KERM RECORDS

Since its existence, Kerm Records is one of the strongholds of the Ghent cassette scene. Driven by gut feeling and hypersensitivity, its output ranges from spoken word, broken acid, tape collage and fluxus inspired noise to casio pop, contemporary gabba and hip-hop concrète. A conversation with Niels Kerm, the brain and soul behind KERM.
01 December 2017 | AG 10.1
nl

I prepared some questions, but I forgot them.

nk

Haha, that’s a good start. 


nl

Maybe we can do this interview 
via Facebook? 


nk

I just got out of the shower and I’m having a fresh cup of coffee,
 so I’m ready. Let’s do this.

nl

It’s the new way of communicating. Maybe this is a good question: KERM seems to be a statement against hypes and brands, an unintentional anti label. Do you have a problem with well designed labels? Like the KERMACULTCHA magazine you once released? 

nk

I’m not really an ANTI-kind of guy. I admire a lot of stuff, and these people do things in their way, just like I do them my way. The Kermacultcha zine was just about having fun,
it was no statement, or whatever. But I’m surprised that you think that 
I’m against things? 

nl

No, not really, but one could get the impression that the chaotic style is intentional. A lot of labels have a very particular profile and style, as if they are afraid of chaos and confusion. 

nk

Well, chaos is the only way how 
I know, can and want to run a label. I think it is also a reflection of my musical and other interests. For me, to know what is befitting as a KERM release and what not, is pretty easy, it’s a fast and instinctive decision. 

But it’s hard to put it in actual words. That sounds lame, but it really just comes down to gut feeling and a personal relation with an artist. There are enough labels with a clear vision and a brand and KERM is for just for me and even for me it’s confusing. Is that weird?

nl

No, I don’t think so. As long as you’re having fun, everything is fine. Is imagination important to you? 

nk

Of course, isn’t that the start of everything? Imagine there would be no imagination! Imagine that! 

nl

What is the weirdest idea you ever had? 

nk

I get ideas everyday, lots of them. By the end of the day, most of them are forgotten. Some ideas, at least if I’ll be able to make them happen, will be pretty gnarly though. But I’d rather not go into that too much, hehe. 

nl

We’ll decide to publish or not after you have answered. 

nk

As these projects are on the verge of illegality, let’s skip the details.

nl

I really like the Niels & Alice tape by the way, can you tell me something about it?

nk

It’s pretty old, it’s the second release on KERM, if I remember correctly. 

nl

You were a couple back then? 

nk

Yeah. 


nl

Not that it matters, but wasn’t it hard to decide what to do: fucking or making music? 


nk

Haha. No not really, we only made one tape. 

nl

Was there acid in play?


nk

No comment. We lived together in Zwijnaarde and had a small room with all our instruments set up. We spent hours recording. The days were hazy and the nights were colorful, But let’s not go too deep into the acid thing. I know you’d like to get some juicy stories but I guess you had to be there. Let’s talk about music! 

With my buddy Sam Gunst I started a label for experimental techno, called Energie01. The first release will be
a digital compilation, the physical copy will be an energy drink with a download code on it. 

nl

I always liked the homely character of KERM. Are you a homely man?

nk

Haha, I think so. I’m not sure what you mean by homely. Maybe it relates to the question what a KERM release is and what not. The output and the choices
I make are part of my daily life. Maybe that gives the label a homely character?

I am a homeboy though, that’s for sure. 

nl

You released a tape with archival material of Godfried Willem Raes, and now you’re working on one by Moniek Darge. Tell us about the Darge tape? 

nk

It will be released in 2018. I went to Logos a couple of times to dig into their amazing and overwhelming archive
and make a selection of her pieces. 

It’ll mostly be compositions from the 1970s and 1980s. Only unreleased music, just like the Raes tape. Sam will do the artwork and we’ll have Moniek’s dog Floesj on the sleeve. 

Cover of Godfried-Willem Raes CS
nl

The label is getting more attention. Do you feel a shift in your attitude towards a more self­conscious approach? Do you ever wonder what KERM is?

nk

Yeah, sure. I get the impression people like to have a clear idea about
a label. In the beginning I never thought about these things, stuff just happens. The idea that KERM becomes something defined and that people know what they can expect scares me a bit. Maybe that’s the moment I should radically change the label. I want to keep it fresh, and I don’t want to repeat myself. I don’t want to repeat my self. Not all my ideas were good, but there are no regrets. I like to be outside my safe zone. With successful or not so successful results.

nl

Failing as the ultimate success?

nk

Not really, it’s about just doing it. Follow your heart and all that good stuff.

It’s strange though, I sometimes fantasize about starting new labels
to release stuff that I can’t release on KERM. Although KERM should be the place where everything is possible.

nl

Where is this coming from?
nk

No idea buddy. Maybe because in the beginning nobody cared or even noticed, whereas now I’m a bit more careful, which shouldn’t be the idea of course. I feel ready for that now, I’m hungry and ready for action. Be it with my main project KERM, or the new side project Energie01.

nl

Maybe because the audience has certain expectations, or you have? nk

Although the audience is not big, I think they only expect weird stuff. I think it comes from within myself. But I have planned some stuff that will be completely new within the KERM identity — which is of course still vague.

I don’t know how other people do this, but it’s not like I sat down and said to myself: “I’m gonna start a label”. That grew very slowly. Even now I find it hard to thinkof KERM as a real label.

nl

I think it is a real label, it even has an ethnographic side to it, documenting the current scene.

nk

That’s cool. It’s interesting how people see the label, but for me it’s just my life. I don’t analyse it too much.

nl

Just do it. Thanks!