The world of Public Possession can be best described as an everlasting collaboration between friends that is based on the exchange of ideas and therefore leads to a very varied output. The platform was founded in 2012 by Valentino Betz and Marvin Schuhmann as an outlet to channel their various interests, emphasizing the relationship between music, text, graphic design and happenings. Since then, the ever-growing family behind Public Possession has come a long way, from establishing the recordlabel and shop to writing their first book. All in all, Public Possession is a prime example of how a platform can shift and change, being as much about artistic experimentation, as it is about the discovery of new music – all of it held together by a good sense of humor.
“We met quite early in our lives, as we briefly went to the same school”, Valentino and Marvin tell C24, “Then lost track of each other and reconnected in our late teens through DJing. That was when we started hanging out regularly, throwing parties together etc… That never stopped.” Before they started Public Possession, Valentino went to art school, while Marvin moved to Vienna to study Philosophy. When their paths crossed again in Munich – a place with no record store for contemporary music back then – they just decided to open up their own, selling not only records, but also self-designed merchandise, prints and publications. Between two tone artworks and a great attention to typographic details, the duo has created a lighthearted and striking identity over the years that never takes itself too seriously.
What would you name as the biggest influence in your creative life?
Both: Impossible to answer without being cheesy. Life itself?
“Since the beginning, Public Possession was and is driven by our own interests”, Valentino and Marvin explain, “Then, of course, one of Public Possession’s main functions is to entertain others, so we try to respond to the demands of our audience, this leads to us putting emphasis on certain fields more than others (temporarily).” Since its early beginnings, Public Possession has served as a platform to various artists from around the globe, steadily building up its community. Besides the eclectic records they release from artists like Bell-Towers, Eden Burns or DJ City , they regularly host in-store session by DJs on the weekends.
“It always felt very natural to work with other people, as a music label we are dependent on the virtuosity of our artists. The same goes for many of our other endeavors, input always precedes output”, Valentino and Marvin state. Rather than just curating the music based on their own taste, they hold a connection to all of the artists that release their music with them, returning to work with the same people multiple times.
How do you choose the artists and musicians making music under the name of your label?
Both: Very often they choose us. Most of them we met on journeys and/or through friends.
It is fairly obvious that collaborations are an essential part of their practice. Last year, the duo has worked on various projects with a diverse team of collaborators. Among their past collaborations are a clothing series with Berlin based collective Live From Earth, a fan scarf with Record Culture Magazine and an ongoing series with Keinemusik. “Mainly it is fun! Then collaborating with others is also a good practice and keeps you from thinking inside the box”, they tell us, “And naturally all collaborations are a way of spreading your own message through the medium of your collaborators. This helps if you aim at reaching a wider audience.”
Over the years, Valentino and Marvin have constantly pushed their style forward without following any trends, adding their decent sense of humor and distinctive personality to each and every collaboration. “There are and have been an incredible amount of talented people out there, that we are constantly influenced by and that our work always refers to”, the duo states, explaining how they found the courage to trust their feelings from the very beginning, “Perhaps what has helped us in finding our own path is that Public Possession was and still is very much driven by the fun of creation. There is no master plan that keeps us from taking risks. This free flow style of work has its downsides, too. But so far we could balance it out quite well. We did get more professional over the years and are still trying to do so even more.”
What are the main challenges of being a two-man company?
We do have help by now! People who work with us at the shop and studio. The main challenge always is coordinating our ideas so they are compatible with the harsh reality of capitalism LOL.
At the moment, the duo has a number of exciting projects in the pipeline. Beginning with the collaboration with Keinemusik that recently lead to a feature in the latest version of GTA and will manifest itself in some physical products this February, a brand-new update of the Public Possession website looms on the horizon. Doing what they do best – experimenting with different disciplines, methods and crafts – Valentino and Marvin drop us a hint on their latest artistic exploration: Let’s just say there’s cheese involved. Literally.