Marcel Vogel: A Disco Lumberjack Down Under

We chat with the Lumberjacks in Hell boss ahead of his set at Club 77
Henry Johnstone
Marcel Vogel: A Disco Lumberjack Down Under

Is Lumberjacks in Hell the best record label name in dance music? Yes, and it's also an imprint widely regarded for releasing quality disco and house for well over a decade. It was founded in 2010 by the German born, Amsterdam-residing DJ and producer, Marcel Vogel. One of the best disco, soul and funk DJs in the game, Marcel also possesses an insatiable appetite for any style of music you can think of. He's also a self-confessed lover of people with a weird sense of humour and dreams of being a writer one day. Let's find out more.

You’ve called Amsterdam home for over a decade. Word on the street is it’s the best city in Europe to live right now and eclipsing London as a global financial capital since Brexit. How do you feel the city changed since Covid?

Oh, I wanna say it hasn’t changed much? It’s normal for a city like Amsterdam to be in flux. Things open and close in regular intervals but all the institutions like Paradiso, Rush Hour, Waxwell, Dekmantel and Red Light Records have survived. So we are good.  

What makes it such a great city for musicians and creatives?

For me personally it starts with the great variety of record stores, which are the fertiliser for a diverse range of exciting DJs. Amsterdam is situated in the heart of Europe and thus makes it very easy to travel everywhere. People from all over the world love to come here for our festivals, record stores and coffee shops. Personally I enjoy the ease of going everywhere by bike. The Dutch have a naturally open spirit (the people I work with, I mean). It’s hard to explain. Perhaps it’s like a compromise between London and Berlin fit into an 800k city. The live music scene is very exciting too.

How have you found clubbing scenes around the world since everything has opened back up post-Covid? Is it healthy and happening? Or still slowly re-emerging from its slumber?

I have two kids below 5 and 2-years old, so Australia has been my first tour outside of Europe so far. It has been mind-blowingly good. All the parties have been amazing so far. I generally tour a lot in the UK and it possibly took me until now to properly rekindle that relationship post Brexit.

I have a theory that I’d like to pose to a man of your deep knowledge. Whereas in the past there was always a trending dance music genre of the time (i.e. house, trance, progressive, minimal, electro), it feels like our new digital/internet age has allowed for many intimate scenes and sub-genres of dance music to co-exist at the same time. Do you think this is true? Or has it always been this way?

My perception is actually the other way round! I found post-covid that everything went into a harder, darker and more functional phase. But of course you can’t ever perceive everything that’s going on, the world is a big place. How many people does it take to hold down a scene? One willing promoter. Every city will always have many scenes that’s sometimes mixed and sometimes are completely separated. Everything mixes and everything separates for as long as I can remember. It’s very dependent on a single person or groups creating something according to their vision in their city, or even world wide.

What’s new with Lumberjacks in Hell? Anything exciting we can look forward to this year?

Yes, I just finished compiling the next compilation which is really good. Apart from that there are a bunch of 12-inches and perhaps even an artist album in the pipeline. It’s been hard during Covid because I mainly focussed on my own music and my family, but it’s time Lumberjacks makes its comeback.

How did you come up with that name for the label by the way? It’s so good.

Ha! Two DJs in lumberjack shirts playing their worst gig of their lives.

It’s only just come to my attention that the Planty Herbs album ‘Come Into Knowledge’ was released on your sister label Intimate Friends. What a fantastic album and so hugely underrated! Do you think we’ll ever get to enjoy more music from Bobby in the future?

Check out his band Another Taste and his label Space Grapes.

Are there any plans for a new release on Intimate Friends soon?

I will first focus on Lumberjacks in Hell and then who knows? I just like to do things and create things. Anything is possible.  

Are you working on any music at the moment?

Duuude! Myself and LYMA just released a five-track 12-inch for Boogie Angst called 'Games Change' with our singles 'Keep On Stepping' and 'Funk Money'. And we are about to release the next single in a couple of weeks called 'Free Time'. The collaboration is quite beautiful and just a big step up for me. In a way we could call it experimental R&B or something. Or just soul. I'm also working on a few tunes with James Alexander Bright. And a bunch of other things. I built a studio room last year in our house in Amsterdam and everything is just coming together beautifully. I also just finished a remix for Adelaide resident James Curd.

Which labels, producers or DJs are really exciting and inspiring you at the moment?

DJ Fudge for one, LYMA for two, so I am happy to be working with him. Always love me some Omar-S and Dave Lee. I also just saw Melbourne's Close Counters live at Northside Records. I am just a music addict and love way too many styles, so I often have to artificially stop engaging with certain types of music. From super soft soul to stone-dry techno, garage, and what I am know best for, disco. I usually buy a lot of Levon Vincent, Mr G and Theo Parrish of course. And then as mentioned above the label Space Grapes is a must. The list really doesn’t stop.

You’ve said if you weren’t involved in music you’d probably be a writer. Do you have an idea for a novel that keeps coming back to you all the time?

That’s funny! Just this morning it literally (pun intended) came to me in a dream. It would jinx it to talk about it now, but thank you for this question.

You also possess an interest in psychology. What fascinates you about people and human behaviour?

I just love people. I am a keen observer, maybe even sharpened through my job as a DJ. You have to observe, no? But it’s just who I am. I usually pick up many nuances in body language and facial expressions and I think I can read people quite well (unless I can’t). It’s just entertaining for me to channel what’s going on in people into words. Unless I am wrong. I am saying it like this because it isn’t an exact science. Psychology isn't either - it seems there is a lot of guess work involved. So my interest isn’t so much in psychology, but human beings. I see my work as a musician and DJ as part of that. But we also should just be kind to each other. Unfortunately I also have a weird sense of humour, so perhaps not every person I have ever met would describe me as a kind person. But I mature as the years go by. Having kids seems to be a great way to become a better person, if you are up for it.

It’s Sunday afternoon at home. Which album are you putting on just for you, and which album are you putting on for the whole family to enjoy?

A low effort choice would be 'The Best Of Sade'. My son is obsessed with Sting & The Police, though. Maybe Red Hot Chilli Peppers 'Californication' is a good compromise?

Club 77 Weekly Newsletter
Sign up and get a weekly Club 77 newsletter
By signing up to receive emails from Club 77, you agree to our Privacy Policy. We treat your info responsibly. Unsubscribe anytime.
Thank you for signing up!
Stay tuned for the latest news...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
© 2024 CLUB 77. All Rights Reserved.