Thirty years of groundbreaking electronics with the founder of one of dance music's defining labels.
Few labels in dance music have been as important as R&S. Established in 1984 by Renaat Vandepapeliere and Sabine Maes, R&S is most famous for helping define the rave and ambient era of the early '90s. Several releases in that period—Energy Flash, Mentasm and Plastic Dreams, to name three—permanently altered the electronic music landscape at the time, and remain landmarks for what many would consider a golden era. But these records weren't always destined to succeed. In the case of Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works 85-92, now regarded as an undisputed classic, sceptical peers were adamant Vandepapeliere was crazy to release such a strange record. (It came out on Apollo, the ambient sister label to R&S.) Talking to Vandepapeliere, you realise his personality traits—stubborness, self-belief, curiosity and endless enthusiasm—lent themselves extraordinarily well to running labels that changed the course of dance music on multiple occasions.
In 1997, having been worn down by the music industry, Vandepapeliere and Maes dissolved R&S and spent several years living on a stud farm. That might well have been the end of the story. But the label reemerged in the mid-'00s, and has since made its mark as a key influence on the development of post-dubstep and industrial techno, with a particular focus on British talent. These days, Lone, Talaboman, Sporting Life, Paul White and Paula Temple are among the label's key artists. Vandepapeliere sat down with Ray Philp to discuss the label's past, present and future as it celebrates its 30th year.