For one week in the year, Jæger pulls out all the stops, with things like budget and practical realities set aside to help celebrate one of the most exciting weeks in Oslo, and in fact Norway’s, musical calendar. As the world’s most profound musicians conspire on a hill in Tøyen during the day for Øya Festivalen, we’ll be prepping our two dance floors for Øya Natt, the official after party where our weekly residencies play host to a star studded international guestlist like no other and 2017 is no different. Today we are happy to announce our official Øya Natt listings which kick off on the 9th of August.
Wednesday 9 August Untzdag & Antal
ANTAL (RUSH HOUR) | ØYVIND MORKEN (Moonlighting/Full Pupp/Hauketo)
Thursday 10 August Retro & Young Turks Night with Talaboman
TALABOMAN (JOHN TALABOT & AXEL BOMAN, R&S) | YT DJS (Young Turks) | DJ NUHHH!
Thank you to all those people that came out two weeks ago for the #savefabric weekender. With your support we raised £9600 for Fabric as they take on one of the biggest legal challenges they’ve ever faced. With an appeal date set for the 28th of November and an ensuing a legal battle that will see them take on the UK’s licensing laws, the Fabric team face an arduous and thankless road ahead of them. Ola and the Jæger team immediately realised the universal consequences of closing Fabric and repurposed the autumn DJ marathon for a #savefabric weekender , where 75% of the door went to #savefabric. Oslo reciprocated by showing up on mass, raising that formidable amount that Ola has now put in an envelope and shipped to Fabric Life ltd. It should help ensure the daily operations of the company could go on too, while the #saveourculture campaign ensues in the UK. We’d like to thank all those dancers that came out for the cause and made this happen, it was an inspiring scene and one that will hopefully take back that which is ours, Fabric.
It’s been an exciting year for Ivaylo and Bogota records. The label adopted the vinyl format for the first time, releasing Bulgarian artists Sound Solutions’ “It’s All About” which featured some great remixes from Norwegian talents De Fantastiske To and Of Norway. As well as a steady stream of releases, which will see Terje Sæther inducted into the Bogota family shortly, Ivaylo has also taken his show on the road, bringing the Bogota showcase to clubs like Renate in Berlin and Nitsa in Barcelona, playing for audiences into their thousands. As a DJ he’s also made a few trips back home to Varna, and it seems from Ivaylo’s perspective that there might be something interesting brewing in the Balkans. But it’s been a year since we last spoke to our resident for the blog, and with all these new developments we thought it’s time to catch up with Ivaylo ahead of the Bogota showcase at Jæger this weekend.
It’s kind of weird doing this Q&A with you because we see each other almost every day. But a load of stuff has been happening with you and Bogota records since our last interview, almost year ago. Can you fill the good people in on what’s been happening?
We switched to the vinyl format; established great bases for showcases in both Berlin and Barcelona, which was the main goal for 2016!
Lets talk about the vinyl release. Why did Bogota decide to make the move to the physical format?
We have actually always had the vinyl format in mind as the way we want to release music. As the digital/streaming format has taken priority on the music market and those formats are essential for establishing platforms for promoting and sales, I simply wanted to make Bogota accessible to all in the digital domain. We’re going to keep both formats in the future as I don’t really see the big difference between them, but people are different and have different needs.
What spoke to you particularly about this release that you wanted to invest in the physical format?
It’s a funny story. I heard the original 7 years ago in a skate shop where Ogi from Sound Solutions worked. We were hanging out there and I remember both Strahil (Kink) and I liked the bass line of the track. Last year I just came accross the track on my hard drive and it took me a couple of minutes to call the guys and ask them if they still have all the parts and if it was possible to do a re-work. We got the track month later and here it is.
There’s a host of Norwegian talent remixing a Sound Solutions, a Bulgarian act. Is this something you always intended for the label – bridging the gap between the country of your origin and the place you call home today?
Well, that’s the main thing with Bogota. We are always trying to build bridges with our releases and as a Norwegian label and me from Bulgaria the answer was simple: “It´s All About”.
While we are on the subject of Bulgaria… You played there recently. There are a few eastern European countries that have made quite huge impressions in electronic music recently – countries like Romania, Croatia and Hungary. Is there anything, artist, club or style, that you encountered on your recent visit that could include Bulgaria amongst those countries soon?
I played couple of gigs in both Sofia and Varna this summer. There is guy from Sofia called Ivo Graves, who I know from before. He is a great DJ, selector and the best thing is that he has started producing music as well, which for me is the one to look out for!
In Varna I played and put together on an outdoor party with my friends. The party happened in a parking lot under the longest bridge in Varna. There is this guy called Borg, that I’ve been following for a few years now and this time I was really impressed with his skills behind the decks. He is maybe the only one from Bulgaria at the moment who really gets me into what we used to call the “Bulgarian underground flow”
Your hometown, Varna has all the ingredients to become quite a clubbing destination. A nice little beach town with enough gritty warehouse-like locations to make Berghain look like a five-star hotel, but the last time I was there they seemed to mainly focus on beach-bar Ibiza style places, without a real focus on music. What’s it like there now?
I wouldn’t call it little beach town, as there are 1 million people in the summer and over half a million the whole year round. We started a music platform called “Collective Varna” last year and the goal is exactly as you mention in the question, to find abandoned buildings in the city still there from the communist era. There are plenty of locations and it seems like even the Varna multiplicity is willing to help us of organize different music events at those locations. As for the Ibiza style beach bars and clubs – yes they are there – we just don’t see them.
What is the next release scheduled for Bogota?
We are coming out with BOG009 on September 27th. It is a 3 track-EP from Terje Saether with 2 more remixes from Alex Jangle & Matztam and Rave-enka. All the guys on the release are from Oslo.
You’ve got all the guys, bar Sound Solutions from the last release coming to the showcase. They’re quite a varied bunch. Where do you find a connection between these artists and how do you think they represent Bogota individually?
“Its All About” the sound. No hahaha… the thing with Bogota is, that I personally know most of the signed artist, particularly the line up for this showcase. They all know my ideology within the label and the sound we represent. Also except for Slammer and I, they are all from Oslo (although Arildo is half Spanish grew up in Oslo ). I’m personally very exited about the night, as the line up is set up in particular order (time wise) taking care of each individual artist and their way of playing.
Slammer is putting together a live show for the event. What do you think we could expect from that?
And you’ll be closing the night off with a DJ set obviously. You mentioned to me the other day that you as a DJ will be going back to DJing with vinyl more. What encouraged you to make the move back to that format?
I simply find better music released on vinyl nowadays. But as you know I love to edit tracks and use my own sounds in a DJ set, so I´m going to go on 50/50 with the formats.
And what tracks are you looking forward to bringing here with you?
The new release from Bogota, a couple of tracks from me, and lots of edits.
Last year’s event was quite a success and you’ve been playing to crowds in the 1000’s at clubs like Renate and Nitsa. What do expect from this next showcase and what will you and the guys be taking with you from previous showcases?
Honestly, my only expectation, as always, is that the musical journey will be kind and strong enough to keep everybody in the flow of the moment.
What is it: Jazzy Hip Hop for summer’s evening. Who will play it: Fredfades | MC Kaman When are you most likely to hear it: On a dusky Friday afternoon.
Peaking through hazy broken Rhodes chords and dusty hip-hop beats is Yogisoul’s debut making an appearance in our record collection as our album of the week. The Mutual Intentions affiliate roped in a few friends for this album with Ivan Ave, Awon, and Kristoffer Eikrem making an appearance amongst tracks that combine jazzy samples alongside viscerally moving instrumentals that seep with the humidity of a city in the heat of summer’s evening. It’s an album that loiters more than it progresses, and what Yogisoul and his various production partners achieve on this album is a mood. Lyrics often fall tease at some nostalgic reverie, talk of summer loves and future conquests with the reserve optimism of an adolescent with his entire ahead in front of him to strengthen the theme of the record. There’s no narcissistic spew about personal wealth or talent, but rather just a confidence in the lyrics that highlight a maturity in Yogisoul’s creative expression, while often alluding to a hidden playfulness. By Nights offer’s the ray of sunshine in our week and here’s hoping that if we play it enough times, the weather will follow.
What is it: New Wave Who will play it: Herr R | Tellstroem When are you most likely to hear it: At the end of the night.
Our record of the week comes courtesy of Tellstroem this week. The Swedish DJ, producer and label owner joined us on our hunt for this week’s edition, and when he stumbled upon a sale at Garden.no, he couldn’t resist the temptation of an offer nor an album that’s made one of the most severe impacts on recorded music ever, Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures. Tellstroem brands a tattoo in his fore-arm that reads “Love will tear us apart again” and although that single is not on this album, there’s a clear admiration for the band from the tattooed DJ when he says “it’s the only band-tattoo I have”. The band’s influence however isn’t the reserve of one individual, but can be felt coursing through the veins of music history, and transcends their original rock roots today.
The DIY sound of the album, which gestates from guitarist and synth-enthusiast, Bernard Sumner’s love for Russian kit synths and simplistic, thin-as-air guitar hooks laid the foundation for bands like Depeche Mode and Human league, while Peter Hook’s rapid-fire, loopy bass lines can be felt through EBM and Techno the world over. Although the band’s career was tragically cut short by the suicide of their singer Ian Curtis after releasing their second only album, Closer, what was left behind in those two albums, especially Unknown Pleasures would never go quietly into that gentle night, including the band that remained after the death of their singer. Joy Division, became New Order, which then became an essential catalyst for the sound of Acid and House in the UK centred around Tony Wilson’s Hacienda, but that’s a story for another time. Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasure is an essential edition to any record collection, and thanks to affordable re-issues we can now call on it whenever we feel the need to reference the genesis of the music we consume today. There’s never a weak moment on the album and whether you like the unbridled punk of a track like “Disorder”, or something a little more upbeat featuring more electronics like “She’s Lost Control”, there’s something in there for the more complete music fan. It’s just an iconic album, and that cover art, reminds us why the LP is still more effective in drawing your attention to the music than any other format.
The Internet. The Internet is a treasure trove of useful and useless information floating around in an ethereal cloud just waiting to be pounced on by some tiresome adolescent living in his ex-girlfriend’s basement with nothing better to do one Tuesday afternoon. Information about our favourite musicians and popular DJs are particularly bountiful and can range anywhere from a thoughtfully constructed biography to their most worrisome guilty pleasures – perhaps part of the reason many of them don’t to do interviews anymore. With that in mind I fire up Deloris, my midnight companion in my lonely hovel, also known as a computer and set to work to find out more about the guest joining us at Jæger for Frædag, Pirupa. The Italian producer and DJ has been making waves in clubland since 2007, gracing many charts and event listings throughout Europe. His sound can be described as floating somewhere between the richly rewarding plains of Tech-House and Minimal, which has found its way on labels like Desolat, Defected and his own Nonstop records with titles like Party Non Stop and Fireworks. Tracks like those have seen him grace many booths from Ministry of Sound in London to Space in Ibiza. His success both in the studio and the dance floor has seen him chart at #11 of RA’s Top100 Most Charted Artists of 2010, but did you know…
Before Pirupa became a successful touring artist and DJ he used to work in his father’s furniture store according to an interview with Defected. He deserted the furniture business and abandoned his father in 2009 with good cause when Sweet Devil and Get Funky propelled him to number one in the overall Beatport chart and kickstarted a career in music which has lasted to this day and includes many more number one positions.
Beatport used to be relevant
It was during 2009, when Beatport were still in their infancy and still paid their artists that they made a significant contribution to clubland, by bringing the underground to the foreground allowing truly independent artists and labels to make an impression without the logistical and expensive nightmare that was vinyl during those years. Charts and especially artist charts, which were more exclusive back then provided a great platform to discover new music based on individual tastes and a novel idea that has today, like pop music, eaten itself.
Pirupa doesn’t think highly Party Nonstop
Pirupa’s 2012 hit Party Nonstop might have charted in RA and propelled the DJs career to thew stratosphere, but in this very awkward interview for Egg London, the Italian DJ debunks the success of the single as a fluke, and says it wasn’t “the best” track of that year for him.
Faux-leather white sofas were a thing in clubs once
Yes, as this video quite clearly shows they were and it wasn’t always very pleasant sitting in the pools of sweat of others.
Pirupa likes a vocal hook.
In the interview with Defected Pirupa also the says “best ‘ingredients’” to a song “would probably be a strong vocal hook, a fat and groovy bassline and/or a memorable synth/sound”. It’s an ideology he makes good on at least one occasion when he teamed up with Ninho for “Spin me Round”. The track features the memorable and infectious vocal hook taken from Dead or Alive’s “You spin me Round” alongside one of those fat and groovy basslines.
It takes 30 minutes to make a track
In an interview with Bizarre Culture, Pirupa gives us an insight into his working process for that track, and it apparently took 30 minutes to put the whole thing together, after inspiration hit with a visit to the beach in Ibiza. He jumped on his computer and had a rough version ready that night. “When I tried it that night people went completely mad!”
Ibiza is a chill place
Wherever we look on the web for Pirupa, there’s mention of Ibiza. According to a Pulse interview, he spends almost the entire season there and according to Q&A for DMC worldif you spend your summers there, there is no reason to garner grudges.
Lets hand it over to the man of the hour then to sign off on Pirupa on the web with his Essential Mix, recorded in January this year and get a little taste of what’s coming our way tomorrow for Frædag vs Sunkissed, Ciao.
Next up on the roster for Skranglejazz mix and event series at Gaasa is Jæger- and Retro resident Daniel Gude, aka DJ Nuhhh. Gude captures something of that early Saturday afternoon feeling of a Skranglejazz event putting his own stamp on it, drifting through an eclectic House and Disco set that ventures into rhythms of an afro-beat and latin persuasion before arriving with infectious dance floor results. With Gude there’s always a melody just around the corner and the DJ’s impressive skill to find a balance between the wayward and the approachable in left field dance music, marks a distinct style that can go from Axel Boman to Red Axes while retaining the core feeling of a set, which is undeniably influenced by Skranglejazz in this set. Daniel Gude has allowed us to release the track list for this special mix, which reaches us before the DJ is included in the next Skranglejazz line-up and a few days before he is back in Jæger’s booth for his weekly Retro residency.
Weval – You Made it(Part II) [Kompakt]
Axel Boman – The Chains Of Liberty [Correspondant]
Vangelis Kostoxenakis – Zha Zha [Snatch! Records]
DJ Sotofett – Tribute to “Sore Fingers”[Fit Sound] 12″
Mike Steva – Pelagonia (At One Remix) [Yoruba Records]
Young Marco – Darwin In Bahia [ESP Institute] 12″
Pender Street Steppers – The Glass City [Mood Hut] 12″
Red Axes feat. Abrao – Sabor (Isolé Remix) [Crosstown Rebels]
Øyvind Morken – Distinct Dialect [Moonlighting] 12″
Usio – Pamoja [Studio Barnhus] 12″
Mark E – Plastic People (MEDIT) [Merc]
Bjørn Torske – Nitten Nitti [Smalltown Supersound] Red Axes – Sweet John Gang [I’m A Cliché] 12″
What is it: Analogue electronica from outer space. Who will play it: Dj Nuhhh | Oskar Pask | Willie Burns When are you most likely to hear it: Deep into the darkness of the set.
Trus’me’s newest album, Planet 4 hints at a simpler time, when man first encountered machine and opened up to a harmonious world that led to the Rubiks cube and Lycra. The album plays on retro futuristic themes of our closest celestial body Mars, spinning around subjects like conspiracy theories and water on a lifeless planet expressed through a minimalists machine aesthetic. There’s some reference here to the early Electro and Techno pioneers like Jeff Mills and Model 500, but never extends to anything more than a respectful nod. Planet 4 is firmly installed in the present with tracks like “Dark Flow” and “Here and Now” featuring the kind of deep, House-leaning sound we’ve come to know from the Prime Number’s boss.
But on the whole it’s tracks like “The Unexplained” and “Our Future” that propel Trus’me into new uncharted territory, if not a completely new direction. It has perhaps something to do with where the album was recorded, the Analogue Cabin – a studio Jæger could find some affinity with, we’re sure – that made the British talent pursue that particular sonic aesthetic on the album, the machines appearing like they steer the course of the album as much as the artist behind the work. It’s something quite unique from this artist none the less and that’s why we’ve chosen it as our album of the week.
Noir stepped into the mix for Pils & Plater over the weekend to foreshadow the upcoming event celebrating two years of the radio show. Noir put together a selection of tracks that showcased the ability that’s made him the international super power he is today. He’ll be bringing this to Jæger this Saturday for Nightflight vs. Pils & Plater.
The leather clad punk in skinny jeans and a fuck-off attitude that sneers at conformity while biting down on the edge of knife’s blade isn’t some pseudo punk band today, it’s a dance music label. Rather it’s a particular electronic music label known as Long Island Electrical System or L.I.E.S as it’s more commonly referred to. The brainchild of one Ron Morelli, L.I.E.S has been making a severe impact in dance music’s more unconventional corners for the best part of a decade today and its presence can always be felt in the dusty corners of your local record store. Whether it’s the functional DIY design of their record sleeves or the other labels that try to mimic their crunchy unadulterated sound, the label is always there, pushing the envelope for House music and club culture in the most profound ways. Ron Morelli steers the course of his all-encompassing tastes in a singular direction that is L.I.E.S and of course, it starts and ends with the man behind the label, but it also incorporates the network of artists he has cultivated from the label’s initial base in New York. It’s a city Morelli has previously referred to as an “overrated cesspool”, but it’s exactly the “overrated cesspool” that allowed the label to germinate and even gave it its acronym of a name. “I wanted to have an outlet for myself and a tight knit group of people here in New York”; says Morelli in an interview for Juno about the origins of the label and immediately it’s evident the city of New York’s role in the label is an integral part of its existence.
A 1980’s version of New York pulls into focus when you conjure an image of the city through the music on the label. There are pieces of trash propelled into the air through open sewer grates; hazy smog so thick you’d need a jackhammer to pound through it; and an apathetic disposition to the world that borders on the malevolent. That feeling of the city is what’s been behind everything L.I.E.S since that first Maloveaux record back in 2010, but there was another element stirring the pot that informed the sound of L.I.E.S during its initial stages and that was the sound of House in the Netherlands. More specifically it was the raw sound of House and Techno from Bunker records in the Hague that inspired Morelli and L.I.E.S with acts like I-F, Electronome, DJ Overdose and Legowelt – the latter two names appearing on the label in 2011 and 2015 respectively, still acting like some sort of invisible and indirect rudder for the progression of the label. It’s “more of the attitude than the sound that is pushing me forth these days” says Ron Morelli in that interview with Juno about Bunker’s influence. There’s an undeniable sonic connection there too in the raw visceral sound of any L.I.E.S record, but nothing concrete enough to pinpoint, and perhaps it does in fact just boil down to the attitude. What does however make it very different from, say a Unit Moebius release on Bunker is in the sporadic energy and the versatility of a L.I.E.S release, which can go from the down-tempo acid work of Gavin Russom to the aggressive noise of ADMX-71 before taking a detour through to the ambient corners of the dance floor with someone like KWC 92. In the American tradition of classifying all electronic dance music as either House or Techno, L.I.E.S refuses to be pigeonholed and even in those two categories the label is both everywhere and nowhere at the same time. While the label has always catered to a club environment, the music that features on the label is diverse and flits between albums that focus on the listening experience, to EPs with straightforward club-killer tracks whose function is to enlighten as much as it is to propel. Although they occupy two very different spheres at times, one word we’d never associated with L.I.E.S is boring. There’s a raw industrial aesthetic to the general sound of the label that sounds like it was all recorded through the same old dusty mixing desk in a concrete basement somewhere, the worn out equipment unable to give quarter and layering everything a warm driven sound always on the brink of cracking up. Like drinking malt liquor out of a brown paper bag, there’s no frills or fuss to the label, tying the music together without pandering to any particular trend or style.
Ron Morelli and L.I.E.S are always going to do what they do, and that thing might not always be for everyone, but there will always be a little something just around the corner thanks to their Bunker-inspired excessive release strategy. “The music is there from the artists, so if I can get it out, I’m gonna get it out as fast as possible”; explains Morelli about the very-active release schedule of the label for Fact. “Some stuff you’re not gonna like, but then there’s gonna be another one coming soon”, Morelli justifying the sheer volume of records the label releases. Without any real defining characteristic to the purpose of the label, besides perhaps locality, L.I.E.S presence is a deafening one and speaks to various musical tastes on different levels. Whether you like the more album formatted listening experience of last year’s very popular KWC92’s debut on the label, “Dream of the World City” or the more dancelfoor focussed exercises by Jahiliyya Fields or Willie Burns, L.I.E.S will have something for you, centred quite obviously on the unique personality of Ron Morelli. “There’s no real aesthetic. I put out what I like and what’s around me”, says the label head in a video interview with Basic Replay early on in the label’s existence, a small portion of his extensive record collection surrounding him at his home office. “If there weren’t all these people around me I wouldn’t have started a label”, he continues, emphasising the “I” that ties the label and the music together. It would have you believe that Ron Morelli, the central figure in the label, would also be its most significant contributor, but that is not the case. Although his work as one half of Two dogs in A House, a project he shares with Jason Letkiewicz (Malvoeaux), contributed to the second only L.I.E.S release he’s very rarely flexed his creative muscle on his label, and even his debut album Spit was released on Hospital in 2013. It’s an album that could easily have slotted into L.I.E.S discography with its penchant for a darker sonic aesthetic and assertive beats, elements that conspire in what Ron Morelli calls “stress music” in an interview for XLR8R. He goes on to say that his music is unrelated to anything on the label, but I’d have to disagree and say that it is impossible for the creative personality to completely dissociate itself from the head of a label. That idea of “stress music” is what basically lays the foundation for the appeal of L.I.E.S. Even a release like Terekke’s YYYYYYYYYY utilises the idea of stress in creating ample amounts of tension in the music with a simple Deep-House palette with timbres that linger in the darker end of the spectrum and hints at something malicious brewing beneath the surface. Put it down to New York, trend or similar tastes amongst these artists/friends, elements like these conspire to the core structure of L.I.E.S and like every good label out there, it unifies the music under one umbrella, and in this case this umbrella is Ron Morelli and his very esoteric musical tastes.
There’s no stopping the trajectory of L.I.E.S today with this fundamental approach pulling it along. This year has already seen the release of Gunnar Haslam’s third brilliant album, Lebesgue Measure on the label; giving the world a new reason to enjoy ambient music in KWC’s Iran; and seen the return of Jahiliyya Fields’ collaborative project, Inahlants to the label. Morelli might have left the cesspool of New York behind for Paris, but he’s still very much keeping L.I.E.S ingrained in the sound of New York with these artists on the label. “There’s no real vision. (I’ll) just keep doing what the label’s doing. Put out records by the people around me.”
What is it: Fushion Jazz from the East of Africa Who would play it: Øyvind Morken | Herr R | Olefonken When are you most likely to hear it: As dusk settles in and the DJ booth creaks open for the first time.
Our very own Yonatan Mulatu and Mnyichil Tekola Manaye share a national heritage with the artist behind our next album of the week, Hailu Mergia. The obscure Ethopian artist would’ve remained as such had it not been for the New-York based label, Awesome Tapes from Africa and their persistent pursuit of introducing new audiences to this esoteric style of music. Emerging from the same generation that gave us Fella Kuti and Francis Bebey, Hailu Mergia too fused elements of Jazz, funk and rock with his own traditions to create music that was as intriguing as it was entertaining. Like those artists from western Africa, who fuzed their music with elements from their own traditions, Hailu Mergia and others like him including Malatu Astatke, took the sounds of their region and transposed it to a modern popular format, for consumption in the western world. Ethiopia’s traditions being somewhat intertwined with Arabic traditions make this a unique style of music in itself with Hailu Mergia and the Walias often relying on archetypal Arabic melodic movements, the minor-second ascension or minor-seventh descend relaying some of the exoticism of the from those origins.
The recording might show some of its age, with the over-saturated sound of the tape subverting some of the more expressive moments of the record, but even with that Tche Belew is a timeless record, one that deserves to occupy the same echelon as Kuti, Bebey and Astatke. There are many other records in this artist’s discography, but Tche Belew is definitely the highlight, and a very good start from which to delve further into the music of Ethiopia.
Olefonken (Ole Petter Hergum) has had an incredibly busy year. 2016 has seen the producer and DJ hit a new creative stride with the release of two exceptionally beautiful EPs on Snorkel and Ille Bra records, including one spectacular moment in the artist’s career and our 2016 in the form of Quaaludes, a track created solely to soundtrack an orphaned music video created by Thea Hvistendahl. The track, which featured the mesmerising vocals of Ary, emphasised the hidden depravity of humanity visually constructed in the video to great effect with Olefonken translating the storyboard into a serene musical event that was as much soundtrack as it was pop song. It highlighted some of the eclectic personality behind the music that can often be found in Jæger’s booth floating between House, Disco and Afrobeat with ease.
It reflects something of Olefonken’s, musical heritage that runs through Botswana, where he undoubtedly spent most of his childhood encountering the rhythms of Africa, moving through Oslo as an adolescent, where he would’ve invariably been exposed to the spacey synths of disco, and today finds the artist in London, where who knows what musical adventures awaits him. Olefonken’s first release Ubuntu Tutu introduced us to this diverse musical personality whose music extends from the contrapuntal rhythms of the original dance music to a frosty sound palette, often carrying a playful melody on its wings.
It’s something that he’s reflected time and time again in his sets, and will be bringing to Oslo again when he plays at Hestival this weekend, and takes to the booth alongside Lindstrøm, Loveless and Oliver Rottman. But before Hestival kicks off and establishes a new kind of music festival in Norway that combines Gambling Horse Racing and good electronic music, we got in touch with the artist via email and he was gracious enough to answers some questions while he was packing his bags for the trip. Ole is a man of very few words, and often just lets the music do the talking, but on this occasion he’s allowed us the opportunity and we jumped at it, and the results…. well you’ll see.
What inspired the move to London and what have you been doing with yourself there?
My girl kind of packed me in her bag. It was a comfy ride, though. And it was time for a change. The move made it seem like the right time to pursue my dream of starting my own label. So my friend Ibrahim and I started ‘Snorkel Records’. To my roommates’ great enjoyment, the living room is now filled with boxes of vinyl. But it’s great fun, I have just been biking all over the city – pushing the vinyl to various shops. I actually just came back from Brilliant Corners where I dropped a copy into Phil Mison’s record bag. Happy days!
You’ve certainly been releasing more music since the move. Are you making more music too and how has the move had an affect on your creativity?
Well to tell you the truth, the ‘Til Hanne’ release is just a bunch of old demos dating back to like 2010 and it was only meant to be a Soundcloud thing. Kenneth Bager asked me if he could release it on Music for Dreams, but I was a bit hesitant due to the fact that it was so old and scruffy. Later on I got a nice long email from Jonas at Ille Bra Records and it just seemed cool since they where such a small label and that would mean more love for the release, so I figured what the heck! The Quaaludes video and release I worked on before the move as well, though I had to postpone several flights back to London on various occasions so I could finish it up in the studio in Norway. I hoped the move would make me buy a baseball cap and sit on the laptop with Beats by Dre making music all day. But I just find that pretty boring, so I’ve usually ended up playing Samorost instead. Haha!
You grew up in Botswana and I’ve always wanted to ask you about your experiences there, especially when it comes to music?
Well, the school days often started with an assembly and the music class would play these big marimbas and all the kids would just dance and be all crazy. Even the teachers. I remember I was really looking forward to be old enough for music class. I already played the drums because of my older brother and the marimbas seemed like the next step, but then again we also had a pool at the school – and the swimmers where the cool kids, so yeah you see where this is going.
That being said though, I just remember it seemed like music was a more natural part of life there. People got together. Let loose. Clapped their hands, stomped their feet. While in Norway and similar places, it often feels like music is a background thing – people listen to Kygo or whatever while they’re showering or driving their car to work. But in church on Christmas eve, it’s a total mumbling choir. It’s like we’re not there to celebrate, it’s just to pass time so we can get home to that rib! That’s the most vivid memory I have of music in Gabarone, when my Mom took me to the local church down the street, which was made of cow-dung. It was only lit up by candlelight, and all these big African women were just singing, dancing and playing drums for hours. The Christ knows how to throw a hell of a party down there, I’ll tell you!
There’s something to your music in the sweet kind of melodies you use and the percussion that definitely reflects something of southern Africa for me. Would you say there’s something fundamentally African about your music?
I definitely envision it a lot while making music. My dad has worked in Africa since long before I was born, so he would often bring some mbiri’s, shakers, small marimbas and drums and so on when he came back to Norway. So yeah, playing the mbiri easily takes me back to when we lived in Zimbabwe.
Is Ubuntu Tutu, your first release as a solo artist, supposed to celebrate this connection or am I reading too much into those track titles?
Haha, nah, that would have been a nice little story though. I think I just had been back to visit Botswana and South Africa at that time, so I figure that’s when I heard Desmond talk about Ubuntu, which just stuck.
At the same time much of the music on that album and Til Hanne (To Hanne), reflects more of your Norwegian heritage, especially in the disco-leaning foundation of the tracks. Where do you take your cues from in Norwegian music?
Well, it’s all the obvious ones. But I have also been very proud of when things hail from Norway, especially since Norway is so small – so the possibility of someone making a kind of quirky disco song back in the 70s is so rare, that when you hit on something after hours of digging is just the best feeling. I still remember the day when I came across Frank Aleksandersen’s Circus Diskotek and HuckleberryHound. It wasn’t a 300 kroner record at Råkk & Rålls back then, more like a 10. Actually, I remember the D2 spread about Titanic’s disco hit Sultana. Strangefruit had a top 10 of old Norwegian disco songs and I thought he missed out on some of the best ones. It made me realise how many undiscovered gems must still exist, which led me to make some mixtapes of only old and rare Norwegian music under the alter ego Sure Sivert. Norwegian lyrics only! Volume 3 and 4 is soon finished btw – don’t sleep on it.
Fettburger is on the remix of Speilegg on this last release and he turned it into this very quaint subversive version of the track with little more than a bongo drum in there. What did you expect he would do with that track, and is that level of uncertainty he has in his music specifically the reason you sought Fettburger out for the remix?
Actually it was all Jonas from Ille Bra who got that little shindig together. I was familiar with him and Sotofett of course, but I hadn’t really found the time to properly listen to it. So it was when the remix came that I was let in to his world, and I really enjoyed it. Those bongos have this great Light in a Miracle vibe to it.
Fettburger played at the Skranglejazz event recently and it seems there’s a close connection between that DJ and the musical community that you’re a part of here in Oslo. How did this connection come to exist?
Yes, and what an event that was! I really enjoyed his selection.
I think Skranglejazz has had him on the radar for some time and since it was the release of ‘Til Hanne’ on Ille Bra Records, which also hails from Moss, I reckon it just seemed natural. I’m not too sure about the inside facts on Skranglejazz, I just smooch on their free beer and enjoy the good vibes.
Has being separated from this musical community had any affect on you since your move?
Dude, they hardly recognise me when I am home now. Pretentious pricks!
A big part of this community is centred on the hubbabubbaklubb. How has your time with the group affected your understanding of music?
Being in a group can be very tough – no doubt about that – but when everybody is onboard it’s the best thing, really. Just being friends, jamming and having a goodtime is priceless. Not to mention the input of others and the collective vision. But at one point one just has to be a McCartney and re-record those fucking drums while Ringo is sleeping.
Is there any talk of doing something together again in the near future?
Actually the first release on Snorkel was meant for some new hubba stuff and long overdue remixes, but since Thea Hvistendahl asked me to make music for her video we had to re-think and make an Olefonken release instead, just to squeeze the juice out of her beautiful video.
But yes back to the klubb – it’s gonna be a busy summer is all I can say.
And getting back to your music and Thea, the video and music for Quaaludes was probably a musical highlight for most of us this year. We know a little about how it came together as this orphaned video looking for music, but can you tell us a little more about what you wanted to bring across and emphasise in the video specifically through sound?
Thank you. I mean that movie was already a piece of art before I stuck some music on top of it, but I do like to think I underlined the subject a bit and helped to get the mood right. Which was pretty different from the original song, I guess. I asked Ary, who was hanging around outside my studio, to lie on some vocals. The goosebumps were immediate. She’s such a pro. I remember after the first take I was like, shit I think we got it. Haha! But yeah, I don’t know – I asked Thea a lot what the deal was with the family in the video, and she was being a bit cryptic about it. I just felt they kind of had a shady bit of Bill Cosby about them and that’s why it ended up being called Quaaludes. The lyric ‘give me a glass of milk’ is a bit of a homage to Clockwork Orange, I wanted to try to evoke that feeling when they sit in the milkbar with Walther Carlos playing Bach on a Moog. Such a scene!
I really like that these sexually depraved characters are supposedly just this “normal” family. The music very much plays on this for me, with some very obscure elements coming together into a very digestible execution in the music. Is this what the suppressive Quaalude effect sounds like to you?
Yes, I guess that was what I was getting at. I just got this prescribed drug feeling from watching the mom and dad in the video. Like, ‘We are a happy family, but we cheat and do S&M on the side to stay together.’
The imagery was there before the music. How did the writing process change as a result for you and is it something you’d like to do again perhaps?
I had done something similar before, with the ending of the long version of the Mopedbart film. When I edited that movie I would go back and forth to get the music to sync with the pictures. If the shot was too long, I would shorten it and vice versa with the music. In contrast, Thea’s movie was already done in the editing room, so I spent much longer tweaking it and getting it just right. Moreover, the visuals were already so good that I didn’t want the music to be any less. But of course I would love to do that again.
For most people there would’ve been some pause for reflection before releasing the next thing, but you’ve been incredibly busy, and just a month afterwards you premiered a new track, Cousteau. Where is all this creative inspiration coming from at the moment?
Well, actually I think it’s always been there. It’s just that everytime I get a new computer I always copy the same folder with old demos over, but then I read a story about how Lee Scratch Perry burnt down his studio and started fresh, so I thought, fuck it, I’ll finish some of the best stuff I’ve got lying around, render it to disk and never look at that folder again.
And I imagine your DJing a lot as well as a result. Does the DJ personality ever inform the production side of your work?
Definitely. But it’s pretty rare that I run right into the studio after a gig. I’m more likely to do that in the morning, like if I put on McCartney II with my coffee and listen to the mucking around with synths and snares recorded in a toilet. That’s what I enjoy – the random fun in the studio. And then it somehow often ends up being suitable for the dancefloor.
There’s definitely an eclectic nature in your sets that can be felt in your music. What do you look or when you’re digging for new music lately, and is there anything special you’ve found recently that you’re looking forward to bring to Norway next week?
Ah man, it all depends really. Sometimes I come across something on the internet and I run to the nearest shop. But most of the time I just like to be in record stores discovering stuff. I usually find myself in the rare/library/world/new age category or something like that. I have a soft spot for old stuff that sounds modern. But then I’m suddenly in this house mood and end up with a bunch of new 12”s. The stores in London have such good soundsystems, so you find yourself going: ‘What is this? Give me four copies please!’ Of all the stuff I’ve been finding recently, I can definitely say the house genre will be pretty well-covered in the Skranglejazz mixtape I have coming up. But I can add that when my girl came home with a copy of Al Dobson Jr volumes 2 & 3, and the Disco Mantras from Mood Hut, I haven’t been listening to much else. She knows me far too well!
*olefonken will be playing at Hestival this weekend, with Jæger hosting the official afterparty. Find out more here.
What is it: Avant Garde Techno. Who would play it: Jokke| O/E When are you most likely to hear it: As the first rays of the sun start creeping back over the horizon.
Occupying the space somewhere between ambience and Techno, Lucy’s third album Self – Mythology draws a new line in the sand for club music. For the Stroboscopic Artefacts label head, who’s rarely content in remaining musically stagnant, Self-Mythology shows the tireless innovator take us one step beyond the club dance floor to a higher state of conscious. Trading in the pounding industrialised percussion of Techno for the subtleties of a hollow drum, Lucy has taken Techno out of the club and into the jungle. At the heart of this Lucy album, like every other piece of Lucy’s work, is a focus on sound design with the producer venturing further into the manipulations of exotic instruments, where they get all that much closer to the rapturous improvised sounds of a modular synthetic palette.
In this album Lucy’s created some kind of hybrid world where city landscapes are transformed into new environments for spiritual transcension where the erstwhile exoticism of music from foreign regions go hand in hand with the driving pulse of the city. A track like “a selfless act” with its plucked midnight strings or “a circular membrane” with its ritualistic dancing percussion occupy the same space as a track like “meetings with remarkable entities” with it’s synthetic sonic atmosphere that morphs and mutates under the strain of human influence. It all results in an album as an intricate listening experience that refuses to be labelled as anything other than a Lucy album, and hints at an artist whose constantly evolving against popular, trend-informed waves of music to toe his own line. You can read a more in-depth review of the album here from me and watch a recent RA Session from the artist above.
Shortly before announcing our Burn Residency featuring the legendary Josh Wink in the line-up, the DJ and producer broadcasted his latest edition of his recorded mix series, profound sounds. This second edition of profound sounds comes via a live set at Industria in Porto, Portugal, one of Mr. Wink’s “favourite countries to play and visit in the world.” Josh Wink ventures through various perspectives of House and Techno coming together under Josh Wink’s extensive experience and the palpable feel of the event. yYu can listen back to this set now.
What is it: Nu disco travelling back through time to nineties rave . Who would play it: Øyvind Morken | Karima | Magnus International When are you most likely to hear it: Anytime of the day.
Finding inspiration in the early nineties Techno of Aphex Twin and Claude Young, Magnus Interntaional’s debut LP features the kind of densely orchestrated synthetic textures of an early Carl Cox set, transported to the present through the effervescent Disco sound of Oslo and Full Pupp. Never a dull moment on the 11-track effort Echo to Echo brings together spacey synths, ratchety beats and popular forms in an album that can go from listening music to dance floor jams in the skip of a beat.
The gentle viking giant Magnus International is no stranger to the world of Disco where all these elements converge, and on this album, which was two years in the making, he shows the adept hand in the studio, that previously brought us tracks like “Das Magnus” and “Undulat”. He’s been touring the album vigorously of late with a special live performance and he is most certainly going to return to Jæger with Echo to Echo some time soon, while new music and remixes also can also be expected from the artist any time soon. You can read more about the album and Magnus’ influences, including wrestling and Arthur Russell in our interview with the artist earlier this year here.
Hestival 2016 combines horse racing and electronic music, to bring you one of the most unique experiences in your festival calendar this year. The brainchild of Christian Blomberg, Hestival launches in 2016 as something of a childhood passion for the Norwegian equine- and music enthusiast. “When I was younger, my father took me to the horse races in Oslo”, he tells me in an email about what started it all. “I was fascinated by the speed of these massive animals, but nothing about the rest of the setting appealed to me. It felt pretty posh and I wasn’t old enough to gamble nor drink. I forgot about horse racing for a while until I re-discovered it when I moved to Melbourne, Australia in 2009. The Melbourne Cup is the ‘race that stops a nation’: also called spring carnival; it brings together people of all ages for a month of celebrations, horse races and day partying. My friends and I sought out those events and it was a blast. A day long party, filled with gambling, booze and – of course – horses. I remember thinking that it was strange that we didn’t have anything like this in Scandinavia. While there are party days at the race tracks in Oslo, only families and old people would go to those. Going to the races’ feels like something distant and posh (think about Ascott in the UK) and people in their 20s and 30s would not attend.”
Enter Blomberg, with his experience of Melbourne and his youth at the races. “Thinking back to those awesome days at the Melbourne Cup, I remembered two things that I did not like: the food was awful and there was no music. Fixing those two things would make it the perfect day.” And today we have Hestival as a result, featuring an event featuring gambling, racing, booze, and for the first time ever music. Blomberg didn’t cut any corners on either front, and has drafted some of Oslo’s most revered musical talents for the event including Olefunken and local legend Lindstrøm. Jæger will be hosting the official after party on Saturday, the 18th to conclude the event with Det Gode Selskab’s Solaris and Tod Louie taking care of our musical programming for the event. This one is not to be missed.
* Go to www.hestival.com for more details and to get your tickets. Tickets are selling out fast.
This week saw Fredfades put out a recorded mix that captured the feeling of summer perfectly as the sun made its first considerable appearance in Oslo. Fredfades’ down-tempo beats and evocative melodic silhouettes drip with the sultry feeling of a summer’s day and you can’t help but get caught up in a feeling when you listen to it. It came to us on the very same week Mutual Intentions take over our stage for three special sets during Musikkfest this Saturday, so we thought we’d get in touch with Fredfades from Mutual Intentions and Touchdown to ask him about these upcoming sets, that mix and more.
You just put out a mix to celebrate the beginning of summer. Tell us a bit about what inspired the mix, besides the change of weather?
Don’t know really, I do mixes all the time. I like to stick to a subject when doing mixes, which is the opposite when I DJ, cause then I’ll usually just bring a mixed bag and go bananas. I like to make mixes that sound specific so if I wanna listen to jazz I put on one of my jazz mixes, and if I’m going out to DJ soul/disco/boogie , I’ll listen to the Touchdown Sound mix first. This time I wanted to put out some soul sounds. Nothing too dancy, more like headphone music.
It‘s made up of music from your seven-inch collection. What is it about that format that appeals to you?
All my favourite shit is private press releases made by artists who did like one or two 7” records. Amateur modern soul & boogie sounds. Lo-fi bedroom recordings. I never cared too much about the sound of professional soul records really, as most times it doesn’t hit me at all. Back in the day you had no label, no money, no Soundcloud, no iTunes, no nothing. You had to make incredible 7” singles and ship them out to the American radio stations if you wanted to make it out of your little state or town. People would literally do free warm ups for bigger soul act and throw their 7” singles into the crowd as giveaway’s, crossing their fingers, hoping to be discovered by people and radio DJ’s. 7” had fewer expenses for the producers/artists: less production costs, no cover, lower shipping costs. Unfortunately the authentic spirit of these soul/disco/boogie gems was overlooked by the record industry when they were released as they didn’t sound as professional and huge as the big soul sounds from Detroit or Philly or whatever.
It’s the type of music that would not be unfamiliar in a Mutual Intentions showcase. Can you tell us more about the ideas behind Mutual Intentions and how it came together?
It’s just a bunch of friends, we’ve been hanging out forever and we’re into the same type of stuff so we put our heads together and tried to make our little Norwegian special force unit so we could reach out internationally and get in touch with new listeners and musicians. We felt like we were already in touch and had control of our Norwegian market and did what we had to do to reach out internationally and it worked out perfectly. We do music, and all the stuff that should come with it, such as artwork, videos, clothing and photography. Our first project was bought by people over at the Boiler Room & Stones Throw family and it made sure we got some nice international connections which we’re really thankful for. We’ve had more international gigs, Ivan did a European tour recently, Charlotte is doing shows in NYC, I’m doing a beat set & DJ set in Moscow next week, we’re doing music online with some of our favourite musicians and we do get to release our music through bigger international labels. Charlotte Dos Santos has gained a lot of international attention as a singer lately and will be releasing a video + song I produced for her through Stones Throw Records pretty soon, and she is currently working on her debut project which I’m sure will be very popular when it drops.
There’s something of social implication with the name Mutual Intentions that you also mention there. Where for you, does the balance lie in playing / making music, and bringing people together?
Yes, it’s very humble and including, just like us. That was the original idea. We just want to team up with like-minded people and have great fun.
You were recently on Boiler Room. How did you find the experience and do you find anything particularly different with the feel of the night when it’s being documented like that?
Boiler Room was fun for all of us, and we did a 21:00 – 03:00 long set, with Sofie from Boiler Room doing the warm-up sets at the beginning. A lot of stuff could have gone wrong, but we made it through the night with some minor fuck ups that we believe most people didn’t even notice. It’s fun to watch later on, but there’s something with the camera angles of our set that I don’t like. When captured from above it looks really slow and laid-back, which it actually was not.
So is there any ambition to do it again?
We’ll see : )
I’d also like to ask you about Jazz Cats. It’s you and Kristoffer Eikrem on that record. How did you meet and start making music together?
We met at a party through mutual friends in 2012 I think. I just told him that I had a lot of grooves (drums, chords, bass lines) laying around that sounded jazzy (fender rhodes type of stuff) that needed leads, hooks, and proper arrangement. He was ready to go and we just made a bunch of stuff. We actually did a whole lot more, but I decided to scrap a lot of the songs as they sounded a little too experimental/progressive and did not fit the majority of the sound too much. I started out making an instrumental project, but ended up making a “jazzy” instrumental project.
What were your individual rolls in the making of this album?
I laid down all the groove work/foundations for the tracks, and Kristoffer Eikrem did overdubs, and I edited, re-arranged some of his playing, plus mixed it and added additional musicians. A couple of the songs on the record is without trumpet, but features additional pianists, sax players, vocalists etc. It’s not a straight beat + trumpet album. It’s a jazzy instrumental project, featuring a bunch of instrumentalists such as Dr. Kay, Mette Henriette, Trevor DeAndre Grover, Bendik Hovik Kjeldsberg, Tarjei Kierland Lienig, Vincent Velur, Deckdaddy + vocalists.
The Hip-Hop connection can be felt through out your work. What other musical influences play a role in your music?
I don’t listen to a lot of hiphop records anymore. I like some of it though, and I am very thankful for getting to work with a lot of my favourite artists. There’s a lot of great young rappers coming up that I’ve discovered through the Internet which are so much better than all these “old legendary dudes”. This goes for beat makers as well. Suddenly hiphop stopped inspiring me as I felt that the small parts of the genre I still liked does not evolve as fast as it used to. I get a lot of inspiration from jazz records, as well as electronic records such as house/techno, lo-fi modern soul and boogie records. I look for grooves and sounds that can inspire me to work towards a conceptual direction. It can be everything from a weird drum pattern I want to steal to an obscure combination of electronics and acoustic instrument that will make me feel weird when I hear it.
It sounds like you like you use samples from similar tracks to that mix you just released. What do you look for in the samples in the music?
I’m not really sure what I look for, I just listen to records and a certain piece of the music can inspire me to steal/re-play a certain part, or I can try to completely tear something apart. A lot of my beats I will define as groove music. It’s heavily based around the groove tracks (bass, drums, chords). I enjoy creating a groove that feels natural out of, for example a set of chords from a two-minute keyboard solo. I will chop out a set of 16-32 chords, pitch them around and play with it, filter it, and sometimes I select certain chords that will change the key of my work to another key than the original work. I don’t study or write notes, and when magic stuff like this happens I feel really complete with my sample works. I like to show people the samples I’ve used for my songs, and see how people never recognise it. “Breathe”, “Fruitful”, “Focus Point”, “All The Way Down” and “Hands” are all songs like this. I won’t even recognise the original sounds myself when I listen to the original records as the pieces of music I stole has been manipulated so heavily.
For the album Fruitful, you worked mostly with Ivan Ave, and on Jazz Cats you worked with Eikrem. What is it about recording with other artists that you enjoy?
I don’t know. People have different approaches to music and we push each other out of each others’ comfort zones into new directions, which makes us do stuff we wouldn’t have done on our own. It can be everything from what songs to scrap, what songs to keep, how to mix stuff, what beats to work with, etc. Some people are easier to work with than others, all depending on musical habits and political views. Right now I’m working on a Norwegian rap record called Tøyen Holding and a dance record (house + boogie cross-over) with Tom Noble, a instrumental project with S.Raw from Mutual Intentions as well as my own solo record. which features a bunch of vocalists I haven’t worked with before.
You’ll be playing with some of these artists and more when you come to Jæger for three performances. The DJ and Live set are pretty obvious, but can you tell us what you plan to do for your beats set?
The beat set will be the greatest part, as we will bring new guests from our circle in Oslo. We’ll bring John Rice (electronic beat maker which we want to release some music from soon) and Ol’ Burger Beats (sample based beat maker who has released a few records internationally lately).
Yogisoul’s debut has just been released by Mutual Intentions, but what’s next from the label and the events after Musikkfest?
No, it’s released by KingUnderground (UK), which also released “Breathe” & “Jazz Cats”. Next stuff from us will be Mutual Intentions Vol. II on vinyl + tape, and we’re also hoping to put out some 7” records and an EP by John Rice in the near future. We need to not over estimate ourselves as a publisher as we do not have enough contacts yet to sell as much records as Jakarta (hey Jannis & Malte) and KingUnderground (hey Dan) which are releasing bigger projects by me, Ivan Ave & Yogisoul. They will sell like 750-1500 copies of a project without distribution, which we could not have done ourselves. In the beginning Mutual Intentions will only focus on limited releases. Events: a bunch of shows during festivals this summer, plus more. Ivan Ave + Mutual Intentions at Øya Festivalen; Ivan Ave daytime concert and Mutual Intentions night time club concert at Moldejazz; Jazz Cats at Oslo Jazz Festival; Ivan Ave at Roskilde, Splash & Kongsberg Jazz as well this summer. Touchdown, featuring a late night Leroy Burgess concert at Ingensteds (PUT THIS SHIT IN YOUR CALENDAR,) during the Øya Festival week. Charlotte will be doing a bunch of fun stuff also, such as the Norwegian festivals with Mutual Intentions and being a part of a Opera in NYC. And the whole crew will be DJ’ing everywhere as usual.
What is it: Droning Techno echoing through the cavernous halls of Berghain. Who would play it: O/E | Jokke When are you most likely to hear it: Opening up the night or marking a shift towards calmer waters.
Ostgut Ton’s favourite son, Kobosil made a fundamental statement on the label and the world of Techno with his debut LP last year, and it is very peculiar that it hadn’t found its way into our collection yet. We Grow You Decline, takes the industrial sonorities of Techno, and displaces them to the darker corners of ambience and the early hours of a club night. The liquid sound-design Kobosil employs here is nothing new to the artist’s palette and although we’ve heard it on the b-side of a EP’s like RK1 it comes together quite concisely for the first time in this album format.
There are moments like “The Living Ritual” that allow for a more energetic interpretation of a German dance floor, but for the most part Kobosil’s debut is far more open for an introspective listening experience. He allows for more atmosphere in his tracks than ever before and the odd functional beat rarely makes an appearance, Kobosil preferring a sinister thin droning aesthetic over everything else for the most part. The atmosphere is hardly ever thick and distant reverbs and sparkling synth modulations keep the whole album grounded in something far more subtle than the industralised Techno of his peers, showing a kind of maturity in his music that far exceeds the young Kobosil’s years. This slots quite nicely next to Juan Atkins, Moritz von Oswald and Transllusion.
The Void operate outside of the boundaries of popular convention, always avoiding of the comfortable, easy thing in favour of the road less travelled. Established as an all-nighter event that went against the grain of everything in Oslo, including the law, it didn’t take them long to become the byword for uncompromising, raw Techno in the city. Revered in hushed tones, their statement on the scene was a short, but impressive one, leaving a hole in the city that no one’s been able to fill ever since. The brainchild of Ole-Espen “O/E” Kristiansen who had found a mutual spirit in Joakim “Jokke” Dahl Houmb, The Void came together as an all-night event right around the time when the world was crying out for something new and exiting and Techno provided the answer. Unintentionally setting the Techno scene in Oslo, The Void offered the marginalised musical populist an escape from the tyranny of Deep House that had saturated everything for some time, internationally.
Ole-Espen and Jokke brought in some of the biggest names in Techno to the city, names like Lucy and Ø [Phase] – artists that have gone onto remarkable acclaim, but at the time were fairly inconspicuous. It all came together with Ole-Espen and Jokke’s impeccable shared tastes and ability to create a rounded clubbing experience. The Void’s existence on the scene might have been short with only 5 parties ever, but their impact can still be felt today, and the good people of Oslo couldn’t be deprived of their existence much longer. The Void makes a return with their 6th event at the Vulkan Arena this weekend, and with Techno’s prominence in Norway at the moment they didn’t have to look further than their backyard to book some of the most impressive names in music today, booking the likes of +plattform, Weideborg II and Pagalve for this event. It precedes the appearance of Jokke and O/E next week at Jæger alongside Kobosil and when I found out that The Void had never recounted their story, I felt it necessary to jump on the case and make my way to Jokke’s so he and Ole-Espen could enlighten us further on The Void.
Why did The Void all-nighters come to an end?
Jokke: A lot of other people started putting all-nighters together, with a really shitty quality, so the police shut down a couple of parties and the fire department…
O/E: They started to focus on all-nighters.
J: We wanted to just chill for a bit. We were really trying to be pro. When we were looking for locations for parties, the first thing we were looking at were how many exits there were, and can people get out if needed. That was the first priority and then came all the concrete and metal and you know… Techno kind of things. We just stopped because some other people trying to arrange parties fucked the scene.
O/E: To use an extreme example, one event built a bar in front of the emergency exit. How stupid can you be? And for my part, The Void was becoming exhausting. Jokke and I actually built the club every time.
J: Every time we changed location, we built a new club.
O/E: We worked every day for a month and by the end of it, we were just like, why can’t this be over now. The last party we did at Helsfyr, some idiot smashed the fire alarm five minutes before we closed, so the fire department came, but we managed to talk ourselves out of it, because they were going to call the police.
J: Yeah, because they were really happy about the fire exits.
O/E: It cost us a lot of money in fines. At that point there was also this student magazine, who asked us the day after if they could ask us some questions about The Void. They sent us the questions and it was just all about drugs and we weren’t interested in talking about these things. They actually wrote an article after all and it was all about drugs and that was tits only focus. People didn’t give a fuck and they didn’t appreciate what we did. I was so tired.
If the law were to change and allow parties who take the necessary precautions like The Void to pursue these events would you go back to doing all-nighters?
O/E: But they wont.
J: And still it will be hard to get a place where you wont disturb the neighbours, because they are building apartments everywhere. For void’s 2,3,4 and 5 we had to insolate the ventilation just to get the sound a little lower. A single mom, who had just had a baby, was complaining when we had the party at Tøyen. I went over and just asked if we could send her to a hotel, because we’re just going to have one last party. She was just happy that we had talked to her.
A bit of a dialogue goes a long way.
O/E: Yeah, that’s important in those parties.
J: You can’t just be punk rock, and do what you want; you have to work with people.
I have to ask, why go through all that effort for a party in the first place?
J: Ole-Espen and I, when we met, we felt like outsiders. Nobody was digging Techno. We tried to get a couple of gigs. We asked some promoters and they asked like what kind of Techno and we showed them some stuff, and they were like…
O/E: Way to hard, woa.
J: they were like this is not going to work in Oslo, you need to move to Berlin. Then we decided; ok nobody wants us to play, so we’ll have to take matters in our own hands. It was actually Ole-Espen’s idea to start The Void.
O/E: I was working with Christian Fish and he had these parties called Primal Behaviour. That was my introduction to the all-nighter scene in Oslo.
J: mine too.
O/E: Christian and I did like four parties together but it didn’t work out because we had different visions. I learnt a lot from him, he’s a great guy, and I have a lot of respect for him, for what he did for the scene. At that point I had this idea for The Void and pounding die-hard Techno. I had asked Christian Fish, but the he was like no. He was almost there but not in to the Tresor, Berghain type of thing I was into at that point in 2010/11. I went to Fisk & Vilt, and I didn’t know Jokke at that point.
J: It was one of my first gigs ever.
O/E: And he was playing the stuff I had just started to buy. Then a week later I went to his studio, and said: “hey do you want to start a Techno party.”
So basically you saw a need that you just had to satisfy?
J: And we also we realised we completed each other, because Ole-Espen was good at sound at lights and I was a carpenter and together we could make things happen without to rely on any other people.
2010 was still pretty much dominated by Deep-House as far as I can remember.
J: Yeah, Nobody played Techno.
O/E: We actually had Lucy in a place that could take 150 people. That was pretty wild. It was so packed.
Right from the beginning then there were people in Oslo in the same frame of mind as you.
O/E: They’ve always been there, but there were never any opportunities to experience this in Oslo before.
Ole-Espen, I know you like a lot of the EBM and synth-wave stuff from the early eighties. How and when did you come across that music at first?
O/E: Ah, in 2004 I was sixteen. But I was always into electronic music and always, the harder stuff. A few months ago I found this Sven Väth CD at my parents’ house. It was a compilation disc he did in 2000 or something, which I bought at some point. I remember I didn’t like it, and I checked it now, and it’s got Terence Fixmer on it – the stuff I play all the time now. And I’ve always been into the more, some people call it cheesy, eighties synth pop stuff too.
So everything kind of connects early on. Nitzer Ebb, DAF and Front 242, I liked that stuff for a long-long time and when I was at Berghain in Berlin, and suddenly I heard that stuff, I was like wow, this just feels right.
It’s funny that you mention “cheesy” synth-pop, because if you go back far enough, you end up at Human League and Depeche Mode, and if you listen to their earlier stuff that was like prototype Techno.
O/E: Europe started really early with electronic music, and then it went to the US and they developed it further.
Jokke, was this something that similarly spoke to you when you caught the Techno bug.
J: No I picked this up later, Ole Espen introduced me to the good stuff. He showed me the Apoptygma Berzerk stuff when we first met.
O/E: I was like: you need to listen to this! (Laughs)
J: Yeah it took me almost a year while we lived together. He tried to show me as often as he could, and after a while, an understanding of industrial and EBM came along with our friendship.
O/E: You love it now. He sends me stuff all the time I hadn’t even heard of.
What sort of stuff were you into then at that first gig in Fisk & Vilt?
J: Mark Broom, the Klockworks stuff. I remember I actually played with a mask. I didn’t want to call myself a DJ at the time, because I didn’t want to be influenced by the scene here. Even now I struggle to call myself a DJ, because I’m just collecting music and mixing.
O/E: And it’s the same for me, it is just pushing stuff that I think is important.
J: Never try to please anybody if it doesn’t reflect your taste of music.
You guys always seemed more like facilitators to me.
O/E: It’s really important. For me the appeal is in the technical aspects of it and of course the vibe.
J: There’s a lot of sound design in Techno
O/E: Not only that, but the technical thing, do what you can with what you have.
J: And also the BPM. Stuff under 130 isn’t Techno.
O/E: I can play slower. He’s getting more and more BPM horny. (Laughs) For me it’s always been about the technical part.
What do you actually look for in the technical aspects?
O/E: A groove, is the first thing. Lately I have been into more melodies. In the beginning I loved all the tools more. Now I’m more interested in actual songs.
J: We’re both a bit tired of Techno tools; we’re missing arrangements, because tools are so easy to DJ. I’m missing actual tracks, where something is actually happening in the music.
O/E: …when you almost have a verse-bridge-chorus. I’ve always been into that kind of music. It takes me five seconds when I’m browsing for new music.
Which tracks or artists are particularly speaking to you these days?
O/E: I’m really into Shlømo and Antigone as well, but Shlømo.
J: And Boston 168
O/E: Yeah, amazing acid stuff. For me it’s really been Shlømo. And of course the +plattform stuff. I was also into super cheesy Ferry Corsten Trance as a teenager for a while, and I’m not afraid to say it. The fun thing is that Techno has started to have this epic thing on top of these pounding beats. I can really relate to that, and that’s interesting I think.
When you guys started The Void it was all about bringing in international acts over. Why did you mainly focus on bringing these foreign artists in the beginning?
J: Because we felt like outsiders. There wasn’t actually a tree to pick DJs from. Nobody here actually played what we liked at that time.
O/E: At that point nobody, I knew, played that kind of music. I was at Tresor and Berghain right before, and I had never heard this stuff before. The Ostgut Ton label was into this strange vibe then for like two years, and then they changed. Remember the first Marcel Dettman album? Maybe in my mind it connected to the EBM industrial stuff I was doing at the time. Then I started to dig, and no one did it, so what to do? We need to bring people in that knew how to do it.
J: Of course we had Roland Lifjell; he played at the second party. He was on the list from the beginning.
It became very successful quite quickly.
O/E: The funny thing is that when this was a success everybody wanted to be a part of it suddenly, after the first party. Everybody hated it before, now it was suddenly cool. Natt & Dag suddenly wrote about it every time.
J: They nominated us for best club and stuff.
O/E: Yeah, that was the worst thing we ever did.
J: We just felt a little appreciated. We got a lot of attention we never wanted.
O/E: We were actually stoked that we built something that no one believed in, so we just said yes to everything.
But today you’ve got only Norwegian acts in your next line-up. Norway today is a different place for Techno than what it was back then I Imagine, possibly just part of the international hype.
O/E: It’s an international thing for sure and we jumped on it at the right time, without knowing it.
Where do you see it going next, especially since your taking the legal route for this next event?
O/E: We’ll see. I’m kind of nervous about it. Because there’s a lot of cash as well, because we’re focussing on video and light stuff.
J: And running extra PA building feedback solutions for turntables. (Laughs)
O/E: For me personally, I’m also focussing more on producing and working with sound. If this works out, we’ll do more parties. But I don’t know we’re just gonna do what we do.
It’s highly unlikely you haven’t heard about Prima Norsk 4 by now. The mix series, which is back after a long hiatus, returns with a new format, a new ideology and an exciting new list of artists joining the impressive discography. After a very successful crowd funding campaign, the next edition in this fundamental Norwegian tradition finally sees the light of day this week, with the official Oslo launch of the compilation taking place at Jæger this Saturday during Nightflight. With that, the guys behind the release, i.e Beatservice, have given us the rare treat of sharing some of the music on this next edition of Prima Norsk in this sampler, available to stream right here. You can read more about Prima Norsk and some of the new ideas behind the new edition in an article at Jæger.
*It’s also been announced today that Syntax Erik will replace B.G Barregaard who is unable to attend the event.
Visions of our illustrious leader are fleeting, rare occasions. He’s either shrouded in a pink/blue haze in our basement or taking on the form of a blurry apparition in between two states of being as he darts form one meeting to the next in search of that next booking. Some have seen him haunt the booth at Panorama bar recently, while others swear on spotting him alongside Tony Humpries at the decks over the weekend. We can neither confirm nor deny those allegations, but we’ve been given proof of his very existence today when his guest appearance on Pils & Plater arrived in our inbox today. Olanskii stretches his DJ muscle in this rare recorded mix for the Oslo radio station and proves yet again what 20 years of experience in the booth amounts to as he searches for a more soulful encounter with House music. Evocative melodies, contrapuntal rhythms and ethereal sound palette’s are drenched in the warmer tones of s as Olanskii quashes musical taboos going from House to Disco, breaking the line of separation completely between these two genres. The mix is now available to stream and you can download it here.
Christian Tilt numbers as a part of something akin to a community in Norway that is spear-heading the new charge in Techno, one that’s been paved by Thomas Urv’s Ploink label and event series. Something of a trend running concurrently with a renewed interest in Techno internationally, Ploink has been forging a path towards the future of this music in the region with a community born out of isolation but coming together through equal spirits like Thomas Urv and Chritian Tilt. As much as they make up a new wave of Techno artists in the region, they are also its originators, with Ploink and Tilt established back in the late nineties, and conspiring over the course of sixteen years to become a formidable artistic force in the region, one that has paved the way for artists like +plattform and Nordentstam.
The creative output of Christian Tilt’s has worn many faces, from Nu-Disco provocateur to remixer, but it’s under his eponymous alias, Christian Tilt that the artist has made a most formidable mark to date. After two EPs and an appearance on Ploink’s recent 96-16 series of releases celebrating the 16th anniversary of the label, Tilt has managed to install his music within the scene as something that likes to live in the darker margins of the genre, where malicious sound-design, an energetic tempo, and sinister melodies converge on the dance floor. Like his peers, Tilt’s music is a foggy beat-orientated version of Techno, coming to life in the vast industrious space of a Berlin club, before moving onto Norway where icy synths and atmospheres swathe the functional sound in impressive brick wall sonic atmospheres that are unexplainably evocative and visceral at the same time.
It’s this sound that will be coming to Jæger on Friday with Ploink, and before Tilt takes the stage in our basement, we decided to call him up to talk about Ploink, his music, and the live show he’ll be bringing to Jæger.
How did you and Ploink cross paths initially?
It is a long story, but the short version of it is: I’ve been friends with Thomas since the late nineties, doing parties and playing together. I’m struggling to remember, but I think it was 95, when Thomas and I started playing records together.
And your career started as a DJ?
I started playing Heavy Metal in a rock band.
And how did you get into electronic music?
My friend Mico introduced me to electronic music. The first time I went to a Techno party was before Ploink at the Huset in Bergen. I was out drinking, or something (laughs) and ended up at a party and got intrigued.
What was it about that that intrigued you?
It was something totally different than what I was used to. I found it much more interesting than playing in a band. I started off with a couple of record players and collecting records.
When did you make the leap into production?
I started at the end of ’98. I moved to Denmark at the end of ’99 for a year and I bought my first synths and drum machines there.
What were those first tracks like that you made?
Some of them are very similar to what I’m making today. I listened to one I had made early on and it’s very similar to one I just made. (Laughs)
So you’ve had a very consistent creative output.
Yeah, that surprised me a little. Maybe I was trying to make that track again, you know.
I noticed that your music has a darker edge to it.
I like to be landscape where things are a little confused and dark, but I’m also very fond of melodies. To put harmonics into a noisy landscape is quite satisfying.
Do you ever approach a Ploink release differently than anything else?
When I do stuff for Ploink it’s more on the darker side, than Techno. Usually when I play live, I play with a lot of melody. Lately I’ve actually been harder and darker than previously. But I do everything, you know. I make some nu-disco too.
Do you have any anecdotes that you care to remember from your previous experiences at Ploink?
There are so many… I’ve been blessed with doing a lot of interesting warm-up gigs for artists that have been headlining. That’s always fun to do.
And to round things off, what can we expect from your show on Friday?
You can expect a very energetic and dark Techno set.
What is it: Sweet falsetto vocals over lush electronics Who would play it: Olefunken | Herr R When are you most likely to hear it: At the start of the evening, at the first touch of the light dimmer.
From the moment of inception “Spiders” sets the tone for an album with music that speaks to a visceral core within the listener. Gundelach’s self-tilted debut favours a sweet blend of sonorities where his falsetto vocal is given the space to gestate amongst icy electronics and the slow pulsing rhythm of a sweltering day. He finds a pop-informed sound in the more adventurous corners of electronic music and with Joel Ford’s (Ford and Lopatin) experienced hand at the production controls, Kai Gundelach finds a place where they can co-exist like they did for Autre Ne Vuet.
This music, which we know from past interviews exist out of impromptu jam sessions, carry the initial emotive extemporisations all the way through the studio where they are allowed to grow and refine to impart some of that feeling to the listener on the other end in a grandiose gesture. The music plays in a sombre aesthetic, but in Kai’s voice and the upbeat chord progressions of tracks like “Space Echo” we find a glimmer of light, like those first rays warming up the earth on a spring morning. It’s a short LP, but something stays with you long after the dry echoes and delay depart from the Gundelach’s sonic world.
What is it: Techno from an originator. Who would play it: Dj Nuhhh | Øyvind Morken When are you most likely to hear it: When peak time is just around the corner.
When picking through James Stinson’s back catalogue, the most obvious choice for an album of the week would certainly be Drexiya, the project he and Gerlad Donald established way back in the 90’s as the uncomplicated, forward thinking sound of Techno of the era and a generation of inventive creative individuals. A fervent facilitator for the future of Techno, Stinson embodied completely what it was to be Techno through various aliases, which included some seminal moments in the genre like Abstract Thought, Shifted Phases and Underground Resistance. Always dedicated to the futuristic aesthetic of the genre, he never rested on his laurels and continuously pushed the boundaries of electronic music right up to his death in 2002. It was just before his untimely passing that he seemed to have hit an incredible stride in his artistry and in a very creatively fertile year, he set about producing seven albums, under various aliases for various labels, including Rephlex, Tresor and Kombination
Transllusion’s “The opening of the cerebral gate” was one these albums, which were all collectively known as the “seven storms”, and one of the first of the series to make it out into the world. “Transmission of the Life“ opens the LP and as we listen to it, the beeping synthesiser blends effortlessly into our modern world, with our social-media enabled telephone conversations and our talking fridges. Stinson had some eerie gift for predicting the future of music, and Transllusion is particularly evocative of present-day Techno, being partial to heavy atmospheres and dominating kicks, without losing touch of the esoteric melodic appeal of Stinson’s brand of Techno. The music on the LP bounds with melody, counterpointing the functionality of the rhythm sections with Stinson’s dark hew enveloping all as it’s always done. It is an album nonetheless and the tempo paces itself; the harmonies sections loiter; and the atmosphere is dense with melancholy.
This was not the high-octane disenfranchised youthful version of Stinson we got to know through Drexiya, but rather a more contemplative, reserved elder, and while, yes there might be a track like “Negative Flash” to get the pulse racing, a track like “Dimensional Glide” exists in the same universe, and hints at a calmer, restrained personality with legato keys and the slow meandering pulse of a House track. It would have been been interesting to see this personality unfold later through his career, but alas it was not to be. We will never know which direction Stinson would eventually be heading towards, but at least we still have the Seven Storms thundering away through recorded history, and thanks to Tresor reissuing Transllusion’s “The opening of the cerebral gate” we have our album of the week.
Karima gave those rascals at Skranglejazz a taste of Retroin a mix that harnesses the raw energy of uncompromising House. The “99% vinyl mix” is Karima at her finest, doing what she does best with a couple of decks, an incomparable musical knowledge and a bag full of attitude.
What is it: Avant garde electronica from Norway. Who would play it: Celius | Oskar Pask | Herr R When are you most likely to hear it: To ease you into the start of an evening.
As part of our refurbishments, we’ve done away with the impersonal iPod going through generic playlists, and made more than enough room for a record player. We’re getting back to the intimacy of listening to music, through the very personal act of putting a needle on the record. But we’re not merely content with the records we have and want our record collection to evolve and grow with us and the music, and to do that we’ll be introducing an album of the week to add to our collection.
To inaugurate the series we have André Bratten with his seminal sophomore LP, Gode. If Aphex Twin were to find himself in the tundra Gode is the record that would rock him into that blissful eternal sleep. Hiding behind the innocent title is an album of formidable force that can go from the beatific siren song of “Cascade of Events” to the ferocious determination of “Math Ilium ion” all finding their place in the meta narrative of the album and marking André Bratten’s next development as an artist.
Griffin James is still getting used to the fact that he’s a newly wed. When I call him up in his home in London, his spouse had just left on an errant. “My girlfriend has just left to for the grocery store“ he says before correcting his error through the smile I can hear from the other end of the line: “sorry I meant my wife; I’m still getting used to that.” Griffin James’ Australian accent is unmistakeable, bounding with the friendly approachable demeanour only an Antipodean could deliver. At the same time however Griffin is a also a Londoner, enjoying the vantage point the city offers him to pursue his career as Francis Inferno Orchestra, the reason I called him up.
The name has been a staple in electronic music with a dancing persuasions since 2010, when a debut 12” hit the shelves with an edit house/disco sound occupying the space somewhere between MCDE and Arthur Russell. Since then Francis Inferno Orchestra has gone on to release countless EPs’ and 12” and an album, “A New way Of Living” on labels like Let’s play House and the label he runs with Fantastic Man, Superconscious. The studio work however is only the tip of the iceberg and behind it all lies a deep-seated enthusiasm for music, in any way shape or form – one that distils right down to his dusty fingers. James is a fervent digger of music and his horizons are broad, something that we learn has been carried through to adulthood from his youth and his parents. It’s something you could hear in his productions, when you really concentrate, but something that’s incredibly hard to ignore in his DJ sets.
We take up the conversation with the artist as he prepares for the interview, plugging in his hands free set and getting comfortable in his own home…
Are you plugged in and ready to go?
I’m plugged in mate.
How long have you been London?
It’s coming up to three years.
You started making music in Melbourne though, right?
I’ve been making music since I was a teenager, like really badly. I started with the whole hip-hop thing and I got more into dance music when I was 17/18. The first release I did when I was 19 and I was still in Melbourne?
I know you are quite a prolific digger, but what came first, the production side of it or the collector side of it?
I’ve always been collecting music, because we’ve always had a huge record collection at home, so it was drummed into me from a young age to hunt music down. My parents would make my brother and I just watch music-video channels non-stop on a Saturday as spending some quality family time together. We always had a lot of music at home.
Was there anything that specifically stuck out for you at a young age?
Before I was a teenager, it was everything my parents liked – so everything from David Bowie to Madness or punk stuff, like The Sex Pistols. And then I went through the rebellious teenager phase; just hating everything my parents would listen to. Now it’s come full circle again, so I’m listening to music and my mom’s like; “o yeah, I like that stuff.” Skateboarding also played a big role for me as a teenager because skate-videos always seemed to have very well thought-out soundtracks, and introduced me to a lot of different styles of music.
When did the name Francis Inferno Orchestra appear?
It’s funny because it’s really not an interesting story. I get asked this a fair bit, and I wish I had an interesting story, but basically at the time I was sampling a lot of disco music. I guess a lot of bands would have long names like KC and the Sunshine band and I was like, “I want a big name”. And then my friend just thought up the name off the cuff, and I’ve used it ever since.
You should make up another story about it then, like most of those bands did?
I have tried to think of something, something to do with mythology – like “someone Francis III with Nero burning down the coliseums.” (Laughs) I’ve never come up with something that’s quick and good, so I’ve just got my old boring story.
We’ve mentioned your start in making music, but I’ve always thought of the name Francis Inferno Orchestra more as a DJ. Do you side of you that that trumps the other?
I go through waves. I always collect music, but was never that serious about it – it was just something I did for fun. I got really into production first, and I took that really seriously for a while. It’s only been since I was nineteen that I really got into digging. Sometimes I feel like I take my production a little more seriously, and then sometimes I’ll take digging a little more seriously. I’ll go through waves where I’ll think; maybe I should write my next record now. And then I’ll finish that and I’ll be; “ok I don’t really need to make music for a while so I’m just gonna concentrate on finding new records – expanding my musical horizons.
What do you specifically look for, when you are looking for new records.
I guess it’s weird, because getting booked so much to do the headline is making me subconsciously buy more party music, but I also make a conscious effort to buy a lot of ambient stuff from innovative communications or afro, or Japanese stuff. At the moment I’m really into getting 7 inches and 45s because I find that they’re cheaper and way more fun play. The song is usually a summed up version of 12”. There’s no fucking around on it – you’ve got 3 minutes and it’s fun because it’s really quick.
And it adds to that eclecticism in your sets.
Yeah. I kind of get bored really quickly. Someone else could DJ House music for an hour straight, whereas I just want to change it up. It’s a little bit of fucking with the crowd, but it’s also me trying to challenge myself – If I could make this gay disco song go into this weird, mind-bending acid track and sound really good together, I feel really good about it. It’s me entertaining myself. Most of the time it’s just me challenging myself to see what can go together.
Do you prepare your sets that way?
I never plan anything out. Whatever I pack for a gig, it’s always in terms of what vibe I want to go for. If I know it’s gonna be a crazy party I’ll just pack all my high-energy records – high-energy in terms of high-energy Techno, or high-energy Caribbean music, or high-energy Disco – and just make them work together on the spot for a bit of fun.
Does that eclecticism seep into your production at all?
It’s funny because my agent has this thing with me where he says: “you write one style and you play completely differently, and you need to start making music that makes sense in your sets.” But I don’t know. When it comes to production I’d be listening to a really dreamy atmospheric album and think to myself, “Ah I really want to write that.” And then I’ll try to write all these songs, but I’ll never play them. There was a long time where I didn’t play any of the songs that I made, and it was only in the last year or two that I started playing my own songs out.
Really, because I can definitely hear a song like Rap Beef working in your sets.
I think I’m gonna make a longer version of that. That and “The More You Like”, I want to make longer versions of so people could play it more. For the album, I was going for making 3-minute songs, album songs.
Wow, a couple of longer versions would sound great.
Yeah, maybe just a little off the cuff white label.
Besides that are you working on any new music?
I’m writing what will be my next record at the moment. It’s kind of weird, there’s some jungle in there. And I’ve been working on my label that I run with Fantastic Man a lot. He’s got the next release coming out which is really cool, and then we also did a release on our label by a guy called Luis CL. He’s done a follow-up EP that’s really good. And I’m also trying to write that atmospheric ambient album, which is coming together really slowly.
I find there’s quite a lot of ambient stuff coming out recently and in the near future. Is there something to that do you think?
There’s definitely a thing there. There’s that label I mentioned, innovative communications that’s also a bit like library music as well; two-minute songs that are just dudes sitting jamming out on pads, with little sound effects. I’ve been doing a bit of that as well. On my last EP, the first song, Kalamari Desert is library record inspired.
You’ve mentioned Superconscious earlier. How is it going with the label?
The good the thing about it is that it’s cemented itself already. It’s always daunting because you hope it goes the direction you want it to go. I hope people are into it. We’ve had five releases, as Superconscious and we’ve done little edits as Suco, which have all done really well. We had a bit of a slow start, but it’s fun. I don’t have a job, I just do music fulltime so it’s nice to be able to get around the artwork and things, because I used to do art when I was younger, but didn’t have a reason to do it anymore as I got older. Now, Mic and me are really getting into the artwork and having a lot of fun with it. Making a product is really nice and we’re bouncing off each other really well. I’ll send him some crappy Photoshop art and he’ll make it look professional. He’s more grounded and I’m more loose, and when I hear a song I was want to release it, and he’ll just sit on it for a week, and then I’ll be “yeah you’re right, actually it’s not that good.” It’s a nice professional relationship.
Talking about professional relationships, you’ll be playing back to back with Øyvind when you get here.
I’m really excited about that because Øyvind is such a dude. I met him when I played last with Leon Vynehall, and we just got chatting after the gig. And then he came to London and we hung out. I’m really excited, because I love the music he makes and he’s a pretty solid DJ as well.
Do you approach your set any differently since you are doing a back to back?
If I didn’t know Øyvind, I’d be a bit more hesitant, but I know what his vibe is. He’s gonna teach me some stuff and maybe I’ll teach him some stuff. He’s got a lot of knowledge and he knows his shit, so he’ll be fun to play back to back with.
And are there any new records you’re looking forward to bringing to Jæger with you?
I got the new, Hunee remixes. I played the Mick Wills one and it’s pretty wild and pretty dark. I don’t know if I’ll be able to play it at Jæger…maybe.
Raised in the dystopian Techno environment that was the city of Detroit’s most significant contribution to the world of music, Luke Hess carries with him a tradition of music that stretches back to the origins of the genre. Alongside the musical history of the city, is a penchant towards a side of music that seems an entire world away from the soundscape of the motor city. Dub, a style of music that has it’s roots in the warm Caribbean, extenuating the resigned pace of island living should have no place in the technologically-inspired, sci-fi referencing music we’ve come to know as Techno. And yet it is there, informing some of the progressive nature of Hess’ music – something the artist sees as a definite part of his musical temperament, but one that doesn’t define him, as he explains in an interview with RA. “I’m not sure why I was labelled a dub techno producer. I think it helps people sleep well at night when they can push an artist into a certain genre and leave them there. Sure, it has elements of ‘dub’, but it’s mainly based on my influences from artists in Detroit, not from dub Techno.” Luke Hess and his distinctive brand of Techno is familiar for its inclination to loiter in the repetitive and restrained aspects of this loop-based music, often meandering around progressive elements that need time and patience to gestate within the listener. If you give Luke Hess the opportunity, his music opens up to a synthetic landscape that assimilates the history of Techno in Detroit in a language that determines its future.
“Detroit always contributes to my productions in some way. I’m in and around the city almost every day. The city’s hardships as well as its positive aspects are affecting everyone here in some way, whether its work related, or life related. The people of this city are affected in many ways by what is left of the city and what is slowly growing out of its rough past, whether it’s our ability to commute from one area to another, where we have the freedom to eat and live, it effects how we choose to express our creative ideas, and where and how we choose to spend our time.” But like most of Detroit’s legacy in Techno, Luke’s history doesn’t originate spontaneously with the music, but like so much of his peers, has its roots in the synthesiser music of European acts like Depeche Mode. Originally the influence of his parents this music would have a profound effect on Luke Hess – like it did Jeff Mills and the Belleville Three before him – and when the teenager was old enough to start attending the warehouse parties in- and around Detroit, it filtered into an individual taste in music, inspired by the scene around him. “There were so many great DJ’s in Detroit in the mid‐90’s” Luke tells Richard Fearless in an interview for the Ransom Note. “I think I was very spoiled. Heckle & Jeckle, Robert Hood, Jeff Mills, Daniel Bell, Rolando, Richie Hawin etc….
However, I think one of the longest and most technical sets I’ve ever seen was Richie Hawtin Decks, FX & 909 show at The Works at a show called 1. I think Rich played for about 10 hours with 2 decks, vinyl, fx and a 909. The front room was a chill out room and there was a large screen that had a camera on the Vestax mixer from the main room Rich was playing in. When it became too packed in the back room, I’d just sit up front and watch the screen and his hands on the mixer. It was a very inspiring night.” It seems to be a seminal moment in the career path of Luke Hess, and one that acts as a catalyst from which a career spawned. “I started collecting records in 1997” says Luke in that same conversation. “Between 1997 and 2005 I DJ’ed vinyl at local events around the city, but I wasn’t part of any crew, so it was difficult to play out often. I started producing music in 2006, mostly with software at that time, taking lessons from my good friend Brian Kage. We were all feeding off technical ideas from each other including Seth Troxler, Ryan Crosson, Lee Curtiss, Brian Kage, Joshua Mathews, Keith Kemp etc. I then bought my first synthesizer at the end of 2006 – the Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 and was given the RE‐201 from some friends who found it cleaning out someone’s basement. With these two pieces of gear I formed a 5-track demo that I sent to some European labels with no response. So, I just continued to make music. In the mean time, I was still shopping for records, sometimes at Melodies and Memories on the East side of Detroit (9 mile and Gratiot). At the time Seth Troxler worked at that record store. He would pull records for me and call me when new 12” arrived. One day we were sitting in the back room listening to records together and I told him about this demo that I made. He told me to bring it into the store and we listened to it. He then asked if he could keep the demo and I agreed. The next day Omar S. called me and asked if he could meet me and put out some of the tracks on the CD. This was Dubout #1 on FXHE records. He said, ‘Don’t give my number to nobody, you don’t know it!’ I figured he meant business. Haha! Since then Alex and I have become great friends and he has been a huge mentor for my music career.”
An EP followed on FXHE boasting the EP1 catalogue number and introduced the world to a sound of Techno that lies further on the progressive spectrum than it ever did before. It’s a sound that also caught the attention of Danish label Echocord, whose own philosophy ran perpendicular to Hess’ inclinations to dubbier and warmer end of dance music and Techno. A few EP’s naturally followed, which eventually culminated in the decisive mark in Hess’ discography, his debut album Light in the Dark. Like the EP’s before it, the music did away with the shackles of obvious common denominators in music, and played in dub moments as much as it played in the sci-fi world of Detroit Techno. There has always been a very surreal spirituality in Luke’s music in which it unwinds rather than unravels easing the listener into some heightened consciousness as it travels through the progression. It’s something that’s been marked in his DJ sets too with the word perfectionist often thrown around in association with Luke in that context. “As a DJ I think it’s important to stand out and tell your own story – not blend in to secure gigs or (please the crowd)”, says Luke in another interview for 160g. “Underground music is the perfect platform to tell a story and open up people’s minds. A DJ performance should take people somewhere unique and push boundaries.” This sentiment can be experienced as a natural extension of his work in the studio, but also what you’d expect from a live show with Luke Hess. He is a perfectionist through and through, and even when we got in touch with him with some questions for an interview, he tried to oblige, but couldn’t let the music suffer as a result. “I’m so sorry” he says in a reply email. “I won’t have time tonight after all do complete the questions. (I’m) prepping music for the show and it’s taking longer than I thought! But better the music be right than the interview”.
It’s this kind of professionalism that’s hard to ignore in Luke’s music, his sets and his live shows. It’s the same reason he graces the presence of labels like FXHE and Echocord, and remained friends with both Kenneth Christiansen and Omar S after the fact. They certainly recognised something in his talent, enough so to keep releasing his music and invite him to their parties. We might not have been afforded the opportunity to interview Luke Hess, but at least we know that the music will be there, at the end, doing all the talking, and all that’s left for us to do is sit back, listen, and enjoy the show.
Inspired by the forthcoming visit of Steve Bug, Det Gode Selskab’s Solaris took to the decks and put together a mix celebrating the music and the sound of the German producer, DJ and his labels. The mix sees Solaris go deep and minimal as he looks to the weekend with music that underpins the aesthetic of the underground veteran through an hour of lush soul searching harmonic progressions at reserved tempos and restrained beats. Expect deep Rhodes progressive chords, minimalist percussion and the odd 303 bass line squiggle in this mix from Solaris, which includes his “all-time favourite track from Bug, Loverboy.” As on ode to Steve Bug, Solaris gives us a glimpse behind the curtain of what’s going to be a very special Sunday night at Jæger this week and invites you on a journey through the music of Steve Bug for this mix.
One Thursday morning, when we were all very much still in la la land, dreaming about subduing the Untzdag hangover we most certainly asked for, Øyvind Morken was still awake. Harnessing the effects of his weekly Wednesday residency at Jæger, he decided to stay at the decks, and record a set for the guys at Skranglejazz. Øyvind Morken flows tirelessly through the set, feeding off syncopated rhythms, eighties drum machines, rubbery basslines and quirky synthesisers, touching on everything from Afro-Beat to Disco and Electro. Morken’s Strokes are always broad, incorporating everything from the artist’s immense tasteful palette. We don’t always get the opportunity to hear an Øyvind Morken set outside of the context of a dance floor, but on the rare occasion we do, like this one, it’s an extra special treat.
Danish label Echocord has become synonymous with a sound of Techno that’s entrenched in the subterranean layers of Dub, slowly churning away at simple repetitive motifs that swell with the restrained feeling of an attentive dance floor. The sound of Echocord is subtle, biding its time, avoiding any fleeting ostentatious impulses for the sake of a rounded apathetic experience. Throughout the label’s discography you’d never encounter the rise of a presumptuous break-down nor the existence of and impetuous build-up. The music takes place in more than just the moment, preferring rather the extended investment from an attentive listener. At the core of the label and its axiom stands Kenneth Christiansen, a DJ, producer, club-promoter and label boss, that personifies everything Echocord is today. His skills behind the decks have taken him everywhere from Sonar to Panorama Bar and his next stop is Jæger where the soon-to-be 15 year old label, will host a very special showcase in our basement. Luke Hess will be joining Christiansen for this event with a live show, with cuts from his album, Light and Dark on Echocord, bound to make an appearance at some point in the night. Christiansen, although also a producer, most notably as part of Pattern Repeat, will take to the booth for this event, bringing the sound of the label to Jæger through new and old material, featuring artists like Mike Dehnert and Mikkel Metal. It was the latter artist that inspired Christiansen to establish Echocord in the first place, and the sound of dub in Techno that set it part from many of the other Techno labels cropping up around 2002. It’s remained an institution in Europe and alongside Christiansen’s club endeavour, Culture Box, it has become a bastion for electronic music in the Danish capital. Echocord’s biography is well known today, but when we got the opportunity to ask its distinguished creator some questions, we sent off the email post-haste.
You started the label with the purpose of releasing music from Mikkel Metal initially. What was it about his sound that encompassed what you wanted from a label?
When I started Echocord I was working in a record shop in Copenhagen receiving many demoes form the local talent. I have always been a big fan of what came out of Berlin in the 90’s, the new dubby minimal sound, from labels like Din, Elektro Musik Department, Basic Channel, Chain Reaction, Scape etc. I wanted to release electronic music that has that deep dubby warm feeling, but still powerful. So when I heard material from Mikkel, and already had the good distribution contact at Kompakt in Cologne, it was the time to start.
There’s has always been a strong dub focus from the label. How has it influenced the label, and what was the connection between this style of Techno and Copenhagen when you started the label?
Yes, it has always been about Dub. Today, after all these years, you can still always here the dubby elements in all the releases, but it can also be more for the dance floor, or go in other directions as well. There was not really any connection with Copenhagen at that time, but we already knew a lot of the producers in Berlin and the Hardwax Crew.
The label is celebrating 15 years this year. How have you experienced it developing from those first releases?
It has all changed a lot over the years. The electronic scene is much, much bigger and there are many many more labels. But for my label (s) I think it got bigger again like 5 years ago – the more dubby kind of music got bigger again. I also started the sublabel Echocord Colour for more Techno orientated stuff, and it got some extra attention overall.
Tell us a bit about culture box, and how it might influence the label and your work as a DJ.
Culture Box is my main job. I run it with Loke Busch, and there’s a nice crew around us. I use most of the time booking the music program – it’s a big job. It hasn’t really influenced the label or my DJing that much.
You’ve never donned the producer cap as a solo artist and your music as part of Pattern Repeat has never branded the Echocord badge. Why is that, and do you find it’s important to retain that distinction between label boss and artist?
Hmm good question. The first release we did actually was released on Echocord Colour, and it includes a Ben Klock Remix. My partner and good friend Dennis aka Resoe and I thought that it would be good to have this platform for our Pattern Repeat stuff, so we started the label also. We will continue releasing on that, but also try other labels, we will do something on Tresor Berlin soon.
You’ll be playing a set at Jæger. How much of the label boss influences your sets and how does that change with an Echocord showcase?
Yes, I’m looking forward to play at Jæger, especially to do an Echocord Show there with my friend Luke Hess from Detroit. We play Concrete in Paris the day after, so its gonna be a great weekend. Of course I always play some Echocord tunes in my sets, and try out new stuff, and when it is a showcase I think it’s very naturally to represent the sound even more.
Yes, you’re bringing Luke Hess along with you. It seems that Echocord is very much a family affair, with the same artists always returning to the label. How did the label’s relationship with Mr Hess take shape?
Yes, well, I have known Luke for many years now. We got in contact long ago, I heard his early stuff on FXHE and I was blown away! He did some remixes, and then he wanted to do an album, and that was a very big thing for me. He also did a lot of releases on Echocord Colour. We have been playing together for many years now, all over Europe and in Detroit and New York. Luke is definitely like a brother to me, he is the most amazing guy. You can say Echocord is a family affair. I really like to invite artists back to release and to play at shows. Of course, we also have new artists releasing music on the label, and already this year Arovane and Tomas Rubeck are in.
What was it about Luke’s music that particularly stood out for you and how did uphold the motto of Echocord do you think?
I really like his warm deep sound, the Detroit elements, there’s so much “music in the music”. It’s perfect for Echocord.
Listening to Light in the Dark in the context of the latest release from Mikkel Metal (Resemblance), you can hear obvious similarities, but yet each artist has his own signature. What makes Luke Hess so unique amongst the other artists on the label?
I really think many of the artists are very unique. Mikkel is really one of a kind, you can always hear when it’s him, and it’s a little bit the same with Luke.
You mentioned earlier that the label today has developed with more focus on the dance floor. How much of that development is influenced by the artists and is it something you witnessed develop in your work as a DJ too?
Well, the sublabel Echocord Colour is very much about the dance floor. But yes the artists usually produce more dance floor minded music, I like that as well, especially when you can have both on an EP or album.
You must have some highlights through the discography of the label. Which of these will you most definitely be including in your set on Friday?
On Friday I think I will focus on the newer stuff, plus the unreleased new stuff coming up. After summer when we do the “15 years with Echocord” tour/shows, I will focus more on the entire catalogue.
You’ve obviously seen Luke Hess’ live show. What can we expect from him?
You can expect a very warm, dubby, sexy, powerfull, erotic trip.
Will he be featuring any future Echocord material in his live set?
See that’s a good question. I hope so. I know he’s finishing his new track for the “15 years with Echocord” compilation and I haven’t heard that track yet. Well, let’s see.
And will you be featuring any new music from the label in your set?
Yes I will play some brand new stuff from Arovane, Tomas Rubeck and Mike Dehnert plus some surprises.
Willie Burns, MC Kaman and I have taken full advantage of the crisp evening air, sitting outside in Jæger’s courtyard. It would still be a few weeks till we see our backyard open, but there’s a definite hint of warming weather in the air, although its still a mighty brisk -4˚C outside. We’re engaging over all manner of topics from the appeal of CDs to the benefits of Internet Yoga. Will is in a speculative mood, watching the crowd ebb and flow in and out of Jæger’s front door with the clock slowly creeping closer to his appointment with our booth. Karima and DJ Nuhhh have set the tone all night, playing the best in their back catalogue of House and Techno, and with Mike Dunn’s Freaky Motherfucker still ringing in our ears from DJ Nuhhh, Will takes to his set going through the annals of electronic music with everything from Disco to Electro to Techno making an appearance in his heavy handed mix. After leaving us gobsmacked with the final track of his set crunching through our Funktion One system upstairs, we had no other alternative but to share it with you. A few emails between the DJ and Jæger followed, with Willie Burns finally agreeing to release his set with a sentence that read…
Marcel Dettmann has been a selfless facilitator of Techno since his teens. When his hometown, the former GDR, a small suburb outside of Berlin, lacked the facilities to buy and sell records, he took it upon himself to distribute his favourite records from the likes of Depeche Mode, The Cure, Front 242 and a wave of post punk industrial cuts that spoke to his tastes him at the time. Even back then, it was obvious he was destined for greater things, something that would combine his love for the records, nightlife, and his ear for music, and that point came when a job for Hardwax and a residency at Ostgut (Berghain’s predecessor) encouraged Dettmann to make the move to Berlin, which in turn sealed his fate. It coincided with a time when Techno, always the musical underdog, saw a newfound interest in the genre facilitated by the likes of DJs like Marcell Dettman and the clubbing institution Berghain.
Following releases on Berghain’s Ostgut Ton label, Dettman would also go on to establish MDR (Marcel Dettmann Records), tirelessly working towards promoting a sound of Techno that would be raw, but not crass, channelled through a German sensibility for the sound as influenced by the Dettmann’s exquisite ear for music and the influences from his youth. Marcel Dettmann is an enabler of Techno, which today takes on many different forms. As a DJ he promotes the genre diligently; as a label boss, he offers an equal platform for new artists working in the genre to make an impression on the scene; and as an artist, he brings a unique voice to the genre through labels like Ostgut Ton, 50 Weapons, and of course MDR. His reputation precedes him today, and any discerning music fan will know the name Marcel Dettmann even if Techno is not their genre of choice. With a musical education that includes not one but two institutions in club music in the form of Berghain and Hardwax, his knowledge is not to be taken lately and when we, at Jæger got the opportunity to ask him some questions before he comes to our basement next week, we jumped at the chance, and here’s what transpired.
You were buying and selling records as a teenager from your hometown, Fürstenwalde long before you made the move to Berlin. How fundamental was that era to your development as a DJ and artist?
First I got to know my friends and label mates Patrick aka Answer Code Request and Norman Nodge. Secondly I was able to build up my record collection, which is still kind of a musical basement for me today. And I started learning much about what happens behind the curtain, things like the vinyl productions process or just all the administrational stuff, which comes along by selling records.
You focussed on a lot of synth-wave and post-industrial punk during those years, I believe. What was it about music from the likes of Depeche Mode and Front 242 that particularly struck a chord with you?
The best way to answer this question is taking a quote from Patrick Codenys, the singer of Front242:
In my opinion, you look for what you have inside. We called our style “electronic body music” because the body is also the brain. It’s not only about groove, swinging and dancing. It’s enjoyable but it’s also mental. Our body is also a great instrument that uses the senses. I think when you work with a machine you create an interface between yourself and the machine. I could symbolize this by a big arrow from the machine to you and you to the machine. You try to understand and manipulate the machine and try to get something out of it. The machine is giving it back to you.
You eventually made the move to Berlin and got a job at Hardwax. What did you pick up while working there and how did it filter into your own development?
Working at Hard Wax was the next logical step back then and it was kind of a lucky coincidence. I was learning a lot, gaining musical bandwidth, learning how to filter music, and above all I got to meet a lot of inspiring artists. I was stepping through all the processes that need to be solved while working in a record store and gained al lot of inside knowledge about the music market.
Another monumental moment was your residency at Ostgut and then Berghain. You’ve said in another interview that Berlin, Berghain and Hardwax basically “created” you. How do you think the club and city influenced you?
These three things, Berlin, Berghain and Hard Wax are the most influential things to my career as a DJ and musician. I grew up in Berlin, personally and musically, so these things made me to what I’m today.
What do you look for in music specifically today when you’re looking for something to play?
The point is: I don’t look for something to play; things open up to me when I hear it. If I like a certain piece of music I always try to work it into one of my sets. Sure, I’m mostly orientated to techno music, but I’m having a hard time dealing with borders, especially in music, so I don’t really care.
How has having your own label had any influence on your career as a DJ and a producer do you think?
When I started the label 11 years ago, it was about releasing music by my friends and me, there was no plan behind it, no business model, it was just about releasing the music we made. In the end it helped focussing on my kind of style, there was no need to arrange with other people’s opinions. I was able to produce and release just the music I liked, no compromises had to be made.
Your set at Jæger is billed as an MDR 4 hour long set. Firstly, I know you prefer an extended set. Why is that?
Long time sets give you the opportunity to unfold yourself much more. I got more time to develop things and emotions, I don’t have to „function“, I can build up my set more intuitive, it becomes more like a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Secondly, how does an MDR showcase set differ from a straightforward Marcel Dettmann set?
Usually an MDR night is a showcase with several acts from the label, but in this case we only have four hours time, so I’m coming all by myself. I’m quite excited how this will work out and what will be special about that night. I’m really looking forward to that.
Some have credited the moisture in the air in Oslo to change of seasons, but we know the real reason everything has started getting a little wetter this week. Sweaty Palms are coming to town and that dampness you’ve been feeling in the air all week is just them making their presence felt before their official Natt & Dag Norwegian launch. Recently they’ve been spotted in the basement bars of Berlin and on the shores of Panama, living it up on a banana boat made of shellac with the sound of uncompromising House and Techno blasting from her bow. Some have accused the DJ duo of being the source of the recent leak of sensitive documents, while others suggest it was all just a ruse to distract the Norwegian authorities from their imminent arrival. All we know is that they are coming to town so we sent out a carrier pigeon to their boat with some topics of discussion, in the hope that we can find out a little more of who they are and what exactly makes their palms perspire.
An introduction to Sweaty Palms
Sweaty Palms would not have existed hadn’t it been for the excellent show Rick & Morty, which is the sole reason for the foundation on which Albrecht and Karima’s friendship is built. Discovering a picture on Instagram of Karima wearing a t-shirt from the show, Albrecht was so amazed and intrigued by Karima’s devotion to what happens to be his favourite TV show show, he couldn’t resist inviting her to play with him at about:blank in Berlin. The invitation from the experienced label boss and DJ auteur left her startled and, as the name implies, with Sweaty Palms. They’d barely exchanged words with each other when they met for the gig, but faith had it that they were a perfect match musically and so they decided to form an union.
Berlin and Oslo
We’re currently living in Dresden, but commuting between Albrechts hometown and Panama City for leisure reasons.
Sweaty palms vs Hairy palms – what’s in a name.
Neither of us have particularly hairy palms, unless you look really closely – then you can see that Albrecht has little stubs of what might be mistaken for hair. It’s actually vinyl residue from playing so many years in various clubs like Robert Johnson, Panorama Bar, TBA, or about:blank.
DJs with the sweatiest palms – Influences and aspiration
Influences: mind-expanding M&M’s, bus ticket’s to heaven and ski slopes.
A guide to drinking with sweaty palms. (Because I imagine it would just slip out of your hand)
Drinking with us can be a bit of a mess. None of us are particularly good at opening the mouth to the extent which is needed to direct liquid from the glass to the esophagus, therefore we spill a lot of drinks both on the floor and ourselves. It’s not a good look, but the more we look in need of help and care from grown ups, the more impressive our DJ-sets seem.
Favourite dance floors from around the world for sweaty paws.
Flooded bathrooms and pongy backstages
Digging for records with sweaty palms.
When not playing records from one of the labels Albrecht manages – Shtum, Uncanny Valley or Rat Life – we always dig in the cheap bins. Our favourite record stores are zippyshare, wetransfer and soulseek.
Playing Jæger with sweaty palms.
We’re gonna give away drinking tickets to the audience, accept all requests and ignoring closing times.
De Fantastiske To’s Monokrom spills onto Jæger’s basement dance floor to the cheer of an enthusiastic audience. Ravi and Marius have saved the best of De Fantastiske To for last, revealing the title track of their forthcoming EP during a live show celebrating the release one Saturday in March. Ost’s instantly recognisable vocal cuts a clear path through the stripped back house production, emasculating the sticky forward bass-line and pounding minimalist percussion. Across the room, ready to cue a track in the booth, stands Flash Atkins (aka Ben Davis), and through the hazy darkness of the dance floor, I see a smile creep across the UK producer, label boss and DJ’s face. The vocal in the track certainly brings a heap load of charm to the functional dance track and I’m reminded of Ben’s words on Monokrom, from earlier that day when he, Ravi, Marius and I sat down on the swings in Jæger’s courtyard to talk about Paperecordings, Norwegian House music and De Fantastiske To: “It’s always good to hear vocals, and the production on Monokrom is a step on from everything else. It’s a slightly different sound. It’s stripped back more, and a little tougher, but the vocal softens things up a bit.” Ben signed the track to Paperecordings, like he did “Folk & Ferie” before it, not a surprise with Monokrom coming to life on the cutting room floor of that previous release. Ravi and Marius first enlisted the help of Ost for Folk & Ferie, but when they just couldn’t get his vocal to work around that track they sculpted a brand new track around the singer’s vocal track instead and Monokrom came to life. “We really wanted to work with Ost”, says Ravi while Marius nods his head quietly in agreement. “The vocals he had done for Folk & Ferie were sublime, so we really wanted to make something out of that. Monokrom was basically the end result of that process.“
After which, Ben donned his Flash Atkins suit and hit the studio with a transcendent remix of the track, focussing the direction of the track to a more percussive destination while upholding the stripped back functional appeal of the original. “I was just trying to lay down some parameters as in: not spending too much time on it, and simplifying things. I like that the synth is played in and not quantised. It’s kind of rough, but then I still get twitchy with the Latin section at the end. It’s always tempting to pile more stuff in, and I was consciously trying to pull things back on this.“ Flash Atkins certainly channelled his super-alter-ego powers into the right direction for this interpretation, and Marius and Ravi couldn’t have been happier about the end result with the latter exclaiming: “The percussion on that, God damn, it just blows me away!” And sandwiched between the original and the remix are two tracks that try to “convey some of that late summer vibe you get in Oslo” says Ravi with Marius adding: “We wanted to do something warm, deep and lush.” Litt Dristig and Sensommer continue on the path set by Monokrom, Ben’s words that the EP is a “step on from everything else”, still ringing true, but on this occasion leaving the big-room house sound behind for something cosier in the second room. Through deep pads and chords, they take the music under ground again, where things are subtler, but remain accessible. It’s what’s at the heart of the appeal of much of Norwegian Dance music, and although when you listen to De Fantastiske To “they are less distinctly Norwegian” than artists like Prins Thomas and Bjørn Torske in Ben’s opinion. There is something there that has been carried through to this next generation and like the generation before it, Paper have been there spreading the gospel of this music like it did back in the nineties when Those Norwegians got Ben and the Manchester-based label hooked on that Norwegian sound for the first time. “They sent us a demo during the early days of paper”, remembers Ben “which was great so we signed them, and from there, the relationship with Norwegian music, has grown.”
Ben always get’s excited when a tape from a new Norwegian artist passes his way and when Marius delivered a tape to him after a chance meeting in Oslo, Ben “actually took the time to listen to it”, appreciates Marius. “When we had our first four tracks ready we were trying to get someone to listen to it and that’s not always easy”, but Ben not only listened to it, he signed them on and a new connection between Norway and Manchester was born with the De Fantastiske To leading the way for the next generation of artists, while carrying the tradition of Norwegian dance music inadvertently through to the present. Ben describes that tradition and the Norwegian sound as “grown up dance music” with “a lot of depth, a lot of soul” and something that’s always fitted neatly on the roster at Paper. It’s a sound and a scene the Mancunian producer / DJ turned filmmaker outlines in a forthcoming documentary Northern Disco Lights, which is “about how the dance scene started in Norway”, explains Ben. “In the far north of Tromsø, you had a bunch of kids, geographically isolated, making music that ultimately spread all over the world and changed the sound of Disco and House music.” The documentary traces a lineage from the origins of Norwegian Dance Music in Tromsø through artists like Bjørn Torske, Per Martinsen (Mental Overdrive) and Biosphere, which ultimately laid the foundation for the likes of Todd Terje, Prins Thomas and Lindstrøm today, and De Fantastiske To beyond them. “There is a lineage that you can follow all the way” believes Ben, with Ravi and Marius representing “the next generation” through the “doors (that) have been opened before them”. Northern Disco Lights essentially tells the story of how that “Norwegian Disco sound got distilled” and how it laid down the blueprint to music that has “an accessibility and a cheekiness” behind it. “There’s something strange and otherworldly, about Norwegian music”, says Ben. “There’s a broad range of influences. In Prins Thomas and Lindstrøm, I hear Dub, Krautrock, Disco and Techno which all goes into this big stirring pot. You’ve got these scenes started by a few individuals and they set the template, and that kind of explains the Norwegian scene to an extent.”
I wonder if De Fantastiske To follow this template or blueprint in their music and get the answer from Ravi. “I don’t think you can really escape that. I haven’t listened to what everybody’s been doing. For instance I got into Bjørn Torske pretty late, but he’s probably influenced a lot of things I was listening to.“ There’s always definitely been something accessible and cheeky to DFT, hiding behind the serious and professional execution of their music and looks to be subconsciously shaped by their environment and their tools. Part of the Norwegian sonic aesthetic I find in their music, is encouraged by their use of atmosphere in their productions. Its not quite spacey, yet there is a palpable sense of space in their music, where minimalist elements fill out the tracks with icy reverbs and glacial delays. Marius doesn’t “know if it’s intentional” but confirms they make “tracks with atmosphere” and Ravi suggests it comes from having “a lot of the same references when it comes to House music” when they work as a duo. Parallel to that is their love of the machines, which has also played a role in their development from 2014 and their first release Smile. With new equipment comes a new evolution for the duo, and both Marius and Ravi can agree the tactile experiences of their machines adds a new depth to the sound of De Fantastiske To today, encouraging me to echo the words of Ben once again, when he suggests that Monokrom is a step on for the duo. I learn from Ravi, that the rig they brought to Jæger that night is by all accounts the rig from the studio, and it’s in this live context that De Fantastiske To really shine, bridging the gap between them and their audience by trying to convey some of the fun they’re having in their creative process to their audience. “If the audience is having half as much fun as me, that’s still a success” to Ravi. Marius is a bit more tentative when it comes to performing live, with the experience an entirely new one from his sixteen years behind the decks. It’s a new challenge for Marius, and it puts the “studio in a nightclub setting” which means Marius and Ravi have to solely rely on their own music to get people to dance and can’t just switch out a record at the drop of a hat.
Standing on the sidelines watching the live show later that evening, I can confirm they’ve set out what they’ve intended and the people cheering along to Monokrom, I assume are in agreement. As if I needed further confirmation, I see Ben with that huge grin on his face, his years of experience picking up some of the best in underground Norwegian music once again hitting the ball out of the park with this latest release. Today, Paperecordings have hit a new stride in promoting Norwegian Dance Music abroad with releases scheduled for Diskobeistet, including a remix by Vinny Villbass and an album by Ravi’s Rave-Enka moniker. Paperecordings are also celebrating their 200th release too this year with a Flash Atkins / Crazy P 12”, keeping De Fatnastiske To in good company in Manchester while in Norway they’ve got releases scheduled on Beatservice’s Prima Norsk series, Bogota records and a new EP on ISM records out soon.
2016 marks an exciting time for Norwegian dance music and the Monokrom release party almost stands as a catalyst to it all, it seems. With Flash Atkins and Ben making the trip for this special event there certainly is some new palpable electricity in the air around club music in Norway. For the moment it’s not something as concentrated as the Tromsø scene in the nineties or Disco through Full Pupp, but there’s definitely something there and in De Fantastike To and Paperecordings we are clearly looking towards the future and beyond the horizon.
There’s an omnipresent force that’s been pulsing through Norwegian electronica since the nineties. It’s a passive force with very few obvious signs pointing in its direction, but it is there nonetheless. It’s in everything from the latest André Bratten record to the next Ploink release, and although I’ve been struggling to put a finger on what exactly it is about Norwegian electronica that ties it altogether, there’s a man that’s been at the centre of it for best part of twenty years that might be able to help. That man is Bjørn Torske, and he’s had a fair stake in this omnipresent force since the late nineties as both a DJ and a producer.
Bjørn Torske’s presence can be felt through everything today in Norway and even a new act like De Fantastiske To mark his influence on their work today. He’s had a significant hand in shaping Norwegian electronic music as one of the catalysts of the scene. Four albums and a host of EPs / singles have made a severe impression in the history of Norwegian electronic music, both on the dance floor and off it, but Torske remains a unique entity throughout it all, bringing a timelessness to his music to the point where Nedi Myra still sounds as fresh as the day it first came out on Tellé records almost twenty years ago. Like the artist’s physiognomy his music is without any indication of age and an integral part of this is the vast references he falls on both in the booth and outside of it, which has been inspired in large part by the community and DJs like Pål Strangefruit.
These influences and this eclecticism goes someway in explaining the thread that runs through all of Norwegian electronic music, but for a more information we have to go straight to the source. It’s with that we got in touch with Bjørn Torske via email before he arrives at Jæger on Friday for Bypåske med Skranglejazz. We sent a few questions to get a little closer to the origins of the artist and the scene and we uncover a few hidden Easter eggs in the process.
I’ve read somewhere that you’re a fan of The Residents. “Duck Stab” is one of my favourite albums and “The Commercial Album” is one of the greatest concepts ever brought to live in music in my opinion. What is it about the band that you like?
You mention Duck Stab and as far as I remember “Laughing Song” was the first Residents track I remember hearing that I instantly liked. Previously I had only heard their dance version of “Kaw-Liga”, which is okay but a bit too commercial in my view – I mean we’re talking about The Residents. Next I came across a mint copy of “Eskimo”, and the ball started rolling. As for your last question – what is there not to like about The Residents? I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who stood on middle ground regarding them. Either they love them or loathe them. Anyway, for me their visual concept was perhaps the first thing I noticed, and then I’ve been diving into their sounds through the years. My favourite album is “The Big Bubble”. I saw them live some years back, which was a nice experience – maybe a bit too nice, in my honest opinion. The Residents after Snakefinger is like AC/DC after Bon Scott.
You’re also a big fan of field recordings I understand. How have these influences shaped your own music?
Field recordings have kind of always had a place in my idea of music and sound production. I mean it is a very easy trick to use when you want people on the floor to get into a certain mood. Everything from chirping birds or crickets through to thunder, sirens or a party crowd. I am also quite drawn to the sounds of trains, both in itself and as an accessory in a DJ setting. I remember my dad brought home a record with recorded steam locomotives when I was a kid. Not a “sound effects” record of sorts, but a record for people who enjoy listening to steam trains. It’s really high fidelity recordings, long tracks of just “puff-puff-puff”. It’s called “Steam in all directions” and was released on Argo. I still have it.
Tromsø must have been an interesting place for these influences to take shape around your music. Looking back on it, how did your environment play a role in your music and can you see its effects today on your contemporaries from that time?
Basically, as far as I’m concerned, the ultimate motive for getting into music during my youth in Tromsø was to escape the senseless boredom of that town. I had a good childhood there, lots of snow and room to play, but getting older I realised there was nothing to do but try to create some entertainment for oneself. So, with the conveniences of a vacant radio studio at night, there was a good foundation for experimenting, both with mixing and production. The main influences came via imported music that was hard, or even impossible, to find in Norway (maybe with the exception of Oslo). We were a little gang of friends who would travel to London and pick up what we could of acid/techno/house, which then was brought back and played relentlessly on the radio to the utter dismay of about 99.9% of the listeners.
There’s a sense of community that played a role too, I believe and artists like Pål Strangefruit had a tremendous impact on the scene then, especially as a DJ. How did you all influence each other to eventually create what became this remarkable “scene”?
For me, with the exception of the guys I knew from Tromsø, the encounters with other likeminded people came after I moved to Bergen in 1992. Here things were already starting to happen outside of people’s bedrooms, in a way that there was, albeit small, an actual scene where people would go out and dance. In comparison, Tromsø was still a place where dancing kind of meant asking the ladies for a little turn on the floor. A bit exaggerated yes, but the contrast was obvious. So there were other people with similar tastes, which of course meant exchanging ideas. I met Strangefruit around this time I believe it was when he worked in a record shop in Oslo called “Music Maestro”. He would play me a great variety of underground disco and boogie sounds from late 1970s / early 1980s, which were considered the blueprint for house.
It made sense, especially hearing the early works of people like Francois Kevorkian and Walter Gibbons. Pål had been buying these records since he was 13 I think, when he lived in Hamar. And then he had this younger friend who was at that time considered his pupil in a way, who would go on calling himself Prins Thomas. Back in Bergen we were busy flying over a lot of the DJs from the UK, among them Basement Jaxx, Harvey, Tim “Love” Lee, Idjut Boys, Simon Lee etc. – all very influential to the creative music scene both in Oslo and Bergen at that time. They used to play the Friday here in Bergen and the Saturday in Oslo or vice versa. Olle was doing his nights at Skansen while Jazid had their parties going every week. At some point you’d have Idjuts, Goldie and perhaps Derrick May in different spots in Oslo during the same weekend. Getting to hear these people in a domestic setting was very important for the scene as a whole, as well as quite consolidating for the creative drive of the local artists and DJs.
You probably get asked this a lot, but how has it developed for you and can you see any resemblance in what’s happening in Norway now, compared to back then?
Well, yes. I guess it has been quite the same now for many ways. Young people are “joining the force” all the time, picking their influences in very much the same way we did – while having the main influence from one certain genre (i.e. house). They add their own twist to it and push it forward.
While we’re in the present, there’s a clip of you playing live on Tromsdalen for the Northern Disco Lights documentary. Can you tell us bit more about that experience and what the purpose of it was?
It was just happenstance for me. I was having two gigs in Tromsø, with a few days in between. Terje and Ben where already there to work on the film, and they got the idea of having me doing a “live show” in the snow atop the mountain. It was exceptionally cold. I think perhaps it works visually, but taking sensitive equipment like a laptop outside in such temperatures is not very smart.
Having lived in Norway for just over a year now, I know that getting out into nature is quite an important part of Norwegian culture. Do you ever feel inspired by nature and how do you think it comes through in your music?
I’ve always been inspired by nature. As you say, it is part and parcel of the Norwegian lifestyle. Of course, being mainly into dance music, the floor and the dancers are the first inspiration. But yes, outdoor vibes play a role too. Being in a quiet space in the woods or mountains is very cleansing. Not least when I spend a lot of time with sounds pouring into my ears for hours.
I discern you have quite a sense of humour from previous interviews and track titles. Something that is quite true of a lot of people making music in Norway. Do you think there is something to that?
Not taking oneself too seriously is a good prerequisite for all DJs or artists who want to make a party happen. Regarding track titles, that is the last thing I ever think of when I’m making music. I usually write things down when I get a nice sentence or word in my head, and then use it a title later on. I remember making up titles in the post office as I was packaging a master tape to send off to England.
That sense of fun definitely creeps into your music, but there’s also often a serious dance element to your tracks too. Between field recordings and The Residents, what has been driving force behind you and the dance floor?
It is always about trying to create something new. Try to give people the impression they are in unknown territory, so to speak. Nostalgia is not my thing, even though I play a lot of “old” sounds. I don’t want a club experience to be too familiar sound-wise. This varies, of course. So there is room both for field recordings and The Residents. Think of it as a science fiction novel or an expedition into Amazon, and the anticipation of what kind of strange plants or creatures you’ll encounter along the way. Then, to your great surprise, there is a party happening somewhere far off in the jungle.
This gives your music a timeless quality in my opinion even though each release has slight differences. Did you approach each release differently and what is the underlining factor (except you of course) that ties it altogether for you?
As I said above – the lust for exploration. Trying out different methods to create music is an important factor. As technical possibilities are exceptional today, I usually create my own (contrived) limitations to the creative process. In the beginning, it was all about squeezing as much juice as you could out of a limited source of equipment – One AKAI sampler with 2 seconds recording time; an analogue keyboard; a Commodore 64-based sequencer; and a 12-channel mixer that took in signals from the local airport control tower. Today, on the other hand, recording time is unlimited, and most obstacles toward a technically “perfect” sound are removed. Thus there is, in my opinion, quite a danger that a lot of music will end up sounding the same, whereas earlier, one was subject to individual creative ideas to overcome quite banal problems. Like for instance, one MIDI cable may only be one meter long – so either the computer or the keyboard will have to be placed in a very awkward position to be able to have all the things connected. Problems like that are rare these days, with everything already hot-wired inside a computer. The personality that might get included in solving technical or procedural problems is obliterated. Of course, people said this when electric guitars came on the market, too.
Let’s get to your set for Friday. There’s an obvious eclecticism in your music, which hints at everything from Afrobeat to reggae and 90’s Techno. Is this something that you carry through to your sets too?
It is primarily my DJ sets from which this eclecticism comes. I always state I’m first and foremost a DJ, then a producer. My explorations in the booth and on the dance floor will often be transferred to the studio. Not so much the other way around, although a good studio session might influence parts of my selection later on.
Which brings me to my next question. You haven’t released any new solo material in recent years, but you’ve been active as a DJ. How do you find a balance between these two elements of your musical personality today?
I’ve been doing a good share of remixes, which I find nice to do, but it prevents me from really getting going with my own music. For me, the studio process of composing/producing my own music is tedious and time consuming. I’m not a musician, and I’m reluctant to involve too much “outside” force. I will only ask someone to play something, if I can’t manage it myself first. So a lot goes into trying and failing. Music production is also a typical week-thing for me, as opposed to DJ-gigs, which are for the weekends. Getting older doesn’t help much when you’re off on a flight from somewhere on a Sunday night and you’re supposed to be mixing a track on Monday morning.
So what’s in store for the near future?
A good run of DJ gigs coming up this year. And quite a good deal of studio time as well. Whatever comes out of it, will be heard through Smalltown Supersound. There is already a 12″ in the pipeline; it’s been handed over to Joakim at Smalltown. He will be able to tell you when it’s out.
I better leave you there before we cut more into your creative time. Is there anything you’d like however before we see you on Friday?
Well, people should come early and join in on the meal before they start dancing!
Bjørn Torske has always been something of an otherworldly figure on the Norwegian dance scene. He thrives in the unorthodox, even when it comes to getting his music signed it seems. In this video for the upcoming documentary on paperecordings’ Northern Disco Lights, Torske and Per Martinsen (Mental Overdrive) explain how they got the album, Feil Knapp signed to Smalltown Supersound. It’s an amusing anecdote from the rich history of Norway’s electronic dance music scene, one we’ll certainly be considering when Bjørn Torske headlines Bypåske med Skranglejazzthis weekend.
Trulz Kvam and Robin Crafoord share an intuitive bond when it comes to music, one that was initially informed through similar tastes, and eventually nurtured through the existence of Trulz & Robin. They have formed a single entity as this musical alias that transcends the individual in favour of the multifaceted project that’s as esoteric as it is diverse, calling on a wide range of influences, channelled into the singular voice of Trulz & Robin. They “are like one person with four arms in the studio; pushing buttons and tweaking knobs like a troll”, says Robin, “but we have different personalities so the output is very varied, it’s amazing to share this passion with another person.”
They have an instinctive understanding of their machines, from which they coax infectious dance music through raw feeling. The Scandinavian producers and DJs found a common ground in taste when in 1996 Robin met Trulz in a record store called Music Masetro. Robin would buy records from the latter and he soon realised they had something in common. “We had the same taste in music, and we immediately started throwing parties and DJing together.” An immediate bond formed over a shared love of House and Techno, which eventually led to the formation of a DJ duo and a series of parties at places like Månefisken. Robin remembers the scene not being “as mainstream as it is today”, but “very alive, and the few clubs that were there were super cool, underground places.” It’s here amongst others like g-Ha & Olanskii and Prins Thomas that Trulz & Robin would be established amongst the underground elite in Oslo. With Robin making the move from Sweden to Norway at the time, the two found a shared studio space where they integrated their equipment with other musicians’, and it didn’t take long before the duo carved out a unique production alias with a yet unheard sound echoing from their basement studio.
In a city dominated by House at the time, Trulz and Robin forged a distinct path as alternative tastemakers through a hybrid of Techno, House and Acid, anything that piqued their interest, and it soon became obvious they were destined for great things in the world of electronic dance music. Robin believes those earliest productions sounded like “fast forward Techno / Breakbeat something”, but at the same time it planted the seed for something that always grew and modulated between trends, a machine or just inspiration. In 1998 their fate was sealed with their first release, “Hypnojam” taken from the album, Mechanized World, which would see Trulz & Robin combine their experience as DJs and producers in the form of a mixed album. “I don’t know if it’s unique but it still have a fresh vibe listening to it”, says Robin of the mixed CD. Songs from the album saw airtime on BBC radio and cemented Trulz & Robin’s sound in which mechanised world is an appropriate signifier for their sonic aesthetic and their unique understanding of their machines, which is the most fundamental element to the group other than their personalities. Trulz & Robin love “how machines can make new styles of music and determine how you express yourself. We never learned how to play any instruments so for us the machines were the only way for us to compose songs. We still get goosebumps when we hear how much soul a drum machine can bring to a simple vocal track with some reverb.”
In this way, Trulz & Robin make music that stems from organic improvisation, refined in the circuits of the machine and what follows, are visceral executions of sophisticated tempers from the world of Techno, House and Acid. The duo’s productions feature a razor sharp polished edge that are the product of ingenuity as much as it is experience. They give their machines a glossy shine on the surface of the raw materials they work with and it can already be heard through early releases on the likes of Electronic Be and Planet Noise with tracks like “Acid Cake” and “She’s Dancing” cementing the sound we’ve come to know as Trulz & Robin early in their career. They continued work as DJs after establishing themselves as artists, but at the same time they became well known for their technically magnificent live shows. It saw them opening up for the likes of Peaches and playing for packed audiences at home and abroad, including a mainstream festival like Roskilde. Their live show became an integral part of the appeal of Trulz & Robin, especially considering that much of their music is born this way in the studio, and I had to ask how much one part influences the other. “We almost always make a new show for each appearance. Sometimes we reuse parts from earlier live sets, and usually we meet up in the studio and jam for hours to get in to it. We also realise that we always have at least one new album with any new live set so it’s a great way for us to make new tracks, as well as playing the songs that have just been released.”
In 2007 Trulz had to take some time off to have a family and Robin moved to Spain for a moment, and a temporary hiatus followed. Their presence was sorely missed in Oslo, but the duo were always destined to return and when they did in 2013, it came with a new determination and a whole bunch of unreleased material absolutely bursting to make its way out into the world. During their break they continued to produce music independently and Robin says it was “super inspiring to be releasing music” again after the hiatus, and since they have been “getting more and more studio time together”. Releases followed on Full-Pupp and Eskimo almost immediately after their break, while they also set up their own label, Cymasonic with long time friend and occasional production partner Arildo Lopez. Their EP Agent Acid marked one of the many highlights of this new label and cemented Trulz and Robin’s dominance in their field for this generation just as it did for the previous one. An album, Dance Music Therapy, followed again in the mixed format just as it did before with Mechanized World, and it seems Trulz &Robin have hit something of a creative stride today, a stride that can’t seem to be contained in just one project. A Techno-leaning project called KSMISK and electro-purist alias called Robomatic has also become part of the duo’s repertoire and has been presented in releases for Full Pupp, Ploink and their own Cymasonic label. Today Trulz & Robin are an unstoppable force, one that seems to no limits for either individual. While Robin is busy with various other projects like SYNC and Redrum, Trulz can often be found in the studio working on the origins of the next Trulz & Robin track. The duo is never that far away from a stage either, and synthesisers often crowd Robin’s hallway or dining room table, always prepped for that next performance. That also means they are constantly working on new music and we can look forward to some new Trulz & Robin material too. “Some Acid releases on Full Pupp and a KSMISK Vinyl on Cymawax“ is due with us this spring according to Robin, and “a new Robomatic mini album is also on its way.”
It’s been an exciting new era for Trulz & Robin, one that seems to have no end in sight and as they continue to go from strength to strength, their timeless music will undoubtedly find new ears and new audiences. It’s a remarkable feat for these seasoned artists, a new productive era, where their sheer capacity never suffers a lack of quality and each following release appears to trump the previous one. At the moment the Trulz & Robin story reads like the opening paragraph of the sequel, a story that looks set to better it’s predecessor while holding a firm grasp of the charm of its authors. This is the Trulz & Robin story so far, and what lies ahead is any one’s guess, but rest assured it will be eventful…
Daniel Vaz is a regular face in Jæger, both behind the decks and in front of them. He is an integral part of the Jæger community and instinctively knows the vibe of the place inside and out. He’s an incredible personality, one whose talent seems to know no bounds and come through his DJ sets. We’ve interviewed him before and it was only ever gonna be a matter of time before we’d get the opportunity to track one of his sets for our in the booth series. This last Saturday the opportunity finally presented itself when Mr. Vaz stepped up for Te Dans. His eclectic set went afro-beat rhythms to the soothing tones of the deeper side of contemporary house, with the odd classic thrown in for good measure.
Bogota Records boss and Té Dans resident Ivaylo has hit the lab again for his monthly LCJ and has given us a peak at the mix for the blog. There’s an optimistic hint of spring in the air, with buoyant percussion and upbeat bass-lines the order of the day for this March edition of Ivaylo’s mix series, which never fails in lightening the mood. The mix looks forward with Ivaylo’s signature take on the deeper end of dance music and there is a palpable optimism in the mix, one that could even signal some of the great stuff to come from Ivaylo and Bogota records in the very near future. Watch this space is all we can say…
Beatservice Records’ Prima Norsk series was an underground dance music staple in Norway in the early 2000’s. The compilations, which numbered three in total gave people an opportunity to sample the very best in Norwegian electronica through artists like Bjørn Torske, Prins Thomas and Todd Terje – household names today in Norway and further afield. “When we released the CDs back in 2000 to 2005 there were a lot of things that were released on small labels on 12” which was hard to get hold of”, says Vidar Hanssen, the man behind Beatservice Records. “The inspiration with Prima Norsk was to make these tracks available to everybody.” During that period, the Prima Norsk series had a hand in much of the newfound interest in Norwegian electronic music and introduced many people to the sound of dance music from the region like no other media before it. “Prima Norsk introduced me to the local scene as a little kid,” says Marius Sommerfeldt of De Fantastiske To, who is helping Vidar re-launch the series. “I remember buying the CDs in my local record store in the suburbs of Oslo. The loopy, dubby, kind of DIY approach to making House music differed a lot from the more international big-room counterparts like Defected, Subliminal and Ministry of Sound.” Representing a new generation of artists in Norway, Marius and De Fantastiske To also stand as a testament to the influence of the series on a younger generation at the time. “I guess you can hear the influences in both my DJ sets and with Ravi in our De Fantastiske To productions. We try to recapture the organic, yet ‘deeper’ side of things.”
It was an endearing series, one which came to an end all too soon, and we’re happy to hear, will be making a return in 2016, although with a slightly different take on the original. “There’s a lot of stuff going on from various artists, but the main difference from then is that everything is available in the digital format”, explains Vidar about his reasons for re-launching the Prima Norsk series. “I hadn’t thought of making a compilation where I collect tracks that are already released, so I talked to Marius and we came to the conclusion to release a compilation with only exclusive tracks.” And as such the Prima Norsk 4 is finally with us and we get an exclusive stream of Vinny Villbass and Ando’s “Moneymaker” from the new compilation. The track embodies the spirit of the compilation, in which Prima Norsk 4 is a little bit of the original series mixed in with the new, featuring artists like Vinny Vilbass and Kohib – artists that featured on some of the first compilations – alongside up and coming artists like De Fantastiske To and Ando. They’ve all contributed new and exclusive releases to this latest chapter in the compilation. But why only now, Vidar? “Between 2005 and now, there have been releases, mostly centred around the Full Pupp label, so to do a compilation with half the artists from the Full Pupp label would have been pointless. But now there are a lot of things going on with many new artists releasing stuff on different labels, so I find the situation a bit similar to the early 2000’s.”
It’s not just about new artists however, but relevant artists participating in the underground – some of which who have always been there, happy to toe the line in the marginal aspects of electronic dance music. “I didn’t want to include artists like Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas this time around, because they are artists that have already found success”, explains Vidar of his selections. Instead he hopes to bring a renewed interest to new Norwegian underground music and the artists that established the scene, in the hope of shining a “spotlight on the scene”, in Norway and abroad, like it did during its first run. It’s contemporaneous with a renewed interest in underground House music from within Norway, one which has seen a healthy increase in club music and -culture and many new artists coming to the fore. “There is so much raw talent coming out from Norway these days and we wanted to showcase that in the ‘Prima Norsk’ way”, says Marius. “There aren’t that many labels focusing on underground club-music in Norway at the moment, so we wanted to build a platform for the artists, which we hopefully could build for the future.” A kickstartercampaign is under way to raise the funds for the physical releases, and both Marius and Vidar see the potential for more Prima Norsk compilations in the future. For the moment however their main focus is Prima Norsk 4 and they’ve been kind enough to give us a taste of what we can expect, before its eventual release.
You can pre-order your physical copy here through the kickstarter campaign.
Following on the success of last year’s Zip Zap, Vinny Vilbass joins us in 2016 with a new single on Eskimo. The Itch is one of many new releases the Norwegian producer and DJ has lined-up for this year, and features Vinny Villbass doing what he does best. Animated melodies and an infectious pulse come to the fore, with Villbass’ slick production hand baring his signature like a rubber stamp. There’s a hint of the origins of Techno in the Itch through that lead hook, while a House beat and a syncopated bass-line give the track that unmistakeable Norwegian feel. Two remixes, from Whatever/Whatever and Alejandro Mosso, tie up the release only emphasising the appeal of the original. The entire release is streaming today via Soundcloud and you can get your copy here today.
Kristina Dunn is at an interesting point in her career. Previoulsy established as one half of DJ- turned production duo, No Dial Tone, she is currently embarking on a new chapter in her artistic life as a solo artist and DJ under the alias, Della. Having made an inimitable mark on the dance music scene with No Dial Tone and their releases on Derrick Carter and Luke Solomon’s label Classic Music Company, alongside the likes of Herbert and Isoleé, Della has now arrived and she is “getting back to where it all came from – understanding where the root of it all is.” It’s explained in its simplest terms as a pair of decks and a dance floor.
Della might have actually experienced more in House music and Rave culture than most would even begin to understand. Like many of her contemporaries, it doesn’t start with a studio or a pair of decks, but rather on the other side of the booth, with the likes of Hipp-e and Halo bringing this thing called House music to the rural parts of Minnesota. “My first rave experience was in a barn made for square dancing. It was the coolest place to dance ever, because it had this polished hardwood floor and you could just slide around. A dancers paradise.” But it was a DVS1 party in Minneapolis that stands out as the catalyst for most of it, it’s here where Della “learned to dance“ and appreciate the music, she would adopt wholeheartedly as her own. This was a time when dance music was still an underground thing, held at secret locations, sneered at by the general public, and marginalised cultures that made it the scene it is today. At a time when a rave event was exactly that, an event, “we would sew costumes for days leading up to the party, and then set off on a mission to go find the ticket office, which would send you to the map point, and eventually to the venue where someone like Plastikman would be playing. It was a whole other experience, which made the venture so much more crazy,” remembers Della, who marks these events as an important chapter in her own development as an artist.
She might not have started DJing during that time, but it certainly planted the seed and when she moved to LA in the early part of the 2000’s, she also made the move to the booth. She settled in LA at a time when “corporations started getting involved in Rave Culture” throwing massive events that gathered unwanted attention from authorities in LA. “These massive events, and the police involvement in them, blew out the light for ‘dance music’ in Los Angeles and House music went underground again.” Della, like her contemporaries, retreated along with it, moving back into warehouses and small clubs with DJs like Marques Wyatt, Mark Farina, Garth, Heather, you name them, playing on a regular basis. LA’s leading House record store at this time was Wax Records, which was Doc Martin’s shop, “and that’s who I hung with – The Wax boys. I was then later introduced to a group of DJs from Dallas, JT Donaldson, Lance DeSardi, Cle Acklin, and Brett Johnson, which then led the trail up to San Francisco and the Sunset Crew, Solar & Galen. DJs that influenced me in ways that I am grateful for today.”
It’s around this time that she met partner in No Dial Tone, Vibeke Bruff, and the sound of Scandinavian electronic music was introduced to her. “I was really into this Scandinavian sound, Lindstrøm, Prins Thomas, Rune Lindbæk, it was something fresh and new and different than the American House sound. I remember one of my first records was Ost & Kjex, Eaten Back To Life EP, with this amazing Maurice Fulton remix of ‘Have You Seen The Moon In Dallas.’ I played that record on repeat. It’s still so good to this day!” LA was a time that marked the beginning of Della’s creative artistic career, one in which she would move to Oslo; establish No Dial Tone and a studio; and eventually release records on labels such as Classic Music Company, Leftroom, and Twirl. No Dial Tone’s blend of Scando-Pop, electro, House, and Della’s vocals, was welcomed with open arms during a period that would see acts like Miss Kitten and Ellen Allien rise to fame through a scene/genre that would eventually be coined electroclash by the media. For a DJ it meant no taboos were in play and for Della it meant that she could “mix this sound of Space Disco with something like Patrick Cowley and XTC” – a rebellious disregard for any kind of generic signifier that would play a fundamental role in the appeal of No Dial Tone too later.
But then again, I didn’t come out to Della’s studio – where she produces her organic skin care line, RUE – to talk about No Dial Tone, I came to talk about Della, and although her previous project did make a significant impression on her career, Della seems to be an artist on the rise, remaining true to herself and her origins. “When I split from No Dial Tone I really started solely focusing on my DJing because that is what I really want to do. I’ve reconnected with a lot of people that influenced me when I was younger. With No Dial Tone, it was more about getting records out and promoting ourselves, and now… I just want to play. I have no idea where this is going, I am just enjoying the ride.” It’s a very interesting situation for an artist that’s succeeded in establishing a career as one incarnation, only to have to “start form the bottom again.” It’s been “a challenge” in Della’s own words, since the two incarnations are “two different things”, but it’s a challenge she is all too happy to accept. “I think a lot of great things are on the way, and it’s exciting.” Some collaborations are in the works with several profound producers, we can’t mention just yet, with Della taking care of both vocal- and production duties. As such, it doesn’t deflect from her work in the DJ booth at all. “I personally don’t enjoy the studio that much, because I enjoy being behind the turntables and I enjoy listening to- and finding tracks, rather than using those hours to sit on a loop and make a beat out of it.“ This passion for DJing has led to some great moments where Della was featured alongside names like Ellen Allien and Magda, names that have inspired a younger Della and now have become peers. One highlighted gig, includes playing alongside Doc Martin at the Miami Music Conference with the House legend looking over her shoulder, saying; “What is this track, it’s so hot!” Playing alongside artists like these has started rubbing off on Della. “For me the preparation of the sets has changed a lot. I play from the heart, but I also put a lot more planning into what I want to play.“ Della spends hours sourcing and putting tracks together when playing with someone like Ellen Allien, with the organisation of the set becoming a key part of handing it over to the next DJ. “It pushes you to another level. You don’t want to match them, but you want to make sure that the two of you really work together with the flow of the night.” In the process she finds new music that she might not have come across before, and as such it becomes a time consuming practice, but also the mark of a hard-working DJ.
With this in mind, it’s hard to believe that Della, an artist that’s paid her dues at an international level, is still subject to the kind of adversity that women still face in the booth. It’s a dark cloud that still looms over the DJ world and it’s only natural that it should be approached through an extensive interview like this. “It’s not easy being a female in a very male dominated industry.” She’s had punters approach her, saying things like: “I didn’t know girls could play like this, I didn’t know girls could be DJs.” She does however also see a silver lining to the contrast where a lot of women are happy to hear a female DJ play. “I think girls are more dancers, and they feel a lot more comfortable on the dance floor when there’s another woman behind the decks.” Della believes there is a “different type of connection” in this situation, and as a DJ that started off like the women on the dance floor, she talks from experience. “When I look back at rave culture when I was young, the dudes would always be around the DJ booth, watching the DJ like hawks, and all the girls were on the dance floor dancing. And that was my experience too. I didn’t care who was playing what, I just wanted to dance and be free. Maybe that’s why there’s still a division.“ I wonder if she, and a person like Ellen Allien would ever discuss these matters while handing the night over to one another, and was happy to find that they do, and that the subject only goes to cement a bond between female DJs. “Ellen Allien’s reaction was, ‘we need to stick together.’ There’s a lot of women DJs out there, but quality music is quality music, and it’s not a male versus female issue, but there’s definitely not the level of respect a lot of female DJs should be getting.”
I can think of Della as an example of just such a DJ. Having heard Della on the decks in the past at Jæger (last year’s Øya Festival specifically stands out here) I can say Della is an excellent DJ, and has a remarkable ability to play the music you didn’t realise you wanted to hear. It’s music you want to dance to and there’s always that human element to her sets that she brings through with her love for vocals. In Oslo, her American influences are clearly felt through her selections and marks as something very unique on the scene. After hearing her story and knowing what she’s like at the decks, I can put it all into perspective too as something stems from her origins on the dance floor and flows through her experience as a DJ in LA and Oslo. It seems also that regardless of some adversity, her star is incrementally on the rise with sets lined up alongside Erol Alkan and a new monthly radio broadcast spot on Deep House Radio. She’ll be well on her way to achieving what she’s done before and the name Della will soon be just as familiar as No Dial Tone.
Having barely arrived back from touring his native land, Ivaylo went straight to his lab to cook a little something up for the weekend. This edition of lab cleaning Jams finds the DJ favouring the darker corners of Techno with Ivaylo’s signature search for the deepness tying the mix together. Not one to be pinned down in the darker side however, Ivaylo also finds more of an uplifting mood in some Disco and House that takes us through to the end of the mix. Look out for some of these tracks cropping up in his Té Dansset today.
Prosumer is more that just an artistic moniker for German DJ Achim Brandenberg. The nominative determinative is a way of life for the artist, in which he both produces and consumes media between his creative output and his skill set as a DJ. Very few people can lay claim to the title of Prosumer quite like Brandenberg, who had his start in music amongst the shelves of Berlin’s most famous record store, Hardwax. He understood early in his career the importance of immersing yourself completely in your chosen art form before attempting a career in the desired field, and it’s something that’s carried through to his work as a DJ and producer to this day. He’s esoteric knowledge of music is multi-dimensional and he never limits himself to any era or genre in dance music, catering to broader tastes with his idiosyncratic personality tying each set together.
His DJ work sees him travelling each weekend and while he’s productions are rare, calculated releases, they are great examples of a perfectionist at work. It all stems from a deep-seated appreciation for music and sharing this appreciation with like-minded people. As a result, Prosumer’s music has featured on labels like Playhouse and Running Back, while his skills behind the decks has been well documented by the likes of Fabric’s Mix series. It won’t be the first time he’s visited us in Oslo, and his sets at Jæger in previous years are still talked about today around the water cooler. He’s very much the DJs DJ, with an acute knowledge of the dance floor, which sees him in tune with the atmosphere of the evening, and it always comes as a surprise to find out it stems from a very introverted personality. It makes us all that more curious to find out what drives the man behind Prosumer and so we wasted no time in calling him up at his home in Edinburgh.
Hello Achim, How have you been?
Pretty good. I had a bit of a wild tour and now I’ve got some days off from DJing and I had friends visiting this weekend. This week I’m going back to work, so I have my first gigs Friday and Saturday. Tomorrow I go to London to see Floating Points live and I’m looking forward to that.
His album was so good?
I love the album, and what I’ve heard so far from the live show has been amazing. I think he cannot do anything that is not amazing. Once, when I was playing plastic people we had food before at his house. Sam (Shepard) was cooking, and he got up at six in the morning, to start a BBQ, and it was amazing food. He can never do anything mediocre.
He’s also a neuroscientist if I’m not mistaken?
And he designed an amazing DJ mixer last year too?
Exactly, on the side. (Laughs) He’s a fabulous producer and DJ and he’s ten years younger than me. He makes me look bad in front of my parents! (Laughs)
How long have you lived in Edinburgh?
It’s been three years now.
So you’re quite settled?
Right now it feels great and I don’t see a reason for moving in the future. The thing is the balance I get here, that I don’t get in Berlin anymore. It takes me 20 minutes to get to the airport. I live in the city centre, but it’s quiet like somewhere in the countryside. It’s just perfect.
When I think of Edinburgh I immediately think of the Edinburgh festival. Comparing the creativity, are you influenced any differently in Edinburgh in relation to Berlin?
It’s much smaller than Berlin, but I wouldn’t have lived in Berlin for 15 years if I didn’t enjoy the grittiness of it, and Edinburgh has a bit of that, but differently. It’s a very creative city. Look at the output of firecracker records – what Lindsay is doing there and the guys releasing music on the label. It’s a creative city for the area I’m working in and not just for the Edinburgh festival and comedy.
Your name Prosumer, which is about producing music as you consume it. Has the idea behind that changed at all after Berlin?
I haven’t thought about it at all. I don’t have much time for producing nowadays. I’m a terribly slow person. What takes me the most time, is basically being able to take a step back. I need to have the feeling that I’ve had enough time to think about stuff, and to be honest; I don’t have that at the moment. Making music is always an expression of your self and for me the big thing is always wondering, is there something that only has a meaning for me, or is it something that has the potential to be out there. So I always wonder, does it only make sense in my head, and then I need the distance and I don’t get that as much.
Do you find yourself more active /creative when working with other people then, like you’ve done in the past with Murat Tepeli and Tama Sumo in the past?
No. Of course it’s inspiring to work with others. I think it pushes me to bypass what I just described, the thing that only makes sense in my head. It is already filtered, because I worked with somebody else on it, so that makes it easier to put stuff out.
So, for you it’s important to makes something that’s not only for yourself, but will bring others enjoyment too?
Sometimes you have this thing where your head gets really really excited about something and then you find out that everybody knows about it already, and it totally blows your mind, because to you it’s new, but to everybody else it’s like whatever. It’s maybe a bit like that. God, it sounds horrible, how complicated am I (laughs). Is it about not embarrassing myself? I don’t know. It’s something like that. Is it in my head or is it a thing.
And is it the same for you when you DJ, because I’ve heard you describe yourself in other interviews as an introvert when it comes to playing music?
I’m still terrified when I DJ, but the thing is it’s music of others. It’s easier for me to trust that, because it’s music that moves me, otherwise I wouldn’t play it. I think it has the potential to do the same thing for other people, so it’s much easier. I don’t second-guess that as much as I second-guess my own production.
Is DJing essentially a way then for you to communicate directly with the audience as an introverted personality?
Lindsay from Firecracker, he describes DJing as being a bit like the Wizard of Oz. So, it’s all smoke and mirrors and, in a way, it is like that. With playing the music I love it is a very personal thing and it is a very intimate thing, and I have this smoke and mirrors in front of me, but I can communicate with the audience indirectly.
It’s more of a feeling that you communicate.
Yes, you resonate with the music and ideally others do as well. The same thing that makes you smile in a record will make somebody else smile on the dance floor.
Another thing that came across in other interviews is that you have a penchant for guilty pleasures, like karaoke, pub quizzes and most importantly deep fried Mars bars.
O, that’s what everybody refers to as typical Scottish cuisine, which is a bit insulting, because we definitely have better food than that. Deep fried Mars bars, I’ve had twice in my life. One time I had it and I thought it was amazing. I was drunk and it was the best thing ever because it was greasy and sweet. And then I had it sober, and I’d have to say, I didn’t enjoy it so much.
Have you ever seen a Scottish person eat one?
I have, but definitely not when they were sober.
Do you have any guilty pleasures when it comes to music at the moment?
I just had visitors and my friend started humming a song. It took us two days to figure out what it was. The three of us were signing along, humming along to some apps on the phone to find out what it was, and couldn’t for a day and a half. It’s a song from 1968 and the band is called, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Titch. The song is called “Legend Of Xanadu”.
Wow, that’s quite a title. Do you ever sneak stuff like that into your DJ sets?
I wouldn’t with that track. Yesterday we were joking about it, because there’s one sound in there, a bit like a metallic whip. It’s a very unusual sound that is actually quite interesting, but I probably wouldn’t go as far to sample it and use it in a way. It depends on the night, but there is stuff I throw in that might seem a bit silly.
Do you prepare your sets like that, or does it all just happen in the moment for you?
Sometimes I have an idea of what could happen, but usually that’s over-thrown by a million factors. Of course, since I don’t have all my record collection with me, it is a preplanned in a way, but in my bag there’s always ten records where I will know it’s very very unlikely that they will get played, but if I get to some point where I could get away with playing them, it could be fun.
Do you have any set ideas for your upcoming set at Jæger, any records that you’d like to play?
I spent three weeks at home and I was listening to new records, but also going through some old stuff, so a pile has been building up here of stuff that I hadn’t played yet, or haven’t played for a while. I think some of those will definitely survive in the bag until I go to Norway. I remember the club being intimate and dark, and gives me some idea of what to play.
It’s no small feat when a radio legend like John Peel refers to you as the Baron of Techno, a title Dave Clarke has certainly owned over the years. The jock should’ve known, he was a connoisseur of music after all and there wasn’t a trend or a mainstay of a genre he couldn’t spot a mile away, and he saw Dave Clarke’s star rising, before most of us even knew of the artist. If Peel saw it as such it would have been true and calling Dave Clarke the Baron of Techno is truer today than he could have ever known back then. Back then Clarke was scrawny idealist with no money (he still has the picture to prove it), but a talent for machines and this music we call Techno that labels like R&S had no problem seeing in the young Clarke. Today Dave Clarke is a pillar of Techno, and where others have compromised Dave Clarke has remained headstrong in his pursuit of bringing a serrated edge to the genre. He follows a punk approach when it comes to kind of music he proliferates and produces, and although he’s best known as a Techno juggernaut, he’s able to easily drift into the neighbouring music worlds like Electro without missing a beat.
After taking a short hiatus from recording music in 2006, Dave Clarke has returned with a remix album in 2016 that will be followed shortly after by new and original material in the months to come. During his hiatus he was hardly a slouch, touring extensively as a DJ from his newly adopted home in Amsterdam, bringing the raw edge of Techno to ever bigger audiences. Always the staunch supporter of new electronic music, during this time he also established “Dave Clarke presents”, a cutting edge event at the heart of Amsterdam’s ADE that sets the bar for large scale Techno events the world over. It’s behind the decks where Dave Clarke is at his most uncompromising. Techno’s most ardent provocateurs appear tame in the light of Dave Clarke set and you can be assured one of the most unadulterated experiences of your life. In all these aspects he truly owns the title as the Baron of Techno and nobody could possibly take that away from him.
We caught up with Dave Clarke through an email exchange before he travels to Oslo to try and get a glimpse of what makes this Baron of Techno tick over lately and what we could possibly expect from his set next week in our basement.
As a purveyor of Techno that’s seen the genre go through many phases, what stuck as its major appeal throughout the years?
The true Techno just has a feeling that, for me, cannot be equalled, it is both exciting and challenging to the status quo, a truly edgy form of music that has adapted with technology to become even more vibrant.
Trend aside, how have you evolved alongside the genre as an artist and more specifically a DJ?
As a person I am far more open to other art forms than just music, which is surprising to me, I think Amsterdam opened something up inside me.
There was picture of a young Dave Clarke that cropped up on social media last year, mentioning how you lived from hand to mouth at the start of your career. What do you think is the reality for new artist in the same position today?
Poverty is poverty, drive is drive, each generation has their hoops to jump through in the name of being an artist, to get into making music is a lot cheaper these days – finding out about info, about how to make it, or your favourite artists is also a lot easier. But then making a living out of being credible is probably a lot harder and a dream that seems even more unobtainable than in my experience.
What would you have said to the person in the picture if you could?
Nothing as I got here career wise, country wise I would have said that was a German Flag not a flag from Belgium (which I thought it was).
You’ve been quite outspoken on the music industry in the past. Have you seen it change for the better at all since then?
A very long question, there are pro’s and cons in all changes, the better ones are the technology that is available to us now is what we dreamed of, we were before powerful computers, internet, connectivity, but those very things also give us ADHD and distractions.
Would you say there’s still a fundamental flaw in the music industry, especially in light of electronic music’s current dominance?
The flaw is that everyone now has to be on the road to earn a decent living compared to 15 years ago, music is a freebie now to sell a tour for most people.
Since 2006, you’ve been on a sort of hiatus from recorded music – not considering remixes and re-issues – as a solo artist. What made you go on hiatus?
I got divorced, changed country, wanted to wait and see what would happen with the recording industry and had to start a new studio from scratch.
Do you ever feel the urge to get back in to the studio as a solo artist and what would an original Dave Clarke production sound like in 2016?
There are quite a few albums due to come out in the next period, the first one “Charcoal Eyes” will be a compilation of all my remixes from Soft Moon, APTBS, I am Kloot, Gazelle Twin, Placebo, and I will be heavily in the studio this year.
You’re a prolific touring DJ too and I imagine at some point it all becomes quite a blur. How do you keep things interesting for yourself?
I love (most of) the gigs, that keeps me going plus not staying very long in any place but always quick to return home, I love being home, the whole idea of touring non stop and being away for a few weeks is not for me, so being grounded helps me a lot.
I had the pleasure of catching your set at ADE a couple of years back and what struck me was how vigorous and dominant it was, to the point where Karenn (who are by no means a subtle act) almost sounded a bit weak in light of it. It’s something that you’ve also displayed a lot in your recorded works. Where does this attitude come from?
I do not know any other way, I grew up a bit late for Punk, but I definitely learnt from it, I just want to own the stage and the people for those few hours one of my friends says I look like a boxer before a match…I hardly speak to people before a gig as i am there to DJ not socialize, I could not be a Tech house dj, I think coming from the UK also adds something to the spice
And what new music best exemplifies this attitude for you?
Just listen to my radio show called White Noise, I play so much new music there.
* Dave Clarke joins Karima and DJ Nuhhh in our basement for Retro on the 25th of February
Retro resident Karima visited the folks over at Recens Paper to lay down a mix for the magazine, and she goes in with all the ferocity we’ve come to expect from her on any given Thursday night. She doesn’t hold back, stepping into the mix with a heavy House beat from Mr. G and keeping the energy of the mix high for the next 30 minutes. Karima loves the rawer edge of House and it really shines through in this mix through the track that closes out the short, but purposeful mix.
This mix with Luca Lozano and Telephones brings the past and the future together into the present for Jæger. With Luca Lozano’s set from Christmas still fresh in our memory and Telephones joining Øyvind Morken for his first Untzdag back this week, it’s like the two timelines have crossed each other’s path to bring us this very special mix. Telephones joins Luca Lozano from his Berlin Community Radio slot, For the Freq’s with the two personalities egging the other on, digging deeper and deeper through the underworld of dance music. They laid down a set that goes from soulful Jazz to quirky Greek synth-pop, in the space of 30 minutes, before moving on through the annals of disco, house and acid, each DJ laying emphasis on the eclectic and the rare throughout their set. If ever there was a set that could explain what a Wednesday sounds like at Jæger, this one comes pretty close to setting the mood for the early part of the evening.
Billed as on ode to late-90’s ambient music, Prins Thomas’ fourth album, Principe Del Norte sees the Norwegian producer avoiding the percussive beat in favour of creating cosmically cinematic environments. Streaming now via NPR the album is built around swirling textures through synthesised counterpoint, forged in the icy layers of synthesisers and spacey reverbs of distant delays that chime in the the repetitive nature of minimalism. It’s Prins Thomas like you’ve never heard him before, but yet there’s something intrinsically familiar to the music, that draws a direct correlation to his first releases alongside Lindstrøm. It’s quite an album on first listen and Thomas and Smalltown Supersound, have been kind enough to give us a sneak peak at it before it hits the shelves on the 19th of February. Look out for a future feature with the artist here… that is if we get our way.
Rave-Enka (Ravi Burnsvik from the Fantastiske To) is on the cusp of releasing his sophomore effort on Paper Recordings, following 2015’s Påfulgen. It continues the machine aesthetic set forth on that release where musical sensibilities are transposed to the machine aesthetic, bridging the gap between genres to find Rave-Enka’s instinctive talent behind the tracks. It sees Rave-Enka go from strength to strength through three tracks with a polished production hand and an effervescent energy. In the following article we go track by track with Ravi while you listen to Rett-i-Kroppen in this exclusive stream.
Rett i Fletta
Is the title a reference to Prins Thomas’ label?
Not intentionally! It’s a great label though. The title is a reference to an expression that’s been floating around in the studio.
How would you describe this EP to a listener that doesn’t know your music?
It’s electronic music with inspiration from Brazil, 70s disco and some Jazz.
How does this track relate to the track later on the EP, Rett i Kroppen?
I made them both in succession, over a day or two, and was originally planning an EP with just those two tracks.
You’re quite a talented keyboardist, and I noticed there is an ascending – descending chord movement during the latter half of the track, but for the most part it feels a lot more sequenced than your stuff with Marius. How did your skills at the keys play a role in this release?
Apart from some leads and arpeggios here and there, not all too much really. Part of the plan with this EP was trying to move away from using the piano as a base.
I know on Påfulgen you were essentially sampling various eras around dance music. What were the essential ideas behind this EP?
I guess you could argue that it’s the same idea, just with expressions from other decades. Also, groove. The three tracks share similarities in groove, I feel.
How does Honningen fit into this picture?
Hopefully quite well!
What did Richard Seaborne bring to the track through the remix?
Richard flipped the whole thing over, made something entirely his own from very little material, and gave it another dimension. He made it a lot more danceable, in my view.
Rett i Kroppen
The title – That’s your love of puns… cropping up again, right?
I see what you did there, he he. Yes. I’m afraid it is!
This EP was ready a while back already. How has your music evolved since and what can we expect in the future?
I’ve been working on some deeper material, some of which might pop up on Friday. Apart from that, well, there’s the album I’m working on, and a couple releases with De Fantastiske To that I’m really looking forward to.
*Rave-Enka will be playing tracks from Rett-i-Kroppen at our DJ Marathonand the Ep will be available from Juno Download from the 18th 0f February.
Few DJs embody the idea of a rounded forward-thinking selector quite like Lena Willikens. Yes, there are DJs that are as eclectic as the Düsseldorf native – Ben UFO and DJ Harvey immediately come to mind – and yes, there quite a few DJs that display the very same esotericism in their selections – Nicholas Jaar being obvious example here – but no other DJ combines it quite in the way that Lena Willikens does. She is a landmark DJ in that regard, garnering the type of notoriety in a mere fraction it took many an established DJ, and with good reason too. Her tastes are varied and broad and she has a very unique ability to create an extensive narrative through her sets, imparting something of her own personality through combining the music of others. Although her rise to fame (by modern day social media standards) was steep, going from local resident DJ at Salon Des Amateurs to an internationally sought after DJ, it was something that was certainly cultivated and refined through years of experience and her intrinsic tastes. It’s something Lena explains in an interview with Ransom Noteas such: “What I like the most when I produce or DJ is the moment when my brain stops working and I don’t think anymore.” This is also the reason she often feigns interest in doing interviews, preferring to let the music speak for itself, instead of conflating it with a trivialising literal interpretation of what she does. But there is something unique to what she does and it’s not something that could be described in a single sentence. To consider Lena Willikens appeal, is the resolve of getting to heart of all of Lena Willikens.
As with any artist, it starts with the influence of her parents and for Lena this would have planted the immediate seed for her penchant for the road less travelled in electronic music. Citing the new wave electronica Grauzones’ Eisbär as an early favourite – she was five – thanks to her mother, it seems that Lena‘s nonconformist tastes, manifested early in her life thanks to the influences of a previous generation. As a result she found her way into artists operating on the periphery of cool, artists that start with the likes of Lee Scratch Perry and end today with Carter Tutti Void. In her own music you can even hear an outer dimensional reference like Grauzones making an appearance on a track like “Phantom Delia”. This diverse taste for unconventional music followed her into her teens, where as an ardent collector of music her record collection grew as the physical manifestation of these tastes. Where a record collection begins a career as a DJ usually follows and while she was an art student, wherever there was a party in Düsseldorf, you’d find Lena Willikens at the decks. Eventually leaving a career in visual art behind for the most part because she “just couldn’t stand this intellectual talking anymore” (according to an interview in Juno) Lena channelled all her creative expression into music starting with her record collection. But Lena’s ability has never merely been about her personal tastes or being able to mix one record into the next. There’s always been something unique to Lena Willikens and her DJ sets, something that tends to transcend trends, genres, even mixing, and can rather more accurately described as a feeling.
It’s what Lena Willikens refer to as “journey” in an XLR8R interview from 2015, in which the magazine considered her as one of their “bubbling up” artists of the year. Even her recorded mixes, like the one she’d done for RA, is not always technically magnificent, nor is the song collection all that mysterious, but the way she takes the listener from point A to B is what truly stands out. It’s not a mere build up, taking you through the ubiqutous course of a night; it’s more of wave, a wave that simulates the mood swings of a manic depressive – there’s never a dull moment in the course a Lena Willikens mix. “I really try always [to see] how far can I go, and of course the farther I can go, the better,” says Lena in that same XLR8R interview. Combine this with her eclectic nature and the word boring is never one you’ll hear associated with a Lena Willikens set. I doubt that this is something that just came to Lena, and I think a lot of her nature in the booth has to do with being able to read a crowd, and much of that has it’s roots in Salon Des Amateurs, the Düsseldorf establishment who gave Willikens her first residency. “It sounds clichéd but for all the residents at the Salon it was never about a DJ ego,” says Willikens in an interview wit Resident Advisor. “It was about sharing music we love and music which was hard to find on other dance floors.” Starting her career there as a bouncer, what becomes evident is Lena has always had an acute awareness of her audience, looking from the outside in – going from a bouncer and clubbing enthusiast to a resident DJ. It seems she is not about playing to a crowd, but rather more about sharing the experience with a crowd. It doesn’t mean she’ll placate the crowd either. She expects her audience to share her open mind when it comes to the music she picks, and her vinyl-only sets are as much about her record collection as it is about forcing herself into unknown territory and taking the audience on that journey again. “Some friends of mine stopped playing vinyl—it’s too uncomfortable to carry all that heavy shit around,” quotes XLR8R. “I like the challenge sometimes, when you are like, ‘Oh no, I packed totally the wrong vinyl and I’m playing peak time.’ I don’t like to have the records with me where I know they work every time. I don’t want them to get boring for me.” So devoted is she to playing the records that won’t always work, that when she coincidently played the same record as DJ Koze at the same time, at the same festival, she never touched that record again.
You’ll be guaranteed to hear something different and new each time you encounter Lena Willikens at the decks. And yes, her sets are almost always a journey. All you have to do is tune into her monthly podcast, Sentimental Flashback on Radio Cómeme to catch a glimpse of this dedication to the musical journey. She spends hours putting that show together out of her record collection and as the title suggests, it’s not for a particular purpose in mind, but rather a feeling. It’s that same feeling she instils in every mix she approaches, with a special personal reflection conducting her choices of music she selects. In a way, Sentimental Flashback is probably the closest we’ll get in putting Lena Willikens’ music and DJ sets into words, and even that won’t necessarily do it justice. From her residency at Salon Des Amateurs to her Radio show to her record collection, all of it forms part of a special ingredient that makes Lena Willikens the forward thinking eclectic personality she is and makes her one of the few DJs that could actually communicate a feeling through the music.
The last time Syntax Erik graced us with his presence at Jæger we were left in awe at his remarkable skill with a live electronic set. There was hardly a stationary body on the floor, and the few that were, were most likely trying to capture the moment on their phone, to savour again at a later date. His live show marked the release of his EP on Beatservice, and while we knew we liked “Keep it Deep” we saw it’s true potential when it arrived on Jæger’s dance floor through a set of Funktion One speakers. We’ve been itching to invite him back and when we heard he was releasing a new EP, coinciding with our reopening, we jumped at the chance to have him repeat a little of the magic from that night last year.
EP3 is more of the same of what we’ve come to expect from Syntax Erik, with a little more attitude dusted into mix on songs like “Don’t wanna dance”. Once again Erik has made electrifying tracks for the dance floor and there’s never a dull moment on this EP, much like “I can feel you” before it and “Keep it Deep” before that. We are very excited to hear some of this new material at Jæger, for what will also be the official launch of the EP, but before we get round to that, we thought we’d send some questions over to Syntax Erik ahead of his show, and he obliged by sending us back some answers.
Where does the name Syntax Erik come from?
The very first Syntax Erik-release was the “Echelon EP” back in 2002 on Rune Lindbæk’s label Romklang. I think it was Rune who came up with the name during a phone call with me back then, but I don’t exactly remember because it was too early in the morning and I was half asleep. Only thing I remember is that he was in a hurry to get the artwork done for the EP, and I told him I didn’t want to use the name K.Y.D/Kyd anymore. I had previously released some 12″s and an album (“High Above”) with my friend Kango Stein Massiv as the duo Kyd & Kango. And my debut EP (“Retroheaven”) was back in 1997 on UK label Ten Pin Records using the name K.Y.D. I often helped Rune with his computer problems aka “syntax errors”. So the name might also come from that. Lately I had to make a track called “Hello My Name Is Raymond” because some people think Erik is my real name. But now they all just ask me who this Raymond-guy is…
So no relation to Erik from Bergen then?
Nope, no relation to him. And also no relation to Syntax TerrOrkester.
EP3 is your… uhm… third release as Erik. Can you tell us a little more about how it came to be?
It’s my third EP in a series of three 4-track EP’s released on Beatservice Records. The first was “Keep It Deep EP” and the second was “I Can Feel You EP”. I’m still undecided on the title for the third one. It will be released digitally on all platforms in March. The concept of the series is an exclusive selection of tracks from my vault with additional remixes. Kohib and De Fantastiske To did great remixes of the first two EP’s and Doc L Junior is currently working on a remix for the upcoming third release.
Like your last release, this music sounds like it was made for the dance floor. Was there any particular dance floor you had in mind and how do you capture that energy in the studio?
My music is absolutely made for the dance floor, but not any particular venue in mind when being produced. I don’t often find myself in clubs anymore, but I listen to House music everywhere I go. At home relaxing, when walking, taking the metro etc. To capture the energy in the studio I jam for hours at night, using headphones while enjoying some beers.
To me this release sound a lot more vigorous than your previous release, with a few grittier elements piled on the functional dance foundation. Has anything changed in your music since ‘I can feel you’?
In the early days I tried to make my tracks as clean and polished as possible. But it was difficult to do because my equipment was shit. Now I have great equipment and all the technology in the world, but use a lot of energy and time to make stuff sound real dirty again – because listening to a clean production is very boring to me. But the degree of grittiness varies from track to track.
It seems that you are referencing a lot of the history of dance music with elements of acid, break beats and the deeper stuff thrown into the mix.
I started making tracks in my bedroom in the early 90s and I’m still very inspired by that era in electronic music. I like to mix old samples with new synths and effects. Some of my newest tracks are originally based on 20-year-old ideas and samples from my beloved Amiga 1200. That also automatically makes it sound dirtier because of the crap 8-bit sampler I had.
I have experimented a lot with break beats in the past, but have never made it work in a House track before. I guess it does now. I just love a squeaky 303 over a busy break beat. That really takes me back.
Where did the vocal sample for downright deep come from?
From a surreal movie called “Wrong” by French director and musician Quentin Dupieux aka Mr.Oizo (Producer of “Flat Beat”). The movie is about a guy in search of his missing dog – pretty weird stuff, but great atmosphere and fun dialogue.
Was it a deep track before and you just added the sample, or did the track come about from the sample?
I had this unfinished idea just waiting for the final touch. I got inspired to complete it when I watched the previously mentioned movie. I added the sample, rearranged some parts, and the track was done. It’s probably a cliché to use a vocal phrase saying “deep” in a House track to make it sound deeper, but I think it’s all part of the old school sampling history. The track actually isn’t really that deep…too much stuff going on. It’s an ironic sample perhaps.
What do you hope the listener will get from EP3? Where would be the best place to listen to it?
The third EP, like the other two EP’s in the series, is for the House lovers – young and old – Someone who enjoys the sound of dirty beats with hypnotic 303 acid, and classic synths with nice melodies. Hopefully the girls will love my acid ballad called “Don’t Wanna Dance” which is a tribute to 1980s Whitney Houston. Maybe some boys will like it too. Best place for listening to this new EP has to be in the club dancing – or maybe in the car.
Your set at Jæger last year is still ingrained in our memory. Do you have any fond memories of the event?
Wow! That night was really amazing and a great release party for the “Keep It Deep EP”. It was my first time in a club doing a set with my own tracks in almost 12 years, so it was extremely fun for me to see how well the people reacted to the music. I really look forward coming back to play at Jæger once again. Love the sound system!
What can we expect from your next show at Jæger.
1980s Whitney Houston back from the dead! Maybe not in person, but in spirit and sampled. It’s basically the same procedure as last year – Me and my gear. It’s a busy night so the set will be short and tight. I will play the new tracks from the upcoming EP, maybe try out some unreleased stuff and probably one or two tracks from the earlier EP’s if I have time left.
*Syntax Erik will be be bringing his live set to us yet again during our official re-opening DJ Marathon.
Retro’s first booking of the year is the mighty Dave Clark, and it arrives with the memory of their last monumental booking still ringing in our ears. It wasn’t that long ago when Rolando paid us a visit us in our basement to bring a little of Detroit to Oslo through his uncompromising Techno set. In this latest podcast for Tweak FM, he captures a little something of that magic he left behind in Oslo, and for those that feel his set at Jæger is now a distant memory, this podcast should bring back some fond memories. There is talk of the Detroit legend returning to Jæger in the future, but until then we’ve got this podcast, and another Techno stalwart in the way of Dave Clarke coming our way very soon.
Karima (Retro) and Tobias Sørensen teamed up as Norwegian Girls for a recent set at Bergen’s Landmark and they’ve been so kind to record the results. The House-focussed set features some acid, break beats and can often be found loitering around the deeper end of the genre. This mix does o well to get us through the middle of the week and all that bit closer to the weekend. Karima will be back at Jæger for our DJ Marathon and the official reopening of our newly refurbished venue.
It’s a frosty winter’s afternoon in Oslo, and I’m in the company of Øyvind Morken, searching for a quiet-ish spot to conduct our interview. I walk in the shadow of his tall lank figure, a plastic bag hanging by his side, the outline of a 12”sleeve visible through the white bag. I’ve been trying to interview Øyvind since the day we met, but the Jæger resident has always required some premise to talk about his production and dj work, and as of yet we’ve not found one. Øyvind is not one for crass media attention, but rather utilises his time more effectively in the studio and behind a set of decks, only ever indulging the media when he feels he has something important to say. He’s remarkably astute when it comes to music and although we’ve often talked casually on the subject, I’ve always wanted to get some of it down in writing, in an attempt to get to know the man behind the music further. An opportunity finally presents itself when Øyvind, on the cusp of his fifth release, Invisible Objects, agrees to an interview, but we’ve yet to find the perfect spot to conduct the perfect interview.
It’s a frigid -9 outside and the snow that fell the night before is glistening in the sun, crunching under our feet as we look for place that serves coffee. “I’m actually in the mood for a beer,” says Øyvind when the first coffee shop we enter is full, and we make our new destination Hell’s Kitchen, a lively bar just off Oslo’s Youngstorget. The news of David Bowie’s sudden and unforeseen passing is still rippling through the air and every shop or café we pass has the thin white duke’s records blasting out from marginally open portals across the city centre. “I like some of his music, but I’ve never really been a Bowie fan”, remarks Øyvind as he opens the door to the venue and Rebel Rebel pours out an obscene volume from the empty bar. It’s still early, and in Oslo, this kind of place is usually quiet before the acceptable evening hours of consuming alcohol. We take a seat and one of the unreserved tables, looking out from the window to the dense layer of snow outside. Øyvind says he doesn’t much care for the weather. I’m of a different opinion, but then again I guess this is still exotic to me. Øyvind gets his beer, while I settle into the vinyl seat with a coffee. I press record and we try to start from the beginning. “1979 and I popped out”, comes Øyvind’s grinning reply to that question.
Are we starting that far back?
Øyvind grew up in Hauketo, a small quaint suburb of Oslo that hugs the border of the county. He spent his youth amongst “loads of kids” and “people from different countries”. Although musically stagnant, with the town’s musical interest largely focussed on mainstream Hip-Hop at the time, Øyvind picked up a taste for music from a very early age. At the age of eight he remembers hearing Kraftwerk for the first time in a friend’s car and admiring a track called Walk the Dinosaur by Was not Was – a track he still plays today. “I loved that song. What I found out later is that Ken Collier was mixing these records and Ken Collier is a forgotten figure, but he was to Detroit, what Ron Hardy was to Chicago and Larry Levan to New York. It’s quite funny now that I was listening to this music when I was seven or eight” An interest in djing naturally followed and he played his first records at a local youth club, aged 11, when an older friend asked young Øyvind to stand in for him while he went behind the bridge to “smoke cigarettes and make out with his girlfriend”.
What were you playing back then?
“I remember playing Holiday Rap. (MC Miker G & DJ Sven). The B-side is a super cool proto house record, which I still play today. That was the first record I remember playing, but it was also early House, like Shep Pettibone’s mixes of Madonna. When I was 13 or 14, I was eventually allowed to dj the whole night for a couple of months until they threw me out for not playing what they wanted to hear. It was an old dj booth so you could lock the door and the people that worked there couldn’t get in. So I locked the door, and played hardcore Hip-Hop and early house music, and rave stuff, like prodigy – stuff I liked. I couldn’t mix back then, I would just play records. I also remember hearing M.A.R.S’ Pump up the Volume at a friend’s house on MTV and I was amazed how funky and cool it sounded with that bass-line. After a while I remember going in to a record shop in ’95, and they played Slam, Positive Education and I was just blown away, and bought it on CD. I was also into some cheesy House Music and some Trance.”
When did your career officially start as a dj?
“There was a six-year break before I bought my own turntables at twenty and then within a year I started playing clubs. I was listening to music the whole time in between and I wanted to dj during that time, but I didn’t have the money. I had my first residency in 2004, a Thursday night residency at Sikamikanico. “
Skipping ahead to the future and a residency at Jæger is the latest chapter in Øyvind’s career. He has an incredible knowledge of the music he plays, to a point where mixing the records together is almost irrelevant, even though he can apply it expertly to go from a Café Del Mar record to Nitzer Ebb, without missing a beat. He’s a purveyor of varied styles of music, with his diverse tastes remaining central to his sets, and without ignorance blinding his selections. On the table the bag of new records lie dormant while we talk. He opens the bag to pull out Echoes by Wally Badarou, the second copy he now owns, and it’s a rare first pressing. The sophomore album, by Island Records’ in-house keyboard expert, and unofficial Level 42 member, will be unfamiliar to most, but not Øyvind who knows more about this obscure figure from the eighties than even the wikipedia biographer could put together. He recites some facts about Badarou like a musical encyclopaedia, and suggests that “Echoes” is something of a balearic/cosmic/ambient classic. The record, released when Øyvind was only three years old, is a perfect example of Øyvind’s eclectic digging’ personality, which I learn is born out of necessity…
Where do your eclectic tastes comes from, having an open mind?
“It comes from starting to DJ in Oslo at a time when electronic music was not that popular. They were into Hip Hop. If you didn’t dj at specific events like Sunkissed or Monkey Business, you had to adapt. I was playing Basic Channel records next to disco records and funk and Hip-Hop. If you wanted to survive as a dj you had to do everything. I would always play music that I liked, but I found my taste is pretty broad, and if I wanted to, I could make stuff work. I could actually play Basic Channel at a night that I would also play some Q-tip, without it sounding forced. I also don’t like playing a Techno set for 5 hours. I don’t like playing banging music at the beginning. Like upstairs at Jæger, you have to go from being a bar to a club.”
You have to ease the audience into it, but what I also find in your sets thanks to your eclecticism, is that it will introduce me to music I wouldn’t necessarily enjoy, but works in the context of the other tracks.
“Yeah, if you listen to four Techno records before playing a great disco record that Disco record is gonna sound amazing, because you’ve just come out of this flat thing.”
How do you keep things interesting for yourself, especially with a weekly residency?
“Using my record collection. There are times when I don’t feel that inspired, but I’ve always wanted a residency. I think that’s the ultimate thing you can have as a dj – a weekly residency. You might travel the world, but for the music’s sake and your own development, I think a residency is the best way to learn.”
So you have to keep buying new music all the time.
What do you look for when you’re digging?
“It depends what I’m into that week. Like today, I found stuff in five minutes, and sometimes you can spend four hours. I buy records every week. During a recent two-and-a-half week vacation, I bought like 50 records. And I found like 100 new records on my Discogs list that I couldn’t afford buying just yet. I buy loads music, but I always buy things that I can play, but not because I need something to play tomorrow. I’m professional dj, it’s a job, so sometimes I’ll play on a rooftop in summer, and I will play for wealthy people in Oslo, so I won’t be playing house music. I’ll be playing soft-rock, boogie records and Jazz. I enjoy creating a vibe with that stuff as well.”
That’s one thing I’ve found people take for granted when they talk about djs in Oslo. Professional DJs need to be able to play an eclectic mix, because the city is small and there aren’t enough nightclubs, so you need to fill out your stamp card with every type of gig.
“Yeah. I think I’m lucky. I don’t get tired of it. One day I’m playing a club, the next I’m playing on a boat. I have a huge record collection and I love the music, and I get to play it all. It’s not an ego thing. I don’t need to play to a dance floor that claps when you’re done every time. I can also play to a bar where nobody even knows who I am. I’m just creating a vibe.”
At your level, do you ever learn something new when you dj?
“With these four years at Jæger, what I learnt was that only now, am I a good dj. I used to think I was a good, but I really wasn’t. You think you can read people, but it takes such a long time to master it. It’s easy to go bang and make the club go off, but to play those weird records, during peak – to go into something and not loose the dance floor – that takes so many years to develop those skills, and that comes from just doing it. You have to dj loads, to start understanding stuff, and that’s the way I like learning stuff. I go home sometimes and I realise; ‘wow, I managed to play this record at peak time.’”
It’s not just about mixing two records together flawlessly for you?
“No it’s about the program of the night. I mix, but what I think about is the selection – what and how I’m playing is much more important than the mixing. Mixing is just a tool to get from A to B. Sometimes you can play three records over each other and have fun with them, but it’s just tool.”
Speaking of playing three records at a time: You often play with Prins Thomas too at Jæger, probably the best DJ in the world at the moment – according to a lot of people. Do you ever pick anything up from him?
“Yeah, he uses a CD-players loop function really innovatively. I would play a record, and he would loop something over it, while mixing in another record, and then I would trigger another loop, and basically he would be playing two turntables and two cd players at the same time, for several minutes. I always tried to keep away from the cd players, but after seeing him use it like that, I was like; ‘shit I need to learn that’. To me Thomas is probably the best dj I’ve ever heard. He’s selection is amazing, and his mixing is awesome. He has this calm.”
That’s years of experience.
“Yes, and it’s also personality. We’re quite similar in personality in some ways, and especially when we dj, even though we sound pretty different. He’s a huge inspiration; he’s always been that, from when I was younger. He and Pål Strangefruit – Their way of djing influenced the development of my own style.”
Which is also about an eclectic nature. I imagine Thomas is quite open to various styles, and the disco label is often just overused to simplify the music for some?
“Yes, he’s like a librarian, with music. It’s just the British media that need to put things in categories to write about it. Trulz and Robin’s Froskelår, for instance is a Techno record that sounds like early Detroit stuff, but that’s been missed by every Techno DJ, because it was on Full Pupp, and they didn’t go check it out. When I dj, I don’t see genres. I’ll buy a trance record if its cool. I’ll find somewhere to play it. If you start doing that you’re going to get boring, when you limit yourself, because it might be a bit too cheesy or not underground enough. You know the people on the dance floor, they don’t judge you like that. It’s gonna be a couple of chin-strokers at the bar who are like bedroom djs that will say something like, ‘ah you shouldn’t have played that.’ You’re not playing to them, you are playing to the people on the dance floor. “
Influenced by the likes of Thomas and Strangefruit, Øyvind’s musical expression couldn’t be merely contained in a mixed set and the next natural progression would be for Øyvind to make the leap into production. Like every producer / dj this started with a computer and Øyvind trying his hand at software like Logic. A few failed attempts later, and Magnus International and André Bratten persuaded Øyvind to send his tracks to Prins Thomas, and it wasn’t long after that his debut EP, Kakemonstret hit the shelves through Full Pupp.
What were those first tracks like?
But Prins Thomas helped on the production side of things I believe?
“Thomas showed me how to EQ stuff and leave space for stuff. I basically learnt by sitting with him and doing it. It’s a nice way to learn. I gained some years just by working with him.”
For me, your productions have a very specific moroder-esque sequenced feel with elements of house and techno cropping up intermittently. How would you describe your music?
“The music I make comes out because of the way I listen to music and the way I dj. I don’t play one type of music. I’ll play a Jazz record in a Techno set if I think it can fit. Like this record. (Øyvind points to Herb Alpert’s Beyond lying in the pile of records he’d purchased earlier that day.) It’s like a Jazz record, but also a proto Techno record. I would listen to stuff like this and try to make something that sounds like it was 1981, like a Techno record that wasn’t supposed to be a Techno record – accidental dance music. I try and make that type of stuff, but because I’m not a super producer something else comes out of it. “
How has your music evolved since that first release, Kakemonstret?
“I think it’s evolved more on the technical side of things – knowing more about and learning more about things like gear, and incorporating it in my music. I recently bought some hardware. I know a lot of people think my music is all made with hardware, especially the first releases, but I was only using software then. I think it’s because I’ve listened to all this music for so long that even though I didn’t make music with hardware, it sounded like it, because that’s the stuff that influenced me. “
Hardware vs. Software – Does it make a difference these days do you think?
“What matters are the ideas you have; whether you have something original or not. I know people with hardcore studios, who’ve never released a record. Their basically just gear geeks.“
It’s like people that collect records and don’t play them.
“Yes, I have so many friends that don’t dj and have more records than me. I’m not a record collector. Yes, I buy a lot of records, but I dj and I like to play records.”
To me, Øyvind the dj and Øyvind the producer are two completely different things though. Your work in the studio feels a lot more focussed towards a particular sound, than your eclectic style behind the decks.
“Probably, it’s like two jobs. I don’t connect them. djing is my occupation. That’s what I’ve been doing for years, and making music is more like a hobby, but it’s something that probably benefits my dj career. That’s also the reason I wanted to release a record on my own. I wanted to have full control.”
I’ve had Øyvind’s Invisible Objects knocking around my music for the best part of a year, and am able to recall it whenever I hear Øyvind playing a track from the release in his sets at Jæger on a Wednesday night. It’s a functional dance release with Øyvind’s distinct character swelling through the three tracks. The delay with the release is essentially what held up this interview, and it’s one of the reasons Øyvind wanted to take full control of his music by starting his own label, Moonlighting. The first release on his newly established label arrived last year (a mere two months since it was conceived) in the form of a 7” with two tracks that featured Øyvind’s unmistakable slinky rubber bass-lines and sequential swinging lead hooks. Slightly down-tempo from his other releases, External Processing and Jungelerotikk also ventured more into the eclecticism he displays as a dj, leaning towards Balearic tendencies, especially in the case of Jungelerotikk.
What’s the idea behind your label, moonlighting.
“It’s a way to release my own stuff, when I want to and how I want to. “
It’s exclusively a vehicle for your releases?
“Yes, just me.”
Do you approach the music any differently?
“Yes, Jungerotikk was inspired by soundtrack music. Both sides, actually. I wanted to do it on 7” because they were short tracks, and I felt like that was a project for a 7”. I just finished another release for Moonlighting, which is deeper house. That record sounds like the Burrell brothers if they just got their heart broken by the same prostitute, and did loads of heroine in the studio while crying. That one will be more for clubs, for the early morning tripped out crowd. If it’s like 6 or 7 in the morning and you’ve been dancing all night long, you are much more open to other sounds.”
That’s something we don’t really get to experience in Oslo.
“Not much. It would take a long time to adapt the audience to that here. If you had a club that was open till eight, the club would be empty by 4.”
People would just be drunk, right?
“It would take years to develop, but it would be good, because maybe people would stop drinking so much and take it a little easy and just enjoy the music and enjoy each other. It could just be about people talking without constantly having to poor alcohol or drugs in their system. It’s like; ‘lets get drunk, it’s quarter to three, lets get laid’, you know the Norwegian mentality.”
Dance of the drunk, especially reminds me of Jæger at 3:30 on a Wednesday night and that “mentality” you talk of. Do you ever take something away from your DJ set and put into your music like that?
“Basically that track, yes. It’s about people stumbling around at 3AM. It’s a tribute to all the drunk people – the 2:45-I-need-to-get-laid people – this one’s for you!” (laughs)
That’s the last track on the next album, which will be released on Full-Pupp shortly, but it’s probably time we get to the end of this interview, and the reason Øyvind and I wanted to get together for a conversation in the first place. Invisible Objects sees Øyvind taking Full Pupp into the next fifty releases of the label’s existence and it’s immediately recognisable as Øyvind’s music. We order two beers to the table when the coffee I’ve been sipping on for the last hour still hasn’t quenched my thirst and head off into the last part of our interview.
What was the theme for this new record?”
“It’s quite depressing. I made it around the time my father died. The one track, ‘The new age of faith’ was just after the funeral. So I went home and made the record. It turned out to be a cover of LB Bad, a nu-groove artist from ’89. The record almost didn’t come out because of that. He’s known to be a bit harsh, and sue people, but I sent him an email and told him the story, and he liked the version. He was super nice and gave me his blessing.”
Would you say it is a very emotional record for you then?
“It’s dance music, and some of its happy, but yes it means a lot to me. I’m very proud of the record and I also think it’s a pretty good record. I made it almost two-and-a-half years ago and I’ve had the test pressing for ten months, but when I play it, I still love it. It stood the test of time.”
That record brings Øyvind’s musical profile up to date, but like his dj career, it’s a malleable biography that is constantly informed by Øyvind’s expanding musical tastes and knowledge. This knowledge I learn towards the end of our conversation, is from an informed mind too. When Øyvind is not playing the music he loves or creating new music, he’s learning more about the history of music through books like, “Last night a DJ saved my life”. His knowledge on music flows as effortlessly as the beers and I stop trying to keep up with noting down all the artists he’s mentioned – some very obscure artists – and just sink into the seat and try to absorb as much as possible. David Bowie is still playing over the sound system while we finish the last dregs of our beers as the sun sets over the horizon, the last rays of sunshine illuminating the city from where they are reflected in the snow. (I do like this weather) Our conversation winds down with MC Kaman and DJ Hooker joining us for some boisterous anecdotes about everyday subjects, like lost airline luggage and cars, and Øyvind reveals that he’s also a bit of car fanatic, having been a trained mechanic in his youth, like Detroit artist Omar S. This is not Detroit, it’s Oslo and Øyvind’s eclecticism; his way of making music; and his dj sets are all informed by it. It feels like we’ve covered anything about Øyvind Morken up to this point and take my leave before I ask one last thing…
Did I miss anything?
* You can catch Øyvind at his weekly residency Untzdag and Invisible Objects is out now. Get your physical copy at Filter or a digital copy here.
Pils & Plater, broadcast from Radio Nova every Saturday has been kind enough to put together a playlist of their recent shows ahead of this weekend. The weekly radio show, which is compiled by Tina Marie Borgholt and mixed by Jose Espeland, curates the very best in electronic dance music each week for their hourly broadcast out of Oslo. Often featuring guests like Nils Noa, Daniel Vazand Olle Abstract, the show also highlights the best in local DJs with a focus on the hedonism of club music and the feel of a night through a broadcast radio show. They will be bringing that show to Jæger in the spring to celebrate their 2nd anniversary and while we look forward to that event we have this compilation of mixes to carry us into the weekend. You can also stream some of the past guest mixes on Pils & Plater’s soundcloud pageand find some of the tracks from these mixes on this handy Spotify Playlist. Pils & Plater runs every Saturday at 20:00 on Radio Nova dab or spiller.radionova.no, with weekly guest mixes from 21:00.
We’ve been very excited about Magnus International’s debut LP for quite some time now, and although we’ve been given a sneak peak of the album, it’s still a very rare treat to hear news breaking around the release. Echo to Echo is set for release on the 12th of February and Full Pupp and Magnus International have given us another sneak peak at the album in the form of this album teaser. We wait on tentative hooks for it’s eventual release date…
The Jacksons, the Osmonds, the Hansons, the Carpenters and in some way I suppose, even the Mansons – all these families displayed the kind of musical talent in a single generation that some families take years to nurture in just one descendent. Some were super groups of their time, others famed for the infamy, but all talented musicians getting an early start at a career in music during a time when the group was still an essential formula to making new music. But what of today – what of a generation brought up on the idea of the solo artist and electronic music? Can families like the Osmonds and the Jacksons still exist in a time where music and djing is the sole pursuit of the individual? The answer is irrefutably, yes and the Bravo siblings are the finest example of just such a family today.
André, Dan and JenniferBravo are a new generation of musical family, one brought up on their parents’ record collection and a set of turntables. André Bravo, known for his residency at Jæger’s Mandagsklubben was the precursor to Dan and Jennifer’s introduction to the world of the djing, with each member of the Bravo family forging ahead in distinctive styles. Dan and André often step into the role of producer, with André appearing on Deep-House labels like Bogota and the name Dan Bravo should already be familiar to you, from his releases on Armada Music and Sony. Like the Osmonds and the Jacksons, each sibling in the Bravo family brings something unique to the clan, and while André and Dan look favour the deeper end of House and R&B respectively, Jennifer likes to dwell in the pulsing corners of the Techno genre.
The Bravo siblings are certainly a unique anomaly in electronic music and djing, but I wonder where it all started and how they all influenced each other on their path. So we sent over some questions via email to find out more about this unique family.
How did the Bravo family get into djing?
André: I got into djing through one of my best friends in the 5th grade. His older brother was a dj, so we used to borrow his records to play at the weekly youth disco in the 6th grade. We also got into it through watching MTV and later getting a hold of DMC Battle Video tapes and ITF Battle tapes.
Jennifer: And I was influenced by Andre`.
As the big brother, did you have the biggest musical influence in the house, and what were you listening to when you first realised you wanted to be a dj?
André: I think our father probably had the biggest musical influence, but at the same time I know that I have influenced my family just as much. I was listening too stuff, like Jungle Brothers, Wu Tang, EPMD, Prodigy, Shamen, Massive Attack, Stevie Wonder, Goldie, Aphex Twin, Orbital, Underworld. Grooverider. Q-Bert, Squarepusher , etc…
What do you remember of your older brother’s first sets?
Dan: Cool question! But I actually can’t remember, must be some kind of urban hip-hop set somewhere around Oslo city, maybe at the legendary hip-hop club Barongsai? I don’t know, but I would like to remember it!
Jennifer: I remember André and his scratch sessions at home. In the clubs, I remember that he played diverse sets – not everyone can mix from R&B to Braindance.
Besides big brother, what else inspired the younger siblings to dj?
Jennifer: The love for music inspired me.
Dan: I’ve been into music as long as I can remember, being raised with various styles of music playing from every room in the house – my brother, sister & dad constantly played music. So music got into me really early and it’s been a big part of my life ever since. After years and years of just being a “houseparty-dj” or “selecta” for every house party in my hometown, I finally bought some decks. My brother pushed me for years, so this was definitely all on my brother, but it felt natural as well since I was already the “party/music” guy throughout my teenage years.
When you guys started playing, was is it about following in André’s footsteps, or did you immediately want to start doing your own thing?
Dan: I’ve always believed I did my own thing when it comes to djing yes, but we did share a lot of influences at the start. When it came to Hip-Hop/R&B club music, he’s the one who got me into the urban club stuff, but after that I really just followed my own thing and discovered new sounds and genres that he didn’t and visa versa. So I think we both inspired each other at that point. Even though he showed me like early deep house stuff, jersey club, dubstep etc. I really just became a fan of the music so I followed my own sound, and still do, to this day.
Jennifer: It inspired me to follow in Andre`s footsteps, but I wanted to do my own thing, essentially.
Jennifer, I think I’ve asked you about it before, and you mentioned you are drawn more to Techno in your sets. What draws you to it?
Jennifer: The driving nature of the music.
And André, I know you’re quite eclectic from what I’ve experienced at Jæger, picking on elements of R&B, House and Techno. But what do you usually like in a track when you’re looking for new music?
Its not always the same thing with each track its more like different weapons of emotion that I can use to manipulate time. (Laughs)
Dan, what are your musical preferences behind the decks?
Besides getting you your first pair of decks, what role did your parents play in getting you into music and djing?
André: My mother helped me a lot with equipment and my father was a big musical influence. They both had a lot of soul in their music collections, like George Benson, Bobby Womack, Luther Vandross, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, etc…
Jennifer: Well our father is very passionate about music, and we’ve been listening to his music collection from when we were very young.
Did you spend a lot of time going through your parents’ record collection?
André: Yes, and we still do on occasion.
I know Jennifer also dabbles in the visual arts too. Did you guys grow up in a very artistic environment?
Jennifer: Our family has been collecting and buying paintings since we were kids, yes.
Besides learning to dj, did you guys pick up any instruments together?
André: I don’t play any instruments. I’m still trying to learn the keys and chords.
I know André and Dan are also quite prolific in the studio, but what about you Jennifer – Any ambitions to make music?
Jennifer: Yes, there’s some ambition to make music in the future.
Dan, you just put out a track a few days ago on Soundcloud. Can you tell me a bit more about “Lost my Mind”?
Dan: My sister told me to do a Deborah Cox remix of a song that I’ve always liked and the acapella was online, and from that “Lost My Mind” came to life!
Dan, I’ve never really had the chance to hear you play. What would a Dan Bravo set sound like?
Hmm, I would say a mix between commercial and non-commercial dance music with Hip-Hop / R&B influences. Easy going house music, happy stuff!
Do you guys ever dj together when you get the chance?
We haven’t really been djing that much together but we should definitely do that some time this year.
Ever thought about forming a dj super group?
And the last question, if you would have to compare yourself to another musical family would it be more Hanson or Manson?
*André Bravo will be joining the rest of Mandagsklubben for our opening DJ marathonand you can see some of Jennifer’s visual works here.
Although Kobosil at Jæger is but a distant memory form 2015, we are still enamoured by young producer’s work, especially since the release of his EP 91, the first release for Berghain’s Ostgut Ton. It seems that he’s succeeded that release with his debut LP for the very same label and Ostgut Ton are streaming it two days before it’s release… and the physical copies have just sold out. It must be good.
Our February / March line-up for 2016 starts with an epic two-day DJ Marathon, which will see some of out favourite local DJs run in our newly refurbished venue. We open the doors on the 12th of February with this event, featuring our residents and a few local invited guests. We get a late start to 2016, but once again Ola and Kaman has selected some of the best DJs to pay us a visit in our opening months. We finally get the chance to see Erol Alkan, after he was unable to attend last year’s Øya festival. Ben UFO also returns, and the British DJ will be joined by another eclectic personality in the booth in the form of Lena Willikens. Our weekly programme returns too, without any major adjustments, and Retro bring Dave Clarke over for a night of uncompromising Techno that will be sure to break up the monotony of our usual Thursday nighst. Old friends Frank & Tony and Mike Hukkaby is sure to bring the very best in House to our two floors, while Prosumer also drops in with his blend of Techno and House from Berlin via Edinburgh.We also some live music for you over the course of the next two months, with André Bratten and Trulz & Robin sure to impress with their respected electronic live sets. Bratten will be joined by Jennifer Cardini on the decks, while Tin Man will provide the support for Trulz and Robin. They also take us into the Bypåske Festivalen where a stellar cast of DJs await to be announced. There’s a little bit of everything in this February / March line-up and we look forward to seeing you all again on our dance floor. Until then, save the date.
Mandagsklubben resident André Bravo stretches his DJ muscle for the first time this year in this live mix. Recorded at Gudruns, Oslo on the 12th of January the extensive mix is buoyant with effervescent hi-hats pulling busy rhythms and deep bass-lines across the mix. The comprehensive Bravo has focussed on House on this occasion, digging towards a darker sound for the most part of a mix dedicated to a club at peak hour. It might still be a while before we get Bravo back at his regular Monday slot at Jæger, but this mix will definitely keep us company while we enter phase two of our renovations.
Ahh, it’s like being transported back to December in our basement, where Etapp Kyle opened up the Ostgut Ton’s Zehn. Boiler room have made Etapp Kyle’s set from November available for streaming today, and for those that were there in December, we’re sure you’ll recognise one or two tracks from his set at Jæger. Etapp Kyle is a little less hesitant in this Boiler Room appearance, introducing a defined beat a lot earlier in this shorter Boiler Room set, but it carries much of the same feeling from his set at Jæger. The young Ukrainian DJ also sneaks in a track from his amazing Klockworks release from last year. It’s worth a listen so sit back, turn it up and relive the experience with us.
As part of a documentary on the rise of Norwegian dance music called Northern Disco Lights, Bjørn Torske is deposited on top of Tromsø’s Storsteinen to play an impromptu live set. We are only really offered a glimpse of the live gig, but they couldn’t have chosen a more scenic venue for a live gig. “Northern Disco Lights – The Rise and Rise of Norwegian Dance Music” is set for release at the end of the year, and is the work of the guys behind Paper Recordings, whose had a long standing relationship with Norwegian Dance music since the nineties, and are probably in the best position to tell the story to the outside world.
Last year they interviewed Tom Trago at Jæger for this very same documentary and you can still watch that clip over on Vimeo.You can find out more about the documentary here.
In 2007 Oslo was starving for an electronic music scene. Dominated by rock and the last remnants of a death metal scene wearing out its welcome, Oslo’s electronic music landscape was little more than a blip on electronic music’s radar. I was here in 2007 and besides Sunkissed and the odd occasion at Villa, there was very little here to quench my first for new and exciting electronic music. Save for Nu Disco, which was getting a lot more attention elsewhere, electronic music in Oslo was very much still an underground experience in the city. Electronic music in Oslo was by and large a taboo and clubbing in the city was met mostly with disdain from Norwegian peers. I recall mentioning going to an after party at Sjokolade Fabrikken to a colleague only to be welcomed with a disapproving grunt, like I was partaking in some sort of criminal activity. Even though electronic music in Oslo was somewhat niche, there were some great moments – like said after party. But moments like those were few and far between and if you were looking for electronic music at the time, you were better off booking a ticket to Berlin or London.
Fast-forward to today and the scene is vastly different. The number of venues featuring electronic music has notably increased, and there’s a healthy electronic music program in the city seven days a week thanks to places like Jæger and the continued efforts by places like Villa and promoters like Sunkissed to bring electronic music to the city. It’s mostly a result of a global increase in interest for electronic music, propelled by the established artists and DJs, but it’s also very much a result of Oslo and Norway’s continued –albeit subsidiary – involvement in electronic music since the nineties through artists like Biosphere, Mental Overdrive and later more pop-orientated Royksopp. It’s in this era that Robin Crafoord (Trulz and Robin) would arrive in Oslo in 1996 and be introduced to a scene that “wasn’t as mainstream as it is today”, but included many of the same faces, like g-Ha. Like in 2007 there were very few clubs to choose from, but unlike 2007, the scene “was very alive, and the few clubs that were there were super cool, underground places.” The strict alcohol laws were just being introduced and although you couldn’t buy a drink after 3am, you could at least stay out till 5am if you knew where to go. “People felt a lot more free than are today”, says Robin about the nightlife at the time, but at the same time, “people had to know about it.” It was a small yet dedicated scene for those informed, but it was based on something completely new and exciting, with electronic music still very much in development stages as dance music. “Now it’s a bit easier to find”, according to Robin as electronic dance music today is far more ingrained in popular culture than it was ever before and with that comes a sort of mediocrity, where that excitement of something new is overpowered by the monotony of being able to experience the same thing over and over again, with little diversion from the acceptable norm. It’s here where Robin and a group of friends, including Jon Ole Flø come into the picture with a new event called Redrum. Robin and co wants to bring back some of that excitement he first encountered around electronic music, and in a landscape where electronic music is the dominant form of music today, this means retreating to the shadows in search of the unusual and the progressive. They want to bring a unique experience to people that are now familiar with electronic music, and looking for something a little different, something that a younger generation of electronic music aficionado like Jon Ole Flø might not be familiar with.
Jon Ole represents this generation, as an electronic musician and DJ, who was raised on electronic music, unlike Robin and I who would have had to arrive at it. “Electronic music started quite early” for Jon Ole, when as a kid he would get recorded electronic music as Christmas gifts. Being familiar with electronic music from a young age and studying classical percussion, Jon Ole quickly garnered a taste for the alternative side of the music through artists like Aphex Twin and Authecre. Coming from a small island in Norway populated by fewer than 1000 people, Jon Ole’s first experience of clubbing only came later when he moved to Malmö, Sweden in his early twenties. “There were a lot of underground (illegal) clubs and many of them were located on one particular street in an old industrial area. “Jon Ole’s introduction to clubbing and electronic music is quite the opposite of Robin’s. For Robin’s, and in part my generation, clubbing and electronic music were one and the same, and because it was still fairly marginal, everything about it was new and exciting. For Jon Ole and his generation, who had been raised on electronic music, clubbing has become commonplace, and with that, the excitement of experiencing something new in that context has been exhausted from the experience. Robin suggests that “everything is so established and professional it can also be a little bit boring sometimes”, and Jon Ole agrees. “There’s a lot of good clubs in Oslo, but I think this opens up new possibilities, to explore a different clubbing experience.”
Although they’ve experimented with this before, together and independently with nights like their 7-hour Drexiya listening event at Mir, the group involved with Redrum, which also includes Asbjørn Blokkom Flø, Astrid Einarsdotter and Andreas Mork (Sannergata) are looking to create a clubbing experience that is set to call in a new era for Oslo, based on the scene’s origins and Robin’s early experiences with electronic music. At the same time, Redrum will also offer a new experience to a younger generation of electronic music fan, like Jon Ole. They’ve opted to host the event on the second floor of a restaurant, bringing in a custom sound system for the event. In some ways this embodies the spirit of Robin’s early years in the city, but it also brings something new to Oslo’s clubbing and electronic music landscape, something that’s already found a home in places like London and Berlin. “Nobody’s done that for a long time in Oslo,” says Robin. “There’s been some parties in weird pubs, but then it’s only been around for short a period of time before it disappeared.” Jon Ole believes a venue like the one they’ve chosen is one of the “good places in Oslo that’s not being used”, but it’s not just about the unusual venue they’ve chosen, but also dependent on the music policy Redrum will look to implement.
“Now that there is a big scene in House and Techno and you can experiment a little more with House and Techno,” according to Robin and that is exactly what they intend to do. As electronic music grew in popularity all over the world, and the scene exploded with new music, the music that would often feature in the clubs, would for the most part be of a functional nature that could accommodate dancing, without alienating a populist audience, especially in Oslo. “It’s not often I feel like I can’t get away with playing an Autechre track in Villa or Jæger”, says Robin whose experience as DJ is two decades in the making. And for a younger audience, who’s only exposure to electronic music comes in the club context – because lets face it, the radio is still quite conservative, and the internet is quite a minefield if you don’t know where to look for new electronic music – this means that coming across forward-thinking electronic music in Oslo is difficult. Even places like London and Amsterdam, whose bigger venues are no different from Jæger or Villa, requires some digging to find events and venues catering for an alternative audience, with the major difference being that such an audience is much larger than it ever will be in Oslo. Robin, Jon Ole and co want to “open the curtain and dive into the unknown” with Redrum and they want to take Oslo with them, playing the kind of music you won’t essentially hear out in the city at the moment. Jon Ole hopes people “come for the music” and even though electronic music is today far more established than it was in 2007 or 1996, Redrum offers yet another development in the city’s remarkable growth in electronic music and the culture that follows it.
I’ve hardly been back a year and already the face of Oslo and electronic music is a complete contrast from before I left. There are incredibly exciting things happening here all the time, and each weekend I’m faced with making difficult decisions as the where to go to get my fill of electronic music in the city. Everywhere I go I find audiences more eager to participate in clubbing excursions in the city and a general attitude towards club culture and electronic music that’s far more liberal than anything I’d witnessed in the past. It’s the perfect time to experiment then and an event like Redrum gives us the opportunity to do just that. Now that most of Oslo is on very familiar terms with electronic music it’s time we take a step outside of the mainstream and have a peak behind the curtain where the unknown lurks and a new adventure in electronic music awaits.
* You can find out more about REDRUM and their opening event on the 16th of January here.
While our construction / bar crew are hard at work gutting the inside of Jæger as part of our renovations, those of us less adept at manual labour – exclusively me (It took me an hour to remove one hand dryer attached to a wall with two screws) – have taken the time to catch up on some reading. Resident Advisor’s longer reads in particular and while they’re not always convenient to read they are almost always insightful, but something about they’re latest articleneeds to be heard by as many people involved or participating in clubbing culture as possible. So I’ve taken to summarising the piece for those of you who don’t have the time to indulge in the extended piece, because it’s time we really start talking about drugs and it’s role in clubbing culture like adults.
Drugs have been synonymous with clubbing culture since time immemorial. Whether it was psych rock and LSD in the 1960’s; speed and the punk scene, Heroin and Jazz in the 1950’s; Ecstasy and Rave culture; or even the rise of cocaine in Oslo’s clubbing landscape recently, drugs have always been a part of clubbing culture and it would be incredibly obtuse to ignore that fact. And with club culture completely entangled in electronic music today the two are almost one in the same. This is not to suggest that Jæger condones the use of drugs (hell, we don’t even allow energy drinks), but like Sacha Lord-Marchionne from The Warehouse Project says in the article; “We would be morons to think that, no matter what measures we put in place, people aren’t going to get drugs into the venue.” Luis-Manuel Garcia approaches the issue of Drug Policies and Electronic music culture in this article by looking at what is the most effective policy on drugs in the UK at this moment, which is WHP and the way they operate within the law to give the punters that might indulge in drugs the safest way to do that, distributing information about harmful substances they might come in contact with by allowing experts to test any confiscated drugs. This is called a “harm reduction” strategy in the article and it seems that the most effective way of combating drug abuse is still that model of a weary hippy standing on rickety stage, telling the audience at the first Woodstock that the brown acid is a bad trip. Because drug policies are still too constricting to let researchers and scientists do their job and find affective measures to have some sort of quality control over the drugs we injest. Drug policies it appears occupy a scale from eradication-focussed zero tolerance policies to Harm Reduction. “Harm-reduction policies tend to be less pathologising, seeing drug users as normal, everyday people, most of whom partake in drugs in culturally-specific settings that only rarely lead to harm.” Think of the “needle rooms” in Norway in the context of a recreational drug like MDMA or Ketamin. This article focuses mostly on the USA and it’s draconian war on drugs, which resulted in the Rave Act of 2003, “which extended laws intended for ‘crack houses’ to make the organisers of raves and other dance music events legally responsible for drug use on their premises.” And it Garcia poses the question “are you willing to increase the risk to drug users in order to drive drugs underground?”
In the article Garcia speaks to people like Stephanie Jones and organisations like Dance Safe to make a case for reforming drug policies and especially introducing harm reductions policies in venues, organisations and festivals. It seems that the current drug policies not only stop organisers, venues and festivals from implementing measures to educate their audiences about drugs, but also encumber researchers like Dr. Doris Payer from studying the effects of recreational drugs and how to prevent harm to users. Because with all that we know today, there is reason to suggest that drugs can be safe in a controlled environments with small quantaties and no more harmful than alcohol or cigarettes. Garcia suggests there is a cultural stigma around drugs as dictated by these current policies and that “(t)here may have been times when we have failed to look after ourselves and each other because of deep-seated, culturally-ingrained morals about pleasure and propriety.” It’s in essence a kind of hypocrisy where even those who indulge in drugs, safely and without real harm, tend to associate the activity as akin to the gangsters shooting each other over the right of a distribution area. It encouraged me to believe once again to fight drugs on a universal level rather than a national level and the article makes several references to the Netherlands and Portugal’s stance, where it’s still illegal, but the police’s resources are focussed more on preventing the organised crime that naturally evolves around supplying something illegal – like bootlegging during prohibition.
Garcia doesn’t broaden his approach on a universal scope like this, but rather focuses his attention on something that’s far more realistic for this time and place, and returns to harm reduction policies and the best solution for making sure those that do take drugs don’t come to harm, because of unknown and harmful contaminate substances. It appears that it’s something we’ve been doing for as long as we’ve been taking drugs at clubs, developing something of buddy system when we do indulge. “Ravers are remarkably resourceful when it comes to managing drug safety under clandestine conditions,” says the article. It appears with prohibitive drug policies enforced by heavy handed security with adverse affects to the drug user, we form a tight knit community, where we look out for one another through a network system, a sort of ground roots Harm Reduction strategy if you will. The article goes on to say this can have disastrous consequences, but fails to mention how, and suggests that it’s only through tightly managed systems like on-sight testing that these systems have a controlled effect. For the moment places like WHP can only really test the drugs that are confiscated, and post a notice to warm of any harmful effects. But the most effective harm reduction strategy would actually be onsite testing for potential drug users and for the most part this is still illegal, since anybody handling the substances could be prosecuted for possession, and that’s the case for Norway too – even though punishment for possession is fairly light with 6 months the longest jail sentence for small quantities.
This is why Garcia says it’s important to educate and familiarise ourselves with drug policies, because they in turn have a fundamental affect on clubbing culture and the dance floor. It can save a person from intoxication and death if reformed and even if you don’t use drugs, it can still impact those around you if you are a part of club culture. You can read the full article here if you feel compelled to dig deeper and would urge you to do just that.
Daniel Vaz is the first DJ I came to acquaint through Jæger and I remember our first encounter quite clearly. His signature drink, a glass of white wine in a tumbler nestled on his lap with a warm personality greeting you behind his handsomely gruff voice. If you’ve ever met the DJ it is unlikely that you’d forget him and if you were fortunate enough to meet him while at the decks, the name Daniel Vaz will be ingrained in your memory ever since. He represents a new generation of DJ in Oslo, one that’s shed the idiosyncrasies of a small city for the universal language of House music in an international landscape. In the past year it has seen his star significantly rise, including his first headlining set of his career for the Villa and a load of memorable appearances at Jæger. He achieved all this while embarking on a new developed academic career, leaving a comfortable job in his own company to pursue his dream of becoming an industrial designer, and it’s hardly put a damper on his DJ career in the process. It’s something that’s likely to continue into the New Year with Daniel being given the significant task of opening Oslo’s clubbing season for 2016, with another headlining slot at the Villa tonight. We caught up with him before that to talk about the New Year, the music, his academic career, and the year that’s been in this Q&A.
How was 2015 for you?
2015 was great. I got to meet and know a lot of great people, and make new friends. I’ve been able to play music for a bunch of people in many different and cool places.
Any highlights, musical or otherwise
I was able to go to Murmansk in Russia to play a club there. That was a particularly cool experience.
Which track summed up the year for you?
Hehe, that’s always a hard question to answer. But I’d have to say feeling-wise, I would be Kornél Kováks – Pantalón perhaps. It’s such a fun track and it does sum up 2015 in a sweet way.
You also headlined for the first time last year – for Villa, if I’m not mistaken. I’m sorry I missed it. How did it go and what did you take away from the experience?
Yes, it was my first Saturday headliner, which was a pretty big deal for me. The Villa was always a big milestone venue for me to play, and to be a part of. So after playing for The Villa for a while now, to be trusted with doing a headliner gig, really means a lot to me.
It was also the year you decided to leave a comfortable job in a company you partly own to venture into an academic career towards industrial design. Can you tell me more about it? (It sounds pretty amazing.)
Yeah! It’s exciting. I’ve been working in the movie business for about ten years, and between that and playing music, I spent my spare time on thinking about and appreciating good design. So I’m going to pursue that.
You seem to have a natural affinity for the arts judging from your skill behind the decks. Why did you opt for a visual course rather than and venture further into music?
Thank you! I do want to study music as well, and am still going to venture further into the world of music while on my new mission.
How did you get into music in the first place?
Hah. It started when I was a kid. I saw some DJ on TV and thought that it looked fun and cool, and I loved the sound he made with his record players. So when I was at a flea market a short time after, I found a record player and was amazed when I actually had the thirty kroner it cost. So I bought it and ran home. After my parents seeing how much I tried, I got some DJ slipmats for my eighth birthday and two records with some hip hop beats and some vocal scratch stuff to practice with. I was lucky to have such supporting parents.
And the rest is history, I suppose, making it’s way up to today where you are calling in Oslo’s clubbing new year at the Villa. What track will be the first you lay down?
I have no idea. That’s the fun part, if you ask me :)
And now for the obligatory end-of-year hand off question. Any new-year’s resolutions?
Naw, I just try not to look back and continue to look forward with a healthy mind.
While most of us are still sleeping off our hangovers – this writer included – Olle Abstract has picked through new Norwegian music, and assembled some of the hottest new tunes coming your way in the very near future. It features a track from Øyvind Morken’s next release on Full Pupp, as well as Magnus International’s debut album on the same label. Both releases will make a big impression on the year, with Magnus’ debut album already turning a few heads way before it’s February release date. André Bratten’s hauntingly magnificent Cascade also makes and appearance here, and it comes a few weeks after his spectacular sophomore release ‘Gode’. There’s also a cut from the first Full Pupp split from Blackbelt Andersen and we definitely get the sense that there’s a theme to this selection, but new excellent tracks from Finnebassen and Niilas suggest this is not the Full Pupp special we think it is.
As a kid growing up in South Africa, I remember my first experience of a uniquely original beat came from a ritualistic television habit – a Friday night of flicking through the four channels available out of sheer boredom. It was the early nineties and there was very rarely anything to distract the public from their beer drinking ritual around an open fire on a Friday night so the kids were left to their own devices and the Television offered the escape from the monotonous drone of guitar music playing in the background. I would sit on the floor flicking through the channels like this until one evening something stopped me dead in my tracks. It was the sound of a peculiar rhythm, counterpointing the lazy rhythms of a blues guitar coming from somewhere outside. There was a 4/4 kick, but it was unusual in the way the snare accented the offbeat and more than that it was completely mesmerising for a young music fan like myself. It was an infectious rhythm accentuated by the rhythmical expressions of the Zulu dancers in their colourful attire, moving to this provocative percussive musical language. It was a musical language I would come to know as Kwaito.
Kwaito, although influenced by the sound of Chicago, is South Africa’s own with the development of electronic music in the country almost perpendicular to that of the states. House music found an immediate audience in South Africa in the eighties, with the percussive music especially enjoying popularity in townships like Soweto, but much of the basis that formed Kwaito came from local music, and House merely offered the electronic means for it to exist in a modern context and develop. It went hand in hand with Stokvel parties –informal gathering in townships – and Pantsula, a popular dance form, which displays a kind of athleticism very rarely encountered on the dance floor. In the context of this social gathering and the time of House music’s arrival in South Africa, many scholars believe it offered a platform for people to unite in the perpetual struggle against apartheid. People were dancing in the street when Nelson Mandela was released, and Kwaito was the soundtrack. People would celebrate deep into the night when the ANC was elected in 1994 and Kwaito would be on the jukebox. Kwaito was in some ways more about the celebration of the achievement than fuelling the fire of discontent, and the music delivered that message in upbeat arrangements with a very accessible party narrative. The music expounded in the nineties as the sanctions of apartheid lifted and exposure to “western” music increased everywhere in the country. But Kwaito was as much about R&B and Hip Hop as it was about House, and it grew as a completely independent anomaly, influenced, but not determined by the genre’s development elsewhere. More so, Kwaito offered an accessible platform for those who didn’t enjoy the white privilege of being able to entertain a leisurely pursuit like music. The political agenda was not contained within the literal form of this soulful music, but rather in the convenience of this music. House music was the bridge to equality through cheap keyboards and a simplified musical language that the average person tapping his foot to the beat could understand and Kwaito was South Africa’s interpretation of this form of accessible music.
Kwaito took on the rich musical heritage of South Africa’s many local cultures, and stirred it into a variably mixing pot of influences channelled into something uniquely South African. Music from “western” developments was appropriated for local audiences, incorporating elements like those offbeat snares from indigenous musical developments, and arrived at music that was distinguishable, yet universal enough to lose the kitsch exotic tag, where by western music is the standard by which all other music follows and anything from the Africa is considered of an “other” dimension. South African House music as Kwaito excelled in this regard, because it became impossible to stick it with that “other” tag, where it’s appreciated for its exoticism like a tribal mask. In House music, South Africa found a level playing field with the rest of the world, and as the professionalism grew, artists like Black Coffee emerged at an international level –more so than at a local level even – without adopting the form of an unusual curiosity to be admired by the rest of the world. Many of these artists overcame a life of poverty, discrimination and life-threatening events, to get to the point they arrived at, but they’ve never played on this aspect for the advancement for the sake of their careers. For these artists it is, and it’s always been about the music.
With the advent of computer music, Kwaito and House music was made more accessible than ever in South Africa and the genre grew to overshadow the magnitude of its US counterparts, locally. In the early to mid 2000’s I remember almost every bar in Cape Town was playing House in one form or another. They weren’t exclusive, playing everything from Kwaito to Deep House, to a type of Lounge House where live instrumentation would often accompany the DJ set. It’s towards the end of this era, on the back of the first decade of this new millennium, where South African House music and Kwaito would find larger audiences in the rest of the world. DJ’s like Culoe De Song, DJ Mujava and DJ Clock would emerge out of the country on the back of the path paved by Black Coffee, with each generation inspiring the next in a type of upward social mobility through music. Two strains emerged at the same time, with some DJs like De Song preferring an European and Stateside aesthetic to House, while others like Clock stayed true to the Kwaito sound that started it all in South Africa. And where the two distinctions meet, you’ll find a new artist like Sipbe Tebeka, making stripped down House with a slight Kwaito influences running through it in the same way Mujava’s Township Funk bridged that gap between UK Funky and Kwaito for a international audience.
Today House is the biggest music market in South Africa with the distinction between it and Kwaito becoming ever more conflated. It’s the most popular form of music practised by South Africans, and has taken on something of an umbrella term for those that make electronic music. And while the rest of the world turns to Techno, it’s still House music making the most waves in South Africa, with artists like Spoek Mathambo and Felix La Band flying the flag for South African House and Kwaito. It might have been modernised along with rest of the world, but to me that first experience I’ve had with music falling upon it one lazy Friday evening has stayed with me for the rest of my life.
It’s an onerous task, summing up Ivan Smagghe’s career in the space of an introduction. The DJ/producer’s career spans the breadth of electronic music history over three decades and it’s not by sheer luck he’s in that position. He’s amassed a cult following in all his musical endeavours. From Black Strobe and Kill the DJ to his infamously evocative DJ sets, Ivan Smagghe has something of a Midas touch when it comes to music. His ear for music is astounding and he completely embodies the idea of the eclectic DJ, while his penchant for esoteric digging always ensures a surprise is never too far off in his sets.
With all that in mind, where does a biographer even begin to tell the story? Smagghe today is just as relevant as Smagghe in Black Strobe, but neither could exist if it wasn’t for Smagghe in Paris, slaving away at Rough Trade to pay off his growing debt to the record store. Actually that’s a good place to start, not Rough Trade, but the records. Ivan once lost 25 000 odd records when his storage unit went up in flames in 1999. The Parisian had been a music collector long before he’d been a DJ, an aspect of his musical personality that was handed down to him by his parents. You can still catch him playing Jaenette’s Porqué te Vas, a favourite from his youth, passed on to him by his mother. It was as a result of his collection that he started DJing when friends persuaded the latent DJ to share some of his music and something seemed to click with Ivan as his eclectic musical tastes fused disparate musical styles into singular musical narratives, all tied together with Ivan’s unique ear for music. A set could go from anything 80’s synth pop to acid house at his regular Kill the DJ events. It’s a style of mixing records that would soon become known as electroclash, a style of mixing most DJs base their sets on today, even though many of them don’t know it.
It was within this scene, Smagghe first rose to prominence as a DJ, but it was also that temperament, which would lay the foundation for Black Strobe. Alongside Arnaud Rebotin, Ivan captured the sprit of electroclash in the recorded format with tracks like Me and Madonna. The tracks were raw and punkish, but with a serious investment in catchy melodies and entrancing vocals that have stood the test of time, even outside the electroclash movement. All the while Smagghe continued to cultivate his DJ personality, perhaps not as the ardent collector he was before the infamous fire, but rather more like a connoisseur of good music he’d like to share for the purpose of a good time. He would go on to leave Black Strobe, but continue his production pursuits in various other projects including It’s a fine line, a group he shares with Marketing Music boss, Tim Paris. This group is still active today, but if there’s any one thing that Iavn Smagghe is best known for, it’s being a DJ and his sets for the likes of Bugged Out’s Suck my Deck series has garnered a legendary status amongst punters and DJs alike. And, we suppose the rest is history? Well far from it, we’ve only really picked at the thin layer of the thin veneer of the surface of what is Ivan Smagghe. There’s still so much left to uncover, and the only way we’ll be able to dig a little deeper is through some questions. Where do we start? Why not Oslo…
Ivan, I’ve seen your name on a few bills in Oslo in the past. Is there any special connection to the city that keeps bringing you back?
Not more than a few friends really: Oyvind, Thomas etc… I suppose I was into the “Bergen” sound in the very early days where I met Pal Strangefruit, Erot, Bjorn and all of them when I used to radio (in the 90’s). That spaced-out disco wavething (and it’s many off-shoots) is my kind of thing though I am not a purist. Good record, bad record is all that matter.
You must know Oslo well enough now, to know that it’s not still all about disco here, but what always goes down well here from your perspective in the DJ booth?
I am not sure I know Oslo very well. Anyway, I play what I play. I am not gonna change my style. I could not even if I wanted to. Last time I was there in the summer was during that festival, there was a lot of people, may be not people who would be my core audience, all went fine.
You’ve mentioned a few times that your musical education started with collecting records. Do you still remember the first record and what exactly drew you to it?
The first I bought myself was probably Soft Cell’s Tainted Love. But my dad was a record collector too. Tangerine Dream and The Velvet Underground were on constant rotation at home.
How did you go from collecting records to realising you want to mix them into each other?
Someone just asked me to play at a party. I had nver wanted to consciously be a DJ. I was working in a record shop to pay off all the records I wanted.
You started working for Rough Trade because you owed them Money, I believe. Did working in the store provide any particular inspiration or was it just about paying your debt to them?
If you collect records, or are into music, working in a shop is great. At least the day when you open the boxes of new stuff. Rough Trade was cool because it was two shops in one, a dance one (where I mainly work) and a rock-indie one (where I come from musically). And of course, you meet people.
You also worked for Rough Trade’s Radio station Nova at the time too. Paris must have been a very interesting place for music around that time with the likes of Daft Punk and that French house sound cropping up.
It was more on a personal level (meeting a lot of people am still friends with) than on a musical level for me. I was not really into the French disco sound.
From playing records you eventually started making them. How did you make that transition?
I started making music with some friends. Then Blackstrobe because Arnaud and myself came from the same musical background.
You never had a formal music education and you still don’t play any instruments (I think), but you clearly have a musical ear. How these elements come together when you’re in the creation process?
I don’t feel the need to play any instruments. I mean it would be great if I could but making the type of music I like is so much more than that. And I can work with people, I like it. Programming a beat or a sequence is not that hard, and I’ve got enough references in my head to try and be inspired.
Electroclash was an obvious big part of your career back in the early 2000’s. Did you ever envision a whole genre springing up around the style of music you were making at the time and how did it affect you?
“Electroclash” as I don’t like to call it was just the idea that there was other types of music than house that you could play in a club. Obviously, coming from a cold-wave, rock, punk background, I ended up right in the midle of it. That idea (that “no house music all night long”, putting punk bands in clubs) was the whole thing behind Kill The Dj. Then, as all good things, it became diluted…
The production side of your career has always been something I imagine was a day job for you, and you’d consider yourself a DJ first and foremost. Would this be an accurate assumption?
I don’t know. Do I need to be “something first”? I am back to writing a bit, I am working on some TV/film projects… Djing is my job more than production, that’s for sure.
One last question. You are playing for the opening of the Munch/Vigeland exhibition. I’m not sure how much you know about the event, but I’ve heard you’ve got an art school background. Do you ever find the visual arts stimulate your musical pursuits and what do you think it will bring to your DJ set this Friday, (if anything)?
ahahaha. I haven’t got an art school background. I studied Politcal philosophy and litterature. But I more and more think that visual excitation in a club can make it happen as much as the music. I am gonna have to dig deep into 19th century screaming disco for tonight.;)