Label founder Christof Ellinghaus discusses the past, present and future of one of Germany’s longest-running independent imprints.
City Slang’s adventure started at a watershed moment in history. Christof Ellinghaus had been on a crazy European tour with Nirvana, and two days before their Berlin gig, the wall came down. At the same time, the Flaming Lips needed someone to put out the weird new music they had just recorded. Ellinghaus didn’t think twice — he launched City Slang in 1990, and from early on established it as one of Germany’s most internationally oriented independent labels. Ellinghaus was never a man to restrict his tastes and the choices he made; City Slang has been working with bands like Yo La Tengo, Tortoise and Lambchop for ages, and is now home to Caribou as well as EMA, Noga Erez, Anna von Hausswolff and the Junior Boys. The secret behind this diversity is simple: The music released on City Slang has to please no one but the label founder himself. As it turns out, a lot of other people really like what he’s into. In this Fireside Chat, Ellinghaus shares the story from the label’s early beginnings with the Lemonheads and Hole, discusses today’s diverse range of artists and what Berlin means to him.