Culture | Monocle

thumbnail text



Jannis Stürtz
Co-founder, Habibi Funk

Jannis Stürtz is a co-founder of Habibi Funk, a Berlin-based label specialising in reissues of music from the Middle East and North Africa, from Libyan reggae to Sudanese jazz. Stürtz tells monocle more.

How did Habibi Funk start as a record label?
I was visiting Casablanca and bought an album by a singer called Fadoul that piqued my interest. We tried to find and sign him but learned that he had died in the 1990s. We found his family and reissued his work, splitting the profits with the artist’s estate. We’ve since built our catalogue. There’s a trove of work from overlooked artists from North Africa, West Asia and elsewhere.

Tell us about the genres that Habibi Funk covers.
What we focus on is not a representation of popular music in, say, Libya. We’re interested in these who took influences from outside their countries and mixed them with something that already existed. Ibrahim Hesnawi, the father of Libyan reggae, is a good example: he was the first to popularise the genre in the country.

How do people listen?
I love physical records but if you release non-mainstream music, you don’t have the luxury to oppose streaming platforms. Our main playlist on Spotify has 100,000 followers – and it is vital. We invest our time into streaming, direct sales via Bandcamp and advertising. If you wish to pay your team and artists fairly, you need all these revenues.

To hear the full interview with Jannis Stürtz, listen back to The Monocle Weekly from 27 October 2023, on Monocle Radio.


Making magic


Hole & Corner magazine is marking 10 years of covering the world of craft with a handsome book called simply Make Well! The British publication was founded by creative director Sam Walton after he moved from London to Dorset and began to shrug off his fashion-focused career in favour of putting a spotlight on the producers and makers that populated his new life. “The worlds of fashion and art had their platforms and were good at promoting themselves but not artisans,” he says of his inspiration to start Hole & Corner (a now-faded phrase that implies a spot away from the public gaze).

The magazine, and now the book, bring together a diverse set of makers, rural and urban, young and old, all given a unity by Walton’s art direction and the photography that never over-romanticises – hands are calloused, beards bushy, studios cluttered. “We have been documenting makers and want to bring the texture and reality out with a beautiful level of photography. But we also said to people, ‘Please don’t tidy up before we come.’”

Walton has made it through the decade – he makes clear that this has not always been easy – with a close group of collaborators, who like the folk that they feature, believe in craft, creativity and dedication to the cause. But what has changed over that period? “Ten years ago it was hard to even use the word ‘craft’ because people associated with crafting, hobbyists,” says Walton. “But now it has much greater respect.” Here’s to all the makers.


Notable endeavours


Roland Allen has always scribbled in notebooks but his interest in paper was really piqued after finding his grandfather’s diaries. “He had died many years earlier and I didn’t know him really,” says Allen, author of The Notebook: A History of Thinking on Paper. “Learning about his life before the war made me curious about what it would be like to keep my own diary.” What started at the age of 28 has since become an obsession that has led Allen to

“It’s clear that you remember things more if you write them down on paper – and you process them better if you’re analysing them in some way.”

research the ways in which human thought, education and ideas have been bound up with our use of notebooks.

The story that Allen tells dances from the pages of the earliest Arabic texts and the oldest surviving European scribbles from the 13th century, to friendship albums in the Netherlands in the 16th century and onto recipes, cures and bookkeeping. Technology might have changed things but there’s research to back up the idea that making notes on paper is sometimes more effective than doing so on a laptop or phone. “It’s clear that you remember things more if you write them down on paper,” says Allen. “You process them better if you’re analysing them in some way.” Allen thinks that more sophisticated information that might need mulling over could benefit from being committed to paper. “If you’re doing anything creative with ideas, numbers or words, it’s really important.” 

The Notebook: A History of Thinking on Paper is published by Profile Books and is out now. To hear the full interview listen to ‘The Stack’ on Monocle Radio.

Share on:






Go back: Contents

Global views: Long reads


sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio


  • The Pacific Shift