with your label and music projects then?
For the future, I want to keep releasing great Electro tracks and support the scene as much as possible. Next year, we celebrate our 10 year anniversary of our label and of course this will also be celebrated with a new release. In addition, I am currently working on a very special project which will be a huge surprise, especially for the German supporters of the club culture. Electro music and the label are, as mentioned, my life philosophy so I will continue until I shuffle off this mortal coil.
Looking forward to it, thank you for your time Marv! Best of luck with everything.
Thank you. Many thanks to my girlfriend Julia, my whole family and to Nelly.