First off, where and when did the idea for DBNR come about?
It was a combination of meeting inspiring talented young artists and creating a structure around them. I never really felt comfortable working in the structure of a big agency. I’m not really certain about the exact start date of the company, but let’s say when I started managing Charlotte in 2009, it all kind of fell together.
And what are some of the difficulties you faced in the beginning?
I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to start working with most of our artists from the beginning of their careers. Which allowed us to work and grow together, step by step, in an organic way. So when their careers did kick off, we were ready for it. However nothing prepared us for the current COVID-19 crisis. It is by far the most challenging moment in my career, with a devastating impact.
What does a typical day in the DBNR office look like?
Currently it’s mostly Zoom calls. In a normal work situation, there’s not a typical daily structure. We travel a lot and every day is different. When we’re together in the office, it’s mostly brainstorming with the team and eating a lot of food!
What projects you do have running at the moment?
All DBNR acts have releases scheduled for 2021, some delayed because of 2020. So it will be an eventful year! Also the KNTXT label started one year ago, we had a lot of plans with our KNTXT nights in 2020. We made our US debut in February, which was the last one we were able to do.
The other nights we’d planned internationally were unfortunately cancelled. We definitely want to pick this back up in 2021. We’re also working on some new acts that we want to release on the KNTXT label. So 2021 should be great!
And is there a past project that you’re most proud of?
I’ve been very fortunate so far, it’s really hard to chose one project. It’s all been a wild ride filled with proud moments. Whether it’s headlining festivals, selling out arenas, touring the world, creating a label that stands out, or discovering new talents. I think it’s basically the fact that we never had to do a job that was not from the heart, as cliché as that might sound.
What’s the worst job you had before DBNR?
Working with people who are in it for the wrong reasons. Whether it’s artists, promotors, agents, record labels, etc. If the music is not part of who you really are, you’re not in it for the right reasons.
Charlotte de Witte is no doubt the most recognisable name on your roster, and we understand the origins of your partnership are pretty unique?
We go back a long way. I met Charlotte when she was just 18 or 19. I just briefly saw a clip from a set of her and was immediately convinced of her amazing talent. We grew together in this scene and our working relations were always very clear. She’s someone who knows what she wants and I’ve been quite successful in getting what she wanted. So that’s a pretty healthy working relationship if you ask me!
You also handle her KNTXT label, what is that like?
We approach the label as a creative hub. We established a few ground rules before we set out on our path. One of the major ones is the aim to work on 5 or 6 releases per year without remixes. It was also very important to integrate a certain organic aesthetic in the artwork.
Charlotte is artistically in charge, but the whole team has a say in everything we do. We don’t approach it purely as a label; there are also fashion collaborations; audiovisual output is also important to us, such as the video for Liquid Slow.
And of course the KNTXT nights are a big part of our DNA. That’s why we see it more as a creative hub, where we want to explore unique talents related to the music culture we feel a part of.
Other names on your roster include One Track Brain, Oscar And The Wolf and Bazart, what do you look for in an artist when considering them for the agency?
Like I said If the music is not part of who you really are, you’re not in it for the right reasons! And that’s basically what defines a good artist for me. And that’s a unique talent that you don’t find much! But when you do it’s very exciting to work with these people.
And what advice would you give to an aspiring artist manager that’s early-on in their career?
Don’t always listen to people like me, just follow your gut! Keep your eyes open but learn from doing it yourself. And work with young talents!
For more information on Alexander and DBNR, head to their website.