Vienna-based DJ and label owner Florian Stöffelbauer has a finely tuned ear for the weird and wonderful. Better known under his alias Heap, Florian first came to our attention through his Discus Throwers online store; a specially curated concept shop that specialised in the far reaches of krautrock, synth pop, techno and house.
This philosophy has continued through Neubau, the imprint he’s been helming since 2015 alongside Bocksrucker, and formally Simon Heidemann. Not one to shy away from risks, their bold and compelling music policy has been channelled through producers like Alexander Arpeggio, Mr TC and Gil.Barte, as well as Heap himself. His enchanting productions and edits have also made their way to Berceuse Heroique, Mechatronica White and ESP Institute, alongside Klasse Wrecks’ Mr.Ho.
Florian chats to us about his relationship with records, the local scene in Vienna and how the excitement is all in the discovery. This is backed up by a vinyl-only mix that explores the corners of his collection he doesn’t always get to navigate when playing out as Heap. Expect dubwise oddities and austro weirdo funk in abundance…
DJs and producers often mention their musical education came through their family’s record collection. Was this the case for you? Can you pick out any pivotal records from your upbringing that informed your musical journey?
My parents run a restaurant on the country side in Lower Austria and back in the ’80s and first part of the ’90s – when they were in their 20s – it was the place to go for a night out in this small town I’m from. They had a record collection which was used by the frequenters taking care of the music selection.
When I started getting interested in bar or club music most of those records were hidden in our attic and I had to check the CD collection. I was lucky that the good taste of my parents didn’t change with the medium and so I was still able to discover some ’80s and early ’90s classics which have been played in our bar. On the CDs I could find stuff like Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. The first “modern” band I was really into were Gorillaz and I still love them today.
People buy records for a multiple of reasons. What first drew you to collecting records and what motivates you to continue digging after all these years?
When moving to Vienna around six years ago I had to leave my drums behind because I couldn’t afford a practice room. I needed some kind of musical substitute and so I started buying and collecting records. Later I became interested in the practice of beat-matching and DJing. Today what keeps me buying (used) records is the excitement of discovering something new, something that nobody had on their radar before.
Where do you store your records and how do you file them?
I store my records in IKEA Expedit/Kallax shelves. Recently when I moved to a new flat I built myself a mobile 3×4 Kallax. It’s really convenient, especially when I record mixes.
The order of my records is pretty random, mostly I just divide them into dark, experimental, heavy electronics and lighter organic stuff. I guess subconsciously I divide them into “Heap” and “Basic Rhythm” music.
What are your favourite spots to go digging and why?
One of the first spots I considered as my favourite second-hand record store was The Little Record Shop in London. I loved to take my time to go up north, walk a little bit from the station to the tiny shop and then be welcomed warmly by David, the owner. It was a very chill vibe and I could patiently go through the new stock and listen to what looked interesting to me. I always found some amazing stuff there. Sadly I haven’t been there for almost two years now. Also in (Greater) London but all the way down south is a store I have only visited two or three times. I got the tip from Brian who runs the amazing Going Good label. It’s called Wanted Music and has got many records for fair prices. I wish I could go back there sometime too.
The (short) time I lived in Munich I discovered many record stores, the one I liked most was Schallplattenzentrale Filiale. This is the discount shop of Schallplattenzentrale where you can buy any LP for €7,90 and maxis for €3,90 each. You have to take your time but you will be rewarded in most cases. Another really nice store in Munich is Second Music & Fun. They’ve got tens of thousands of singles – I went through maybe half of the boxes. Soon after I started, word of mouth brought many diggers to those singles crates and I guess by now all the interesting records have been taken.
Vienna is still a good place for record hunters. Here I really enjoy checking Teuchtler Schallplatten on a regular basis, as well as Sing Sing and Griller Records. Each of the stores has a very specific Viennese vibe where certain people count as interior as you can meet them there anytime.
Digging isn’t just about the records you find, but the people who help you find them. Who are some of the colourful characters you’ve met on your travels in record stores round the world? Any unsung heroes you’d like to shout out?
Throughout the years I’ve been lucky to meet so many nice people on my journeys who I share knowledge about records with on a regular basis. I’m happy to have met people I can visit for record talks in almost every bigger European city.
Shouts to: David/Boulo (Paris), Vincent/Dizonord (Paris), Mikey (Munich), Florian (Munich), Luziprak (Vienna), Ali (Vienna), Armin (Vienna), David/The Little Record Shop (London), Uwe/Nunk Music (Cologne), Serge (R.I.P.)/Boul’Dingue (Lyon), James/Redlight Records (Amsterdam).
Is there a record (or records), that has continued to be illusive over the years?
There are definitely some records I have been after for years already but they’ve never showed up. The good thing is that while you keep looking you will find records you didn’t know and which never ever showed up before.
Do you prefer record shopping as a solitary process or with friends to nerd out with and search or strange sounds together? If the latter, who do you like to go digging with?
I like to show my friends around our local record stores when they come to Vienna for a gig – it’s always fun. When I’m traveling I prefer to dig on my own, it’s a nice meditative process I really enjoy.
Walking into a record shop can be quite a daunting experience. Do you have a digging process that helps you hone in on what you’re after?
Mostly I check for a “new in” crate first, then I check for stuff that’s unassigned to any genre. After that I check the genres I’m interested in, or countries if the shops separated their stock territorially.
How big a role does album artwork play in your digging?
In digging it plays a big role as I check the records first that come with an interesting artwork. One day I’d love to find the ideal record, where the beauty of the artwork matches the music or vice versa. It’s happened a lot that the artwork looks promising to me but in the end the music was terrible. But also the other way round, I have lots of records with shitty cover designs that I play often.
Could you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve done for us?
Recently I enjoy recording mixes including the records I wouldn’t necessarily bring to a night where I’m booked as Heap. Those records display another side of my music taste contrary to what I like to play or produce as Heap.
Casting the net wider now, who are some of the record collectors you most admire and why?
Luziprak is definitely the collector I admire the most. His focus is on odd Austrian and German releases from the ’70s to mid ’90s. He’s got so many singles that he can surprise himself and find stuff in his own crates that he had forgotten about because he archived it in his “b-stock”.
What makes him unique is that he doesn’t give a sh*t about scarcity, rarity and value of records. What matters for him is the music, he would never present himself as a great digger with running a YouTube channel and artificially rising the prices of the records he just found.
Then there is Armin Schmelz and Ali Europa, who also had a big influence on my music taste. Any background story of an Austrian or German band’s LP you wanna know, Ali will tell you. Armin finds interesting parts in almost every record he gets in his hands. Later you will hear those parts as Armin Schmelz Edit and find it on your hard-drive.
In Munich there is Mikey G. and Le Discoboulet. I spent a great day on Theresienwiese with them for the Riesenflohmarkt. The one time I went to this flea market I got really lucky and I definitely wanna go there again. Afterwards everybody would show their finds to each other while enjoying a cold Russe in the Biergarten.
Are there any young collectors emerging who we should keep a close eye on?
Not sure if they’re “young” or “collector” enough but definitely interesting music players: watch out for Welia, Zeta Lys, No Frills and Andria.
We’ve also been closely following your label Neubau which has become home to artists like Alexander Arpeggio, MR TC and Aufgang B. What have you got penned for the coming year? Anything you’re excited about?
Next up will be the highly anticipated debut solo EP by Tassilo Vanhöfen which should be out by the end of the month. After that we have a lot of amazing stuff lined up already. I can’t tell too many details but it will be a busy year for Neubau!
As well as playing as Heap, you also play under your own name, Florian Stöffelbauer. Do you use these guises to explore different aspects of your tastes?
Behind Heap there is Florian Stöffelbauer and Heap can only display a part but expertly curated section of my musical interests. That’s why I used my real name for a recent mix, this way I can put together mixes with music from a wider range of my private collection of records.
You’re based in Vienna, can you tell us a bit about the scene there? Who – venues, promoters, labels, artists – are currently doing great things there?
It was difficult for the Viennese scene for the past couple of years, everybody was waiting for a proper mid-sized venue with open-minded owners and the love for details. In autumn 2019 we saw the opening of rrr. They planned everything very nicely, got a great sound system and a cosy bar area. We’ll see how it turns out, so far they have been programming their nights very ambitiously, it’s a great place for all kinds of odd music.
Due to the lack of venues many potential promoters with great ideas couldn’t implement their nights. For a long time there were mostly commercial events around but now it seems the DIY scene revived from a depressive state. More and more party series from young promoters are popping up, like Unentschieden, NNNN and Off The Grid – here I’m only talking about the events with a focus on music. Of course there are also some hyped party series in Vienna.
Label-wise you can always rely on Bare Hands. Then there is Goldgelb Records on which there will be a compilation featuring Viennese artists coming out soon. You should definitely also keep an eye on Westbahn Records, their first release just came out late 2019.
It’s hard for me to list all the great artists here, I’m afraid to forget someone (sorry in advance) but I will try: Bocksrucker, Paul Ebhart, Oko Oko, Misonica, Geier aus Stahl, Armin Schmelz, Ali Europa, Conny Frischauf, Noel Dinse, Akrüül, Fingers of God, Rosa Anschütz, Sam Irl, Paul Uhlmann, Luca Carlotta, Firmament, Pavel Ritter, and many more.
Anything on the horizon you’re excited about?
I’m very much looking forward to playing in Barcelona for the first time in February 2020 thanks to the invitation by Meri and Alicia, organisers of Curva Imposible!
Photo credit: Svitlana Pogoruy