It’s a Sin! – Guilty pleasures from a reluctant Pet Shop Boys fan

I don’t like the Pet Shop Boys… or at least that’s what I tell myself. I thought Neil Tennant’s voice was just a little too saccharine for my tastes and Chris Lowe’s sound palette and programming just a little too cheesy. And yet here I am adding another PSB record to what is becoming a collection. 

I’m joking of course… Niel Tennant’s voice and Chris Lowe’s music production are nothing if not exquisite. Songs like West End Girls and It’s a sin are classics and you don’t sell over a 100 million records, without being good. You don’t establish iconic song titles without having some impact on society. But for a somebody that still collects vinyl that’s Spotify fodder surely, the stuff of nostalgic fun at a Saturday night cheese and wine soirée. But here I am at Filter Musikk, forking out more money for yet another Pet Shop Boys record. Why!?

Away from the charts, the top of the pops appearances (they always look bored), the television cameos, and their relevance today as gay culture icons, they were one of first to establish that connections between sequenced electronic music, the dance floor and most importantly a mainstream audience. The remixes, side projects and B-sides all point to an innate understanding of the relationship between the DJ and the dance floor. Moreover the Pet Shop Boys have been able to capture the masses with little more than a synthesiser and a drum machine. From live shows (yes, I have seen them live) to theatrical ballets (yes, I’ve seen those too), the Pet Shop Boys have taken this rudimentary dance music to every imaginable corner of the arts. 

The Pet Shop Boys discography spans 5 decades and their records count into the 100s, and the simplest way to gain access to it is obviously through the hits. Everybody, at least most people with an interest in music knows these, but every now and then Pet Shop Boys do something that’s like an open love letter to club music , and some of these have become highlights for a reluctant pet Shop Boys fan. Here’s a look at a handful of them in no particular order.

Disco – LP

This record has the BPMs in the tracklist! Disco was the remix album to Pet Shop Boys’ debut “Please” and its intentions are right there in the title. I love the cover art for this one, and it’s your favourite Pet Shop Boys tracks, reconstituted for the dance floor. According to wikipedia “the album was released to showcase music the duo deemed non-radio friendly.” DJs must have loved this! It features esteemed remixers like Arthur Baker and Shep Pettibone. Imagine Shep’s remix of West End Girls being played somewhere in Ibiza at the time. People would’ve lost their shit!

Domino Dancing (remix) – 12”

It got a raised eyebrow from Sagitarri Acid when he rang this one up at Filter’s counter. Domino Dancing is a classic and from the serrated edges of the “base” remix to the lo-Fi demo version PSB cover a fair few dance floors on this one. That beat on the demo version sounds so much better than the one that eventually made it onto the record. I could just listen to that intro on repeat. 

Heart – 7”

While Heart is arguably one of the greatest love songs ever written, it’s all about the B-side on this one. “I get excited (you get excited too)” is a balearic gem. From the 707 percussive onslaught to the Juno’s relentless bass movements if this doesn’t get you excited… well… But just in case it’s not enough, here’s a version being recreated on an original Fairlight. 

Psychological – 12”

I didn’t know this was Pet Shop Boys until Roland Lifjell pointed it out to me. The one-sided record held no clues to its origins other than a PSB catalogue number. Pitch it down and it turns into this wavy nu-disco track, as it swells through different phases. Niel Tennant’s voice is notably absent on the instrumental version and it’s some Chris Lowe’s best work behind the synthesiser. 

Electronic – LP 

It’s true that your first experiences in music are that of your parents. My parents listened to a lot of Pet Shop Boys and especially this record, which I didn’t quite understand at the time, but I keep returning to as I got older. I didn’t know it then, but this  was my first taste of the diversity of the Pet Shop Boys, and most likely my first connection to dance music, as a Factory records record and its connection to the hacienda. 

Is this perhaps the first electronic super group! An ensemble based around Bernard Sumner (New Order, Joy Division) and Johnny Marr (The Smiths), the record also featured Niel Tennant and Chris Lowe, although the latter was never officially credited. You can hear his synth work dotted throughout, as subtle as Tennant’s backing vocal. It’s just a record full of great Pop Songs. “The patience of a saint” is something that has stayed with me since the first time I heard it on a CD back in 1991.  

An intense kind of feeling: The story of Skansen by g-HA & Olle Abstract

g-HA & Olle Abstract recount the story of  Skansen (public relax) and the legacy that it left on House music in and beyond Norway. It’s the story of Skansen in their words.

Skansen has left an indelible mark on Oslo’s nightlife and club culture. The space where the club used to stand is hallowed ground today and any other club that has tried to open in its place has had to live in the shadow of its monumental legacy. Skansen has played an integral part in putting Oslo’s House music scene on the map as well as exporting the sound of Norwegian House to the wider world. 

Resident DJs, g-HA and Olle Abstract alongside guests like Erot and the Idjut Boys redefined the sound of House in the region through the club as something loose and flowing, a kind of skrangle House, that has seen a scene and whole generation of artists and DJs grow up alongside it. 

In Oslo Skansen’s legacy has been installed as one of the most significant places and eras of House music in Norway and on an international scene, it’s still talked about in reverend tones. Skansen saw the world of House music descend on Oslo at the height of the genre’s popularity and the DJs, clientele and residents that passed through its doors, can still be found working in Oslo’s nightlife and music scene. 

As residents of the famous club, g-HA and Olle Abstract had played a hand in establishing a sound and a cultish legacy in Skansen; one that continues to exist in lore, and has helped establish House music in Oslo, and in some way Norway. Both are still significant figures in Norway’s DJing- and clubbing community. They continue to spread the gospel of House music in the scene, often at Jaeger while g-HA’s Skansen mix for Glasgow Underground continues to live on as a testament to the iconic sound of the time and the place.

Who better to relay the story of Skansen and this important era of House music in Norway. This is the story of Skansen as told by g-HA & Olle Abstract.

Geir and Olle DJing at Skansen

Olle Abstract: Geir and I met for the first time in ‘89 in a record store where Omar V used to work.

g-HA: In the subway station in Grønland.

O: This is the record store that would become Platekompaniet. They were always good at bringing in people that were interested in imported records. We would then bump into each other, buying records in stores like these with people like DJ Tony Anthem (Future Prophecies) also in the mix.  

g: I also used to hang out with Olle’s old roommate at their place, and I’d sneak into Olle’s room to play your records while he was away. He would get so pissed off about it. 

O: They used to play my records while I was playing at raves. I was  involved in (XS) to the rave zone, and euphoria back when Geir was still starting out as a 16 year old DJ at Marilyn (where Jaeger is today). We would all hang out together and go to Marilyn to look at the wet t-shirt show while Geir DJ’d. Then we would run back to good music at some of Oslo’s other clubs…  Geir was quite commercial back then. 

g: You had to be commercial down at Marilyn. The owner would check the VG liste every week for the latest pop charts, and you had to have those tracks. One week I didn’t have a track from the list and he fired me. 

O: Geir got involved with Matti from kings and queens after that in ‘92. The scene, the one we were involved in, it all starts around Kings and Queens. In ‘92 before the other clubs started, you had Marilyn and you had two more commercial places. 

The only place to listen to underground house music for a while was Enka, which is now Villa. Suddenly there were 100-150 people coming into Enka to listen to House music and then the scene just exploded. 

After Marilyn, Geir got a residency at Pure. It was a big club in storgate run by Yugoslavian gangsters. People like Tony De Vit  played there and they even got Geir a flat that was soundproof. 

g: Yeah with long halls with many doors  and a double shower. 

O: It was like a brothel… Geir broke Ace of Base and Faithless in Oslo at Pure, in fact he was the first DJ in Norway to play Insomnia. People took notice and eventually he teamed up with Matti from Kings and Queens, doing all these raves around town, while I was doing (XS) to the rave zone. 

This was between ‘92 – ‘94. Then Geir got picked up by Per Haave and Cecilie Hafstad  in ‘95 to help with the bookings at Skansen. 

g: Skansen was supposed to be an Internet café, but that never happened. It turned out to be  more fun doing a club.

O: It was basically a toilet that they refurbished and spent too much money on.

g: It was actually owned (and still is) by Oslo kommune who used it to store signs. Then I think Per got the idea to use the spot. 

O: The owners were a generation older than us. They were around for the first party scene in Oslo, back in 88/89. They would have been hanging out in Project in Lillestrøm when they came up with this plan for Skansen. The name Skansen actually came from an old restaurant that overlooked that hill. It was an art-deco building that was a really popular place after the war for like 20 years. They borrowed the name and called it “Skansen public relax” in the beginning  with a focus on being an Internet cafe. Then Geir came in and the computers were out. 

Picture of Skansen Restuarant

g: I kind of only helped out with the bookings in the beginning. 

O: At that point on a Friday night in Oslo, you had Headon, you had Pure, you had Christiania and one-offs on a Saturday that played House music….  then Skansen came along. 

By the time I first started there in march ‘96, it was a full blown club space and one of the few places you could hear House music. Geir had been Djing there for a few months already, and opened up the possibilities with his Footfood night on Fridays which was all about House. 

 g: I remember Paper recordings, classic records and that kind of stuff. I remember getting 10 promo records a week and playing a bit more of an English kind of club music at that point. I would take trips to London if I had a free weekend. I’d go on the first flight and come back in the evening after visiting a few of my favourite record stores.

O: Major labels were putting out House remixes on 12”. But it was the same period as Moodyman’s earliest KDJ stuff. We played a lot of that kind of stuff and the obscure British stuff that was influenced by Detroit and Disco. It was anything from Cleveland City to early Paper Recordings. There was also the whole disco end of it with London and Idjut Boys. I guess Geir wanted to play deeper in Skansen than at Pure and it started developing this sound as a club.

g: I can’t remember how long it was an Internet cafe before it eventually became a club. 

O: That was like four months. Geir talked about it in the autumn and by January it was a club and that’s when he asked me to do the Thursday nights. He wanted me to do something different than Footfood and I had already started to jam a bit with Bugge Wesseltoft at Christiania at that point, so it was natural to bring in musicians on Thursday night. The night was called SuperReal.

g: Everybody started hanging out there from the start. 

O:  Geir and Omar V were the first residents and after a while I brought along Truls and Robin. Torbjørn Brundtland from Røyksopp used to be there all the time before they moved to Bergen. Even Fardin (Faramarzi) was involved in the beginning. He was on the door primarily, but he would also DJ from time to time. 

g: And Per Martinsen (Mental Overdrive). Besides DJs like these, we also started booking foreign DJs almost straight away.

O: We booked the Paper Recordings guys early on, Kenny Hawkes and Luke Solomun. Then I met the Idjut Boys at Bar Rumba in London. People started talking, a community of DJs across Europe. We got to know Jori Hulkkonen, Jesper Dahlbeck and Stephan Grieder from Svek.

g: They would’ve just taken the bus from Sweden. I remember it was a really really big thing at that time, because Svek was really hot, and later they would licence one of their songs to the Glasgow underground mix I made, they’d never done that before. 

O: At that time most DJs from England were like 200/300 GBP. I mean we did a lot of swaps, so people wanted to come to Geir’s club and Geir got invited back to England, and the same with me. It was all by telephone or fax and quite a few of these people I met in record stores in London like Atlas, Vinyl junkies and Black market. 

By the summer  of ‘96 there started to be a buzz and by the autumn of that year it was really picking up. We started getting 100 metre queues outside on most nights. 

The crowd was made up of older hippy-like free thinkers with a mix of the “It” crowd, like young photographers, creative people and dancers; your alternative club people. It might have looked the same if you went to Moscow or Italy at the time; a small club scene with cool individualists. 

g: We were just distributing flyers and word of mouth reached everybody. Even though it was an Internet cafe, ironically there was nothing online.

O: I also had a radio show on NRK from ‘93, when people still checked the radio for new music. It was a good time to be on the radio. Radio was mostly for people outside of Oslo; people in Oslo went out on Saturday nights, they didn’t sit at home and listen to the radio. After a while people came round from all over the country to check out Skansen. 

They adopted it quite well. It was such a small place that if you didn’t like it, you left,  because you had to be part of the party to have a good time. It wasn’t a place to stand in the corner to observe. 

g: It was a very intense kind of feeling.  

O: It was a small room and you were on top of each other.  A lot of the people made new friends there. 

g: It was a busy time for that end of Oslo too. Jazid was in Pilestredet and Headon was in rosenkrantz gate so there was this straight line going through them. 

O: There was basically 500m between the 3 main clubs in Oslo. Headon were doing more funk stuff. Jazzid was so much more trip-hop, downbeat drum n bass. So it was easy for Skansen to be more House based, and have a strict difference between these 3 venues. We had a kind of a deal in the beginning not to push each other. 

g: I played at both Jazid and Skansen for a while, when it was still ok to play House music at the first one. 

O: Geir had your Fridays and I had my Thursdays. Geir and Cecilie were taking care of Saturdays and then we had some weekends together where we were co-operating and bringing in guests. 

The bookings were still dominated by that sound in France, of motorbass, Étienne de Crécy, paper recordings, and Erik Rug. You had that London scene, And then you had that more high energy Chicago and New York type of House sound, which was run by Classic , but then you had a local sound too that started to get recognition abroad too.

Collage of Olle Asbtract and Guests at Skansen
g
: Yeah, that Erot and Bjørn Torkse sound, called Skrangle or whatever. 

O: Skrangle, means sloppy in a way, which is not strictly 4-4, but more sloppy. Bjørn or Erot basically in the way that they move and also play.

g: It was a term we used here in Norway, but it is not an internationally recognised word. 

O: We didn’t use that word at all back then. We could say that something was Skranglete if it wasn’t really accurate. We both came from sequenced music, which was not the case for Skansen, which was more open. 

g: The Idjut Boys stuff kind of encapsulated that mood. 

O: Meaning more dubs and echoes, and percussion that was off; a bit more live sounding. We weren’t really thinking about creating a sound or anything, we were in the middle of it.

Of course loads got influenced by it, with all these Jazz musicians coming in through Bugge and Niels Petter, and they all started doing electronic albums after being at Skansen for half a year. 

g: It was just something in the air at the time. The ones playing in the scenes we admired abroad, were also the same people we were booking so it felt very connected. 

O: We were basically all stroking each other’s backs and trying to make our way through the scene. I guess everybody was doing the same thing; whether it was Sheffield, London Stockholm or Paris and in Oslo it became this fluid thing between us and Bergen.

We had lots of contact  with Mikal Telle, and we knew all the players in Bergen, but mostly it was Bjørn, Erot and Kahuun. Erot actually played his first gig at Skansen

g: That was a legendary set. 

O: Annie was with Erot at the time and they slept on top of my records. They stayed  for a week, just eating spaghetti and ketchup. They didn’t have any money, I didn’t have any money, nobody had any money back then. 

Tore (Erot) was only just starting to make music. I actually met him at a rave in Drammen before and then Bjørn told me about him and then we brought him over.

It was one of my most memorable nights there, besides another with Omid 16B playing live. This was SuperReal’s first birthday and Omid was actually an act that fitted more into Footfood’s night. But since it was the birthday, we had Geir as part of the party. It was amazingly good. 

g: I can’t remember that specific night, there are just too many. 

O: There were some great nights with the Idjut Boys. Back then it was only vinyl and they went a lot to New York. They were a few years ahead of us when it came to weird, hard to find stuff. Also some mad nights with Simon Lee from Faze Action. 

This was at the height of Paper Recordings, when they would release a 12” every ten days and most of their tracks went into the top 20 of club charts in that time. They also released the Those Norwegians LP, Kaminsky Park in ‘97.

g: It was very kind of hot for a while with Ari B and an article in the face. For its popularity however during this time, it was kind of hanging in the air the whole time. Per and those people weren’t really that good with the paperwork. There was always something threatening the existence of the club, but they always kind of got it back on track. 

O: And then in ‘99 it just stopped.

G-HA & Olle Abstract today and the Skansen Mix CD cover
g
: I had just finished the Glasgow Underground Skansen mix, and it was just suddenly closed one day. It was a really big thing for me to do this mix when it came out. We were going to have this release party at Skansen, but it lost its licence on the same day. 

O: Then the indie rock scene took over from ten years of House and Techno in Oslo. Suddenly Hip Hop started being played in more venues. The years that followed from 2000 – 2003, you had to be more versatile as a DJ. I had to play so much different stuff to get gigs. Uptempo Hip-Hop, like Timbaland instrumentals and mix it with House. And then you had Mono and Baronsai coming up which had a different profile.

g: I actually moved Footfood to Baronsai. It was really hip to be around all the places in youngstorget so it was suddenly very far for people to go down to Skansen. We tried to re-open it, after that but it didn’t last very long. 

O: The main years for Skansen was early january ‘96  til late ‘99 with the same ownership. We were young as well. 

g: I mean, I was 23 in ‘96 when it had been open for a year. 

O: We were like kids. We felt like grown-ups, like we were important. 

g: But, we weren’t so grown up.

O: I made loads of friends. Loads of us got bigger through Skansen.

g: There was a generation that disappeared with Skansen

O: It was the first experience for quite a few.  It was magic for that period of time, it’s always hard to recreate something like that. Most of the people that went out at that time were 28 by 2000 and moved on in their life, most of them except for us and a few others (laughs). Everyone that tried to be there after that tried to make their version of it.

g: Nothing has really worked though. It is so difficult to do something else down there because everybody will always want to compare it to Skansen and that time and era in club music in Oslo. 

 

Fab 5 with Øyvind Morken

Yes folks, here is another go at spreading the gospel of some records that I love away from my weekly spot in the sauna or in the booth down in the basement. Peacefrog Records used to be one of my favorite labels when I was in my early twenties. And I thought I would highlight some of the reasons why. Ps… Yes I know Peacefrog’s operations are questionable with re-issuing records behind the artists backs. But I still hold these old records dear to my heart. 

Luke Slater – Inductive Channels

Such a beautiful piece of emotional techno music from the punisher himself, Planetary Assault Systems‘ Luke Slater. On a totally different vibe than his usual brutal stuff. 

 

Glenn Underground – May Datroit

I just can’t stand the gospel house that GU sometimes makes, but this is just out of this world. Proper Detroit Techno that’s not from Detroit. Gives me goose bumps thinking back to 10 years ago when I started DJing on Wednesdays at Jaeger. This would feature heavily and would tear the roof off. Or should I say tear the awning way in the backyard. 

 

Stasis – Mnemic Image

So good. Stasis made so much good stuff around this time. I think it was Gatto Fritto who referred to this type of British techno as Romantic UK Techno, which I think suits it much better than IDM, or deep techno etc. Late night/early morning vibes. 

  Robert Hood – Who Taught You Math

It’s funny how some moments stay with you for the rest of your life. In 2004/2005 I had a weekly Thursday night residency at a really small dirty smelly tiny little club called Sikamikanico. It was frequented by speedfreaks, gangsters, outcasts and also a decent amount of people interested in music. A real shit hole, but also something that is totally missing in Oslo’s night life these days. It was great, and also at the time, one of the few music focused clubs. I will never forget the face and moves of some of those freaks when this got dropped. 

Recloose – Dust 

Finishing off in a lighter mood with one of the newer things I bought from Peacefrog. 

Joe Dukie from Fat Freddy’s Drop on vocals on this modern boogie monster. Super uplifting and should have crossed over to the pop charts just on the fact alone of how good it is. From the great vocal and lyrics to the amazing production and musical craft.

* Go to Fab 5 #1 here.

Antony Mburu and Rolf Riddervold present Rhythm Dynamics

Antony Mburu and Rolf Ridderlvold are no stranger to Jaeger’s booth. The longtime friends can readily be found in the booth and on the dance floor on any given night at Jaeger. Fans of the music first and foremost, they carry that spirit over from the dance floor to the booth, with a special camaraderie forged in time and defined by a curiosity for outlier beats. Their infectious energy and appreciation is only matched with their sincere and individualist approach to music. 

The duo have been regular fixtures in the booth for Wednesdays at Jaeger, imbibing the spirit of Øyvind Morken’s original Untzdag concept, bearing the torch for that eclectic sound for the next generation. Sets that walk a wide path through “club music” accompanied by an adoration for the vinyl format, have seen Rolf Riddervold and Antony Mburu establish a reputation for a dynamic and rhythmic sound. 

After a little over a year of playing together at Jaeger they’ve decided to finally baptise their efforts as such with a night called Rhythm Dynamics. They officially launch the new residency today, cementing the DJ duo on Wednesdays at Jaeger and looking toward an established future event. We sent them a quick email to find out more about the night, their history together and their ambitions for Rhythm Dynamics.   

Tell me about Rhythm Dynamics. What’s the idea behind the name and the concept?

Through the years of sharing music we’re still developing our taste. Both Rhythm and Dynamics are important to our sets to keep it interesting. 

You’ve been playing together for a while now, why did you guys decide to baptise it officially?

We’ve had the idea to conceptualise our nights at Jaeger for a while. Given the opportunity, we found something that unites us. 

How did you first meet? 

High School. 

What was the catalyst that made you decide to start DJing together? 

Sharing music, then the opportunity to mix it on proper equipment. 

Did you guys have similar tastes in music when you started, or was there an evolution to a point where your tastes converged?

We converged early but still have our distinct music styles. 

If you were to imagine handing over to the other in the middle of a set, what would the perfect crossover track be between you at the moment?

Maybe one of the tracks  from Dan Lissvik’s Midnight. 


How has DJing together affected either of your approaches to playing out?

A back to back set always inspires and makes us more playful. 

What influence does Jaeger have on your sets that you haven’t experienced elsewhere? 

Jaeger has a more open audience that makes us feel free to take chances that we can’t always do elsewhere. 

Is there any point at which you guys completely disagree on a style or sound?

Yes, and then we fight about it. 

Rolf, I know you are also a sound engineer and dabble in production too, but Antony do you have any other musical indulgences or future ambitions beyond Djing?

Not right now, but I have some edits in mind. 

What track is going to kick off the first Rhythm Dynamics at Jaeger?

A great one, come listen. 

How do you hope the night goes and what are some of your aspirations for it?

We can’t ask for more than a playful vibe, to show you what Rhythm Dynamics really is about. Good times and good music. 

 

Profile: 100% Galcher Lustwerk

Over the past few years, a handful artists in America have begun to reclaim House music for the next generation. Artists like Galcher Lustwerk, Byron the Aquarius and Channel Tres, have used House music as a more inclusive platform in a new wave of the genre that might see it return to a time at the height of its popularity. Elements of Jazz  Soul, Hip-Hop and Funk form a bedrock from which modern composers weave their unique and esoteric musical language. 

From Byron the Aquarius’ jazzified Rhodes incantations to Channel Tres’ crossover rap-vocal appeal, there is no singular sound or scene that unites these artists, only an intangible vibe. It sounds like New York, Chicago and LA in the of breezy attitude that underpins it and colours outside the predetermined lines that have defined the genre for some time. It breathed new life into a House movement that has been caught in the deep end for far too long.

*Galcher Lustwerk performs live this  Friday at Jaeger.

*tickets available 

In many ways Galcher Lustwerk paved the way for this trend or phase in House music with his seminal mixtape “100%” back in 2013. He completely broke with the entrenched sound of Deep House, largely informed by Europe, for a sound that was more free and dynamic. Infusing that sound with vocals that would be more at home with Trap than House, it was a completely new and inventive approach. Following this debut release with a predominantly LP-based discography, Galcher Lustwerk’s music stayed the course through another 2 albums before it reached the archives of Ghostly International to cement Galcher Lustwerk’s music beyond his own Lustwerk music imprint and White Material affiliations.

“Information” saw Galcher Lustwerk reach the next sphere in House music’s institutions. He hardly needed the validation of a flagship label like Ghostly however, but “Information” impressed nonetheless, building on that momentum from “100%” and catching the ear of a wider audience. Amongst those that heard his work was Azealia Banks, with Galcher Luswerk claiming a production credit for 2021’s “F**k Him All Night” from the controversial pop icon. There’s certainly a kindred spirit in those two artists’ approach to music, as they reappropriate elements of Hip Hop into House and vice versa, but where Banks’ work favours the crossover into the limelight, Lustwerk’s music stays the course in the shadows of House music’s counter-cultural roots.

Much like the man, his music is an enigma. Galcher Lustwerk moves like a fog through sound, with lush pads and woolly rhythms ebbing on a swell. At times, you have to turn up your collar against the cold indifferent breeze that floats through his work, but it retains an intriguing human quality, like a Tom Clancy novel’s mood captured in the album format. His vocal drifts like a morning mist across lichen marshes, revealing peaks of reality through an opaque abstractionism. It’s a sound he’s cultivated from that first mixtape, and through the albums and EPs that followed it’s something that has remained central to his work. 

Yet, Galcher Lustwerk’s origins are as elusive as the feeling you get from listening to his records. It seemed that he arrived with his debut mixtape, fully formed and developed as an artist. The man behind the work, Chris Sherron, was largely unknown before Galcher Lustwerk, but the production on “100%” is not that of a novice. 

Sherron grew up in Cleveland. Talking to Bolting Bits, he called it “a fine city” and its influence on his adolescent years made him a “more creative” individual. “There isn’t very much youth culture or arts culture compared to other cities,” he claimed ”so if you’re interested in that type of thing like I was – you had to pursue it at all costs and do a lot of things alone or in a cultural vacuum.” He had some basic grounding in music, playing the sax at school, but a “lame as fuck” Teacher who would wear piano ties and listen to Deep Purple in his PT cruiser (much like a character in a Galcher Lustwerk song), had quickly put the young Sherron off a formal musical education. 

Seemingly that set him on a path to electronic music: “I would say the biggest influence for me is Underworld,” Sherron told Reverb. “I was really into the ‘electronica’ stuff, so anything like the Chemical Brothers or Underworld, the Prodigy, Groove Armada,” which would put Sherron around his teens in the mid nineties. 

Among some of the other influences he also mentions indie rock, but on more than one occasion in interviews, he would recall that “hip-hop music was out of my grasp at the time.” As a “sheltered kid” growing up in the Midwest, the music was largely prohibited at home “because a lot of the rap music had parental advisory [stickers],” he elucidated on Fader in 2018. “I looked at other black music that didn’t. I gravitated towards Massive Attack and Tricky and the British stuff like drum and bass. That was the stuff I was super psyched on and wondering like, ‘Damn, how do they make those sounds?’ and wanting to learn about production.” 

He taught himself how to use the sample-based music software Fruity Loops, which set him on a road towards production, but there’s a huge gap in his biography between then and Glacher Lustwerk. At some point he moved to Rhode Island to study at the famous school of design, and it’s there he seemed to fall into a musical crowd. “I caught the last hurrah of the scene,” he told Spex magazine, but it’s there where he met the other White Material co-founders, DJ Richard and Young Male; a significant twist in the plot towards Galcher Lustwerk. “At the time there, it wasn’t really about quality but intensity, how intense you could be,” remembers Sherron of that scene.

White Material’s debut self-titled EP reflects some of that intensity. It’s fast-paced House music with a Lo-Fi attitude, but a considered sound palette. The sounds aren’t brash or harsh, but you get the sense that they are quickly assembled, the impatience of youth reflected on the serrated resonances of a sawtooth wave. White Material shares some similarities to labels like L.I.E.S, aligning with that DIY New York sound; that is until you get to the last track on the record. At first “Put On” sounds like much of the rest of the record, and then Glacher Lustwerk’s gruff vocal appears through the ratcheting rhythms and misty keys. It’s a track that sounds almost at odds with the rest of the record now and it’s only when we hear it again in Galcher Lustwerk’s debut mixtape, that things fall into place. 

White Material came out around the same time as his “100% Galcher,” but  “Put On” sounds more at home on the longer format than the EP. The mixtape saw Sherron establish Galcher Lustwerk as an artist right from the start and showed a side to House music that we’ve not really experienced in the past. While R&B- or Gospel vocals were no stranger to chart-topping House music, Galcher Lustwerk’s trap-like raps on this kind of “underground” House music was a new phenomenon. It captured the zeitgeist of a contemporary streaming society and resonated with a new kind of audience that were broadening the borders of clubspaces and club music. It had crossover appeal, but Sherron’s affiliation with a more underground scene thwarted any attempts at the mainstream.

“100% Galcher” and the first White Material release wasn’t exactly an anomaly, and indicated more to something in the winds of change, but by the time Galcher Lustwerk’s official debut Dark Bliss came out in 2017, he had played a significant part in establishing a particular sound on to its own and one that certainly would have influenced an artist like Channel Tres, whose Hollywood approximation would take it to a more accesible realm.

“I believe I may have set some sort of trend and now people in other music spheres are making similar music,” Sherron admits in Bolting Bits around the time “Dark Bliss” came out. While people started rapping over House beats and Hip-Hop started making more of an impression on House music at that time, Galcher Lustwerk was different and something more considered. It was a more natural infusion of these two spheres, and came down to his skills as producer. This wasn’t some pre-paid beat or a rhythm section shoehorned into an existing vocal, it was a fully-formed concept. “I want my music to feel luxurious,” he explained. There’s a softness in his sounds and the sense of space he creates in his productions offer an inviting sonic meadow for the listener. Kick drums loop in the background, almost always immersed in a cloud of pads, repeating like a mantra towards hedonistic escape, while a vocal sails through the arrangement. 

In the production itself, Glacier Lustwerk isn’t necessarily groundbreaking nor exceptionally unique as a well-ingrained style Deep House. But that changes with his vocal. We don’t know much about how he arrived at incorporating vocals to his music and when asked about his rap influences, he’s often cagey, but we do know how he came to his unique lyrical style. “My friend Alvin Aronson, who is also on White Material [Records], was like, ‘You need to make your vocals like less literal,’” he recounted in Fader. “Ever since then I kind of veered off into trying to get almost as absurd as I can; not absurd in a stupid way, but just as stream of consciousness.”

The “stream of consciousness” can take surprising and very obscure turns. He can go from making love songs about music software templates to repeating a phrase or word into infinity, to a point where it comes apart, devoid of all meaning, or re-purposed and re-defined.

It’s best appreciated in the album format, where these lyrics take on a narrative like a Charlie Kaufman script. On his latest “Information” it moves through some specific themes in what we can only assume is personal experiences of a working DJ. It’s “about learning to move in a certain way through a world that parties, a hedonistic world” he told Fader, and he truly immerses you in that world, as drug references are re-established in mirror images and  modern life reaffirmed in restrained music.

“I think it’s just a nice chunk of time to be immersed into a world,” said Sherron of his preference for the album format in Reverb, and “Information” is probably his best effort yet in the longer format. Whereas “Dark Bliss” and “200%” carried that same inclusive approach to the first mixtape, where it becomes a collection of songs, “Information” comes together in a more cohesive sense with a record that flows between peaks and troughs of energy. “It made sense to have some more slow songs in there as interludes,” he told Spex and it makes for an album that retains the attention. 

It might also suggest that Sherron is starting to explore new territories in his music. “I’ve been making more downtempo stuff anyway,” he confirms in that same interview. “I don’t know if it’s because I’m clubbing less, or just getting old,” he stresses, but it might also indicate an evolution in his work. It feels like he’s thoroughly established the sound of Galcher Lustwerk and it might be time to take it to that next step.  

 

New dates for Jaeger’s Light technician course: club lights

Due to rescheduling, we have more spaces available for the light technician course.

Jaeger, with kind support from Kulturrom, are pleased to offer a six part crash course in club lights. The course will run across 5 days over the course of three weeks in May 2022. The course also includes a trial run at showtime on a following Friday at Jaeger in the winter/spring period.

The course is free, but spaces are limited. Spaces have opened up again after we have had to reschedule the course. 

Course days will run 10:00 – 16:00 with a lunchbreak. There are two course groups run on different dates as per below. The trial date run is across half a show during the night and paid accordingly.

The light course consists of six parts:

  1. Lights and GranMA. Basic introduction to GranMA wing and the house lights at Jaeger. Course day is run by Jaeger’s head light technician Eva Krpalkova
  1. Set-up and problem solving. Basic run through of how to set up lights in GrandMA, and how to problem solve DMX issues, lamp settings, issues with Hazer and so on. Course day is run by Eva Krpalkova.
  1. Video projection used as club lights. (visual content typical for concerts et.al will not be covered here) Includes set-up, basic philosophy and the running of Resolume for the purpose. Course day is run by Are Kim Rønsen.
  1. Theory and application. What we want to achieve with the lights and the space in between. Different approaches and thinking around how lights best can create the club space and help fire up a dancefloor. Course day is run by Kyrre Karlsen from KyrreLys and Jaeger’s booking and managing director Ola Smith-Simonsen.
  1. Workshop. Open session with Kyrre Karlsen and Ola Smith-Simonsen.
  1. Trial run. Running half a night/show along with one of Jaegers house light techs.

Course dates:

Group 1 / Group 2

Course day 1 Monday 2nd May / Tuesday 3rd May

Course day 2 Wednesday 4th May / Thursday 5th May

Course day 3 Monday 9th May / Tuesday 10th May

Course day 4 Thursday 12th May / Friday 13th May

Course day 5 Thursday 19th May / Friday 20th May

Trial run date Agreed individually, but will be 2 hours during 23 – 03 on a Friday night in the following months.For more information or to apply for one of the two course groups please contact:

Ola Smith-Simonsen

ola@jaegeroslo.no

 

 

Solo Super with Frantzvaag

By the time Mats Frantzvaag stepped out of the booth at Jaeger after his 2019 Boiler Room set, he had the crowd in a frenzy. People were literally hanging off him, hugging and high-fiving Mats as he made his way out of the basement and into the open air. He’d stirred the dance floor appropriately, laying the foundation for the night ahead with a punchy and effervescent House set that saw the dance floor swell in anticipation and excitement for the young Norwegian producer and DJ.

As Frantzvaag he had already released a couple of EPs on Smallville’s Fuck Reality imprint at that point, but in Norway he was still something of an unknown entity;  a record producer with more notoriety outside of the country than in it. That Boiler Room night had all the hallmarks of a pivotal moment for Frantzvaag. Building on those first two records, the event only cemented our belief in this young artist, as a producer with some serious skills as a DJ.

Mats could have easily taken that momentum and channeled it into a string of EPs or singles to install the name Frantzvaag on the scene. Instead, he bided his time. He was not one to succumb to the hype, but rather took his time to cultivate his craft further. When I first interviewed Mats back around the release of his first EP, there was no doubt that he would eventually be a notable figure on Oslo’s scene with an international following, but he has been in no rush to get there. He DJs when he wants to –“if something cool crops up, not the ones I think I should do for money” – and he hasn’t released anything since 2018’s Fuck Reality 5.

He’s focus has been elsewhere. While he’s had enough material to release at least an EP a year, since, he’s ultimate objective over the course of these last 4 years has solidified around Frantzvaag’s debut in the LP. In yet another watermark in this artist’s young career, Solo Super is only Frantzvaag’s fourth release and its an album. It arrived at Easter, “a happy coincidence” according to Mats with a title that conveys some of that dry sense of Norwegian humour and the inherent sense of fun that remains at the core of House music’s purpose.

Solo Super is a House record that thwarts the obvious tropes that dog House music LPs; strengthening allegiances with the dance floor while at the same time stepping away from the functionalist loop-driven patterns. There’s an album there, something you could put on at home, without having to skip the obvious ambient track, and yet you could slip almost any track into a set, without missing a beat. There’s something entirely refreshing about Solo Super (pun intended) as you drift through the charged progressions. A layer of sonic dust covers everything in a warm and embracing atmosphere, while rhythm patterns strike an impulsive chord.

Depth and consideration follows the record through its nine tracks, and from Mats’ early Hip Hop influences to the passage of time that has passed through this record there’s a lot more to consider beyond the superficial nature of a House record. I sat down with Mats at Baklengs, an Oslo record store he runs with a few others, and over a conversation and an email, we tried to unpack the infectious charm of Solo Super.


 

Solo Super is available at Baklengs today.

What was the transition like going over from those two EPs into an LP?

It happened very naturally really. I did the two EPs and then I just kept sending him (Julius Steinhoff) tracks to choose from, and in the end was like, let’s go with these nine. It’s been in the books for a few years actually.

So you were working towards an LP, but not necessarily making the tracks with the thought of making an LP?

 Not really, no.

Did the tracks on the LP overlap with the stuff you were making for the EPs?

 Some  of them. You can see some of the oldest tracks from the album were made in 2016. So that’s around the time when the first EP came out. I gradually added some stuff and removed some stuff.

And a theme emerged as you tried to bring tracks together that would fit amongst each other?

 Yes.

That’s interesting, because one of my initial thoughts when hearing the LP was that this sound a little bit different from the EPs, but I guess that would just be me inferring something that isn’t there?

Yes, but once I knew that the album was about to come, I made some tracks with that in mind also. The last track on the album for instance, is something that I thought we were missing. So it’s a gradual thing that evolved, rather than me sitting down to make an album.

It’s obviously a House record, but I would suggest that it’s perhaps not as focussed on the dance floor as a functional 12”.

 Yes, so it’s basically me and Julius coming up with the track listing.

As you were coming up with the tracklisting, what were you looking for the tracks to make up the LP, and how would it have differed from the EPs?

I put more emphasis on finding tracks that represent different styles and moods than what I would normally do on an EP. More tracks = more chances to showcase different aspects of what I make. Moreover, I wanted the album to make sense and be interesting when listening through the whole thing, both in terms of which tracks were included and the order that they´re in.

Are you hoping this record will be finding its way into DJ record bags?

 That’s also something I hope, at least some of the singles. I think it’s a nice thing to listen to throughout as well. I remember putting together the track list, and I was spending a lot of time going on long walks and listening to the tracks all the way through to see if it made any sense.

Did your approach to making music change at all throughout the period in which these songs were made?

The first EP it’s very sample-based, but on this there is a variation, because some of the tracks were made in the studio across the road, where I had access to more equipment.

I thought I could hear more analogue sounding synthesisers in the LP, than perhaps from the EPs.

Few of them are actual synthesisers and the rest of them are more me trying to process these sounds in a certain way.

There’s a very organic sound to the LP throughout. Is that from the samples or do you actively try to create that feeling somehow?

Some of the tracks don’t have that many samples either. It’s both that or it’s something I try to achieve, either through the use of samples or the method of processing the sounds.

Why was this the right time for an LP, because it sounds like you could have had a few more EPs out of this one record by the sounds of it?

 It was more about having this one product that is more cohesive and shows the depth of what I can make. It’s more like a standpoint.

Was this mainly your idea or did Julius push towards making an LP?

 It was a common goal, I think. We started talking about it when he was in Norway in 2018. Then it gradually appeared.

Besides that one Full Pupp record, you pretty much stayed with Smallville. It must be pretty conducive for your work.

Yes, I think so. I really like the aesthetics of the label, and they are really cool people. I haven’t put out that much really. I’ve been waiting to do this bigger project and see where it goes from there.

I was reading this interview with Joy O, about how he refrained from calling his last full-length an album, but rather a mixtape, because there is a bit of stigma around House albums. Do you think that is true?

 Could be. But if you listen to my album, the tracks stand out for themselves as EPs too. So it’s more like a collection of tracks than a cohesive story, told through nine tracks made in a very short period. This is a collection of tracks that fit really well together.

It is definitely not the usual House album, with the two ambient tracks and a pop hopeful single with vocals. Every track is very much a dance food track on this.

That can get a bit uninspiring as well, when you force in an ambient track just to be there.

One thing that I noticed a lot on the record, is that there is a lot of dub stuff happening in the background.

 I really like that. A lot of my tracks are very heavy on low pass filters and have stuff a bit muffled. So it doesn’t stand out that much, but it’s still there creating some kind of atmosphere.

Were there any specific influences or listening habits that informed this?

There is so much. I listen to a lot of dub and reggae at the shop and at home and all kinds of electronic stuff. What I listen to is usually not that similar to what I make.

And the Hip Hop Influence is still there. Everything from the sampling to the dusty feel of the entire record. Is this something that you have to consciously apply to your work?

It happens naturally actually. It’s just become part of how I make music, I usually just sit there and try to make this loop sound interesting, putting textures behind it.

Well that’s something else about this record, it’s not just loops.

 No, but it starts out like that.

There’s a lot more progression through the tracks, and am I detecting more of a melodic element to these tracks compared to the EPs?

Yes, probably some of them.

Like Blommenholm. Was that one of the tracks that came after most of the LP was made?

Yes. That is also one of the few tracks that is a little bit slower and has a different vibe.

What do you look for in sounds when making music, because there’s not that 808-juno combination that dominates most of House music still?

 They should stand out in some way and they should have some feeling to them. It’s not just a straight 808 drum; I’ll try and process it or use a sound that has some character. I usually layer quite a lot and try to make my own sounds.

How much input does Julius or the label have, when it comes to these production touches?

The only input he might have is about the length of a track to fit into the album, but nothing really on the production side. At the point of sending something away, I’ve already mixed it and done all of it. In my head it’s a finished product. It’s more that I send tracks to friends.

Like who, people involved in the industry?

Not really. Some childhood friends that are also into making music. I send it to Hacir (Payan) of course sometimes

He must have opinions?

 He has opinions and often good ones.

Tell us a little more about the influence of the shop. At the time of your first interview with us, you were already talking about how the shop was having an affect on you.

 Then I was only starting to get involved, and since then the shop has grown into more of a community. It’s a really nice place. Everytime I’m here I get exposed to so much music that I wouldn’t hear otherwise. Also you meet so many people and discuss music, so it’s a super big influence, I would say.

Was there anything that didn’t make it on the album that you would’ve liked to have on the LP?

 There is always stuff, but that’s more recent stuff that didn’t really fit in with the rest of the album.

Do you think you’ll have another LP worth of tracks soon?

Could be…

Would there be a similar approach to making this last album , or would you try to make something more concise?

Would be fun to do the more concise thing. I have no clear plans yet. I might do a few more EPs before then. 

 

 

Fab 5 with Øyvind Morken

Øyvind Morken digs through his bag of tricks for a dose of fab 5 from his expansive and eclectic collection.

Frædag resident and digger-selector extraordinaire, Øyvind Morken has a record bag like Pandora’s box. It’s bulging at the seems with the eclectic sounds of a self-diagnosed schizophrenic DJ. It’s a journey through music only the bravest would dare attempt to venture. Every Friday (and some other days) he assembles this vast discography into a diatribe in a stream of conscious only he understands. Connecting dots from the extensive spectrum of “dance music” he delivers his esoteric groove on to the world to facilitate the impulses of the dance floor.  Here are 5 records into the event horizon of Øyvind Morken’s record bag.

ps… Øyvind Morken and Kaman Leung present their debut record as Wild Flowers  next week at Jaeger.

Plaid – Anything

Crazy breakbeat idm or whatever trend you want to call it this week music. Totally separates the dance floor when I play it when I DJ. It usually gets all the right people on the floor, and all the wrong out the door. Perfect. 

 

Dez Williams – Abort Task

From the super underrated album Elektronik Religion comes this shuffle-y synth work out, full off emotions.It  just makes you want to cry, beautiful and powerful stuff. 

 

Klaus Nomi – Icurok

I see you are Ok – No you can’t be when you made something like this, Klaus. Totally spaced out art-funk-opera-proto-techno from 1983. 

 

Attica Blues – Blueprint (Slakked Plastik Remix)

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. This though, is Riche Hawtin at his best. Spitting out a heavy drum workout that just rips it up. It will unite techno and hip-hop heads. 

 

Tilt – Seduction Of Orpheus (Tilt’s Mythology Mix)

Progressive House, not much of that stuff was very progressive. This however, Was/Still is. Spooky Orchestral samples and dialogue sample nicked from Jean Cocteau’s film Orpheus, are perfectly mixed with heavy heavy tribal drums. And it has the best sped down section on a dance record since Lil Louis`french Kiss, complete with a tripped out acid line that rides a nasty groove. Feels like the shark from jaws  coming at you when it speeds up again and goes into full on tribal mode.

In conversation: DELLA and Bomström

DELLA interviews Bomström, the first international guest to DELLAs Drivhus since 2019. They talk about Locus Soundsystem, classical music, Djing and keeping it koselig before they head to the sauna this Saturday.

DELLA: Hello there Mr. Bomström, I’m looking forward to sharing the booth with you this coming Saturday, it has been some time! Once upon a time you were a resident of Oslo, where are you based now?

Bomström: Hello there Kristina, Likewise –  yeah, it’s been a way too long time now. But finally even Swedes are welcome in Norway. I’m super stoked about getting back to Oslo, to Jaeger,  and seeing you again! Göteborg is my homebase. Best coast it is.

D: Ah, lovely Göteborg, one of my favourite European cities! An adorable seaside city filled with lovely cafes and pubs, vintage shopping, and culture. Each visit, I was there to play at some amazing underground party in secret locations, at a children’s puppet theatre or a giant warehouse in an old shipyard. And of course, the bouncing balloon bars (it’s legal!). Oh, you crazy Swedes. Tell us about your role in Göteborg and being the creator of these underground events.

How did it all start?

B: It started, some ten years ago, with this studio that I shared with a friend. It was way too big for being a music production studio / creative playground. But since it wasn’t really suitable to split up with further people, we decided to start throwing ug parties there instead. It was this intimate family thing, members only kind of events, off fb and all that. Since people seem to be into parties that are sold out, it quickly became popular. The main reason for that was because the venue was so tiny. But nobody noticed and the parties went on. Once a month. Damn, I’ve even seen the sweat dripping from the ceiling at one of these parties. And that was the start. From there on I started exploring the Gbg industrial areas and the beaches, searching for new locations in order to do bigger events. Eventually I started doing more and more co-labs with the Locus crew. Until one day, even if I did my own thing, people would still consider it a Locus party. It’s pretty weird huh. But we jacked the same kind of house, you know. So I got hijacked! Some five years ago I became a member of Locus Soundsystem.

D: What kind of events have you arranged?

B: Well, when I think of it, it seems I’ve done them all. The open air parties, warehouse parties, beach parties, forest parties, island parties, festivals, smaller club nights and big club nights. But since it sounds a bit odd to put it like that, it’s probably a better idea to mention something I haven’t done, and that is a big size festival.  I guess I will never do that either haha.

D: Tell us more about your musical journey, when did you begin djing and where has it led you?

BSince I was a kid I have always been into music, playing piano and church organ etc. I am a trained church musician actually. But I injured my arms because I was rocking the piano too hard (true story). So I had to figure out a new way to express myself as an artist. I got into fine arts and stuff and during those years I found the electronic scene. Now, as I think back, I figure it must have been because of the frequent use of keys in electronic music, that I got hooked in the first place. I always loved soul and jazz, as well as hiphop etc. But generally I think that electronic has more similarities with classical music – when it comes to harmonies. They’re pretty basic after all. You don’t need to know all these super complicated chords and scales, that jazz music, for example, is entirely built upon. Being a fan, going to raves and stuff, I stumbled into these two ladies in Oslo, Della and Vibeke (former No Dial Tone), who took me under their wings and brought me into the Oslo scene. I remember you guys booked me to play at The Villa. It was my second gig. So, yeah – thanks a lot for believing in me back then!

During the years, since then, I have been traveling around djing at clubs and festivals around the nordic, as well as in many european countries.   

DYou are currently a resident of Locus Soundsystem, who / what is this?

BLocus Soundsystem is a dj collective and the longest running concept for underground deep house music up in the north. We have thrown our club night at Pustervik for some 22 years now. But we are also infamous in Gbg for our secret NYE celebrations, as well as for the occasional activities in shady industrial areas. But our style of music is perhaps better suitable for beaches. At least we tend to think so. But maybe it’s just that we prefer breathing fresh air, who knows.

DI know that you are classically trained in music, can you tell us more on this?

BYeah, my parents listened a lot to classical music. Both my parents and my sisters always played the piano. So what the heck, I thought. It didn’t take long before all I was doing was playing the piano and I even went to the music academy. Until I played so much I injured my arms. I had to quit just like that and start thinking of something else for a career. That’s the short version of the story. I have no problem playing the piano now. But I am currently expressing myself in a slightly different way as a musician, and it’s all fine with me. And the classical music scene, well – I guess there was more rock and roll in my veins so to say.  I mean – imagine me in a tuxedo?

D: Primarily, you are a DJ, but production is something you are devoting more time to. What are you currently working on?

BAt the moment I’m into many different genres. Because I have this idea that I can achieve a lot from trying out a style I have never been into before. Even the kind of music I don’t listen to myself. Because doing that pushes me into new workarounds. Into playing around with new techniques, instruments, effects, melodies, chords and samples, etc. But since I am not into that style of music, I will never do it entirely “correctly”, right. This has got me thinking I might eventually come up with something unique. I don’t know if I’m right. But it certainly is lots of fun. I am currently working on my first album. But I’ve always been a huge fan of hip hop. So I’ve been producing beats for some good friends of mine who are very talented rappers. And! Believe it or not – I’m working on some house music too!

DNow that we are finally seeing the light from the end of these strange 2 years we’ve been living, summer plans? Gigs, festivals, or planning events?

B: We have this summer club at Nefertiti in Gbg called Locus 2.0 premiering next week (30.5). Then we always have a lot of secret open air events going on during the summer, as I mentioned before. Another good one is the special gathering that will take place in the end of the summer, in a village up north. It’s called Tillvaron. When it comes to gigs abroad I am looking forward to joining the Rehab crew in Naples and hopefully I will make it back to Berlin also this summer.

D: This will be your first time joining us at Jaeger, what will you be playing?

BHouse

D: Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

B: During my years in Oslo I always wondered how you guys could always be so goddamn happy all the time. Then I noticed you always tend to say “det er koselig” no matter what is going on. Everything is so koselig. At the doctor – it is koselig. At the car mechanic – it is koselig. In the middle of a riot – it is koselig. I always thought for myself, as a depressed Swede, that it just cannot be koselig at all at the police station. I never went to a Norwegian police station, so what do I know. But at least it shouldn’t be, right? But now that I have grown older and as I am about to head back to Oslo, I finally figured you guys out. You were right. It is koselig. Pretty damn koselig, in fact. Oslo – jeg gleder meg!

 

Della’s Drivhus is a concept dedicated to the root of dance music, the tribal drum, and the vibration that syncs with the heart. As my first int’l guest since 2019, I welcome you. Saturday is going to be a galactic evening! 

Soundcloud:

Blawan: through the tracks

The essential Blawan listening experience from “Fram” to “Blika.” 

For little over a decade Blawan has been at the forefront of a definitive shift in the sound of Techno as one of the new vanguard of the genre. An intuitive approach to rhythm and sound, he has been the harbinger of a new futuristic ideology for the dance floor that has seen his star rise alongside a rising trend in the genre. 

Although Blawan came through during a wave of “future” genres out of the post-dubstep era in the UK, he is now firmly installed amongst the Techno elite both as a DJ and a producer. From the first provocative rhythms of Fram to his latest contribution to the XL catalogue, Blawan has delivered an idiosyncratic sound throughout a career that has evolved through a revolution of electronic music destined for the dance floor. 

With a visit to our basement in the near future, we delved through the enigmatic producer’s vast discography in an effort to investigate the continuous appeal and ingenuity of the artist and producer. 

Advance tickets to Blawan here. 

 

Fram (Hessel Audio)

This is the one that grabbed everybody’s attention. Fram and its sister track Iddy not only cemented Blawan in the aftermath of UK’s dubstep explosion, but also established the burgeoning Hessel Audio label. Hessel would eventually become a future tastemaker for the more progressive end of electronic club music as Blawan would move into the realm of punishing Techno.

Fram is one of those tracks and Blawan is one of those artists that came about at the end of the hype of Dubstep. The track is a testament to that era and the innovative forms of music coming out of London at that time at places like plastic people. The polyrhythmic percussion and alien sound sculptures didn’t sound like anything on the dance floor at that time. Moving to electronic music from behind a set of drums, you can hear Blawan’s inherent mastery of the rhythmic form in Fram. Between drum machines, and some live percussion, there’s an expressive approach that gave his largely machine music a human feel. 

“A twitchy but muscular number bristling with hollowed out, ligneous beat,” John Doran from the Quietus described it. It veered on the abstract electronica realm, but fell well clear of the experimental as sound systems like that of Corsica Studios’ room 2 would attest at the time.

Building his tracks from the percussion up (a common theme in his music), Blawan created an intense and foreboding sound that conjured the mood of cinematic horror. “It’s funny,” Blawan told The Face in a recent interview, “every time I bring tracks from the studio, my partner says ​‘why are you always writing stuff that sounds like it’s in a horror film?’ And to be honest, I’ve no idea…” It’s something that’s congruent in Blawan’s approach to dance music and something of a trademark of the artist’s sound, even today.

 

What you do with what you have (R&S)

It wasn’t soon after Fram and Iddy that Blawan started to gain recognition in dance music circles. He stood out amongst his peers for his innovative approach, infusing elements from diverse sources one his way to establishing a Blawan sound. Today he might mostly be known for that kind of brutalist sonic signature that he reserves for his own Ternesc imprint, but on his way to establishing that signature Blawan sound he stopped off at R&S with a record that fell deep for the lysergic impulses of Acid. 

What you do with what you have is a snarling monster, bearing the grisly grimace of a 303 loop seemingly jutting out from the lacquer surface. Everything in this track has a percussive quality; from the drums to the galvanised plucks of the main melody. But it’s a vocal, repeating various snippets of the same sample at different pitch intervals, that lures the listener closer. 

“Yes. What I really want I guess is to add a human, emotional touch to the track… rather than getting super in someone’s face like I used to!” Blawan said at the time. The vocal sample comes from that now infamous Red Bull Music Academy lecture with Moodymann. The main line, “it ain’t what you got, it’s what you do with what you have” is not only great advice, it also seems to offer some clue to Blawan’s philosophy to his sonic identity. 

Blawan’s music doesn’t pander to the industry-approved sound palette. Although What you do with what you have is clearly an acid Techno record, there is more to the record than a couple of machines slugging it out. It builds on those reserved minimalist foundations of his early records, but it’s a sound that would be more at home at Berghain than at Plastic People. 

 

Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage (Hinge Finger)

By the time What you do with what you have was released, Blawan was already courting the big rooms, even though not quite fully inducted into them. He would be no stranger to Berlin’s dark and intimidating Techno lairs, but at same time could still be found playing more intimate venues in London. By the time this next track came out however, it would propel Blawan towards a level amongst Techno’s top tier.

Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage was huge! It came at a time when music blogs still had some sway in the world, and when DJs were still breaking records on the dance floor, sometimes up to a year before they were released. Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage managed to court both factions and had everybody in a frenzy before it came out. By the time the record eventually was released it was already sold out everywhere… and I’m not exaggerating – Even today the popularity of that record has waned little with copies going on discogs for a hefty €50 and up.

“I was surprised at how it took off. And it scared me as well, if I’m honest,” Blawan told the Quietus at the time. “It was a direction I didn’t want to go in.” It’s rumoured that it started life as a joke, but by the time Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage came out the level of success it achieved was nothing to scoff at. Blawan had arrived at the mainstage!

That dark, brooding architecture is not only behind the title of the record, but also in the atmosphere of this record. The vocal; titillating and intimidating, only bolstered that appeal, and if you were a fan of electronic music around 2012, you’d have to be living under a rock, if this track didn’t reach you at any point. Perhaps its appeal lay in the simplification of Blawan’s polyrhythmic nature, but it didn’t distract from Blawan’s otherworldly sonic signature. 

 

Talatone (Ternesc)

And just like that Blawan stopped releasing records. Directly after Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage, there came an hiatus in Blawan’s recording output. He left it on a high-note with that record. For those only arriving at his music however, it marked a career in its infancy and only left them hungry for more of the same, with his earlier records and their divergent sound hardly satiating the masses. 

Citing health issues, which included a trip under the surgeon’s knife, Blawan was forced to take a break from the scene and take stock of his life in music going forward. His appeal hardly waned during his time away as records like Why they hide… were coveted by the discogs mania speculating for the future. Blawan’s music refused to fizzle out in the background, and  by the time he did come back into the fray with a new record, a new label, and several new projects he didn’t just arrive back on the scene, but stamped a formidable mark on it with tracks like Talatone.

Talatone was the first cut from the first EP for his new label, Ternesc and it asserted Blawan’s return in a dominating and forceful Techno thriller. A more intimidating approach to sound design, Talatone is a functional monster that bears some comparisons to Why they hide… while foregoing that immediacy of the previous record. If Blawan was perhaps a Techno producer with associations on the wonkier spectrum of the genre before, Talatone picked no bones about being a Techno tool for any DJ with the stamina for this kind of music. 

Talatone, Ternersc and Blawan’s return came at a time when Techno’s momentum just started picking up again towards a moment in the present when it’s one of the most popular music genres in the world today. Unsurprisingly it propelled Blawan on that same trajectory where his name and music have become synonymous with the genre’s modern vanguard. 

 

As Bored Young Adults – Shy Dancers On Bungalowdorf Beach (Trilogy Tapes)

…and then for something completely different. This is Blawan on a divergent course again. Bored Young Adults is reportedly the alias he created for a style of music he made for home listening, but the one-time fooray into this realm is hardly easy-listening. Bored young adults arrived at a time of a massive creative spark for the artist it seems. The music he made between then and now has only strengthened the diversity of the artist’s sound. While his other side project with Pariah, Karenn was dedicated to peak time on a dark dance floor, Young bored Adults channelled those same formidable sounds towards after-hours and slower tempos. 

A slow chugging track, Shy Dancers On Bungalowdorf Beach taps into that downtempo balearic feel while harnessing that element of foreboding that Blawan applies to his work. Elements float and glisten on a sea of ebbing bass that showcases Blawan’s prowess as a sonic auteur. That mood he creates through his records are never stagnant; they move with the progression of the track, which comes to the fore on this slower track and the other tracks from this record. 

Judging from his shows with Pangea as Karenn and some snippets of interviews at the time,  Blawan almost certainly fell in the rabbit hole that is modular synthesisers, and it took those minimal percussive sounds he relied on in earlier records to a new dimension. His textures developed and grew into cinematic creations, but remained focussed on that rhythmic pursuit, underpinning the artist’s work.

It’s curious why Blawan has never revisited this alias. There’s a lot of potential locked in those grooves, that could certainly have made for an interesting LP. 

 

Tasser – from Wet will always dry (Ternesc)

Even though I’m of the opinion Bored Young Adults would’ve been a more intriguing LP project, Blawan’s eventual debut LP didn’t disappoint. It’s reminiscent of the classic Robert Hood LP, Minimal Nation in sonic character and in spirit. Not as bold as the EPs and the 12” from before, but retaining that elusive mood Blawan cultivates in his music, he channels it effortlessly into the domain of an album narrative while tracks like Tasser maintain that indestructible connection to the dance floor. 

Even indie chin-strokers Pitchfork couldn’t help sing the album’s praises enough. “Wet Will Always Dry isn’t an album that will rewire dance music or revolutionize modern electronics, but at its best it succeeds in pushing against the expectations of modern techno, bringing vulnerability, warmth, and oodles of enchanting noises to a musical genre whose pursuit of the future sometimes seems to have gotten lost in po-faced respect for the past.“

I tend to disagree that there’s no connection to the past here. That Detroit influence is strong here, and I would even argue tracks like Fram were perhaps even more futuristic. But that’s not the purpose of a Techno record in the long format. It’s something that needs to capture the feeling of going from a club to lying on your living room floor, ears still ringing and head still spinning as you decompress, and Wet will always dry achieves that.

There’s something engaging in the sonic palette that borders on the intellectual without getting too contemplative and introverted while at the same time there’s no mistaking it for anything other than club record. 

 

Blika 

While Blawan’s success hit stratospheric proportions there was something that eluded those records even as he found popularity amongst the larger audiences. Those early rhythms he thrived in  and what first drew us to Blawan as an artist, were starting to get subverted in the pursuit of Techno’s marching orders and familiar rhythm patterns.

Those polyrhythmic clatterings of tracks like Fram and Getting me Down (which actually deserves an honourable mention here) never quite truly found a place in the sonic world of Techno that Blawan cultivated since his return. 

That has changed again over the last few releases on Ternesc and especially over on Blika, Blawan’s induction into the XL recordings family. In the context of the records that immediately followed it namely Make a Goose and Soft Wahls, Woke Up right Handed marks a shift in the artist’s output again with a return to those enigmatic rhythmic patterns that earmarked his earlier music, fusing it with that unparalleled sound he’s cultivated over the last 7 years. 

“I’m trying to step away from spending one whole week making one modular patch,” he admitted in the quietus recently, and it seems to have taken him back to the more impulsive approach that dots his earliest creations.

Blika stutters and glides through the percussive realm as a tumultuous wave of noise and distortion crashes over each phrase. That sense of trepidation in his sonic texture seems stronger than ever as it limps through the progression, dragging menacing cantations through that harsh frequency band of human hearing. 

Does it suggest yet another new epoch in Blawan’s career as an artist? It’s perhaps not as clearly defined as that shift after his hiatus, but there’s something there that in world drowning Techno, sets it apart from the rest of the noise. It’s something that has shadowed Blawan’s career the entire way through; whatever he applies his craft to, has an innate ability to stand out from the backdrop of the Techno genre. 

 

Make something you want to hear with Christian Engh

The pieces have fallen into place for Christian Engh and his music recently. Over the last 3 releases he’s found a sonic identity that has seemingly eluded him in the past. Starting with his 2020 release Voltage and arriving at the Detache, a sound has coalesced around his work that has now been reaffirmed by the fourth edition to this series of records, Skywae. It’s a long way from the Italo sounds of his first split release, Kyllingsmak and even further still from his dalliance with Techno on 2017’s suburb Snurrbass EP. It’s not necessarily even in that comfort zone of the label Full Pupp’s sonic signature, and yet it signals an artist that has certainly found his comfort zone.

“I think you’re right,” nods Christian in agreement as he takes a sip of his beer in Jaeger’s  backyard on a cold, but sunny Saturday afternoon. It’s here where I first met Christian and it’s here, I still regularly bump into him on a night out on Jaeger’s dance floor. We share some stories of recent nights out in the backyard/gården which was largely empty on the day we met for this interview, save the furniture and one other patron. 

I had just listened to Skywae for the first time and I was unable to shake the nervous energy it’s relayed through its gritty kick drums and warm soul-stirring bass. There’s no particular earworm to hang on to, nor is there anything specific like a sound or a particular rhythmic structure that stands out, but there is a definite mood there. It’s something that touches on a nostalgic pulse from House music’s earliest vibrations, but it’s more than that. It’s bold and aggressive, but not in a brutish way and it comes together on a record that is just screaming to be played through a hefty sound system.

It’s “just the way it turned out,” says Christian, almost dismissively. Skywae is the latest in a series of records that has seen the artist cultivate a sound based on his earliest influences and finding form through the artist’s voice. It was all supposed to come out on one LP, but the pandemic and Full Pupp’s backlog of records prevented the album from coming together. Instead both label and artist opted to put the music out through a few EPs and together these EPs create a watershed moment in Christian Engh’s discography.

“I really want to make House music with that American sound,” explains Christian about this new phase in his music. “That’s what I grew up with.” He’s found a stride in this approach, and it turns out, it has resonated with a few influential tastemakers on the upper echelons of the scene too.

“I started to get some recognition from the producers and DJs I really look up to,” says Christian coyly, and he’s being modest. DJs like Cinthie and Honey Dijon have been getting behind his music for the last two years and through them Christian Engh has reached a larger audience. At the time of writing Ctairs has almost a 100 000 plays on Spotify thanks to a Honey Dijon playlist, and it’s given Christian the much-deserved credit that continues to compel him to make and release music. “Hearing something I made in a club and people dancing to it, that’s just so cool,” says Christian and it’s that which has driven him since he first started releasing his music.

He started merely “dabbling in electronic music” early on in his life, but he’d mostly avoided presenting his experiments to others. The chance to eventually release something at all was little more than a happy “coincidence” that came about being in the mix at the Full Pupp stable at a social level. 

Through a common friend he had been introduced to Magnus International and Magnus introduced him to Daniel “Blackbelt” Andersen, and the Full Pupp stalwarts became fast friends with Christian very quickly. “I started hanging out at Blå at their (Full Pupp) nights and got to know (Prins) Thomas after a while too,” continues Christian. He hadn’t played any of his music yet in their company, but as they became more familiar, Magnus, Daniel and Christian would “have some beers before going out” and eventually those turned into listening sessions where Christian “would show them what I had done.” During one such session Magnus latched onto what would become Kyllingsmak and after playing it to Thomas during a Full Pupp night at Blå, Christian’s fate was sealed. 

Witnessing the physical response of a dance floor reacting to something he made for the first time ”was such a rush,” for Christian and it sparked a desire to create more. 

Christian admits there’s a “huge difference” between those first few releases and the music he makes today. He explains it’s all down to the production. “I’ve learned a lot” and everything from Voltage up to now stands a testament to that. Consulting youtube and talking to Magnus and Daniel with some input from Prins Thomas, Christian believes that his productions have reached a point that even though “I still hear stuff that I’m not happy with, it’s not as severe.” 

There was an “a-ha moment that happened in the last two years” when he started to “learn how to use effects” and got more comfortable with aspects of compression and reverb in his work. He waves it off as “a technical thing,” of little interest for people outside music, but you don’t need to be an expert to hear the difference between those early releases and these latest ones. 

“I should have probably taught myself that years ago, but I just suck at being structured,” says Christian jokingly. For somebody that is only doing music as a “hobby” it’s never been a priority” to release records and there’s no reason why he should be so particular about his work, but I sense there’s a perfectionism behind it that has more intent than a mere hobby would. It had taken Christian ten years of making music without releasing anything and then another half decade to get to this point, but there seems to have been an inherent skill for the artform that’s been there since the first record. “I’ve been doing music for a long time,” admits Christian, “but not on the production side.”

He started to play the guitar after hearing Metallica’s …and Justice for All” as an 8 year old. “It was mind blowing,” and attempting to emulate his guitar heroes like James Hettfield and Kurt Cobain, he became quite adept at this instrument early on. His tastes evolved through death- and eventually black metal, which was a thing in Norway at the time 8or so we’re told). By the time he was 14, he had a record deal and was touring Europe and by 17, he had retired from the band and hung up the guitar, abandoning it almost completely…

“After that it’s all been electronic music,” says Christian and while he might still meet up with the people from that scene, “it’s not my interest anymore.” He’s convinced “electronic music has so much more going on.” He’d been courting these two seemingly contrasting worlds throughout his youth, and it seemed like electronic music eventually one him over.  

Yet there remains one constant between these two worlds today for Christian today and that connection is Fenris. “Fenris was a big part of my education,” insists Christian “and he still is.” The Darkthrone frontman is known for his expansive listening habits and that is something Christian has always had in common with him since his black metal days. “We started hanging out, because we were the only people in that scene that would listen to electronic music” and “it’s not exactly” the genesis of Christian’s appreciation for electronic music, “but it was there at the start.”

Even though he left the scene some years back, there are some things that he certainly carried over from that era and that world and not just his friendship with Fenris. One aspect of his music in particular that has survived the mortal coil of death metal,  is a philosophy to “make what you want to hear,” he says. Even as an adolescent guitarist with no formal training, this mantra has followed him, unwavering from one discipline to another. ”That’s my approach to House music as well,” he echoes. 

It’s embedded in his earliest memories of hearing the genre of music. Things like “the old DJ-Kicks stuff from the nineties, and the X-Mixes” is a familiar touchstone for Christian’s own influences. “That’s where it started. For instance, Kevin Saunderson’s X-Mix has this really nice combination between really rough drums and bass and super nice strings and other elements on top which are kind of futuristic – that’s my favourite kind of music,” explains Christian enthusiastically.

You can clearly hear those influences on Skywae more clearly today. The record and the three preceding it, is as much an homage to that era, as it is Christian finding his feet in that sound. It was there all along, it seems, he just needed the time and patience to develop it and now he’s confidently arrived at the point. He might still find fault in his music, nitpicking over details, but Skywae is an archetype of a classic House record if there ever was one, and one that can certainly stand shoulder to shoulder with the rest of them. 

 

And now for something different with Switchdance

Marco Antão is still settling into his new digs in Kristiansand. The Portuguese-Goan producer and DJ is planning to spend half the year in Norway and the other in Lisbon for the foreseeable future and the last six months have kept him busy.  “I brought a lot of synths and I built my studio here,” says Marco over a telephone call from the house he shares with his girlfriend. He is enjoying the opportunity to “make music with an amazing view” and it’s already starting to bear creative fruit.

Prostaglandin E1 is the first track to have come from this new space. Made for a Portuguese compilation, the track is a moody tech track, built on minimal foundations with designs on the club floor. A female humanoid vocal works its way through the metallic sheen of the first few bars and into mystic dimensions carried on the melody of a harmonic scale. 

“The vocals are from my girlfriend,” Marco tells me in a kind of nonchalant way.  I pry for more details. “I was kind of stuck on the track with a deadline,” claims Marco and the track needed some extra elements, so he asked his girlfriend; “can you try some vocals?” The fortuitous impulse turned out to be the right choice, imposing a human imprint on Prostaglandin E1 that gives the track an accessible and sensory dimension. 

It’s the latest release in a decade-long career. It’s one side of the multifaceted DJ and artists sonic aesthetic which can move from the kosmische realm of downtempo Balearics to the energetic inclinations of a club floor. “I have my dark cosmic synth music side,” reiterates Marco only to contrast it with; “I’m a resident at Lux Frágil, so I have this fun club version of myself too.” These aspects converge on records and sets that have made Switchdance a household name in Portugal even in lieu of his associations with Lux Frágil. 

Switchdance has been a resident of the famous Lisbon nightclub for the last 12 years and his history with the club is a “long story” he claims. Nonetheless he indulges me. 

Marco had been a loyal patron of the club since he first started going out. He remembers waiting in “long queues outside of Lux” as an 18 and 19 year old during a period shortly after when the club was changing over from one instance into the next. Reinventing itself from Frágil, the “first gay-friendly House club in Lisbon in the 80’s” to Lux around 1998 it built on the legacy of one generation to the next as Marco came of age. 

“Around 2008” the club thought it was about time for a change again and “wanted a new resident.” Lux had “had the same residents since the beginning” according to Marco, and they were looking for some fresh blood to infuse the next phase of the club. Lux “held a contest” in which the winner would receive a six-month residency and 12 years later that winner, Switchdance, is still a resident.  

As a fixture of the club today, Marco likes to explore the more obscure sides of the dance floor. “Next Friday I’m playing with Vladimir Ivkovic,” he says by way of  an example. He offers a “more electronic and alternative” approach to the club music that dots the club’s roster and it’s something he is able to adapt that freely over Lux’s two floors. “If I play upstairs, I can play anything I want,” he says. This will include everything from “rock and David Bowie to club music and Italo disco.” In the club he can get “more introspective,” and play to a more engaged audience. “Downstairs is not a place to talk” after all. 

Listening back to a 2019 set from Switchdance recorded live “downstairs,” it seems that there is a certain freedom to the programming at Lux. The mix is slow and brooding with a melancholic mood underpinning the sounds of his selections. Marco looks back on the night and his set fondly. “I had the right crowd to play slow so it was one of my best nights,” he remembers. The packed dance floor, which can take up to a 1000 people was bristling form the first track and by the end of his set “everybody was dancing” reminisces Marco. 

“It was an amazing experience,” and it suggests something of the Lux audience’s attitude to electronic club music.  At the same time there is something in the contrast between the different styles that permeate through Lux that corresponds to Marco’s music. Turning back  time through Switchdance’s discography from Prostaglandin E1 to The Black Tape record, we find two distinct sounds emerging; one trained on the dance floor and one meandering on the fringes of club music. Is this the influence of Lux at work?

“I can’t say I’m 100% influenced,” replies Marco, “but I’m always imagining playing the tracks there.” His Lisbon-based studio is only 2 minutes down the road from the iconic nightclub and he will often go down to the club to test a track out on the sound system – which he claims bares striking similarity to Jaeger’s

At the heart of Switchdance’s sound as an artist however is not heightened club-informed sound like you might find a big room, but something more meditative; a sonic identity that is clouded in mystery and something almost mystic, born from a love of synthesis. “I’m addicted to synths,” says Marco who says; “all my money goes to synthesisers and red wine” in a breathy laugh. 

As a child of the eighties myself, I can understand the obsession. Growing up with the evocative sounds of the synthesisers in the background in your youth, that sound stays with you. In Marco it has only matured with him through the years as an artist and you can still hear its effects in his music.

“For example on The Black Tape, you can hear some 80’s italo influences,” explains Marco. Those early influences start with “listening to a lot of synth pop, like Depeche Mode.” Taking a slight detour through Goth as a teenager he came back to pure synthesiser music during “the boom of electro music in the early 2000’s.” Legowelt and the Dutch scene were a touchstone during that time, and you can still hear that influence clearly in Switchdance’s first appearance on Boiler Room back in 2013.

It marks an approach that is vast and open today as an artist, but centred around the synthesiser and moving far beyond the strict parameters of the preset menu. There’s something alien in Switchdance’s music that comes from the unusual sound palette he creates in his music. The nature of the vocals from Prostaglandin E1 is a great example as it moves from a kind of eerie android to digital automaton through the course of the track. It’s clearly processed through a vocoder, but not like anything you’re likely to have encountered before.

It’s a sound that has followed him since his early days, when he was still known by SWITCHST(d)ANCE. Through a very reserved release schedule it has evolved without drastically changing and today we find a definitive sound in the music of Switchdance.

In recent years this sound has even garnered a wider appeal with heavies like Harvey and Dixon getting behind the music of Switchdance through two compilations compiled by the DJ luminaries featuring the artist’s music. With Arabian Ride on Harvey’s Mercury Rising and O Amolador finding its way on Dixon’s Secret Weapons compilation for Innervisions, Switchdance has found favour with some of the DJ- and club community’s most respected tastemakers. 

It was specifically the Innervisions association that “was a huge kick” for Marco’s career with a “big buzz” around the track as it climbed the charts. It seems Dixon “really likes” Switchdance, but Marco stops short of mentioning any specific partnership with the popular label for the future. 

Now that Marco is spending six months of the year in Norway, he is rather striving to “connect with the scene” here. His familiarity with artists like Charlotte Bendiks, Skatebård and Lindstrøm as DJs he’s played with in Portugal has seen him make in-roads. Since moving, he has played Hærverk in Oslo and Vaktbua in Kristiansand and with an appearance at Jaeger next Friday, he is already making strides in Norway’s scene. 

He’s received very positive feedback from the crowd here with people commending his alternative approach to the dance floor. He feels he is still able to convey a lot of what he does at Lux Fragil to other audiences and in Norway he’s already found a receptive audience with people coming up to him to say “I never saw somebody playing this type of music here.” 

With set times being the only real constraint here, he’ll have to compress what he does through a night at Lux, but whatever it is, it’s sure to be different. 

You know what’s up with Anders Hajem

The history of dance music-collectives stretch as far back as the earliest days of club music. They’ve come in and out of vogue with the peaks and valleys of electronic music’s popularity. Few stand the test of time as egos emerge and personalities clash, but some are successful. They eventually form record labels, and while some members might eventually move on to greater things, it’s while standing on the shoulders of the collective and in rare cases it’s these individuals that strengthen the resolve of the collective as a unit as they rise up together.

I believe Boring Crew Records (BCR)  is such a collective and that Jens Wabø (Perkules), Henrik Villard and Anders Hajem are on the cusp of establishing BCR as a significant entry in the annals of collective history in dance music. A collective however is always better as the sum of its parts, and in BCR we have three producers and DJs that have found an uncanny kindred spirit. Each brings his own strengths to the collective, which in turn has offered the springboard for them all to succeed individually. Anders Hajem is no exception. 

A slew of releases on BCR under his given name and as Clastique as well as a release for Full Pupp has established Anders as the busiest producer in the BCR collective at this moment. In December he released his sixth record for the label, Kjoret Gaar Volume 1, which establishes a new series of releases with an objective crystallising on the dance floor around the 6 tracks. They’re “just raw and dancey tunes with no more thought put into it,” explains Anders about the concept of the mini LP. “The thought is to release more in the same style and I hope to get volume 2 up and running by the end of 2022, maybe with some remixes this time. The plan is to release Kjoret Gaar projects on bandcamp and let people pay what they want and hopefully we’ll be able to release it on vinyl at some point.”

Anders is pleasant and polite when we sit down for a chat. His thoughtful approach to music is counterpointed by a youthful exuberance that lies behind a tempered visage, under a peak cap. His release schedule is eager, but the music doesn’t sound rushed or impulsive. Rather there’s a maturity that belies his 26 years and his relatively recent introduction to club music. 

Anders grew up in Ål, a town “in the middle of nowhere,” in the centre of Norway. The town has “one music store where they sell guitars and other equipment” and with a father that “listened to a lot of deep Purple and Led Zeppelin,” Anders naturally gravitated towards the guitar as a “main instrument” from a young age. He cut his own path through the hairy world of rock, listening to modern day guitar heroes like “Arctic Monkeys and Queens of the Stone Age.” At a mere ten years of age, he started taking music at school and soon set about playing in bands around his hometown. 

The guitar shop “helped a lot for a small community” like Ål to establish something of a music scene, but electronic music remained a fleeting curiosity and an unknown entity for the young Anders. He had only been exposed to “the tip of the iceberg of electronic music” at home and it was mostly the kind of “cheesy” electronic music we associate with the radio today. “I had some friends that lived in Oslo and had gone to raves, but I never got into that when I lived in Ål,” he remembers. Those friends were mainly into Psytrance and Anders “just didn’t get it.“ It conflated his experience of club music and raves with people clad in loose fitting hemp and stomping along to triplet bass measures in a forest somewhere, but that was all set to change when he eventually moved to Oslo to study sound engineering. 

“When I moved to Oslo, that changed my perspective on electronic music,” says Anders in a serious monotone. He had already been listening to electronic music. The likes of Todd Terje and indie electronic acts like Rival Consoles had piqued his interest in electronic music, but that type of “dreamy synth electronic” music had never made it past the album format however and the club experience still eluded Anders for a time. Spurred on by Todd Terje and his new fascination for synthesisers, Anders eventually started going out in Oslo and it was the formative club experiences, “especially Villa and Jaeger,” where Anders became more “connected to that  kind of music.”

“Once I found out there were a lot of underground genres,” says Anders “it just opened up for me.” He dove deep, bought his first synthesiser and phased the bands out of his life. He realised “electronic music was easier to make on your own” and started making rudimentary synthesiser music.  His first attempts were little more than a drum machine and a single synthesiser as he tried to emulate the likes of Todd Terje and Boards of Canada. You can still hear some those influences in a newer track like 6AM.

He “dove deeper into electronic music and discovered Motorcity drum Ensemble, Gerd Jansen and Honey Dijon” through Boiler Room sets, but it was ultimately when he met Jens Wabø that everything would fall in place for his work as a producer and his skills as a DJ.

“We have a 5g connection,” says Anders through a grin. “Jens is one of those guys I just love playing with.” Anders had been getting into making House music, through Lo-Fi – “it sounded easier to make and not that polished” – but he had not yet gotten the hang of DJing by the time he met Jens. ”Jens was into Djing” however and after a crash course, Anders too “got the hang of it, and fell in love with it.” Once they were more comfortable playing together, they played their first gig at Villa and then the pandemic hit. 

Young enthusiasts like Jens and Anders were stopped dead in their tracks during what would be the prime of any producer and DJ’s career. They could’ve resigned their attempts to the bedroom studio and streaming DJ sets, but they proved to be more industrious than most. They shared a studio and when they weren’t making music, they were DJing.

“We were just hungry for more and started playing at the studio.” Anders then met up with the “rave kids” from back home, whose own tastes had matured beyond Psytrance and incorporated House and Techno too. “They joined and helped out a lot in reaching people” through their concept Rave at Bricks, and eventually those studio sessions grew into small parties that helped establish BCR. 

More “friends joined in on it and it turned into a little community” with Henrik Villard forming a significant piece of the puzzle in establishing BCR as a label. “He helped us just from the experience he had releasing a lot of tunes,” explains Anders. Henrik’s experience in the industry gave them the confidence to establish BCR as a label and in 2021 they released their first record with Anders as Clastique breaking new ground for the trio.

They continued to host parties alongside releases from the collective. In the summer of 2021, while we were still in the midst of the pandemic, “they brought the  speakers outside and played loud and people came.” It  gave people “a place to go,” during a time of lockdowns, “even if you were just six people in the studio drinking beers and listening to good music.” And what do BCR define as good music? “I don’t think we had a sound in mind, but it is based on House music,” answers Anders. ”We love Techno too, but there is a lot of Techno in Oslo and we love House music more so…” BCR established itself as a House music collective.

It’s House music as inclusive as it can be and you can hear it throughout Anders’ own discography. From the broken beats of “Reminiscence” to the soothing melodies of “6AM” to the outer reaches of the Giorgio Mordoder-like sequences running through “Velvet Disco,” Anders Hajem makes House music defined by over 30 years of history informing the genre. Kjoret Gaar Volume 1 is a perfect example of that in its own right, and even while Anders is completely focussed on the dance floor on this release, it’s a broad and inclusive view of the dance floor. 

It’s an attitude that he transported to Full Pupp last year with Flint Eastwood and arriving between a heavy rotation of BCR releases, 2021 was a year of great creative output from Anders Hajem. It only seems to be hitting its stride in 2022. With another release primed for Tromsø outfit Mellom, a desire to have more external artists feature on BCR, and more events planned for the BCR collective, including their residency at Jaeger, 2022 might just see the return of House music in Oslo, spearheaded by this concept. “It’s great to have the opportunity to create that environment for that kind of music to blossom in the Oslo scene,” remarks Anders and as an individual and a collective at the forefront of this burgeoning scene, there is certainly a new and youthful impetus for it to thrive. 

Anders hopes that it will reach a point where “if you know there’s a BCR party, you know what’s up” and that we can safely assume will relate to any releases coming from the collective and Anders’ solo projects. There is something distinct yet still opaque about BCR and Anders Hajem and in due time it will reveal itself as a determinable force in Oslo’s House music scene. 

 

Proceeds from Frædag: Nastia directed to Red Cross Ukraine

Almost 50 000 kr in proceeds and donations have been sent to the Red Cross to go to the Ukraine.

We’re pleased to announce that nearly 50 000kr was raised during Friday the 25th of February, for an evening dedicated to the people of Ukraine. As the situation worsened in the Ukraine we decided to dedicate the night to the people who were trapped in the middle of this violent conflict.

Naturally we had to postpone Nastia’s visit on the night as she and her daughter fled to Poland, but we were eager to be able to do more than just watch as this unfolded. We took the decision to donate the proceeds from the door to the cause of the Ukranian people. On top of that, many people showed their support on the night and donated too, and we were able to raise nearly 50 000kr owith your help.

We were yet uncertain as to right organisation to direct these funds too,  but after an influx of suggestions and a broad search, we decided on the Red Cross in Ukraine. It is clear that they are facing an incredible humanitarian crisis and the Red Cross in the Ukraine is best situated and have already been hard at work since the start of the conflict providing humanitarian aid to innocent people caught in the middle of this war. We issued the funds to the Red Cross in Norway, who will distribute it directly to their Ukrainian franchise last week.

We’d like to extend a special thank you to everybody that made it out to this event and supported the cause in a very moving show of solidarity with the people of Ukraine. For those who donated extra on the door too, thank you very much. Thank you to everybody that sent in your suggestions for donations too.

 

 

We’re hiring

Jaeger is looking for some experienced bar-staff to join the team on a part-time basis

Do you have a groove in your heart?

If you enjoy electronic music, DJs and club culture, and are looking for a unique opportunity to get your foot on that first rung of the industry, then we might have a job for you. 

We’re looking for part-time bar staff to help us usher in this new post-pandemic era at Jaeger. 

If you are flexible and enjoy the challenge of working in a pulsating environment, then YOU GOT THE JOB BUDDY!

Some experience required. 

Please email your cv and a cover letter to vichy@jaegeroslo.no

 

Beings of Light – In praise of Fort Romeau’s third LP

There’s a moment of sweet serenity right in the middle of Fort Romeau’s latest album, Beings of Light. (In the) Rain takes a moment in the midst of an LP hurtling towards the centre of the dance floor. It’s a stark moment of repose in an album determined to evoke some romantic image of the club. In a recent interview with Time Sweeney’s Beats in Space, the artists says New York and specifically the city’s clubbing history played an important part in the inspiration behind the record, but there’s so much more that informs this record and the result than just a single era in club music history. 

 Fort Romeau breaks largely with the “Detroit” sound that underpinned his first two LPs, Kingdoms and Insides, and slides into what can only be described as some nostalgic reverie in sound. It’s a dreamscape, surreal in some aspects, but remaining functional in design. As the last wispy trails of the title track disappear into quietude, there’s very little tangible memory that existed at all, and only a feeling and a picture remains. 

Beings of Light finds Fort Romeau (Mike Greene) picking up where he left off with his 2019 EP “Dweller on the Threshold.” As if to signal his intention, “Dweller on the threshold” proved a tipping point for Greene. Whereas the EPs leading up to the last, found the artist exploring elements of Trance, Rave and classic House, Dweller marked a return to familiar ground and a transition to Fort Romeau’s third and most recent LP, Beings of Light.

EPs Heaven and Earth, Fantasia, The Mirror and FWD NRG saw Fort Romeau ascending large build ups and higher energies as he seemed to plot some course towards the trends that have been informing the dance floor of late. 

At the fundamental level his music remained unchanged, with a key ear for melodies and a deep groove staying central to his work, but as new plateaus were established in the upper regions of those bubbling melodies, it was a huge stride into a different direction for the English artist with Heaven and Earth at the most extreme end of the other side.

Beings Of Light finds Greene on more familiar territory however, with the focus turning back to the rhythm section and a sound more perpendicular to Fort Romeau’s early records “The thing I like about doing 12”s is you can try on a lot of different acts musically, bring in different sounds, and kind of play with things a bit, “Greene told Dancewax recently.  “With an LP,” he continues “I really like to narrow down on the core sound of what I’m interested in.”  

Venturing far and wide from the trodden path through the last few EPs, Beings of Light reaffirms Greene’s statement in a record analogous to Insides and Kingdom. There’s a clear trajectory towards elements of trance, progressive and psychedelic music through the EPs that precede the LP, which fall away during the opening bars of Untitled IV and mark a slight return to Fort Romeau’s distinctive sound. 

“With this LP I wanted there to be only as many sounds as were absolutely required, rather than filling the space with too much stuff,” Greene told Stamp the wax, which seems like a stark contrast to what he said about Heaven and Earth in Torture the artist a year earlier: “For me it’s merely aesthetic in that I’m trying to reference certain signifiers that are attached to trance, progressive or psychedelic music.” The sounds between the LP and the EP are in stark contrast. The bold melodic movements of Heaven and Earth give way to a brooding minimalism emerging through repetitive rhythms.

Beyond the sound of these two records however, there is something that has remained consistent in Greene’s music and that’s the element of imagery that underpins his music. It’s not often as literal as something like the cover of Beings of Light, but it’s always there as he explained to Time Sweeney during a beats in space interview: “Whenever I work on  any music, I always have an image in mind. I find it very difficult to hear music without having an image to marry it with.”

For Insides, it was a blown up photograph of a piece of blue velvet in reference to the David Lynch film, while on Heaven and Earth it was less tabgible as a reference to the “spiritual” tropes of elements of Trance and progressive House.

“An image can act as an anchoring point,” for Greene and throughout an EP and a LP it’s something he tries to express sonically, albeit in very opaque terms. For Beings of Light he turned to  Steven Arnold’s Power of grace for inspiration. The Salvador Dali Protege and surrealist photographer Steven Arnold’s 1984 work, offered the incentive for Green to “create something beautiful and otherworldly.” according to the BiS interview.

“Greene’s new LP Beings Of Light,” says Annabel Ross, “is… the most palpable, fulsome and cohesive expression yet of the connection between his music and the art that inspires it,” in a glimmering review for Resident Advisor and she’s not wrong.  

Green’s use of stark textures and the less-is-more attitude is more than coincidence in terms of the relationship to the work that inspired it. Emboldened by Arnold’s “kind of punk methodology, that’s very much self-reliant,” Greene sought to create something similar in sound where the  “imagination is important.” Although relying on   “very simple production processes,” the results on Beings of Light are a lot more sophisticated than the “punk methodology” that encouraged the record. 

Records like Insides and Kingdom appear more punk-ish in their brutish determination to be dance floor records. Beings of Light is still a dance floor record, but there’s a restraint there that evokes comparison to masters of the club-album format like Roman Flügel. 

“I think that I wanted to bring in some different influences, but still try and be myself,” Greene told Dancewax and in his use of imagery, if not sound, Greene manages to achieve this on his latest LP. ”I’m probably more inspired by images, movies and art than music, particularly electronic music because I find it really counter productive to compare what I’m doing to anyone else,” he explained in more depth on Stamp the wax. Visual aides offer the opportunity to explore these different influences in a way that avoids the music sounding like a pastiche of another artist or a trope of the genre. 

Beings of Light is not so much an evolution or a change in Fort Romeau’s music, but a new pallet of influences informing leading to something different from the artist’s catalogue. It seems he’s been on a road of new discovery over the past few years, with the EPs and now an LP, giving us something divergent from the Fort Romeau sound we’ve come to know in the past. 

It arrives at Beings of Light, fully realised from concept to delivery and a refreshing new take on the Fort Romeau sound. Influenced by imagery and mood, it’s more than a dance floor record while it retains the producer’s connection to the dance floor as a DJ. It continues to explore new realms within the Fort Romeau aesthetic much like the EPs just before it, but as an LP it’s more refined and concise than the EPs.

We’re not sure if we’re listening to a new direction for Fort Romeau, but it definitely seems like Greene is exploring new territory that might lead to new avenues for the producer going forward. Fort Romeau appears to be on the cusp of something with Beings of Light, and we’ll have to wait and see how it will unfold. 

Nastia postponed

Nastia is postponed, but Frædag goes ahead as scheduled with proceeds going to a yet-to-be-determined NGO.

It’s with great regret and sadness that due to the situation in Ukraine, we’re unable to get Nastia to Jaeger this Friday. After a harrowing journey from Kiev to Poland over the course of the night, Nastia is unable to make it to Oslo. Our thoughts are with her, her family, her friends and all the people in Ukraine during this very dark hour for the world. 

We’ll be dedicating the rest of the evening to the people of Ukraine and PROCEEDS FROM TONIGHT WILL GO TO A YET-TO-BE-DETERMINED CHARITY.

We’ll be POSTPONING NASTIA’s visit to an unknown future date.  All tickets will be valid for this future date or tonight if required. If you’d like to cancel your ticket, please contact us via info@jaegeroslo.no with your ticket reference code BEFORE WEDNESDAY, THE 02.03.2022.  All refunds will be reimbursed in full via ticketco. Please allow for a few days for the refund to take effect.

The rest of Frædag will go ahead as planned however. Prins Thomas pres. Serenity Now! will continue as planned in our gården with Øyvind Morken in Diskon. It doesn’t seem like much of a reason for a celebration, but we’ll dance in a show of solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

There will also be an option to make further donations on the door tonight. 

 

Update on Nastia

***Update*** As of yet we’ve not had any contact from Nastia or her agent. We know from her social media profile that she is currently in Poland and safe, but our knowledge is limited to that for the moment. Our thoughts are with her, her family, her friends and all the people in Ukraine during this very dark hour for the world. 

We’ll be dedicating the evening to the people of Ukraine and all PROCEEDS FROM TONIGHT WILL GO TO A YET-TO-BE-DETERMINED CHARITY.

In the event she’s unable to make it tonight, we’ll POSTPONE NASTIA’s visit to an unknown future date. In that case all tickets will be valid for this future date. If you’d still like to cancel your ticket, please contact us via info@jaegeroslo.no BEFORE WEDNESDAY, THE 02.03.2022. All refunds will be reimbursed in full via ticketco. If Nastia does arrive the event will go ahead as scheduled.

Regardless, the rest of Frædag will go ahead as planned. Prins Thomas pres. Serenity Now! will continue in our gården with Øyvind Morken in Diskon. It doesn’t seem like much of a reason for a celebration, but we’ll dance in a show of solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

There will also be an option to make further donations on the door tonight. 

Premiere: Telemark Express – Sparkling

We get a sneak preview of the latest offering from Jarle Bråthen and Kellini’s Telemark Express outfit while we catch up with the duo through a Q&A.

It’s like driving with the top down through the winding roads of Norway’s southern roads, when Telemark Express’ Divine Drive hits your ears. Between an aggressively sheer cliff-face and a tranquil body of water, the 80’s cabriolet floats as if on air, attacking each corner and sailing out on the other side, on the wave of synthesiser.

Light and dark pass a baton as if in some perpetual relay between tunnels and open roads, while the wind whistles a tune past your ear. An Alpine cassette deck chews up a tape where a bouncing disco kick punctuates a train-like synth sequence. This is the sound and imagery that Telemark express conjures through the  “Sparkling” EP coming via Paper Recordings to us today. 

Telemark Express are Kjetil Lagesen and Jarle Bråthen. A pair of solo artists, working in the ethereal outer reaches of Disco and House, Jarle and Kjetil forged some abstract bond based on origin and a shared love of similar sounds. Accomplished DJs based in Skien and Berlin respectively today, Kjetil and Jarle initially hail from Telemark. They came together as Telemark Express for the first time in 2019 to release Writer’s Block with the sophomore effort reaching our ears today on the eve of “Sparkling’s” release. 

“‘Divine Drive’ channels Kraftwerk, kosmische and the 80s by way of the Mediterranean for a chugging late night / early morning track that would be equally at home in Berlin, Ibiza or Oslo,” while “Sparkling Vibrant keeps it low and late with a broken beat, shuffling percussion, creamy pads and spacey lead,” according to the label. 

The record is a vibrant effort between motorik beats and allusions to Norway’s Disco roots in a combination that takes the best of both worlds in something that shimmers like the last violent expulsions of a star going supernova. The charming melodies and grunting rhythms fuse in a cinematic vignette unfolding in sound. Visceral and functional, it entices on various levels, and we’re happy to be able to share the first track from it ahead of its release. 

We caught up with Telemark express via email and this is what they had to say about this release and working together. 

Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions. You’re back together again as Telemark Express. What was the catalyst for the Sparkling E.P?

We had some time together in Skien and just went for it, cause normally we are not in the same city. 

What was it that cemented for you during the making of Writer’s Block, that you have taken into this second EP?

Our combined critical listening makes the cement for this project generally. This is on purpose but with “Sparkling” we wanted to start with a fresh sound palette.

What’s the main difference between Sparkling and Writer’s Block in your opinion?

The main difference is definitely motivation. ”Writers”, was because of a writer’s block we both had and with “Sparkling” we wanted to make something else with another point of view. 

I can just imagine myself driving around those winding roads of Telemark with Divine Drive playing (preferably through an alpine cassette system). Is there something to these themes that was there before you started making this EP?

I believe these images you describe are subconsciously imprinted in us merely just from the fact that we are hailing from the Telemark region. 

And besides Kraftwerk, were there any prevalent musical touchstones?

There are a lot of influences for us but two tracks that we feel combined our taste are “Genesis – Tonight Tonight Tonight 12” extended mix” and “Depeche Mode – Enjoy the Silence (Flood remix)”


What were some of the central sounds and/or instruments to the two tracks?

Mostly 80s related synth sounds resonated this time : Jupiter 8 pads,Yamaha DX 7 sounds  and Minimoog for leads. We are totally “in the box” so we are not tweaking away on some hardware gadget.

Jarle, we know you spend much of your time in Berlin (at least before the pandemic) and Kjetil you’re based just down the road from Jaeger. How did the distance affect the making of Sparkling and was there a conscious effort to bridge that gap between the German kosmische sounds and those Norwegian influences like Italo and Disco?

Nothing with this Ep soundscape is a conscious effort to sound a certain way. However, we all get influenced by our environment. Even if we send some sketches upfront, we only make the tracks when we are together at one place which makes the session a rarity these days.

Sparkling retains a very Norwegian sound, much like Writer’s Block. Do you think you can boil that sound down to some key words?

Dreamy and lush synth pads and 80s leads with attitude sneaking up behind.

How did you and this record end up on Paper Recordings?

We didn’t have any particular plans for any release originally but paper seemed like a good idea and luckily they felt the same. 

And now that you’re done with this EP, what else have you guys got lined up, together and individually for the near future?

We both have solo releases planned this spring/summer and we are both gonna DJ individually at Halvøya festival, Kristiansand in Norway in June. So if there will be time we maybe start working on a new The Telemark Express EP.

 

Peering through WINDOWS with Vinny Villbass

We interview Vinny Villbass ahead of his newly commissioned live show WINDOWS, which arrives with the return of the dance floor at Jaeger

*Photos by Lina Jenssen

Like many of us, Håkon Vinnogg (Vinny Vilbass) spent the pandemic staring out his window. With nightlife effectively closed and days consumed by low temperatures and an energy crisis,  we could do little more than cocoon in quilted hovels, waiting out the latest phase of the pandemic. 

We were caught up in a streaming algorithm, looking out through a digital portal, between episodes of syndicated South Korean television. We’d resigned ourselves to our sofas with glimpses of Netflix interrupting instagram celebrity cats. The feeds lay uninterrupted ahead of a dark January and we were free to plug in and tune out completely. 

Some of us however found new inspiration in these feeds and decided to tune in rather than opt out. Håkon was such a person and assuming his Vinny Villbass moniker, he put those “inputs” to work. He had the sense to stop for a moment, press pause on whatever streaming platform, and look out of his window a little longer. Soon he was whisked away, day-dreaming of a time beyond the pandemic. 

He started thinking about music and what it would be like when the time comes for the dance floor to open again. Taking those ideas into the studio, a project started to emerge and that project is called WINDOWS. “It’s about being bored, wanting to express yourself and getting some energy out,” he says about the project over a cup of coffee.

At the time of talking to Håkon, the 1m rule is still in place and the whole ambiguity around the arbitrary rules still perplexes, but WINDOWS and its creator is ready for the inevitable return to the dance floor. WINDOWS is a live show specifically created with Jaeger in mind and it will be performed for the first time this Frædag

We caught up with Håkon to talk about the live show, the pandemic and the state of club culture beyond the pandemic with some familiar themes running through the conversation as we peer through some windows with Vinny Villbass. 

*limited presale tickets available via ticketco

Tell me about WINDOWS. Is it an album and/or a live show?

There might be an album, but this is designed to express the re-opening of society. 

People in cities all around the world have been living within their four walls, looking out their windows. They even get tired of Netflix, because they’re more excited about seeing the neighbour’s cat on the balcony. All the music was produced during a time when the window was important. That’s why I called it WINDOWS. 

…And a window could be anything. It could be an algorithm on Spotify. It’s what you’ve seen, that world you’ve been pressured into living these couple of years. 

Was the concept there before you started making the music?

It was kind of more like a reflection afterwards. I didn’t sit down to make WINDOWS. It was more; what’s the common thing about these tracks? It’s all related to the inputs I’ve been getting during the pandemic, which has been limited. You have tv, and radio algorithms, and the small physical window that you see the neighbours through, and you start reflecting how people in the building next to you live their lives. It’s my way of expressing the fantasy. 

It seems there was a literal aspect, where you would be listening to other music, and that it might have influenced what you were doing. Was that a conscious aspect of this work?

Definitely… The whole world of music is copies and trying to make copies in a different way. Look at David Bowie. He was taking from the best and making it better. I guess that’s what everybody tries to do. Imagining that you are completely free of all inputs; that you have full creative freedom, I don’t believe that’s true. These days the inputs are very controlled by the market.

That’s got to be difficult to balance, trying to make something that will be relevant and yet be completely unique. 

Also in club dance music, there’s also this functional side of it that you need to consider. It’s related to where you are performing and how many people are there. There’s a social functional aspect that you need to have in the back of your head when you are making dance music. 

Did you have Jaeger in the back of your mind when you were making WINDOWS?

Yes, because I guess Jaeger has been the centre of dance music in Oslo. During the pandemic you’ve been looking forward to your next gig at your local club. I think  during the pandemic the club scene has become more local. I don’t think we’re going back to huge tours, travelling over the planet, if not just for the sake of climate change. 

This is a conversation that has cropped up frequently since the pandemic. I believe that the big names will be travelling as per usual, (and we’ve seen that starting to happen already), but it’s going to be those mid level DJs, who perhaps play away every second weekend, that will be the most affected by this. 

It might go both ways. You saw the club scene before the pandemic, which was starting to become quite boring with the same lineups at festivals. All those small artists weren’t even considered, because they don’t have enough soundcloud or instagram followers to become part of the circus. 

That made people think more in terms of a collective. Smaller groups of people, maybe even in different countries visiting each other. These small networks started to thrive, and I do hope that after the pandemic these small networks that find themselves through the internet, is going to be the biggest part of the club scene. 

I’m worried that most of the places that survived the pandemic will go back to booking, to avoid the risk of not pulling in an audience. 

Will they be able to afford the bigger names? Who knows, we might be back to normal in half a year. People are very adaptable. 

And in your case… You were playing abroad before the pandemic and playing regularly. How has it affected you?

For me, the whole touring aspect has always been more social. I’m more on the collective side of it. I want to play at a place, because I know there is somebody that has similar tastes. 

I’ve never been tempted to tour and play big clubs and festivals where you never get to meet people, and have no time to see the city. I think it’s very important that when you come to a new city as a DJ, you need to know the social factors of that city to understand wh

at to play. 

Seeing as you made the WINDOWS show specifically for Jaeger, did you have a specific night in mind?

It was more like the utopia of playing at Jaeger again.

That must have informed the way the live set was going to sound.

I don’t know if it’s so specific to Jaeger and a certain date. I think it’s more my imagination, how people would react, coming back. It’s much fast

er than anything I’ve done before. It’s all about the inner-punk wanting to get out and giving people some energy. 

How different is it from your previous recorded works?

It’s much more Housey and a lot more repetitive at 128 BPM. I’ve always been in the middle of the electronic sounds and the acoustic sounds of the dance floor. 

Speaking of WINDOWS specifically, I’ve been listening to a lot of African music and Turkish music, during the pandemic. I really feel that these cultures have much more deep-seated dependency on the human element. 

Will these organic sounds be more prominent in the live set?

It’s going to be a combination of these organic and more functional Techno rhythms. I’ve always played synthesisers live to get that human touch. So the human element will always be in my music. It’s hard to say, but it’s not exactly inspired by Turkish or African music. It’s just the randomness of my fantasies.

Is there a central theme to the sound of the music, based on those ideas?

It’s just classic House music and not being afraid of clichés either. Because in functional music there is a reason African rhythms have worked for 1000’s of years. It’s rhythm patterns that are well known to the human body and in House music, if you have a steady rhythm, you can put anything on top of it. 

Can we expect some gospel vocals?

Not for this project, but perhaps my own vocals. 

So there might be some lyrical content?

I haven’t decided yet. I’ll leave some of it up to improvisation. Something special happens when you go on stage. Then all the rhythms come to you more naturally and everything seems so natural and you dare to do stuff you don’t dare to do in front of two very precise studio monitors. 

It’s all fantasy. Not that there is anything directly connected to it. Let’s see if my imagination of the opening will be the same as the others. It’s going to be an exciting project. Have people been longing for the same things as me?

From our most recent experience, people seem very excited. Then again, people are a bit more hesitant to start a dance floor, as opposed to the summer last year. 

Do you think that’s the regulations or a social anxiety?  

A bit of both.

Actually these stupid dance regulations, reminds me of a time I first played in New York. This was with diskJokke around 2008. It was when Rudy Giuliani was mayor and there was a rule that you needed a dance licence. 

We started playing and I fetched a drink from the bar, dancing on the way over. A dude came over and told me I can’t dance. I thought he was referring to my skill, and he explained that there’s no dancing allowed, because of the dancing licence. 

Here we are playing dancing music and you’re not allowed to dance, and that’s like putting somebody in jail in my opinion.

Yes, it’s that last vestige of freedom, that freedom to move to a beat. It’s something instinctive as a form of liberation, and by clamping down on it, I can’t help but feel there’s this underlying conservatism seeping through those kinds of regulations. What’s quite striking is how they’ve maintained this bit of arbitrary regulation, not just here, but in Europe too, while everything else goes back to normal. 

It’s a fucking disaster. The only thing you need to give people is some personal space, but don’t take away people’s possibility to move… that’s dark.  

I feel however, that in club culture, this is, or at least was, an unspoken rule amongst most of us. You don’t dance on top of each other, and you respect each other’s space. 

Yes. Club culture became so big, because you could be free to go out by yourself. You were not stuck to dancing in couples. Just respect each other. 

Ross from Friends: sold out and set times

The live show is sold out and Ross from friends takes the stage at 22:00

Yes folks, Ross from friends is sold out. We don’t have the capacity to release any more tickets nor do we have room to accommodate any people on the guest list.

The doors will open at 21:00 and Ross from Friends will take to the stage at 22:00, so please arrive early to avoid a queue by the time of the concert. Ticket holders will be admitted via the general entrance, with tickets processed at the doors to the basement.

There will still be room for drop ins after the show and for access to the Gården (backyard) where Øyvind Morken will be DJing from 18:00.

Prins Thomas prepares for a night of dubby Techno(and related sorts…)

Prins Thomas shares some of his inspiration and thoughts about a new night kicking off at Jaeger this Wednesday.

As our soundsystem mutates, growing in the lower regions of the register, there’s a style of music that we’ve found accentuates the new sound perfectly. It’s called Dub Techno. A proper description remains as elusive as the genres that constitute its two parts. What exactly is Techno and what is dub music is as vast and all-consuming as the Saharan dessert, with variations like the grains of sands on the African continent, but when brought together, these two genres, begat a style all onto itself and one that has outlasted many other sub-genres.

Dub Techno is the product of the children of post-wall Berlin, born from Basic Channel, a record label and duo, that still lay claim to ownership of the genre. Since then it’s been repatriated by the original Detroit pioneers and presented the world over as an immersive alternative to the  industrialised onslaught of kick drums that still dominate the sound of Techno today.

In a new night coming to Jaeger, we’re paying homage to the style with Prins Thomas taking the helm this Wednesday from the sauna. We’re streaming the entire night via Mixcloud, and Prins Thomas is going in for the long haul to make a veritable night of the genre and its off-shoots.

“I’ve been wanting to do a sort of deep dive into the dubbier side of house and techno for a while,” says Prins Thomas, “playing a more monochrome set than what I usually do when the party gets going. Letting the records play, breathe and shine on their own terms… Saturday night and the urge to grab a disco classic or some uplifting rave pianos usually wins over going in deep like Costeau.

For this night, the effect and feel of the records trumps the actual genre they belong to so even though there’ll surely be records by both Oswald AND Ernestus played on this night do not be surprised by wildcards being thrown into the mix. Here is some inspiration that I might play:”

Greetings from Jaeger: The start to the return of the dance floor

The time has come to get back to what we do best. After restrictions that forced us to close in December, there was a time of nervous uncertainty, as we stood waiting in some footloose purgatory for life to resume. We were happy when we could open again in January, but the sitting disco still doesn’t really sit well with us. It’s not what we were about and the novelty had worn off back in in the summer of 2020. We thought we were done with it.

It was a tough time, acquiescing to these measures, and trying to scrape out an existence on the brink. We managed with a little aid from big brother, but only barely. In the light of a new day all these regulations seems so arbitrary now, but I guess it’s easy to draw conclusions in hindsight. For now, let’s leave the politics at to door and revel in the fact that we can go dancing again!

No more table service or tempered chair boogie where we try to move in constrained motions as to not worry the powers that be. We’re clearing the dance floor to a point where we can appease the authorities, but if we’re to understand the prime minister correctly, even they are clueless as to where the line should be drawn. Our sauna is open and the gården is still warm with the new heating system we have installed, but we’re excited to be able to open the basement again in February. Work on the extended room has continued throughout the downtime, with a couple of extra 24″ subs to tweak the bottom end a little further and we’re ready to start hosting some international guests again.

All those bookings made pre-pandemic are stacking up alongside new ones made in 2021 that never came to fruition, so now in 2022 expect an onslaught of DJs visiting our sauna and basement booth in the near future. As always Frædag with g-HA & Olanskii provide Jaeger’s window to the world with a guest appearance every Friday going forward. In February that means a visit from Ross from Friends and Nastia as we slowly start filling up our calendar for the rest of 2022.

Our residents are back and local guests provide the variation in our week as we move from Techno to House, take a sojourn on the rocky breaks of Drum n Bass before heading off to balearic shores week in week out. Mandagsklubben remain the archetype as the oldest running night at Jaeger, while the week pivots around Frædag, where Øyvind Morken has taken on the role as defacto party starter for our weekend at Jaeger. Kicking off at 18:00, every Friday, he  Øyvind takes us on psychedelic journey on the fringes of “club music,” as only he understands the style of music.

Finnebassen is back; Lente is back; and MC Kaman is back! We’re still not quite ready to get back to 7 days a week, but Sundays are on the horizon for March in 2022. With a specially commissioned live show from Vinny Villbass and an exclusive dub Techno set from Prins Thomas it’s also a time of trying out new things at Jaeger.  You can check out the full programme here and keep an eye on our social media channels and website for late additions. We’re ready for a new phase and to put two years of uncertainty behind us. We just want to go dancing and we look forward to your company.

See you on the floor…

We’re back

Jaeger will be open again on the 20th of January with covid measures in place

Yes, we’re back… again. After we had to close our doors in December in accordance with the latest covid restrictions, we’re happy to announce that we can open again on the 20th of January 2022.

We’re still working under the auspices of covid restrictions and will only be allowed to be open between 18:00 -23:00 with table service only until the government and city re-evaluates the current restrictions. Our resident DJs will return to their residencies with some select guest DJs appearing alongside as we move towards a full reopening in what we hope we’ll be in the near future.

Alas there’s still no dance floor and it’s a bit like New York in the nineties, but there’s room for movement, and as long as people still enjoy this kind of music, we’ll endeavour to have a space for it. Please check our programme page for more details about the upcoming events.

Space is limited and it’s advisable to book your table ahead of time. We’ll be listing all our events on our ticketco page with options to buy tickets in our heated backyard ahead of the events. We’ll always endeavour reserve some tables for drop-ins and will try to accommodate those who arrive early.

We encourage social distancing and will serve all our guests at their table. There’s a handy app for that and our staff are very adept at the situation by this point.

Please bare with us however as weĺl be operating within these limitations, and we hope to get back to what we do best very shortly.

 

Art in activism – An interview with the anonymous dancer

We turn the attention to the dance floor to interview one of our regular patrons, and are astounded by what we find in this incredible individual and his work.

*Due to the sensitive nature of his work the subject of this interview has asked to remain anonymous. We ask that you respect his privacy.

When I see him, he is just a blur. He’s an inexhaustible source of energy and like many, I find myself gravitate towards him like a moth to flame. I’ve come to know him as the anonymous dancer that occupies the front of the DJ booth most Fridays. Some of the resident DJs have come to know him too. He doesn’t drink and he arrives early, securing a spot in front of the sauna where he’ll stay for the remainder of the night.

He’s uninhibited, always the first on the floor and often the last to abandon it. He’ll stop for a minute or two to have a conversation with a curious stranger, but he’ll get right back into it, as soon as the conversation lulls. Pumping his arms and jostling his feet, he is a frenzied movement of limbs that shows no fatigue.

Besides the odd greeting on arrival, I like to leave him to his own devices, and prefer to observe and admire his liberated movements as I sway in my own spot, some way off to the side.

Something of an enigma, he has been coming to Jaeger regularly for the past year. I’ve encountered him mostly on Fridays, but he’s no stranger to a Saturday jaunt on the tiles either. He came to us via DJ Charlotte Bendiks, but since then he’s become a welcomed presence at Jaeger, We’ve also come to know a little more of him as time progressed, and as is always the case there’s much more to him than meets the eye. So we’ve endeavoured to find out more about this remarkable man and his work.

Art in activism

“I like to be anonymous,” he says as we sit down for a conversation on a Friday afternoon. The coffee shop is an unusual setting and this is an unusual topic for any music-related media, but he immediately has my attention. I haven’t asked much about his life in the past, and was only made aware of his work within human rights through resident DJ, Ivaylo a short time before we decided to interview him.

He is a refugee and for over a decade he’s been working on educating people on the field of human rights through his organisation, Terram Pacis. “I founded it in 2010 and it’s basically my life,” he says over a large cup of hot chocolate. Terram Pacis is a non-profit organisation and he heads up each project personally. They’ve been granted special consultant status to the UN and work with various youth-oriented organisations. Working with communities in regions stretched from Sub-Saharan Africa to Eastern Europe, Terram Pacis’ main objective is to “advocate for human rights” with projects customised around specific problems.

He sees each project as “a work of art, where art becomes a form of activism” and approaches each project as a personal endeavour. “I need to see the problem and then that problem is a part of me,” he explains. There’s always an educational aspect to his work, whether he’s working with youth organisations or trying to inform older generations on the plight of the next. There’s a universal idea to “take people from different backgrounds and bring them into one space so they can learn together” and that can be applied to each project, regardless of the “problem” being addressed.

Terram Pacis “focusses on the rights that have been abused in the community rather than the broader human rights.” The organisation introduces people to the fundamental concept of human rights; their rights to protest and the due judiciary process, in an attempt to turn them into “human rights activists.” Then the “goal is to bring them to the same table” with other human rights activists in an effort to draw parallels to one another’s plight and instil the universal ideology of human rights.

“We can’t see human rights as one sided,” he stresses. “Excluding particular groups, because you are not interested in them, you can’t really call yourself a human rights activist. If we’re going to address gender-based violence for example, we then have to include everybody… an intersexed person might be 1 in 100, but that doesn’t mean you have to exclude them.” Part of his work with the UN for example is to challenge the type of language that exactly excludes these 1 in 100 minorities from the discussion.

His passion and dedication is humbling. Work consumes almost every minute of his waking life. He tries to limit “work hours” to 5 a day, but when you’re the founder of an organisation like Terram Pacis, your work consumes you. The only release comes by way of a dance floor. “Dancing is something that liberates me,” he says. “It’s a way for me to express who I am.” Whenever he goes to a new city, he seeks out a place to dance, and when he’s at home in Oslo, Jaeger is his first port of call.

It’s simply “easier to go to Jaeger,” and Fridays have particularly resonated with his own musical tastes. Fridays and Frædag offer him a “different kind of music and artists” and he’s specifically taken a real liking to “space disco” since moving to Norway. The “combination of disco and house music” appeals to his tastes “because it comes with different rhythms.” As somebody that enjoys dancing with his “mind” he prefers music where rhythms and beats vary, providing him with the mental stimulus to carry on dancing for “8 hours in a row.”

Growing up he wasn’t exposed to House music until came to Europe. Although Disco had been around, “people didn’t dance to Disco.” He was “listening to Jazz” in his youth. He prefers music with some meaning behind it and 60’s and 70’s Jazz created in that heated heart of the civil rights movement, was simply more accessible for a teen growing up in a post-war society. I don’t imagine there was much reason to dance back then.

Channeling the fear

He is somewhat reluctant to talk about those years, fearing it might get in the way of his humanitarian work, but he’s open to discuss it in general terms.

He was “very young when the war happened,” and yet one of the most tragic human events in recorded history and its aftermath is not something that leaves you likely. “It shapes who you are and end up becoming” and for him this has had a direct influence on his work today. He started “working with reconciliation” at a time when most of us were still just trying to navigate high school. Engaging young people with the same experiences, he sought to “shape a society that actually includes our ideas in the peace building process.” That’s when he started to become an advocate for human rights.

His work put him “in a problem with the government” and as a result he spent a stint in jail. When he got out, he moved to Norway as a refugee, setting in motion what would become Terram Pacis.

Between “human rights education, peace education and gender education” he is making a difference in the world, feeding on those experiences of his youth in an effort to affect important change. “You cannot overcome them,” he says of those experiences, “you just need to find a way to live them.” He prefers to channel those experiences into his work to “help people,” but it’s also been helping him. “I started my work to heal myself. You see the worst in humanity, and you also see the good, I chose to focus on the good.”

There’s a perpetual drive to what he does. Much like his dancing, he is constantly being encouraged forward in his work. I wonder if it’s the fear he might have felt during his youth. “In the beginning there is fear,” he answers. There’s “not enough food and not enough drinking water. You see people dying every day, and then fear becomes the norm. You’re no longer afraid because your mind and body is focussing on surviving.”

Today, “something is more important than that fear I had before. That’s where my optimism comes from – there’s nothing worse that can happen in my life that hasn’t happened before.”

That optimism has served him well in establishing Terram Pacis, but there are other aspects of his life where those experiences still affect him. For example, he has a “strange concept of friendship.” He always arrives alone whenever I see him and the brief encounters he has with those around him on the dance floor, never really mature into friendships or even friendly relationships. “If I have friends, I prefer them to not be in the same city,” he admits. “Being alone is what I understand.” He has little to no contact with anybody from his previous life, fearing for his and their safety, but it has done little to deter him to continue his work on human rights.

Liberation

Currently he has a few projects he is working on at the time of our conversation and the concerted focus he exudes while talking about them is quite infectious.

He talks eloquently about his work in projects that deal with subjects like internalised racism, the LGBT+ issue and the taboos around menstruation, making any problems the listener might be facing in his/her life feel trivial at best. He tries to engage the listener with subject matter in a language that is accessible from any perspective in an objective manner of speaking that makes you question why these issues remain prevalent in our society. And whenever I ask more searching questions about his personal harrowing experiences, he quickly turns the attention back to his work.

The last thing we talk about is his work in trying to eradicate the tax on menstrual products, and I find it hard to segue into a question about the night ahead. It seems so arbitrary now in the face of what he does for a living at Terram Pacis and his work seems a world away from the hedonistic associations the dance floor evokes. The dance floor doesn’t really compare to something like Terram Pacis, yet if it weren’t for the dance floor we wouldn’t have known about this incredible individual and his work. I’m suddenly reminded me of something I read recently; if there are more than two people in a room, you have politics.

We’ve been talking for an hour now, and I have more questions than what I have answers to, but I sense I might be testing the limits with this private individual. I greet him into the Oslo’s cold night only to see him later on the dance floor. He remains a blur.

 

New covid regulations at Jaeger

New regulations prevent alcohol sales for the moment, but we’ll remain open and events will go ahead as planned

The latest corona regulations has issued a temporary stop on our license, taking effect Wednesday (15.12.2021). Yes, that’s right – it’s going to be a white christmas at Jaeger. (Sorry… couldn’t resist) We’re acting in accordance to the latest rounds of regulations, which means that we will be unable to serve alcohol until further notice, but we’ll endeavour to remain open for as long as possible. It’s the same procedure as last year.

We’ve cranked up the stove and new heating system in the gården so we can stay open during this period. It’s the same procedure as last year… Our bar will be serving some warm mulled wine and the sauna will be broadcasting some soothing cuts throughout December. The last round of measures are still in situ, with seating room and table service mandatory, but our events will proceed as scheduled. DJs and times are subject to change so please check out our events page for the latest.

We’ll be putting out a select amount of ticket for each event from our TicketCo page. Tickets ensure table reservations, but we will always have room available for drop-ins.

We’ll be streaming again for those who aren’t able to make it down as a result of this new strain of the virus and will endeavour to bring each night straight to your living room as best we can. Tune into our mixcloud page every night at 20:00 from Wednesday to catch our residents and guests in action.

We’ll do what we can to keep the embers of this culture going and we thank you for your support and your continued patience. please check this site regularly for more information as we

The cut with Filter Musikk

Is it 2020 again? There’s some joke about hindsight here, but I feel like it’s been done before. We seem to be stuck in some perpetual groundhog day, going through the motions like zombies kowtowing our way to an edge of an imperceptible cliff. It seems that one of us should by now be able to see it coming, but we’re all so busy following the leader that we’re gonna be oblivious until we’re free-falling towards a fast-approaching bottom. 

Perhaps we jinxed it by bringing the cut with Filter Musikk back… we were tempting fate just a little too eagerly; returning to familiar favourites a little prematurely. Fate, she deals a cruel hand, and she’s something of a grump, because just as we got used to having a dance floor again and could afford to buy a few records, she said; “NO! We will have none of that.” It’s back to the chairs with you and time to tighten those purse strings again – on that note does anybody want to buy a slightly used Jesse record

Even Filter Musikk’s 50kr bargain bin seems a stretch right now, but perhaps it’s the inevitably doomed spirit of this yuletide or a complete disconnection with reality, but what the hell. Gaze upon my fields of fucks, marvel at how they grow. The common consensus might be to start hoarding for your ablutions, but if we’re gonna be stuck in doors for another 3 months, we’re gonna need some music to get us through this one. There’s something about the therapeutic nature of listening to a record; the physical motion of it all, that brought some calm during the last lockdown. We’re going to need that again and we’re going to need some new records to listen to.

Record shelves and playlists have been exhausted, and what new things we’ve obtained have already taken a few turns. We’re definitely going to need some new music to see this through. So, there’s nothing for it… Let’s get stuck into some new records…

*Catch Roland Lifjell and Filter Musikk in the sauna next Wednesday

Lowtec – Easy To Heal Cuts (Avenue 66) LP 

The first cut is indeed the deepest…We don’t know where Lowtec would’ve come by that dual meaning of the cuts, but we approve! It’s as if the producer has had a premonition, or perhaps it’s just the mood that permeates our whole scene at the moment. We need some healing cuts and Lowtec delivers with this deep House record via Avenue 66. 

A collection of tempered House pieces featuring Lowtec’s characteristic machine aesthetic. The accompaniment offers a stark, metallic backdrop as detached machines spring to life in Lowtec’s work. Unlike traditional House arrangements where samples or organic instruments offer a humanised dichotomy between machine and human, Lowtec’s work favours an approach in anthropomorphising lifeless machines. 

It’s when left to their own devices and a glitch appears in which he finds that human aspect in this electronic music and Easy to Heal Cuts is an excellent example of this at work. Instead Lowtec creates warmth in the deep confies of the bass register and charming melodies, as if a computer learns to sing. The title track and “Nature thinks for you,” offers the repose and the solace, while the rest of the album seems to focus on an early or non-existent dance floor with repetition and familiarity playing the key role. 

It’s in those quirky “glitches” that come from indolent machines that Lowtec’s tracks come alive on “Easy to Heal Cuts.” It shies away from the conformity of the dance floor and offers something a little more unique in what remains dance-floor focussed music. 

 

SusTrapperazzi – Return From Shibuya (Ilian Tape) 12″ 

Is 2022 the year we Make Dubstep Massive Again? Ilian Tape might have gotten a headstart on that with their latest. SusTrapperazzi joins the forward-thinking label for a record that although wildly divergent from the labels percussive-heavy sound, maintains that alternative ideology. Always ready to highlight a different side to Europe’s four-on-the floor dominating dance floor, Ilian Tape introduces this new artist to the dance floor in their Ilian Beat Series. 

Falling between margins of Dubstep, Grime and Trap, SusTrapperazzi’s music folds in elements of Funk, Jazz and Soul in his stark beat constructions. Big undulating sub-bass movements underpin “Return form Shibuya” as snippets of samples, calling to mind Burial’s earliest work, dust the slow moving arrangements. 

It’s all about that bass. Sustrapperrazi carves deep trenches from a synthesiser vibrating around the lower registers. At times like “Date Night,” it teeters on the edge of a precipice that’s about to enter IDM territory, but it always returns to the legato bass, moving along in sedate figures across the bottom end of the tracks. 

 

John Beltran – Aesthete (Furthur Electronix) 2xLP

Look no further than John Beltran if you’re looking for soothing melodies and a warm electronic aesthetic. A Detroit original, John Beltram has been making this kind of music since the birth of Techno. Where most of his contemporaries however have suffered at their own hubris, he has hardly wavered  from those original Techno, Electro and Ambient sounds of the early nineties. 

Why mess with perfection?

“Aesthete” confirms this position. Ethereal melodies play against drum machines breaking step with conformity. Wistful broken beats create lovely atmospheres in which happy synthesisers frolic in major keys and uplifting harmonies. John Beltram plays in a sound that has matured beautifully, as analogue components find a new voice in a digital realm. It sounds like a 90’s Techno record should in our era; developing on those rudimentary ideas without stretching the limits of patience.

Aesthete however is closer to an ambient record than the youthful indulgences of the original Techno provocateurs, but in that way it proves how Techno could find a place in contemporary pop music if you let it. As a composer with some success in film and television, John Baltram is able to manipulate these cold lifeless machines into something accessible without reverting to tawdry motifs or styles. It’s a record you’re able to swim through, and you don’t need to be an electronic music nerd to enjoy it. 

 

Chris Moss Acid – 5G Weaponized Bats EP (Furthur Electronix) 12″ 

Further Electronix are in a class of their own at the moment. Carrying a torch for classic Techno, House and Electro, they’ve provided a platform for a sound that maintains a strong connection with origins of those genres, very often from those original pioneers, like John Beltram above. Never one to pander to the obvious, they’ve shone a light on the margins of electronic music over the last four years with artists that continue to work in the more obscure corners of these styles. 

Case in point Chris Moss Acid. You don’t assume the moniker “acid” likely, but Chris Moss owns it after a couple of decades of proliferating those original sounds of acid. Still based around the Roland x0x series, those tools that first established Acid House, “5G Weaponized Bats”  is another direct descendant of the original House and Techno sounds. Favouring a broken beat and an ambient mood, the EP is densely orchestrated with bold pads and delicate melodies.  There’s a transcendental quality to the record when it comes to tracks like Bayt Al-Hikma and and Beat String, but it’s interrupted often by a hefty broken beat as it tries to break through the graceful synths or pads. 

By the end of Beat String, we’re almost in Trance territory, but luckily the record refrains otherwise from such blatant cheesy pursuits even though happy melodies and uplifting progressions dot the record throughout. It’s yet another future classic Furthur Electronix has added to it’s already stunning catalogue.

 

Jaeger to offer light technician course in January 2022

We’ll be running a club light course in our basement and it’s free to all.

Jaeger, with kind support from Kulturrom, are pleased to offer a six part crash course in club lights. The course will run across 5 days over the course of three weeks in January 2022. The course also includes a trial run at showtime on a following Friday at Jaeger in the winter/spring period.

The course is free, but spaces are limited and course days will run 10:00 – 16:00 with a lunch break. 

There are two course groups run on different dates as per below. The trial date run is across half a show during the night and paid accordingly.

The light course consists of six parts:

  1. Video projection used as club lights. (visual content typical for concerts et.al will not be covered here) Includes set-up, basic philosophy and the running of Resolume for the purpose. Course day is run by Isak from Beleven Produksjoner.
  1. Lights and GranMA. Basic introduction to GranMA wing and the house lights at Jaeger. Course day is run by Jaeger’s head light technician Eva Krpalkova
  1. Set-up and problem solving. Basic run through of how to set up lights in GrandMA, and how to solve DMX issues, lamp settings, issues with Hazer and so on. Course day is run by Eva Krpalkova.
  1. Theory and application. What we want to achieve with the lights and the space in between. Different approaches and thinking around how lights best can create the club space and help fire up a dancefloor. Course day is run by Kyrre Karlsen from KyrreLys and Jaegers booking and managing director Ola Smith-Simonsen.
  1. Workshop. Open session with Kyrre Karlsen and Ola Smith-Simonsen.
  1. Trial run. Running half a night/show along with one of Jaegers house light techs.

 

Course dates:

    Group 1 / Group 2

Course day 1 Wednesday 5th / Thursday 6th

Course day 2 Monday 10th / Tuesday 11th

Course day 3 Wednesday 13th / Thursday 14th

Course day 4 Monday 17th / Tuesday 18th

Course day 5 Wednesday 19th / Thursday 20th

The trial run date will be greed individually, but will be 2 hours during 23 – 03 on a Friday night in the following months. For more information or to apply for one of the two course groups please contact:

Ola Smith-Simonsen
ola@jaegeroslo.no

Listen: Olanskii on D59B for radioactivity

Listen back to Olanskii on radio D59B for DJ Sin’s radioactivity show

 After Frædag, Olanskii headed off to the digital realm of radio D59B for a guest appearance on Belgrade via Oslo DJ Sinisa Spasojevic‘s radio show. Taking on the first hour, after a week that saw us reverting back to dour pandemic conditions in clubland in Oslo, Olanskii represented Jaeger with a mix he described as “two warped records and a broken heart mix.”

Featuring the likes of K Hand and Anthony Rother, this mix saw Olanskii sticking close to roots House music with a remix of Prince that will make your mind melt. Olanskii joins esteemed Oslo alumni like Omar V and Ivaylo for his turn at the Serbia based radio channel.

You can stream the mix here and you can catch DJ Sin in the mix every Saturday at D59B.

Just the thought of it with Kim Dürbeck

We talk to Kim Dürbeck about Urchin remixes and his Vietnamese roots while we premiere a previously unreleased track from the artist.

Kim Dürbeck has been nothing short of prolific in the last two years. His Bandcamp account and Soundcloud page has seen a flurry of activity, cementing a new era for the producer and artist. It was all a means to an end during the lockdown period; “ to keep doing something while not DJing” as he explains over a telephone call. In its wake, however, it has created a new artistic phase for Kim. He’s in his hometown Sandjefjord when I call, about an hour and a half outside of Oslo, and yet Kim is no stranger to nightlife in Oslo.

A regular guest at Jaeger, he’s carved out a career based on his skills as a DJ that’s travelled far beyond the small and isolated coastal town of Sandefjord. He is one of the leading lights in an underground clubbing community that stretches across Norway and before the pandemic, he could often be found travelling the world with a record bag. Lately he’s focussed those skills and vast musical experience into his production work. Like many of his peers, Kim has been “stuck in the studio” these past two years and he’s been busy.

Urchin

“Would you like an unreleased track for the article,” he asks during our call. “A premier,” I suggest. “I have so many at the moment,” he says in nonchalant confirmation. He’s not boasting. Ensconced in his studio these past two years, surrounded by an arsenal of hardware synthesisers, drum machines and grooveboxes, he’s released a host of EPs on his own and contributed to compilations for HMD and the Vietnamese outfit Nhạc Gãy.

He’s been most active on Soundcloud and Bandcamp and coming via the latter he’s now also the first of possibly two remix packages for “Urchin.” André Bravo, Curtis Vodka, Cato Canari, JaJa Saine and Dustin Ngo contribute their interpretations of Kim’s Jungle-Acid original.The track, initially released two years ago, is something of a watermark in the career of Kim Dürbeck.

Urchin is a track that falls somewhere between the gaps of some left-field club genres. “It’s between Acid and Jungle,” says Kim by way of reiterating. Featuring a “simple break” that is also “not that aggressive” it’s not an easy track to pigeonhole. The Jungle element is there in the drums, and yet it is restrained. The lysergic 303 pledges its allegiances to Acid, but it almost disappears in the dense textures of the harmonies. The synthesised pad subdues the track even further, moving across the track in slow, swelling arcs of dirty noise.

It’s a track that “hit between different tastes” for Kim and he was justified when he found various ”friends” from different musical backgrounds drawn to Urchin. The Urchin remixes gave Kim the chance to “work with friends I don’t usually work with” and from André Bravo’s hefty Drum n Bass attack, to Curtis Vodka’s cut n paste trip through the dense sounds of Jungle, it covers a vast section of left-field broken beat music.

Alternative urban electronic music

Urchin and its remixes, as well as the tracks they bookend, has found Kim on a new trajectory in his music. “I always chopped a lot of breaks on my sampler when I was younger,” explains Kim “but I didn’t try to make proper Jungle like I do now.” Kim’s earlier releases would favour the more familiar constructions of European House and Techno. It would always have that raw machine driven component, but it’s only in the last few years that he’s started to explore the broken sounds of Jungle and IDM in his own music.

I wonder if it’s a reluctance on the part of Norwegian audiences to embrace these sounds that has seen him avoid these sounds in the past. He’s unsure. Although he feels that “it’s getting more open for it,” this style of music it’s still more popular outside of the country, and it’s been like that for a while.

As a kid growing up, with a foundation in Hip Hop, Kim was attracted to IDM and the British wave of artists coming from the ranks of warp et al, but he hardly found any kindred spirits in his love for this kind of music. “Most of my friends growing up didn’t like this kind of music,” he recalls, “and still today don’t like this kind of music” he adds with a tapering laugh.

Kim refers to this kind of music as an “alternative urban electronic” music with specific ties to the UK. It has much more in common with Hip Hop than the European tastes of House and Techno and in it he’s found a familiar language in which he can adapt to his own musical voice. Built from breakbeats and what he calls “errors”, Kim’s process still starts from the same machine-driven origins it always has. A live-improvisational jam between modular synthesisers, guitar pedals and computers lay the groundwork, and he never knows what will come from these sessions until they emerge from the chaos.

Kim likes to refer to his music as “art by accident” and you can hear it in its rawest form on the “Tools and Tracks“ release on Kim’s Bandcamp account. Lately however these accidents have yielded results closer to his youthful musical indulgences, than pandering to the trends around him and it’s not just something that’s cemented around his love for the sounds of IDM or alternative urban electronic music, but it goes even further back to his roots.

Finding a community

Kim Dürbeck has come full circle in more than just one way over the last two years. On the one hand, he’s been tapping into this raw, primal energy from his youth, while on the other, he’s going back to his Vietnamese diaspora roots.

Kim grew up in Norway to a Norwegian mother and Vietnamese father. In one of the Jaeger mix sessions, he talked about digging through his parents’ old tape collection, which included some Disco from his mother and “sessions” his father recorded on tape during Kim’s childhood. What these sessions were however has always eluded us…

It was “mainly Vietnamese folk music. Cai Luong, inspired by Chinese opera, but more at home,” explains Kim. The senior Mr. Dürbeck “was doing sessions every weekend with his friends” and would sing and write music for tape. Sometimes he would record sessions with guitar and mic with a lot of echo, which Kim says remind him of “Acid House.” “Tuned in half tones, it’s very different,” he explains.

Kim spent his childhood immersed in these tapes, laying the foundation for a rudimentary grasp of the production and mixing process. He cut and spliced his dad’s tapes together in mixtapes, laying the foundation for sampling techniques and Djing later on. These early Vietnamese roots lay largely untapped for the most part of Kim’s musical career however. Besides the odd annual celebration – one of which gave him his first DJ gig, playing Trance – there weren’t many who shared Kim’s interests at that point. While a burgeoning community of Vietnamese electronic music enthusiasts were waiting in the wings, Kim was largely left to his own devices and justifiably gravitated towards the Trip Hop, Hip-Hop, Trance, House and then Techno that his Norwegian peers favoured.

That all changed with social media as he started to find a larger Vietnamese diaspora producing and proliferating electronic music. It started with a “meme-account” he created, but blossomed beyond Internet humour and into music as he sought like-minded people.

“Being a Vietnamese diaspora, you search for other Vietnamese diaspora,” says Kim. It was “interesting to see people growing up just like you – doing music and being alternative.” Today there is a large community, spread all across the world, and Kim is certain it’s “mobilised.” We met a portion of this community in November when Levi Oi and Mobilegirl came to play alongside Kim for Oslo World, but the community stretches further and can be traced all the way back to Vietnam today.

Decolonising the dance floor

Through this extended social media network, Kim soon found more people like himself; people of Vietnamese ancestry living in the west, making electronic music. Most notably it was the introduction to Nhạc Gãy that set Kim off on a path to exploring these sounds again and becoming a vital part of this community. Besides Nhạc Gãy regular Dustin Ngo contributing to Kim’s Urchin remixes, there is also Kim’s contribution to the first Nhạc Gãy compilation.

“Nước Mắm Is My Holy Water” is raucous ensemble of drum machines and a folksy Vietnamese samples. It’s the first time you hear these two aspects of Kim’s youthful explorations combined, and the results are as intriguing as they are surprising. “It’s electronic music with vocals,”explains Kim of what constituted those early Vietnamese influences. “That’s why it fits so well in my jungle track for the Nhạc Gãy compilation.”

It all enriches that “collage of genres” that Kim likes to tap into when he makes music. More than that, it sympathised with Nhạc Gãy’s objective to decolonise the dance floor, as a strictly Vietnamese electronic music. It allows “access to the locals without going through the west,” according to Kim, but at the same time it’s not something that panders to exotic tropes like a library record or tourist CD. These are Vietnamese voices making electronic music in a broad sense, covering “electronic music in all genres.”

From the Jungle-infused Acid of Kim Dürbeck to the blistering Techno of Attiss Ngo on the compilation, there isn’t anything like a specific style of music that identifies these artists and their music or their nationality. It spreads as far in electronic musical styles and genrs as the Vietnamese diaspora they count amongst their ranks.

Looking towards the horizon

Kim “was supposed to go there and play” with the “Nhạc Gãy people” and initially the Oslo world line-up was also to include them “but because of covid” that never transpired. “So we had to book people from Europe.” Levi Oi and Mobilegirl certainly represented the larger community in full force. It looks like any future plans will have to be put on hold again as we face another season of covid restrictions and measures, but Kim is hopeful to get out there soon.

He continues to expand that network of friends he’s making across the world, when he’s not at home making music and he seems to be always busy on that front, as this premiere can attest. Besides producing, he’s also performing live as part of an ambient/techno trio in Sandefjord, “keeping the community alive” in the small town. He is also about to launch a new label with Larus Siguvrin, and Patås called Lek Rec, which will see the first releases come to the fore next year. At the same time he is currently working on the second remix package for Urchin while a hard-drive somewhere is bulging under the weight of music he’s created over the past two years.

As our conversation draws to a close, he excitedly tells me he’s “found a movie about Vietnamese Moroccan diaspora, and they have a very cool way of talking, mixing Arabic and Vietnamese.” …. “And just the thought of this is inspiring when it comes to music.” It will be curious to hear how this might develop and only time will tell.

There’s still clearly a lot more on the horizon for Kim Dürbeck; too much mention in a paragraph really, and it seems the pandemic has seen the artist hit a new stride, especially in music. He’s not only found a new perspective going back to the sounds of Jungle, but also a way to honour the sounds of his Vietnamese roots. From his tapes to those urban UK sounds, Kim Dürbeck is a melting pot of ideas at the moment and it seems to have no end.

 

New covid regulations come into effect

New covid regulations come into effect as of midnight tonight and table service is now back at Jaeger

News of the new covid restrictions might have reached you by now, and as you may realise this affects us at Jaeger and your experience with us. We’re adhering to the new regulations passed down at national level to the Oslo kommune and ask that you respect these measures. 

These measures come into effect at midnight on the evening of the 2nd December. 

Please have a seat

In accordance with latest covid regulations we’ve returned to table service at Jaeger. As of midnight tonight we’ll be requesting that you place your order at a designated table andwear a face mask when not seated if you’re unable to maintain 1 meter distance. 

We’ve got this

We’ve done this before… We’re still equipped with the system from the last bout of covid restrictions and have the procedures and systems in place to make your stay with us as comfortable as possible. 

Please scan the accompanying QR code when you are shown to a table, register your arrival via the app/website, order your beverages, and we’ll bring your order to you. 

Dance in the place where you are

Feel free to move, if the rhythms persuade you, but please respect the current regulations and acknowledge the measures in place with accordance to the law.

We thank you for your patience and understanding and please bear with us as we acclimatise to the situation. We’ll continue to update our measures and regulations as the situation calls for, so please stay informed and check our media channels regularly.

 

The Cut with Filter Musikk

We’re back in the cut, the Filter Musikk cut. After a long time of only being able to afford a dive in the dustiest of cheap bins, we’re excited that the cut with Filter Musikk returns to our page, with only the very freshest of cuts from our favourite record store in Oslo. From Acid to Techno, Filter Musikk supplies the capital with all things electronic music and it’s still the strongest proliferator of vinyl music in Norway. Even a pandemic couldn’t stifle its singular pursuits as proprietor and Norwegian Techno stalwart, Roland Lifjell continues to peddle the unwavering format against all odds. 

We’ve all read the headlines: even the major’s are struggling to get new records out, with re-issues of Rolling Stones records from their own headquarters congesting pressing plants the world over. It’s made it incredibly difficult to get a record out these days, and while more are opting for the digital realm, it takes a truly great record today to make the cut, the lacquer cut to be precise, and the Filter Musikk cut, to put too fine a point on it. 

There’s a certain dedication that’s always gone into releasing dance music on vinyl, and it’s a dedication that’s turned obsession in the wake of the digital revolution. Yes, there might be some type of credential associated with the old format in dance music today, but even money can’t buy your way into getting your record printed today. It takes a whole lot of patience and faith in a record to get it out today on vinyl, and we salute those who persevere.  

Not all of these can appeal to everybody, but some manage to capture something unique and something that can last beyond its time. For the person buying the record and the excessive cost involved in building a collection, we can’t simply buy a record for the sake of having the latest either. Each purchase needs to be able to stand the test of time, and speak to something individual. That is the essence of a collection and not just a library of music, and for that… we have spotify. With every new record, or new old record there needs to be a considered conscious effort, taking into account taste, space and economy (the last of these can often be argued for the right record).

Luckily there are places like Filter Musikk that exist, aiding us in our decision by separating the wheat from the chaff, making our choices so much easier and more significant. This is the cut with Filter Musikk… it’s good to be back. 

 

Jesse – Music For Emotions (Haista) 12″

Wait a minute… this record is from 2014… and it’s not even a re-issue. It’s not even a repress as far as we can tell. Somebody in the fett distro camp apparently has found a box in the basement labelled “fett” and even 4 years on this record is still pretty ”fett”. (Very good for the non-Norwegian speaker). 

We’re big fans of Jesse, as these pages will attest, and we might have been late coming to their party, but now we can’t get enough. The music of Ilari Larjosto (Stiletti-Ana) and Niko Liinamaa (Kalifornia-Keke) has endeared us not only to their individual work, but the work of fellow Finish associates like DJ Candle in the wind. Jesse, and their home label, Haista has been at the forefront of a new kind of Scando-Balearic sound for some time. Infusing guitars with synthesisers in long progressive pieces that unfurl like kosmische explorations, they make their stand on the dance floor. 

Whereas their LP III was more focussed on the dance floor, Music for Emotions, takes a more expressive turn, with elements unfolding in a psychedelic tapestry of sound. The visceral intention in the album title is there as they journey through constant modulations of a theme. At the heart of it lies a motorik-beat-like intention to propel every song through its progression. It calls to mind the endless expanse of something like Kraftwerk’s autobahn. 

Playful and charming, tracks like Emotion #1 is a fitting tribute to a wide range of influences that travel from Germany to Africa. The musicians behind the track, showing an incredible and wide arching depth to their skills between he live instrumentation and the sequenced parts. Flickers of brilliance trickling down from the likes of Talking Heads can be heard throughout with Jesse applying that curiosity for exotic sounds to their largely electronic sound palette. 

Music for Emotions is one of those records that some 8 years down the line, DJs will finally uncover as some forgotten gem. They’ll claim their discovery, coveting its secret as uniquely theirs, perhaps even re-issuing it for the next generation. Remember where you heard it first. 

 

Andrés – Back In The Open (Moods & Grooves) 12″ 

There are few who still honour the traditions of House music quite like Andrés. The soul and depth that is often negated for immediacy in our current epoch, is still ever-present in Andrés music, while it maintains an unbreakable connection to contemporary techniques and sounds. It must be a Detroit thing. 

Back in the Open finds bass guitars creating a deep undertow, dragging down rhodes keys through undulating rhythms. Melodies bounce over jubilant keys while vocal samples offer some connection to the visceral plain. Andrés weaves elements of Jazz through his expressive arrangements, playing against the busy polyrhythms of drum machines and percussive samples. 

The record feels alive, moving through the arrangements, like it’s skipping across the dance floor. There’s a sense of joy as Andrés combines brass tones and gospel-like passages, reaching out towards happy heights.  

Andrés’ experience as a producer and his legacy as one of House music’s greats, shines through in his production touches, the tracks coming together more like songs than tracks. The upper frequencies shimmer while the bass gravitates towards the subwoofer’s sweet spot. Back in the Open is equally as impressive on a big sound rig as it is on a set of earphones, and it retains it’s upbeat mood, regardless of in which context it might find itself. 

 

Efdemin, Vril – Endless / Purge (Sun Sad) 12″

It’s a double feature from a couple of Techno’s pioneers as Sun Sad records make their debut. Two artists with a unique take on electronic music, and especially Techno, find common ground as Efdemin and Vril find themselves on the debut for Sun Sad records. 

Efdemin’s music which can often travel into high-art regions of his eponymous moniker, Phillip Sollmann is not a far shout from the type of music that Vril’s been cultivating since making a debut on Giegling. They both offer distinctive voices in the world of electronic music, and there’s a clear overlap in their sounds as this VA accounts.

Efdemin and Vril find some similarities here between Endless and Purge as they create immersive soundscapes that drift along stoic 4/4 rhythms. Where there’s invitation on Efdemin’s Endles however, there’s something more foreboding happening in lower registers of Vril’s Purge. 

At the confluence of the two artists, Efdemin’s remix of Purge softens that edge as the German Techno artist subdues Vril’s darker tendencies to find a unique balance between their distinctive voices. It’s still very much about the atmosphere on this release, and even during the remix that remains the appeal of this Sun Sad debut. While everybody in Techno today is looking for that brutal edge, Efdemin and Vril counterpoint with a couple of tracks that search for serenity instead. 

 

Baraka – Nutty Bass / I’ll Be There (Kniteforce) 12″ 

Sometimes re-issues are necessary. Some of us weren’t wise or prescient enough to recognise a classic when it appears. In 1995 most of us were still adolescent naıive with embarrassing tastes, while some were even unborn. 

Fortunately re-issues like this exist, to rectify wrong turns and missed opportunities, and to undercut the hyper-inflation of discogs. Thanks to Kniteforce, we too now can add a classic Drum n Bass track to our record collection as Baraka’s Nutty Bass gets a proper re-issue after 16 years. 

What is there to say about this gem that hasn’t been said before… nothing. Revel in the glorious full bodied 90’s synthesisers and the reckless approach to percussion. As is often the case with these records, it’s the title track that lures the listener to the release but the B-side (or double A in this case) that holds the attention. I’ll be there is a liquid masterpiece, emphasising those raw origins of Drum n Bass as synthesisers and beat samples sizzle and pop in their warm analogue domain. 

It’s a classic that warrants re-issuing and from a lesser known alias from the well-established Jonny L, whose records like Sawtooth via XL recordings had firmly planted Drum n Bass in the mainstream. In 2021 he’s still releasing music as Jonny L and he continues to fly the banner for Drum n Bass and Jungle, continuing a very prolific career that initially laid the groundwork for the genre’s induction as one of the four electronic music archetypes. 

 

A life of its own – Profile on Daniel Avery

Looking back through an old interview from 2013, Mischa Mathys attempts to frame the enduring appeal of Daniel Avery.

A lot has happened since 2013. Much has changed in the world of music, and especially electronic music. DJs have assumed rock-star status, travelling the world on their skills and almost every piece of music released today at the very least references electronic dance music tropes. Who would have thought back in 2013, that this music would be as popular as it is now and who would believe that by 2021 it would be inducted into popular culture in the way that it has. 

I certainly didn’t think that would be the case when I first interviewed Daniel Avery back in 2013. Even though he had just released Drone Logic, a very popular independent dance record, it was still a niche record.  Even in the dance music arena, fit fell between the gaps of a minimal Techno sound coming from Berlin and UK Bass coming out of London. Avery, although already well known and admired in DJ circles, was still fairly unknown outside of the UK before Drone Logic, but that was to change too. 

The record left an impression, perhaps even because it fell well clear of the trend-informed mark of the time, and Avery’s star rose accordingly, only justifying his finely honed skill as a DJ. Some 8 years later though, and I’m still listening to Drone Logic and we’re all too familiar with Avery’s craft in the booth. Yes, while things have changed, much has stayed the same, and the best of these, like Avery and Drone Logic have stood the test of time. 

“I got told early on by several people close to me that the only thing you can do is make something that is true,” Avery told The Big Takeover in an interview from earlier this year, and that sentiment reflects the work and the artist’s enduring appeal today. Four solo albums and a touring schedule that sees this in-demand DJ play all over the world week in and week out, and there is no denying that Daniel Avery’s truth, much like his music, resonates with the rest of the world. As he says in that same interview; “A true and an honest statement can never be beaten.”

I guess I like club music

Avery has come a long way from his adolescent indulgences. “I’d probably ask myself if I still had that Lostprophets CD I bought in my early teens…” Daniel Avery said if he could ask his younger self a question during that old interview. It was the allure of guitars that initially caught the young Avery’s attention growing up in Bournemouth. He ”grew up on things like droney, shoegaze music” according to a Dummymag interview which led to playing the bass guitar and by the age of 15, he was recording music via a 4-track recorder.  It was a “very rudimentary set up,” he claims in The Big Takeover interview today, “but the second I started doing it, something felt right about it.”

Call it a latent talent or innate ability, but Daniel Avery’s first foray into music would not come from making it, but rather listening to it and it took him some time to come to terms with electronic music in particular. As “a young, naïve kid,” he recalls in Dummymag, “all that was there in front of me was stag and hen parties playing dance music that I fucking hated.” 

While initially put off by the tawdry aspects of “club music” he eventually warmed to the idea when he started hearing DJs like Erol Alkan and Andy Weatherwall playing sets that crossed a line between the attitude of punk-rock and the more polished aspects of electronic club music. “Richard Fearless and Death In Vegas were a very early one as well, because I love Death In Vegas and went to see them, and he was playing this mind-expanding techno and electronica. And I was like, ‘you know what, I guess I do like club music.’” That affirmation not only endeared Avery to the sound of club music, but most apparently propelled him forward towards a career in DJing. 

Selling records or selling records

“I started playing warm-up sets around 2003, but even then, it simply felt like an extension of making mixtapes for my friends but on a bigger scale,” he told me back in 2013. Avery found an affinity in the ability to be able to “affect the mood of a room,” but more than that he was able to follow in the footsteps of people like Weatherall and Fearless, blending in new music with more experimental sounds for a largely listening audience. “I discovered I could play the stuff that was coming out at the time, like the first Interpol record or TV On The Radio, and then I could also play Neu! or Kraftwerk or Harmonia,” he told Dummymag. 

He assumed Stopmakingme as a DJ moniker and started playing around London, most notably as a nascent resident for Fabric. While the UK was moving towards Bass music and the likes of Riccardo Villalobos was establishing a new minimal sound in room 1 of Fabric, Avery was drawn to the harsher edges of Techno, that was beginning to form around the last remnants of Electroclash in room 2. “I do love the grittier end of it,” he says of the style of Techno he enjoyed at the time. “A fucking heavy break from a rave/jungle record will get me every time, but everything I do has a techno heart.“ That fluid approach cemented his style and took its cues from those archetypal DJs like Erol Alkan who started to take notice of the younger Avery, but more on that later…

Around the same time as he picked up Djing, he started working at a record shop in Farringdon, London. He grafted, selling records by day while honing his DJ skills by night. London came to know Stopmakingme, not from the music that was yet to come, but for his individual skills in the DJ booth. He became a regular favourite at the esteemed Fabric, and soon caught the ear of an international audience on his skills as a DJ alone. After a decade working the decks, he did eventually move into production. 

Talking to him in 2013, I asked why he had hesitated to release music. “I didn’t hesitate,” he claimed, ​​”it was just something I had never even thought about in the early days.” In the interview with The Big Takeover, he shines some more light on the subject, suggesting that his decision to start releasing music might have coincided with the closing of the record store in Farringdon. “I was really faced with this huge crossroads in my life,” he remembers. “I could either find another job selling other people’s records, or I could make records that were sold in these stores. It was a leap of faith, but it’s one I took, and I’m so glad I did.”

On the shoulders of giants

Releasing a few singles and EPs as Stopmakingme, he made music that offered to bridge that gap between indie bands and the dance floor, much like Weatherall did with his early work for Creation, but as the bands started moving away from guitars and towards drum machines and synthesisers, so did Avery and Stopmakingme had to be killed off, so Daniel Avery could be born again. 

“I look back on the Stopmakingme period as my ‘first band.’” he recalled in 2013. It was like a kid picking up a guitar for the first time and seeing what comes out. I listen back now and it all sounds so young and naive… because that’s exactly what it was. I switched to my real name at a time when it felt like I was finally able to actualise some of the sounds in my head and, with that, could begin to carve out something of my own style.”

Assuming his given name, and teaming up with his idol Erol Alkan, Daniel Avery carried on where Stopmakingme left off, both as a DJ and a producer. It called in a new era in music for the artist behind the moniker. With Erol Alkan as friend and mentor, Avery practically moved into Alkan’s studio, with Alkan providing the platform in Phantasy Sound and the tools in the form of the machines to record what would eventually become Drone Logic. 

The breakthrough record was an immediate success in club music circles, even though it completely broke with the zeitgeist of the time. Raw, heavy percussion and synth sequences running like freight trains through the arrangements was pure body music; but body music exploring the emotional depths of a mechanical soul. “The thing that draws me to this kind of music,” says Avery by way of explanation in The Big Takeover, “is the idea of taking machines, mechanical objects, and breathing some kind of human life into them – some kind of living soul or beating heart, and making them sing in that way.” 

He moved into a studio which shared the building with not only Alkan, but also Andy Weatherall. “Aside from being surrounded by a staggering record and synth collection,” he says about the experience in the Skinny, “ it’s just a very inspiring place with an ever-present creative atmosphere.” Even, inspired as he was, it would take five years for him to follow up Drone Logic with his next record, Song for Alpha.  

Unreal

“It’s been a year full of highlights,” said Avery in 2013. “Releasing the album felt like a big moment but the thing I’m most pleased about is that I feel more confident than ever as a DJ. I’ve always been proud of my sets, but I’ve really felt a significant gear shift this year. I feel like I could play for hours and hours in every city I visit.” 

In the five years between his first and his second record Daniel Avery’s reputation as a DJ preceded him wherever he went. Channeling the influences of the likes of Andy Weatherall, Fearless and Alkan, Avery found a distinct voice in the DJ scene. Techno remains at the heart of everything he does from the booth, with humanoid machines dictating the language, but it’s that “mind-expanding” experience that he first encountered with Fearless that has become central to his interpretation of the genre. His 2016 DJ Kicks mix stands testament to that. It’s a psychedelic trip through a labyrinth of electronic soundscapes unfolding in a cinematic plot-line. It doesn’t entertain any specific genre other than a broad Techno interpretation, and while the songs of their time the mood we encounter in that mix is timeless. 

“The music that interests me is the music that sounds unreal,” Avery told Interview magazine  about where his particular tastes lie. For Avery it’s “music that sounds like it comes from somewhere else entirely and grabs you by the hand and takes you somewhere that you haven’t really been before,” and that is reflected in his DJ sets. In those early influences he seems to have carved out a unique sound that sets him apart from his predecessors, while at the same time offering a fitting tribute to the legacy left by Andrew Weatherall

Get lost

After that, “it became almost a necessity to be in the studio,” Daniel Avery told Interview around the time his second LP was released. Looking for “somewhere that feels totally different to a nightclub,” he set about making “Song for Alpha,” an LP that picked up where Drone Logic left off, while at the same time consolidating Avery’s love for those psychedelic sounds, and the quest for the dance floor. “I’m just a huge fan of psychedelic music…I just like music in which you can get truly lost.”

Getting enough distance from his debut LP, Song for Alpha is a truly different beast, although it retains some of that elusive visceral appeal of Drone Logic, even elaborating on it. “I just realised very early on that I wasn’t interested in saying the same thing again,” he explained in Interview. In the five years since releasing Drone Logic, that “youthful urgency” he displayed, had calmed and matured. Song for Alpha not only indicated a significant change, but it set the benchmark for the next 3 years, which saw Avery release two more LPs, a collaborative LP with the legendary Alessandro Cortini, and a host of EPs and remixes too. 

Song for Alpha and the succeeding Love + Light saw Avery taking a very different approach to his sound with atmosphere playing a significant role in his music. That visceral feeling he achieved in the bold rhythms of Drone Logic, he now transposed to melody and harmony as synthesisers came together in vivid orchestrations. In the two part record Love + Light it’s particularly striking as Avery moves from the impulsive dance floor to the serene tranquility of an ambient record. Love + Light did more than just tie a narrative between the beginning and the end of that record, it also offered a bridge between Song for Alpha and the follow up record, Together in Static.  

Starting life as a concept for a show, Together in Static marks the latest in Daniel Avery’s discography, showcasing, yet another side to the artist,; a reflective side, with more than just corporeal impulses dictating the mood. “It started to form,” explained Avery in The Big Takeover, “this idea of making something specific for the show that was more ambient-leaning and toward the quieter side of what I do.“ There’s no doubt that the pandemic played a significant role in this objective for an album conceived in 2021, but yet again shows Avery able to adapt, without succumbing to the zeitgeist. 

A life of its own

“I feel, right now, as if what I’m creating is a sound I’ve been striving for ever since I started,” he believes, but all the elements that constitute his appeal are still very much there, even in this latest record. The idea that “robot music” must “have a human heart” continues to be a recurring theme in his work, but now it’s able to modulate between the dance floor and a pair of headphones. 

“The best DJs take things from different genres and make them sound like they’re from the same world,” Daniel Avery told the skinny back in 2016, and with Together in Static it’s a sentiment he can still apply to his production work too. 

It’s not 2013 any more, it hasn’t been for some time, but Daniel Avery remains consistent in his ideologies. Although the music has changed and the audience has gotten younger, he remains, and the ideas that shaped Drone Logic and his earlier sets are still intact, unwavering in the presence of whichever contemporary trend. Despite, or perhaps in spite of that, Daniel Avery has shaped his career into legacy today, walking in the footsteps of those he idealised back when he was starting out. His ability in the booth is unmatched and his music continues to draw new fans to his work. 

“Creating something that can be shared around the world and that’s got a life of its own even when I’m gone,” is something Avery said he strived for in The Big Takeover. Today, as we discuss his debut LP and the fact that everything we talked about in 2013 can still be applied, the sentiment runs true. 

* Pre-sale tickets available here.

It’s just too loud with Third Attempt

*photos by Mats Gangvik

In an interview originally posted from the now defunkt formant page, Third Attempt talks about his debut LP during the midst of the pandemic.

Through shimmering pads, the faintest echoes of white noise, and an oscillating sine wave a woman’s voice appears out of the sonic mist that opens Third Attempt’s debut LP. “The world is just too loud,” she says in a lo-fi murmur, before cutting out and disappearing into the wave of a rolling bassline. The short vignette introduces the album and its title, setting a tone for a record searching for some quietude on the fringes of the dance floor.

“I had to get out of my comfort zone,” says Torje Fagertun Spilde (Third Attempt) over a telephone call from his hometown of Tromsø, where the situation with the coronavirus has been exacerbated by excessive snowfall, burying its inhabitants in a moist white blanket of uncertainty every day. “I don’t think you would want to be here now,” he says through a sigh. “It’s very depressing,” but the phone call finds in him good spirits at least and when I delay to inform him that I’m recording this conversation, he says; “What would happen if I said no, now(!)” with a jocular guffaw.

In some clairvoyant mistake, World is too loud couldn’t come at a better time. With an eerie quiet consuming Europe’s dance floors and many people sequestered indoors, Torje’s debut LP as Third Attempt has unwittingly found some sympathy with a world that is currently being bombarded with a silent war raging at a microscopic level. It is a remarkable coincidence, but the ideas and the circumstances that shaped the album has found some sympathy with the world as it is now. The idea was to “create a listening record,” explains Torje. Using “slower tempos,” closer to the music he would be “listening to at home,” rather than the kind of music that would usually find its way into his DJ sets, he wanted to get back to the more organic elements in music with a record he prides on being versatile. 

A fresh start

Torje has been refining a sound from the DJ booth as Third Attempt since 2017, after a ”fresh start” from the work he’d been doing under two previous aliases. Deep chords, intricate pads and elastic bass lines, converging around predetermined moods and tempos had laid the groundwork for Third Attempt’s records, with music that would drift between unraveling House beats with a striking use of melody and harmony. But for World is too loud he wanted to get some distance from this style of music. 

After a successful slew of records for Tromsø’s Beatservice Records, the producer has channeled these aspects of his sound into slower tempos, conjuring a very different sound from his previous records, while retaining that distinction of the Third Attempt approach. The record gestated at a time when club music wasn’t “cutting it anymore” for the Norwegian producer. “I felt I overdid it,” says Torje who “doesn’t feel it’s intriguing anymore” as an artist and an enthusiast. He has been growing increasingly bored with the cookie-cutter House that he was experiencing on the dance floor each weekend. He calls it “Toro brownie House,” referring to the popular Norwegian instant brownie mix, and says his “wake-up call” arrived one weekend on the dance floor when he realised “I heard this track last weekend, and I don’t even like it.” Torje didn’t want to be just another cog in the faceless horde, making music with the singular perfunctory intent of the dance floor. “I don’t want to sound like everybody else,” he exclaims delightedly, “because who am I then?”

He was looking for a way to get back to the soul of House music and started “listening to stuff outside the electronic spectrum to gain a different perspective.” It was late last summer and then “something just clicked” for the producer, but he didn’t quite arrive at the sound of the record completely in isolation. Working with the fundamental ideas that would inform the album, Torje only had a “half-assed beat” before collaborating with his “good friend Håkon (Struve)” on the two tracks that would become Shift and Rotor. 

A different flavour

Håkon (Leaf Pile & Sidewalk), a “very talented guitarist” coming from psych rock and garage traditions, had met Torje on the dance floor. The pair found that they had “a lot of things in common” and became fast friends. When Håkon acquiesced to his friend’s request and added some live instrumentation on his pedestrian beats, he brought “a totally different flavour” to Torje’s tracks. The result was Rotor and Shift, with the rest of the album coalescing around those two tracks, before moving to an ambient atmosphere. 

Shift and Rotor, introduces a new organic element to Torje’s sound that we’d not experienced on his previous EPs much. Evolving chord progressions and wispy tails of melodic and harmonic threads flit between funky synthesisers and anxious guitars as Third Attempt wrestles a primordial sound from rigid computer systems. “I just wanted more of a human feel,” explains Torje. While his music is still largely coaxed from within the computer, Torke admits “the machine stuff can become very tiring,” and for this album he specifically “wanted to pursue the soul aspect of things.”

While Håkon’s guitar played an important role in bringing this element to the fore in the beginning, sampling too played another important role in applying that “human” touch to this record. Sampling “old soul and funk records” Torje could create a virtual band from his “closet studio,” where he could impose that human feeling on the mutable structures and formulas of contemporary electronic music, “It comes from a human,” he says referring to the samples “and that’s important because that’s flavour.”

Torje would create his bass lines around these samples, imposing the soul and funk aspects on the relationship between the percussion and the synthesised bass, which has that indefinable tether that ties this LP to the EPs that came before it. The “communication between the rhythm and the bass is probably how I start making a track,” according to Torje, which retains that tether to the dance floor and ThirdAttempts  electronic roots during World is too loud. There are two distinct sides that appear through the course of the album. While Shift and Rotor established the organic approach in the realm of soul and funk, it would move into the more abstract electronic hemisphere by the time Longing reaches our ears.

Glimmers of nineties ambient music emerges, calling to mind the likes of orbital with pads floating through an uneven path of bass drums and snares. Melodies converge and dissipate into the distance as textures evolve through arrangements in reflecting pools of sound that languish in a serene disposition. Displacing the funk with atmosphere, but keeping that organic touch, World is too loud is a record of two very distinct sides, but very much of the same coin. “If the whole album was like that,” says Torje referencing the two tracks he recorded with Håkon “it wouldn’t be the same.”

Feeling over movement

It’s at this point a narrative begins to emerge with the title of the album exposing some hidden thread with the world around it. “The end of the album is more for the feelers than the movers.” It creates a bridge between the dance floor and the morning after. “Atmosphere is probably the number one thing for me,” says Torje. “It’s important to get right, because you can create so much movement and so much feeling, just by a pad laying there.” While atmosphere has been a consistent presence in his music, since establishing the Third Attempt moniker, in the slower tempos and mood he conjures on World is too loud it’s emphasised. In the context of the record, a theme emerges with Torje shutting out any outside influence and retreating into the music. 

It’s “almost therapeutic,” transporting the artist “somewhere else” on the echos of a sample he had stored away in his library. The sample, taken from the movie makes another appearance in Prelude after the introduction, and while it’s not “important what movie it’s from” the line resonated with Torje and on a subconscious level it was the “perfect” platitude to frame the circumstances behind the creation of the LP. 

“Thinking outside the box was really helpful to me,” says Torje, who found himself not only disengaging with the superfluous noise of the outside world, but also the Third Attempt sound. “Just thinking of how others perceive what you are doing,” he explains “I’m limiting myself subconsciously” and that’s something he “never” wants to do again…  “never again” he stresses. “Rebelling against himself,” and against the primal urges of the dance floor, Torje has succeeded in making an album that has matured his sound as an artist and is unique in the contemporary landscape for its versatility. Torje hasn’t succeeded in completely severing all ties with the dance floor as measured rhythm sections play to corporeal delights and retain that elusive mystique behind the Third Attempt sound. 

It’s a sound he is “definitely going to keep pursuing” from his closet studio, and he says he already has the bulk of a new EP ready. Being one of the many people on furlough in Norway, Torje has remained busy, making music. “I was in denial… so I just  ended up creating a lot of music in a short amount of time.” It’s given him the time to “develop something that’s been there for a long time” and while he’s still coming to terms with the “strange times” we find ourselves in, he is positive and upbeat about the possibilities that lay just beyond the horizon. “Maybe it’s good for humans,” he considers. “People are more open, and maybe people’s attention span is getting longer,” setting the scene for an album like World is too loud to exist.

Torje hopes the album will offer the listener the same kind of escape that it gave its artist last year, because sometimes the world gets awfully loud.

Oh Snap! it’s Antony Mburu

Oh Snap it’s Antony Mburu. DJ, vinyl enthusiast and club socialite talks about this now iconic picture from our photo album and more in a Q&A.

Meet Antony Mburu. His figure looms large over Oslo’s clubbing community, both on the dance floor and in the booth. Formidable both in stature and heart, he can always be found with a bounce in his step and grin on his face. 

Before he was a DJ he was a music- and club enthusiast, an untamed spirit with the ability to infect all those around him. Today he channels that spirit into his sets, often playing at Jaeger and regularly with kindred spirit Rolf Riddervold, never losing that enthusiasm he displays in this picture, taken in 2016, during our annual romjulsfestivalen. 

It was a night to remember. Not a creature was stirring, except on the dance floor. The Boogienetter DJs were out in full force with Daniel Gude leading the likes of Fredfades, Rude Lead and Hele Fitta through boogie- and disco classics and rarities. While the DJs brought the tunes, Antony brought the vibe and the picture seals in time an enthusiasm that’s rarely been captured on film like this. 

It’s become our go-to picture when we want to reflect on a sense of joy and excitement at Jaeger, and today it’s cemented in our photo album as one of those classic pictures. A lot has changed since 2016, but the feeling is still there and Antony Mburu is a big part of that today at Jaeger.

#Antony plays alongside Rold Riddervold tonight at Jaeger. 

Hey Antony Mburu; DJ, music lover, vinyl enthusiast… club socialite. Would that be an accurate introduction?

Absolutely!!

I know you have had mixed feelings about us using the picture in the past, but what’s your relationship to it today and what do you remember of the events surrounding it?

Hahaha i was just really surprised that this picture surfaced after such a long time. The same night I took off my shirt and danced shirtless in front of the dj. I think I got a picture of the situation on my phone somewhere. I was really buzzed that night so the rest is a kind of a blurr

It’s our go-to picture when I want to convey a sense of joy and happiness via Jaeger’s social media. You look so happy there. Was it completely spur of the moment, or was it something specific that happened to be caught on camera?

That night I met up with my friends from high school. I really wanted us all to go to Jaeger together so I convinced them to join me. My friend Caroline is the girl under my arm to the right. She was really excited that night as well even though it doesn’t look like it. This is just me being captured in a moment being happy with the music and the company of my friends. 

That picture was from 2016…What have you been up to since?

Not much! Just working, travelling and listening to music.

Had you been DJing at that time already?

I think I started to DJ that same year.

How did you start DJing and was there anything, besides the music, that particularly inspired you into that direction? 

Me and my friend Rolf Olav discovered his older sister’s DJ booth in the basement at his fathers place. We borrowed her USB with a lot of unknown music we had never heard of. We just started to play around with the music at pre parties and it evolved from there.. We didn’t have so much knowledge about the artists and the equipment but we played around and it was so much fun. I really like to dance so my main objective is to play music that makes you move your feet as much as I do. 

What kind of music were you into back then?

A lot of EDM. Avicii, Ingrosso, Laidback luke, goldroom, uffie, bob sinclair,deadmau5, røyksopp, and the list goes on

How have your tastes evolved?  

Oh, it has really evolved! Now I’m experimenting with whatever I can get my hands on. As long as it sounds good to my ears I’m all for it. So I listen to a lot of mixes that I find on soundcloud and mixcloud. And I also started playing vinyl so I’ve had help from people like Rolf Olav, Øyvind Morken and Filter boss Roland Lifjell. They’ve really opened my ears for music from different labels I have never ever heard off. 

I’ve heard everything from afro-beat to peak-time high energy House coming from your sets. How would you describe the music you play out?  

It’s a mix of everything. But I like music with energy and the idea of blending different styles together and not sticking with one direction from the start. But it all comes down to the reaction from the crowd. If they dance or not. 

How and when did you start playing with Rolf Riddervold? 

Me and Rolf have known each other since high school and we have always shared music with each other. We became interested in electronic music (2012) at the same time and when we got a hold of some CDJs and a lot of music, started learning and just really went in for it. That was around 2016.

What direction does he usually take you in when you guys start playing together? 

Rolf Olav has a much more creative side when he mixes. His taste is broad so when we play together it’s more experimental and fun then playing alone. We challenge each other by having different styles so that makes it more challenging matching it all together, but that is kind of the fun part of it all.  We never know where we’re gonna end up, but we always end up having a great time!

I keep either seeing you behind the decks or on the dance floor. What side of the DJ booth do you prefer today?

Definitely behind the DJ booth. It gives me immense joy sharing music with the crowd and that’s something that I don’t get tired of. 

Oh Snap! it’s Aksel Aasen

We look back through the photo album in search of the best shot and interview the subjects of some of our favourite and some iconic snaps from the venue.

Meet Aksel Aasen. Here he is on a Tuesday in 2018, sticking his tongue out to the photographer and conformity. It was an evening of Maheym with a DJ appearance from Necrobutcher at Raymond T. Hauger’s Den Gyldne Sprekk. Punctuated by an explosive onslaught of industrial sounds from the entire spectrum of rock and electronic music with

Aksel was a patron on a night that has gone down as one of our more memorable nights at Jaeger. The image, burned in the celluloid of our collective memory by Sara Ramsøe, remains a highlight in the archives today, even though its significance is somewhat more than just consequential today.

Three years on and Aksel is a member of our staff at Jaeger, after what was a serendipitous and curious series of events. When he’s not working on the bar or running the front of house, he’s making and playing music. Aksel plays in a noise band and has started Djing  alongside another Jaeger bar alumni , Marcel-Pierre Traeet. He might have lost some that glorious hair, but none of that unbridled attitude.

The Q&A

What do you remember of that night the picture was taken?

I don’t remember too much from that night to be honest, I had been working as a stage rigger at Øya that day and I probably had free entry to Jæger that night as it was an Øyanatt event

The dude from Mayhem (I guess he’s the sole member now) was DJing or at least making an appearance. Was there anything in the music that stuck in your memory from that night?

Not really.

Did you know you were having your picture taken at the time?

Yup

Are you sticking your tongue out for the photographer or was it exasperation of some other kind?

Haha I don’t really know why my tongue was out. I was probably posing for the photographer, I don’t think I was annoyed.

Did you think four years on from when that picture was taken you’d actually be working at Jaeger?

Absolutely not, I was moving to Bergen after that summer to begin Uni. I’m not great at planning long term so after those years at Uni I didn’t really have a concrete plan. My friend showed me a post on Insta saying that Jæger was hiring, so I applied and hoped for the best. I was really happy when I got the opportunity to work there.

What first brought you here and what are some of the Djs or nights that appeal to you at the moment?

One of my first encounters with electronic music in a proper club context was at Jæger when I was 20. What stood out to me the most was the great atmosphere and how important music is in creating the good vibes in a club. Right now, I’m a big fan of Morken’s early sets on Fridays, he doesn’t limit himself to a genre and I think he has really good taste in music.

You also DJ and play in a band. Tell us more about that?

I recently started DJing with my colleague Marcel, we mainly play hard progressive techno. I also enjoy playing drum’n’bass and disco house, but right now our sets are focused on techno. My band is currently on hiatus as our guitarist (the guy next to me in the photo) moved to London. I’d say our music lies in the realm of experimental noise-rock with influences from prog-rock and experimental rock/electronic albums as well as a lot of ambient stuff.

Ok, so you play at the heavier end of Techno when you DJ and the band likes to conjure noise. What is it about the darker sounds that appeals to you?

I really don’t know to be honest, a cathartic release maybe? Personally, I just love music that has a lot of raw energy and a certain amount of heaviness to it. In general I’m a fan of powerful expressions in art. As long as a track is able to express this, I don’t mind whether it’s made with more traditional instruments or a DAW.  

And does Mayhem still fit into that spectrum somehow?

Absolutely! Their first EP (Deathcrush), is a great example of raw power expressed in a musical form. The EP is unmixed, as well as having no overdubs (everything except the vocals is live) which just lends to a feeling of heaviness and rawness in my opinion.

Thanks for that chat Aksel. When will we see you next… on the other side of the bar that is.

Maybe behind the decks somewhere in the near future, and most definitely at the upcoming Mayhem concert in December.

Ps… what happened to those glorious locks of hair?

Societal pressures! People took me more seriously at Uni when I had short hair. Who knows though, they might make a comeback someday…

 

Listen: Jungle edit mix from André Bravo

André Bravo appears as ShdowH3ro for 40 minutes of Jungle themed techno.

With a nod to DJ shadow and 4hero, André Bravo has compiled a list of original edits and -tracks for  a 40 minute soundcloud mix via his page. A raucous onslaught of percussion and amen breaks are carried on the wispy trail of euphoric synths and steamy atmospheres.

André Bravo is nothing if not versatile. Here he channels some original productions into a set conspiring around the fringes of Jungle with an eye on Techno. A tense and cinematic mood courses through the entirety of the mix in some haunting interpretation of a horror film.

André Bravo

As one of the longest serving residents at Jaeger, André Bravo has been the steadfast hand behind Mandagsklubben since we’ve opened. As it goes through another permutation with new inductee, Safira he is the only original brokesteady crew member that remains at the head of the week every Monday.

When he is not at Oslo, he can be found playing all over Oslo,playing sets that range from the latest Pop anthems to the most obscure and intimidating Techno.

*Check out tonight Mandagsklubben here. 

BigUP! interview Boj Lucki

Jaeger’s Drum n Bass and Jungle residents, BigUp! talk to Boj Lucki ahead of his appearance for Oslo World next week.

If there was ever an electronic music that was imbued with the rebellious spirit, it would be Drum n Bass. It instills the kind of fanaticism of cult legends, with a legion of dedicated followers that very rarely veer from its path. Today, it’s a culture all on its own, separate from any other dance music culture, a bonafide subculture within a counter culture like club music.

It’s a lifestyle, not just a music, and for the past few years BigUP! has been Jaeger and Oslo’s tenuous connection to that lifestyle. The Oslo-based DJ representatives are the first and last name in all things drum n bass and jungle in the city, and when Oslo World came round with a concept proliferating the rebels in music, we couldn’t think of anyone better illustrate that point for the Wednesday part of the festival.  

Drunkfunk, Fjell, Tech and Simon Peter represent the BigUP! crew for the event and to mark occasion they activated their global network, to bring their Swedish counterpart, BOJ Lucki to Oslo and to Jaeger for the night. 

The Stockholm-based DJ and producer has been a staunch representative for the drum n bass genres in Sweden, raising the banner for this style of music in his efforts as part of the MIR crew. His a well-travelled DJ, playing all over the world, and a regular guest on popular radio channels like Kiss 100 and BBC 1Xtra. He’s established a label called Bukva Sound to continue to promote the drum n bass and jungle in Sweden and today he shares a kindred spirit with BigUP as one of a select handful proliferating the genre in Scandinavia. 

In the tradition of their events, BigUP! sent some questions to their visiting DJ, and for the first time we have the opportunity to publish it via our blog. 

Who is Boj Lucki?

Name: Boj Lucki

Promolink(URL)https://soundcloud.com/bojlucki

Active since: 2001

Connected labels / concepts: Bukva Sound, Mir Crew, Klubb Rekyl, Special Order

https://bukvasound.bandcamp.com/

When was the first time you heard Jungle / DnB 

At home as my brother listened to Jungle and Breakbeat from mid 90s. The first tracks I really liked: Urban Shakedown feat. DBO General – Some Justice (Arsonist Dub Mix) and DJ Zinc – The Source & Super Sharp Shooter.

 What makes Jungle / DnB special for you

The energy, the bass, that it still feels futuristic, that it fits so many music styles in one.

 What made you start DJing ?

To convey a feeling on the dancefloor, spread all amazing music that is out there and make people happy:) I was inspired by my older brother who learned to DJ and had gear in our home.

Favorite producers

Breakage, Sully, Response, Digital, Kid Drama, Coco Bryce

Favorite labels

Western Lore, Future Retro, Function and Metalheadz

Vinyl or Digital 

Both

Do you play any other genres?

Yes, some Breakbeat, UK Garage, Dancehall…

Other messages for Bigup’s followersX

Great to visit Bigup & Oslo for the first time😲! 

Find out more:

BOJ LUCKI/ MIR CREW/ REKYL/ SPECIAL ORDER/ BUKVA SOUND

www.mir-crew.com

www.facebook.com/klubbrekyl 

www.facebook.com/specialordersthlm 

www.soundcloud.com/bojlucki 

www.soundcloud.com/bukvasound

 

Driving with Tarjei Nygård

We caught up with Tarjei Nygård to talk about Drive, his latest collaboration with Egyptian Lover and more.

*photos by John Derek Bishop

There’s no mistaking Egyptian Lover’s sound. That west coast sound, imbued with the spirit of pre-hop-hop electro has been cemented in club music’s collective psyche and none dare, nor can replicate it. It lends itself to a time, but a time in a parallel dimension traveling perpendicular to ours. It’s a universe where electrified Deloreans power through aerial freeways and TuPac never left the Digital Underground. It’s where Egyptian Lover thrives, and it’s here Tarjei Nygård and Stockhaus turned to when they went searching for the vocals on their one-off collaboration “Drive. “

Drive sounds like nothing Tarjei Nygård has done in the past. A unique interaction between two Norwegian producers and a serendipitous exchange with an electronic music legend has led to one of the most endearing tracks and subsequent releases of 2021. It’s not something we expected coming off the back of Tarjei Nygård’s equally brilliant, but decidedly different 2019 EP “Lost in Lindos” and despite or more likely in spite of that, it’s turned heads as large as Solomun’s. “That’s so strange,” chuckles Tarjei over a telephone call from Stavanger, ”because it’s not the type of thing he is known for… That’s the thing with a one-off like this, it doesn’t fit into anything.”  

“Drive” skirts that impossible divide between club track and radio banger, featuring a punishing electro beat, massaged into submission with an accessible melodic theme and Balardian sci-fi lyrics from a vocoder operated by a man that has refined that style of music to a precision craft, Egyptian Lover. The larger than life figure has made an indelible impact with this particular style of music and he remains a constant presence that never disappoints. It’s a rare occasion that he features on any music other than his own, but when Nygård and Stockhaus cooked up the foundation for “Drive,” there was always only going to be one voice that could adorn their creation.

Waxing lyrical on desires of mechanophilia, “Drive” cruises on an undulating beat, flowing through synthesisers and vocoders like a 16 bit car as it weaves through LA traffic. Watching the canvas loop in Spotify, the music transports you back to the arcade in 1990 as blocky palm trees float through your periphery on your way to nowhere in particular. Stockhaus, Tarjei Nygård and Egyptian Lover capture the mood perfectly.

 It encouraged us to get in touch with Nygård to find out more about the track and what else he’s been up to since we last spoke. He’s just recovered from the re-opening party in Stavanger and after a “very enjoyable experience,” where he had the opportunity “to play for the heads” again after a long hiatus, he’s in good spirits and eager to talk about “Drive;” a new musical project; and a label in the works…

What have you been up to since we last spoke?

When covid hit, I was just in the studio making music. So now I have a bunch of music and I need to put that out. The first was Drive with Egyptian Lover. 

Yes, let’s talk about Drive. 

It took time to land that project, because first we had the song and then we realised quite quickly Egyptian Lover would be perfect to do the vocals on it. 

Did you know Egyptian Lover from before?

I knew him because I had booked him to a festival in town. I also met him in Miami one time. It helped because I met him before I booked him. I asked him and he was up for doing the vocals.  It took some time, because I wanted to be in the studio when he was doing it. 

This was before the pandemic.

Yes, I was in LA in 2018. I was lucky to go to California for some work in my old job and I combined it. 

Was it  only his vocal you were after, or did he add anything to the music?

I guess he added something to the music, by using the vocoder, which is his signature thing. It was very cool to be there and see the way he records.

Did you go to his studio?

He doesn’t have his own studio. I think he just rents a studio for a week when he’s working on something. I guess it’s easier in LA because it’s a little bit cheaper. But he is very adamant on doing it on an SSL desk and this kind of approach. Everything he does is old school, like mastering tapes to the pressing plant on vinyl. He’s doing it like he did it in the eighties.

What was Stockhaus’ involvement?

It started because Stockhaus was here in Stavanger, doing a writing course in music. He had some free time, and I invited him up to my studio and we made the track together. There was a little bit back and forth after we got the vocals from Egyptian Lover, and then I did the final mix. I also made the club version and the dub version. 

Tell me a bit about the club version, because it seems to me that it’s basically an extended version of the original.

That’s totally correct. It’s very similar to the original. The idea of the whole project was to keep it in this eighties vibe, when they had this extended version on every record. And that’s also why the dub is also quite simple, like those versions you would find on an eighties record. 

Where did the track start? Was it a melody, a beat, or simply a jam session?

We started with a drum beat, from what I can remember. I programmed some drums and Kristian Stockhaus just started playing stuff. It was just a collaboration in the studio and it was this kind of jam session, where we got a lot of tracks down. I made a demo version, which I played out and people seemed to enjoy, and then I sent it to Egyptian Lover and it continued into this song. 

Did it originally have that west coast feel, even before he put his vocals on it?

It was there from the beginning, and when we did it, we didn’t have Egyptian Lover in mind. It’s a one-off song for me, because it doesn’t sound anything like the stuff I’ve done before. 

I think that’s why it jumped at me when I first listened to it. 

I do a lot of different stuff and I’m interested in a lot of different music styles. We ended up just doing it, we didn’t have control either. The strange thing is that it could have been lost on a hard-drive somewhere.

Did the track already have a name at the point when you got Egyptian Lover on board, or did that happen after he wrote the lyrics?

I think I actually had the concept in mind, and he wrote the lyrics. It had that retro video game feel to it. He is such a professional. A couple of days before I arrived, I had sent him a little blurb about the track and when I came into the studio, he had everything written down and was ready to go. He’s very effective and just very good at what he does. 

Will this result in any future projects for the three of you?

I think this is a one-off. (laughs) It is nice to see this kind of one-off thing to the end, because a lot of these one-off things don’t really make it out in the end. It’s almost more difficult to finish this kind of project, than a project that’s similar to what you are doing.

How much more do you have coming out?

I’m working on a big project with Are Foss. We’ve released a few songs together on Full Pupp and Eskimo and are now beginning to see the end of a big project.

This is the project where you guys were going to your hytte and recording music?

Yes, we’ve been up there a bunch of times, driving snowmobiles and A.T.Vs, carrying a lot of equipment and having some friends over. That project is 85% finished, but it’s really nothing I can talk too much about…

Is it very much like the track you worked on together on Lost in Lindos, Øylie?

Some of it, but it goes in all directions. It’s quite an ambitious project. Some of the songs are pop; some are ambient and downbeat; and some are experimental. We even use a banjo in one of the songs. (laughs) 

The other thing is that I’m reviving my old festival Perkapella as a record label, that’s something I want to talk about more. 

Is the new music going solely for your own music?

I’ve signed The Glue. They are going to release their back catalogue and maybe some new stuff. 

Is The Glue’s music what planted the seed for the record label?

Yeah, they make Disco edits and during covid I got the rights to some of the songs that they’ve edited. That’s going to be quite fun. There is this one song that’s quite popular called, “penger” which was an underground hit on soundcloud. 

What about your releases, will you continue to release on other labels like Eskimo and ESP, or will you eventually release your music on Perkapella too?

I will see. First we have to start getting those releases from Da Glue in order. And then I’m going to get that other project with Are on the way… and then I’ll get that music I’ve been working on during covid under way. 

 

Homecoming with Fehrplay

It’s “probably the most nervous” Jonas Fehrplay has been for a show in years. It’s his latest version of a live show called Oblique and besides San Francisco, who has only seen a trial version, Jaeger will be the first time he performs the show in its refined entirety. And more daunting than that, it will be on home turf, in Oslo. 

While most musical artists break ground in their hometown in their formative years, Jonas’ ascent to success followed a much different path. It’s almost a decade after making his debut with a track that stormed the dance music charts and put the name Fehrplay amongst the highest tier in dance music. It’s hard to believe that besides a short DJ set at Findings 2015, this will be the first time the Norwegian artist and DJ will perform in Norway. 

“It’s my hometown,” he says while taking a bite of a pastry in a French delicatessen in Majorstua. Friends and family, some of whom have never seen him play, will be there to witness the premiere of Oblique, and trepidation has taken root, but you wouldn’t be able to tell it, just by looking at him. 

Jonas Fehrplay is amicable, taking an unlikely interest in the person that’s asking the questions as he is in answering them. He’s the consummate professional and although he’s answered these questions a million times in the past he carries no sign of fatigue or impatience in his physiognomy. He’s not the type of person we often get the chance to interview at Jaeger as an artist working in some of the upper echelons of the industry, where he reigns amongst the top-charting artists of our time, but his excitement for playing the basement is palpable. 

Everything about Jonas Fehrplay belies his success however, and there’s something unassuming and down to earth about the artist that is probably ingrained in his Norwegian roots. 

 

Growing up in Norway, Jonas learned to play the piano in his youth and it was Trance music that first caught the ear of the impressionable youth. From there a “love” for club music cemented an early curiosity and Jonas found himself “drawn” to it, besides having no strong cultural connection to anything like a scene. 

Armed with the theoretical knowledge of the piano, he started making music on his computer as a precocious 12 year old. A computer and the amateur loop-based software called e-jay provided the arbitrary tools and he started making music in a collage-like form by “taking samples and putting them together.” While his friends were playing playstation, he “would be on a laptop making Trance or House or whatever,” burning his creation to CDs for the various house parties he would visit by night. “I always had two CDs when I went to parties,” he recalls through a slanted smirk “because someone would always break the first one.” 

The case was a little different when he was hosting his own parties in his parents’ basement. Hooking up his piano to a pair of decks he would “play piano over the records” in what he remembers as “full-on basement parties,” but yet he lacked that connection to a community that could develop this curiosity into anything more. Friends didn’t really share his interest, and he was left largely to his own devices, before leaving for the UK to study abroad. 

It was ultimately the experience of moving to Manchester at 18 that laid the foundation for a career in club music and paved the way for Fehrplay to exist. “Just being in Manchester changed my whole perspective on club music,” explains Jonas. “That’s where I kind of grew up.” 

In Oslo, he never really found an outlet or a community for his creative pursuits and his musical tastes lay more at odds with the people around him. “It was more commercial,” he claims. An academic move to the north of England turned out just what Jonas needed to develop his music and turn it into a fully fledged career. In Manchester Jonas spent his days making music in an apartment he shared with people he still calls  friends today, and his nights at places like the legendary Manchester club, Sankeys –  just a few footsteps away from his front door. “As a young guy,” he says, “experiencing music like that is very important – Getting out of your bedroom and out of your city.“ 

It certainly had an advantageous effect on Jonas’ music, because while still only eighteen years old he signed a track to Ministry of Sound’s label and released “Meow” onto the world in 2010. It was picked up by BBC radio and Pete Tong and put the name Fehrplay on the lips of many influential tastemakers in the industry. “I think I listened to that clip of him introducing me a couple of hundred times,” remembers Jonas fondly. 

Bubbling synth lines are punctuated by formidable bass stabs before building up to a transcendent crescendo culminating in an uplifting major chord progression. Jonas “perfected that record over the course of a year,” cementing not only a sound built on the influences of Trance in the era of progressive House, but it also encouraged the young producer to release more music.  

“Between that and now,” he says trailing off into laughter “there’s been a lot of shit.“ It’s subjective, I’m sure, because there’s a level of success that isn’t simply stumbled upon and he certainly has cultivated a distinct sound. You can still hear that same foundation of “Meow” in one of Fehrplay’s latest “Kiki.” There’s a progression through melody and form, touching on the visceral, as it builds and breaks down. It spirits the listener away to ecstatic heights through a disembodied vocal and there’s a gratifying immediacy to his music that’s approachable.  

There’s an element of uplifting mood underpinning music made strictly for dance floors, which has the ability to unite a crowd over the course of a theme while trying to retain that connection between the big room and the dark underground club that birthed this style of music.

“It’s always hard to describe your own music,” he considers when I put this to him. “I find myself somewhere in the middle, where my music is still accessible to a lot of people, but more of an underground thing.” He’s recently established Mood of Mind in that vein, a record label that has become something of an “extension” of the artist. Featuring artwork by his mother, it’s a very personal project where Jonas can put out music by other artists and the Fehrplay tracks that don’t necessarily fit the profile of another label. 

It’s “great to put out your own music whenever you want to,” he says and pandering to label demands can be exhausting. Instead of making music for another label in their specific aesthetic, Jonas is freer today in making the music he wants without the added pressure of a demanding release schedule. He didn’t however simply arrive at this stage, and had cut his teeth in a trial by fire at Pryda and Friends. 

After releasing his debut on Ministry of Sound, Jonas not only found the ear of Pete Tong, but also Eric Prydz, who quickly signed the young artist to his Pryda and Friends label. The label  was a definite springboard for his career, and Jonas remembers the time at the label as “rewarding yet stressful.” He had sent in a demo and it was pure luck that somebody at the Prydz camp picked it up at all. It encouraged that drive to release music by giving Jonas a platform to release his tracks, but after 4 releases the relationship ended in what he describes as a “sad situation” when they completely erased Jonas’ music from their catalogue.

It’s a “long story” according to Jonas and one that he doesn’t really feel like reiterating here, but what came from the ashes was a new record label in the form of Mood of Mind and a new relationship with a much more open record label, Anjunabeats, as well as a move back to Norway in 2016. 

Jonas and his wife had been living in New York since breaking through in Manchester, riding a wave of popularity, predicated by the rise of EDM in the states. As somebody working on the forefront of progressive House rather than EDM, “it was a nice outlet for people who didn’t want to see Tiesto,” he suggests of his success. 

Jonas had a few “amazing shows” at the beginning of his sojourn in the USA and it “sparked a lot of conversation in the industry there,” as his star rose over the western front. A move to New York followed and while Jonas by his own account, “didn’t like what the scene was becoming, especially when America got on-board with it,” he wanted to offer something different. Moving forward, he would find a lot of success in the US with his music and his performances, but a different life called to him in 2016 when he made the move back to Norway. 

He feels it “was kind of sad” when he had to leave New York for Norway, “because I was just getting into living in New York.” He reminisces fondly on driving over the Brooklyn bridge as the sun comes up over the horizon after late night studio sessions. “I was pinching myself; thinking is this real?” Alas a better job opportunity for his wife at home and a more structured family life for a newborn awaited them in Norway and the move back home was inevitable. 

At times it can feel “like stepping backwards” believes Jonas who also thinks it might have ultimately affected his creativity. It’s “motivating to experience new things,” he explains and  “moving back to a place I’ve experienced my whole life” might not be the best for an artistic disposition. The culture of a place like New York with its clubs and artists living in some bohemian enclave from the rest of the world, inspires on a daily basis. Then again priorities change and there’s also some positive elements to moving back home. In Norway for example “it’s more about having a good space to work in” today for Jonas. “Being able to build a studio and having my family close by” has motivated Jonas in other ways and in this dichotomy, Jonas has found a happy balance in his work life.

As the borders open up and the pandemic eases into submission, Jonas is already travelling again for shows and that experience he seeks will undeniably follow. Jonas ultimately considers the move back as a “good choice,” at least for the moment… 

The pandemic and the home studio has given him time to perfect his live show, much like the way he perfected “Meow.” He talks at length about the technical aspects of making it work and making that intangible connection between the recorded tracks and their live versions. It’s a daunting prospect for anybody, a show of this magnitude, including the visual aspect, and it can’t be any easier, doing it in front of your home crowd. He’s eager to see the project come to life, but the nerves remain nevertheless, predicated by the idea of that debut performance in front of family and friends. 

That validation of playing your first in front of your hometown, has always eluded Jonas. Usually you play the home gig before moving out beyond the borders, but for Jonas that never happened. He had established himself on the international stage and this next performance will essentially be his live debut in Norway. It’s Jonas’ homecoming, so to speak and it’s understandable why he should be nervous. 

*Fehrplay presents Oblique (live) in the basement on Nightflight, Saturday 16.10. 

Premiere: Ivaylo – The Walkers (Karolinski remix)

Premiering Karolinski’s remix of Ivaylo’s The Walkers… from the forthcoming EP 2020 via his Bogota Records label. 

2020 was the year that never happened. Many artists and DJs retreated into their introverted world, immersing themselves in their greatest passion only to be dismayed by the utter hopelessness of trying to release music; play a concert; or DJ during the exasperating circumstances of the pandemic. There was some solace to be found in the virtual realm of streaming, but that only lasted as long as the second wave before it too became over-saturated, and without that physical connection to an audience, unrewarding. 

There were a few however that persevered regardless. They continued to make music, perform and DJ against all odds, and in some many cases even managed to make an indelible impact in their field. Ivaylo calls these people the walkers. “The Walkers,” explains Ivaylo over an email exchange, “are those creative souls who went through that period full of positive energy.”

“The walkers” arrives this week on a new EP called “2020” from Ivaylo’s Bogota Records, as the full-pupp affiliate and Jaeger resident channels that positive energy into defining the spectrum of sound for the next era of Bogota Records. Created in the “pre-zooming” era of 2019 and completed in 2020, “2020” only sees the light of day in 2021, and as much as it calls in a post-pandemic age for the artist and the DJ, it was also a way for Ivaylo to ”get all these emotions of my chest.”

*2020 is out on Bogota Records this Friday

For the remix of the lead track, Ivaylo turned to one such “walker” in the form of Karolinski. The dub-techno artist and DJ has been a musical force, releasing music across the spectrum throughout this difficult time, and “The Walkers” finds the deep sounds of Ivaylo’s original submitting under her dub-infused charm of Karolinski’s musical idiom.  

Karolinski shapes Ivaylo’s track from the percussion up. “The Drums!”; she exclaims via email, ”that’s the only original sound I ended up using apart from the short vocal sample.” Bells ringing out in the vast emptiness of space, flicker in and out of our orbit as wispy noise and ephemeral synth lines build into a progression over an intricate tapestry of percussive instruments. There’s a feeling of distance coursing through the track, like a gap in the passage of time. It’s subtle and immersive.  

“I don’t know. I just wanted to tune it down, make it chill as well as danceable at the same time” explains Karolinski about the origins of the remix. Churning around 115 BPM and ineffable mood sinks in. In a similar fashion to her own music it simply started with a “synthesiser and kick, and then it just flows wherever it goes,” says Karolinski in a pragmatic exchange over email. 

She made it in a few hours, but hung onto it for a while until she could grasp the intricacies of what she created. “I then felt something for it,” she says and then handed it over to Ivaylo to find its way out this Friday via any good digital outlet. We’re eager to hear it in full and as a preview, we’ve been given the opportunity to premiere the track ahead of its release. 

*Pre-Order 2020 including this track from beatport.

See you on the floor…

The dance floor opens and all corona restrictions fall away as Jaeger re-opens fully.

“See you on the floor:” a simple epithet for a greeting that we at Jaeger have been using since time immemorial. Used flippantly and impulsively it had almost lost all meaning by the time the pandemic hit, to the point that it feels like we took it for granted.

After two years of not being able to say those words, the weight they carry today can’t be taken lightly and it gives us great pleasure to be able to say to you… “see you on the floor.”

In accordance with the latest corona restrictions you no longer require to be seated at a table or have one meter distance between you, allowing us to do away with those clunky, unnecessary things that have been taking up our dance floor. Our guests will be yet again free to move and free to mingle and free to express themselves through movement on our dance floor. It’s been a trying year for everybody in our efforts to find some median between these arbitrary restrictions and the essence of what Jaeger is, and it brings us great pleasure and relief to finally be able to do away with these “rules.”

As a result there will no longer be any table service and the bar is open for anybody to simply walk up and purchase something directly from our staff. There’ll no longer be that awkward middle ground between android and bar staff. It will most certainly be surreal to get back that point where we were before the pandemic and we look forward to welcoming you all back to the floor.

While the corona restrictions are now removed, we’ll continue to follow the situation and adhere to any changes in government and local policies, but only in a way that remains pleasant for our guests. Needless to say we’ll try to keep that as far away from our and your minds while enjoy your night with us across our two dance floors.

Yes, we have two dance floors again and we’ve already opened our basement for Fridays and Saturdays. As you might have seen by now there has been some changes happening in the basement and we’re able  to accommodate a bigger dance floor and more bass down in our subterranean sound lair. At the same time the courtyard will continue to host our resident DJs and a dance floor, and with new fixtures arriving in the near future, we’ll be spending some effort in creating a cosy and snug environment as the winter draws nearer, but more news on that later…

For now let us enjoy this new found freedom again and for those of you that came of age during the pandemic, we’re truly happy to be able to welcome you to experience club music for the first time. It brings us great pleasure to finally say… and undeniably mean… SEE YOU ON THE FLOOR!

Emerging at the confluence of art and club music with SGurvin

“The music scene, the club and the art scene are merging.” A few years back, this was a predominant theme in club music. Labels like Stroboscopic Artefacts headed by artists like Lucy were attempting to redefine the gallery as club space, channeling ideas from conceptual artists like Marcel Duchamp through a couple of grooveboxes in a warehouse space offering a backdrop like one Rauschenberg’s white canvas’. It was pure art for art’s sake and it felt like we were on the cusp of inaugurating Techno as a legitimate artform in the stuffy world of academic art practises. There was a spirited push to achieve this, but then as if the entire Techno scene realised there would be no economic advantage in pursuing these ideas, it just vanished into thin air.  

The art-world were curious, but unaccepting while the club scene turned their back on these musicians in favour of a return to the immediacy of the corporeal and hedonistic, leaving these artists and and their works stranded in a kind of elusive no-man’s land, where they’ve joined previous attempts from the world of Jazz, post-Punk, Noise, and Ambient music genres. Abandoned by most and admired by few, these attempts go largely unrecognised by the great art institutions, forever doomed to drift haplessly on the river styx between “highbrow intellectuals” and “lowbrow nonconformist” in a state of artistic purgatory, only to be appreciated years beyond their creation. On the rare occasions artists like La Monte Young and Ryuichi Sakamoto managed to wade through the bog to otherside as bonafide “artists”, but for most it’s a self-deprecating struggle against the tide with a singular motivation propelling them forward into the obscure. 

It’s here in this realm that SGurvin first emerged as an artistic vehicle for Sigurd Gurvin, but with a more fluid adaptation of the concepts above, he has seemed to emerge on the other side with EPs for Full Pupp and remixes for the likes of SYNK, in an effort towards a more accessible idea of this music as a consumerist artform, informed by ideologies like: “resistance to the institutions getting too much power over the art scene and the definition of the art scene.”  Sigurd sees “club culture as a modern folk tradition” with the emphasis on the folk aspects as some kind of social glue in the experience of the creative process that like most post-modernist before him can redefine “the black box as a way of thinking about the white cube;” in this particular case the club space as a gallery space. 

In the period between 2017 – 2019 he and Langagora (Henrik Langgård) realised the vision as EUFORISK, functioning as a club night series and a collective where the focus had been to “loosen up this white gallery idea of art, and see it more as a social sculpture… move the aesthetic approach to something that’s happening.” Today those ideas from the defunkt club nights has been channelled into a label of the same name operating as an “archive”, and as something that Sigurd can continue to carry with him in everything he approaches, from making music to performing a live-hybrid set and even releasing records for Full Pupp.  

Growing up in Moss, these ideas manifested early with the young Sigurd in the world of Hip Hop where he found a “form of expression for a culture of peace, love and unity” in the dusty beats of this black American music. “Trying to connect different aesthetics to make a culture and a community” Hip Hop became an outlet for his creative identity at first. He found a “guru” in the Moss music icon Don Papa. The eccentric Don Papa has been a significant character in Norway’s music scene, influencing Sex Tags as well as creating his own music under aliases like Pablo Pækkis and MC Helbrød, and with outfits like Flammer Danse Band. Don Papa became a huge inspiration to the young Sigurd, who admired the Don for his originality and his ability to “flip things” in a perspective unique to that artist. Taking his musical cues from the Don, Sigurd started seeking out an expression in Hip Hop before eventually moving towards electronic music.

After many years in Hip Hop culture, however he felt “ it was getting too strict” and needed a new outlet for his creativity. “I was making too crazy beats for the rappers,” explains Sigurd, and the Hip Hop community by that stage was getting bogged down in “too many rules” for Sigurd. He sought out  “alternative ways of thinking about music” and after various forays into Jazz, Punk and Trip Hop, he eventually found a voice as SGurvin in the experimental realm of electronic music repurposed for the club. After completing his studies at the Art academy in Tromsø, Sigurd started to “develop a musical language” alongside working with visual art.” He spent five years refining these concepts and ideas, and when the time came, coinciding with a move to Oslo, it first took the form of an altruistic moniker, SGurvin and later as EUFORISK in collaboration with Langagora

EUFORISK started out in 2017 to “put our own work in context,” explains Sigurd. He and Langagora aimed to create a collective in order to “bounce some skills” off eachother “and learn from the creative process.” They ended up “making a culture around it” based on the ideas of euphoria where they’d be “creating and healing through a bigger body.” The limited run of events in middelalderparken in Oslo became more than just a club night, it became “a meeting point for people and a mashup of art expressions” according to its creator. Unfortunately, bureaucracy got in the way, and unable to use the venue they’d established after it was bought out by the city, the EUFORISK RAVE club concept died. 

“The project isn’t dead,” intercepts Sigurd… “we’re on level two, focusing on presentation of videoworks, interviews and VJ/DJ-mixes” he says with a wry chuckle. It was never just about the club concept, and since its inception it’s offered a platform for Sigurd to release music as SGurvin. Albums like Turn/Return followed, in which Sigurd would explore concepts as personal motivations through abstract sonic experiments. “I see concepts as the motivation,” says Sigurd. “I want people to get something out of it, but I need a personal motivation for my ideas, that’s linked to my life.” Turn/Return follows the story of a relative that went missing only to be found later in Berlin, but at the same time, it deals with Sigurd’s artistic identity as he comes to terms with his own metamorphosis during this period. The kafka-esque concept is delivered in strikingly brilliant music where atmosphere and melody abound in the spaces between the concrete rhythms. 

Beyond the concepts lie a musical curiosity however, and while Turn/Return dealt with these heavy ideas behind the music, the EPs that followed like “Trouble every day and Evolving Times aim to create brighter rooms, but in a fairly similar soundscape,” according to Sigurd. In some cases like his latest collaboration with Krass (Krister Kollstad) on Full Pupp Ekspress it abandons the visceral almost completely for the sake of the context: “On Subway Rails EP, we had an idea to make a vinyl release for the dance floor.“ The record which was first conceived in 2018 after Sigurd met Krister trying to “break into the DJ booth” at a EUFORISK event, didn’t quite make it onto the vinyl format as a digital release, but the context is still there as a club-based record. 

Rapid fire snares exchange patterns with wooly kicks and dreamy atmospheres in what Sigurd describes as a record that is trying to contribute to what he refers to as “Oslo Tekno.” It’s “something not just for the dance floors and not that hard,” but something that could be enjoyed beyond the club space. It’s this ethos he’s taken to his other work for Full Pupp including the the SGurvin EP and with more to come through the label in the near future, it seems like the idea is solidifying the sound of SGurvin around the Prins Thomas imprint. 

“I am inspired by relating to people, formats and ideas.” explains Sigurd about his differing approaches to music in an email after our conversation. “With EUFORISK, the focus was on developing style, putting our own work in context, learning from others, sharing knowledge and creating a culture for different art expressions that meet each other. With the Full Pupp releases, there are other frameworks and principles that apply, and this has also been a great inspiration for me.” Inspiration has come from working with Prins Thomas, something Sigurd purposefully sought out, and collaborating with artists like Krass and SYNK on original music, remixes and sometimes club events.

Underpinning all of this from the recorded works, the activities from EUFORISK and the live show is a simple desire for motivation. “If you’re curious about making something with this motivation,” he explains, “it’s often more interesting than if you’re trying to make just Techno.” In cases like Subway Rails it might fit neatly in the context of Techno, but without that motivation that sense of experimentation you find behind the music, often leads to some deeper cognitive layer. In some perfect post-modernist interpretation it can certainly be taken at face-value, but just beyond that lies an ideology derived from culture and context. It’s not Techno as obvious loop-based functionality, but  a heady confluence of art and music, for those ready to seek it out. At the same time all of that is completely immaterial in the context of representation. 

As he continues to move “in the direction of dance music” through his SGurvin project, especially with Full Pupp, this connection becomes more tenuous compared to something like Turn/Return or Trouble Every Day, but with an artist like Sigurd, it gets increasingly harder to separate the work from the person, and as you talk to him you realise, that spark of something innovative or different that might have drawn you to his music, is only fully realised in the context of the artist behind the work. Ostensibly it might be nothing more than Techno, but from the first sentence he spoke that desire to reconstitute the gallery in a club his work as SGurvin remains infallible in the context of his conceptual pursuits.

It’s time to make some noise with Helene Rickhard

“It feels like now I have a chance to make some noise,” says Helene Rickhard over a telephone conversation, inhaling the sentence like she’s taking a drag from a cigarette. She’s just moved back to her hometown Arendal, and I imagine her sitting in some remote location on the outskirts of the southern Norwegian town in the midst of a sprawling record collection that consumes every inch of where she lives. 

She’s back in Arendal after spending years in Oslo, and like many of our peers, has used the pandemic to relocate and re-adjust. “The pandemic changed everything for me, and the lifestyle in Oslo changed a lot,” she says. “So I ended up selling my apartment there and bought a house in Arendal.” She’s still just settling into the familiar terrain, but she’s determined to use the opportunity to “focus more on creating music.” With concrete plans to build a studio in the new house and some vague plans to set up a label, Helene Rickhard is entering this new phase of her life with some excitement and some trepidation. It’s “scary to have all these plans,” she considers, ”and then you have to do it eventually.”

Over the last few years in Oslo, she’s  made a name for herself on Oslo’s music landscape as a DJ with a style all her own and more recently as an artist making music as an extension of that style. 

Helene Rickhard would feature on nights where the tone would be left of left-field, with a sense of intrigue and originality setting her apart from even some of the other DJs on the flyer. Sonic journeys through early synthesisers and drum machines conspire through re-constructed pop arrangements that live in the obscure shadows of synth pop and synth wave. There’s something nostalgic, even in the new music she plays, and she weaves these expressive tracks together in a cohesive mood that permeates through mixes like this latest, we recorded during Øya Natt in 2021. Foregoing the ubiquitous beat matching style of today, she plays each track in its entirety, giving the listener a unique introspective view of her individual tastes, which is in every set she plays, regardless of where she might find herself in the lineup. 

“I’ve always been an eager collector of music, since I was a child,” says Helene of the origins of these tastes a week after she played the opening set to Øya Natt at Jaeger. Growing up in Arendal to artist parents with a penchant for classical music, “popular music was extremely exciting early on,” for a young Helene. “It started with cassettes,” she remembers. “Making mixtapes via the radio” and buying tapes from catalogues a collection started to grow, which eventually included vinyl, cds and more recently MP3s and armed with all this music, you’d be forgiven for thinking a career as a DJ was just waiting in the wings, but that would only come much later… 

As a child of the eighties it was the “electronic sounds” of hissing synthesisers and dusty drum machines that set the tone for her earliest influences. When she eventually heard Kraftwerk, “it was mind-blowing,” and she dropped 7 years of piano lessons when she by her own account had “learnt nothing” to focus all her attention on getting her first synthesiser. With an early Korg synthesiser and Akai sampler manifesting around 15 years of age, Helene has been “tinkering with all kinds of synthesisers and computers” ever since. 

For as long as she’s been tinkering on synthesisers and collecting the exotic electronic sounds of electronic music, Helene has been “involved in the club culture” and has known DJs. She, alongside a group of friends “threw the first rave party in Arendal, in 1993” for example and although the fascination with Djing existed from an early age, back then Helene was quite happy to spend a night “on the dance floor and listen to other people” play.  

…“I was 35 before I started Djing,” recounts Helene today at 43 years of age. In a culture that has recently only seem to mature, 35 is still very young, but Helene’s experiences with making music and collecting records gave her an uncanny advantage in the DJing scene in Norway.  Yes, she’d been a recognised artist, working in the cold tactile environment of dark ambient, releasing records for the likes of Rune Linbæk’s Drum Island records and Center of the Universe’s Metronomicon Audio label before attempting to DJ, but what she developed as a DJ set her immediately apart from the others, due to her esoteric collecting habits.

“I was making music before I started DJing, because I was so scared,“ explains Helene of her delayed inauguration into the world of DJing. Fear of performing, didn’t stop Helene getting involved however, at a rudimentary level at least. She would make mixtapes for herself, and some of those made it onto soundcloud where eventually peers and friends suggested she should start DJing out. “I was like ‘oh no,’” recalls Helene, but after some persuasion she caved and thought, “I have to try.” 

She remembers her first set out, or more accurately she remembers the “black-out” that ensued. It was incredibly “nerve wracking” and she clearly recalls thinking at the time; “I never want to do that again.” Luckily she persevered and today she plays regularly, from club locations in Oslo to festival stages in Bergen. She’s featured on esteemed platforms like Lot Radio and Hjemme med Dama’s mix series and DJing has played a role in the drive to feature her original music on record labels like Snick Snack. 

She remains nervous when it comes to DJing, but she “prepares a lot” to overcome some of that anxiety. Pouring through her records, always “looking for something new to play,” Helene is a self-proclaimed “junkie when it comes to songs” and requires something new all the time. That’s the collector in Helene speaking. “If I bought 20 records one day it’s old the next day. It’s a kind of hoarding” she proclaims. “I hate going with the same bag to play the same set.” And when she says new, she means “new for me.” The “golden era” of music for Helene remains that period, most of us are too young to remember, but have some innate impulse towards. For Helene this is music made between ‘77 to ‘83 made from the early sounds of affordable synthesisers and drum machines. 

During the pandemic, without being able to go to a record store, she had to turn to the digital outlets and platforms like bandcamp for music. Through those efforts, she’s found newer labels and artists making the same music and she’ll often mix these pieces in with their older counterparts.  Even so,  “a lot of the new stuff sounds like it was played in ‘83” says Helene through a hearty chuckle.  It all actually sounds like Helene Rickhard. 

She is a unique entity in an increasingly homogenous landscape, and even while she goes through different phases in her musical tastes, her “self-indulgent” tastes never sound like anything else around it. “That’s some kind of personal thing” she remarks and “it has a lot to do with emotions” for Helene. Lately, she’s very into the “cosmic balearic sound, because, it’s very free” and she can piece elements rather than sounds together through her mix as she moves through uncharted territory of her own visceral response to the music. “Sometimes I find myself playing super weird stuff” says Helene questioning herself with “what the fuck am I doing,” but it’s all part of the intrigue of her sets, and often makes for some of the best moments in her selections.

She’s still fairly new to DJing in terms of playing out, so it is a constant point of evolution and education for Helene Rickhard, and from these warm up sets she’s played at Jaeger to “dance slots” she’s been enjoying recently, she is impulsively adaptive. “It changes all the time” with her “moods,” she remarks and a mood quickly solidifies around a selection of songs. This is why she also foregoes beat-matching in her mixes. “I’m more into moods and harmonic mixing, than the regular beat mixing.” she explains. Always one for “a bit of drama in her sets,” Helene considers herself “more like a selector” than a DJ, and while we know she can, she’ll avoid beat-matching in favour of creating some some sense of suspense in “musical connection between the songs” rather than a simple rhythm based link.

It’s a lifetime’s worth of musical knowledge coalescing around a couple of record players with Helene Rickhard echoing through every track. There’s something intriguing, mysterious and visceral of the past in every track, and while her sets might differ from one night to the next, there’s always something appealing and something new to explore through the rabbit hole of her extensive musical knowledge. 

Diving through a Helene Rickhard mix is a trip. It’s a journey through the personal, clouded in some abstract swathe of musical colour. Nothing concrete ever really emerges, but there’s a distinctive emotive quality to her mixes and by extension her music. 

Asked whether DJing has had an effect on the music she’s produced recently, she says “absolutely.” “I like a mysterious, psychedelic sound,” she explains; “A bit dark and I tend to like to dance to slower music.” Apart from featuring on a few VA’s over the last few years, Helene has yet to bring out an EP or even a single, but that looks set to change as she settles into her new home and establishes her new studio. She claims she has “tons” of unfinished projects gathering dust on her hard drive and she’s looking forward to getting them out to the labels that request them. 

The new home studio will be a place where she can work on music, unconcerned about noise complaints from the neighbours, and it seems that it might predicate a new creative phase in Helene Rickhard’s life. Labels are continuously knocking on her door, and having featured on compilations for Hjemme Med Dama, Snick Snack and Hærverk Industrier recently, her music has been reaching a wider audience. Imbued by a new confidence that comes from DJing, where she can “step a bit to the side and see your own music objectively,” she’s found it “easier to finish stuff now.” More importantly however it’s the sound of her sets that have started filtering into her music. Moving on from the dark ambient music she was making before, Helene feels she is “more sure about the sound or the aesthetics” she wants and like her DJ sets, it’s music that reflects her personality and her esoteric tastes. 

There’s certainly and ensuing noise to come from the artist, and even though she might have relocated, she’ll continue to have a presence in Oslo and Norway’s DJ scene. Between Djing and music, Helene Rickhard it seems, is only just getting started. 

Snick Snack vol. 1 – Redefining the Norwegian underground

At times it feels like the entire Norwegian electronic music community is operating underground. At its most successful artists pluck away at the fringes of some indie mainstream, but for the most part, Norway’s reclusive scene is always bubbling under the surface of everything else.But for a select few there’s a level even below that, where they toil away, completely independently of a specific scene or music. 

Since the early 2000’s Ost & Kjex and Truls and Robin have been four such figures in Norwegian electronic music and now they’ve channeled their combined efforts into shining a light on the greater Norwegian underground electronic music scene via their label Snick Snack Music for their first compilation record, Snick Snack Volume 1. 

Snick Snack volume 1 assembles a stellar list of some leading characters operating in the obscure sections of electronic music in Norway and mostly in Oslo. It’s a diverse group of artists that move through introspective Techno, “midi Punk,” exotica electronica and dance floor bangers through 10 tracks that centre around the dance floor. 

From the brooding melancolica of Helene Rickhard to the raw discotronika of whalesharkattacks, the compilation covers a broad spectrum of electronic music voices covering every imaginable style. With no one particular scene or musical genre tying these artists together the compilation showcases the vast area of disciplines in Norway’s electronic music arena with a little bit of everything for even the most discerning listener. 

Øyvind Morken and MC Kaman’s newly established Wildflowers collaboration and Mungolian Jetset provide the unexpected while Center of the Universe and Ost & Kjex deliver fine examples of what they do best. New artists and collaborations like OKIOK break new ground alongside the more established artists on the compilation, marking a continuation of that Norwegian melodic attitude that has stayed the course throughout the country’s musical history. Snick Snack draws a red thread from the past to the future, with a sound that remains cohesive, albeit varied.   

There’s that singular Norwegian charm that permeates through the whole release and even when it gets serious like with Bendik Baksaas’ introverted Techno as art experiment or Karolinski’s dub Techno explorations, there’s something amenable and engaging with the music. At its most accessible Truls & Robin deliver a track set to storm the dance floor this autumn, but in its entity the compilation unfolds like any club night in Norway, and as if to prove that point Snick Snack Vol.1 ends in a mix from one of Oslo’s leading club music figure-heads g-HA. 

g-HA wrangles these diverse tracks into a 48 minute exploration of the compilation in a way only he could interpret it. He turns the compilation on its head and inside out as he puts that definitive g-HA touch on the mix and a new unique perspective on the tracks that just transpired. 

The compilation sets a tone for the future of Snick Snack and brings together a group of artists that continue to work independently from any scene or style, but make a solidified claim to the Norwegian underground like few compilations before it. We’re curious how Ost & Kjex and Trulz & Robin would develop this further, and what if anything set the wheels turning for this particular compilation and these artists. So with that in mind we shot a few questions over to Tore “ost” Gjedrem from the label via email. 

Snick Snack Volume 1 is out now.

 

This release has been touted as a showcase of Norway’s underground scene. How would you define Norway’s “underground scene” at the moment?

A sleeping, party-ready dwarf.

The music is incredibly diverse, but is there anything in the sound or the artists (besides the fact that it represents underground) that ties it all together for you at Snick Snack?

For me the Norwegian sound has always been exactly that, diverse. It’s both our strength and weakness if I dare say so. Weak in the sense that the sound is hard to pin down, marked and sell. Strong in a the sense that it’s individualistic and diverse. All the producers I know here are almost a style of their own. From Trulz & Robin’s acid house to the goth induced sounds of WHALESHARKATTACKS. Much comes down to the size I guess. You can fit two times Norway’s population into London alone. Naturally we don’t have the numbers to cater to all the micro genres that make up today’s scene. Living for instance in Berlin, I imagine you can spend a whole life within a club music community. Here you’re best friends are likely into something else than you. Another factor would be the eclectic music taste of many of senior dj’s and producers. The story of the Norwegian Nu Disco sound has been told many times, but one should not underestimate the influence of Pål Strangefruit, Dj Sunshine, Dj Malin, Rune Lindbaek, Bjørn Torske, Erot, Olle Abstract’s eclectic dj-sets in the late 90’s. There has always been a fine tradition here of sharing music, knowledge and even gigs among your fellow musicians. We got so many great music tips from them thru the years.

Up until now the label has mainly been a vehicle for Ost & Kjex and Trulz & Robin. What encouraged you to get these artists together and release this compilation?

The ever growing quality of our friends’ work and the fact that little has been documented as a whole lately. We thought it would be a good idea to take the temperature of the current scene.

Was there a specific track or artist that got the wheels turning for this release?

No, the chicken came first in this case.

At what point did it start coming together as a compilation, and were there any obstacles in getting all this music?

We started planning this a couple of years ago, maybe in 2019. The only obstacle would be the slacker attitude of us Norwegian artists. We move dangerously slow, almost at the verge of self extinction. Ost & Kjex in particular.

Was there any back and forth between the label and the artists about the music, or was the music ready in each case?

The music is left entirely up to the artists, so we put out what they sent us. We know them all to be the best of music freaks, so we never worried about that. Only guideline was to make a club-ish tune.

Is there a track/artist that didn’t make it on there that you regret not having there now?

We would have loved to have a tune by our friend Charlotte Bendiks, as she is the BOMB!

I think the surprise track here for me, is from Mungolian Jetset. I wasn’t expecting that from them. I know it would be impossible to play favourites, but was there something that was particularly pleasantly surprising on this compilation?

Yes, their contribution goes to show the diversity of Pål and Knut as producers. They know and love a lot. The notion that Strangefruit or even Prins Thomas and Lindstrøm are just disco guys is a bit off. They do it all, from house, ambient, techno, exotic and beyond.

I love all the tunes of course, but got a soft spot for Center of the Universe’ oriental inspired lo-fi sounds, Karolinski’s deep dub techno roller, Helene RIckhard’s dreamy breakbeats and Wild Flowers proto-house gem Coconut Grove. But as I said, love ‘em all!

And then there’s the mix by g-HA, a perfect way to round it all off. What was the idea behind having a mix, and why g-HA? 

G-ha was a natural decision as he is the DADDY of house music in Norway. He has done so much for us in the past and is a dear friend. This was a tiny way of showing him some respect, and also a chance to get the Snick Snack music mixed by one of our favorite djs.

He pulled it off and set a very atmospheric mood in the way he put these tracks together. Was there any direction coming from the label for the mix and did it change anything in the music for you after listening back to it in the form of a mix?

There was no direction from us, we knew he would do a perfect job. His mix certainly made us see more clearly how this music fits together and as you say he brought out the atmospheric mood. Maybe it’s a bit of a Norwegian flavour we’re hearing. The dark winters and all.

Snick Snack volume 1 suggests this is just the beginning of a series. Do you already have volume 2 cards and what will you be looking for in future tracks for the comp?

Indeed we do, plans are already materialising for Vol. 2. We will be looking for strong individual artists for the next one as well, I don’t think we have to look too far.

Will we also see some individual releases from some of these artists coming through Snick Snack in the near future?

We have many dreams for the label, but they are all dreams at this stage. Hopefully in time, we will develop Snick Snack into a hub for Norwegian electronic music and be able to release music by many of these artists. There are also some old and forgotten Norwegian, electronic tunes and albums that would be fun to reissue. Time will show. Dreaming on…

 

 

This is House music: Introducing Henrik Villard

There’s no mistaking it for what it is… this is House music. From the emotive depths of the bass to the sparkling clicks of the syncopated hi-hats, there’s no confusing Henrik Villard’s music for anything other than House music. He’s been toiling away in the deeper registers of the genre since 2017 after making his debut on Nite Records and has stayed the course, pursuing a sound that pays homage to the roots of House music through contemporary voices. It’s a sound steeped in the traditions of House music and would do well coming from one of the genre’s older statesmen, let alone a fledgling talent like Villard’s. It’s a prolific talent at that with over a handful of EPs and a fair few singles coming from the producer in the first years of a still young career. 

“I try to make music everyday, because I just love to,” says Henrik about his prolific output over a telephone call. He’s been fortunate to get his music out there with a “bunch of labels that like the music” requesting releases from all over Europe and a select few like Mhost Likely, Moskalus and Two Five Six Records recently enjoying the privilege of releasing Henrik Villard’s records. “I feel that I’ve been lucky,“ suggests Henrik in what I can assume is only modesty, because this is more than luck. There’s something natural in the way Henrik’s music sounds with an instinctual grasp on House music from the first record to the latest.  There has had to have been a lot of work to get to this point in his career, which is especially remarkable for someone still in the grips of the early stages of a career. 

The House that Steely Dan built

Henrik Villard grew up in Kolbotn, a satellite town to the south of Oslo. His father was a music enthusiast and a fan of yacht rock specifically, soundtracking the son’s formative years on the saccharine sounds of the likes of Steely Dan. It took Henrik on a path towards rock music, and eventually towards heavy metal through his teens, when he first picked up a guitar and started plucking away at those fundamental musical foundations. “Playing by ear, and learning from the other kids,” turned into various afterschool project bands before he would eventually leave the guitar in its case, as the sounds of a new genre of music coerced him down another path. 

“At eighteen I got into EDM,” says Henrik. “Avicii and Swedish House mafia” was the turning point from the heavy saturated sounds of the guitar to the sterile pallets of electronic music. It was the sound of EDM that first drew Henrik to computer music and encouraged him to become a producer. “After hearing modern EDM music, I wanted to be able to create that sort of music myself,” explains Henrik. A youtube tutorial laid the initial building blocks and “it worked well and didn’t sound too bad,” he remembers today. “I guess if I were to open that project right now” he starts before trailing off in a contemplative chuckle. 

“Would you say you’ve drifted away from that kind of music?” I proffer. “Yes!” comes the immediate reply through a breathy laugh.

Around 2015 the music of “Amine Edge & Dance and their label CUFF”  drew Hernik away from those base EDM sounds to the roots of the genre and that “classic style of House” that he himself creates today. “To me they had a raw (in terms of energy) sound, ” explains Henrik, “and (although) it leans toward tech house to a certain degree – to me, their sound definitely took a lot of inspiration from classic house sounds (drum machines like 909 and 707, bass sounds from dx7 and such).” He “realised after a while that the sound was a bit too clean and techy” for him, and started moving towards something more “chilled out” sounds in the lo-fi arena where artists like Kaytranada lurked. Enamoured by these deeper sounds of the genre, Henrik applied himself to the internet for music theory and piano lessons, building on the little he knew of music from the guitar in a quest “to understand music from a technical point of view.” He “wanted to be able to play chords and notes” on the keyboard, jamming out “ideas with recordings“ and turning those into songs. 

A House of his own

It’s that craftsmanship for songwriting, built from human impulses that sets Henrik’s music apart from his contemporaries. There’s a slow-burning visceral mood that underpins all his tracks, and even while they might be built from loops, each loop is imbued with that human touch, bringing a sense of depth to the fore in his productions. Those instincts culminate across a series of EPs, the latest of which comes from Bergen record outfit, Mhost Likely. Bass lines carving deep trenches between kick drums lay deep foundations for sparkling keys and disembodied samples, cultivating a serene mood and humid atmospheres across three tracks. It’s his first release for a Norwegian imprint and it appears he’s in good hands with the label as Henrik can’t stop singing the young label’s praises. He “really appreciated how professional they are” in producing feedback and insists that this “was really essential in developing songs into better versions of what they were.”

With the next release coming from another Norwegian imprint called Klimakunst, Henrik is forging stronger allegiances with the larger House community at home after releasing most of his music on labels outside the country during the first few years. It coincided with a move to Oslo a few years back, encouraging Henrik to get “in touch with other producers in Oslo,” which has built itself into a small network of “other people with similar interests.” But it took Henrik a while to find a community of kindred spirits at home, establishing a connection to the community outside of Norway first.

It was around 2017 when he first started producing music with serious intent. Living in Trondheim at the time, he felt somewhat isolated from what was happening at home in terms of House music, and reached out over the internet to other producers. He quickly found a friend and mentor in the form of Finnish producer Selidos and after establishing a connection as a fan, Henrik sent him some musical ideas for feedback. Unbeknownst to Henrik at the time, Selidos was also the A&R man for a small American record outfit, called Nite Records, and while Henrik was looking for nothing more than constructive criticism, Selidos found something in the music that he could put out on a record. “I owe it to him” says Henrik about his first record, Takterrasse.

“That was the breakthrough in how I wanted my music to sound,” recalls Henrik today. Building on those House foundations, focussing on the deeper elements, with a human touch ebbing through the arrangements, Henrik Villard found a sound that he’s not deviated from since. “It just felt right after I laid down the main idea” for Henrik and it’s only matured and solidified since. Between the labels he wants to release on and the labels knocking on his door, there is no shortage of platforms for Henrik’s music. He doesn’t “know how to explain it,” but it’s given him the opportunity to focus much more on music. He’s gone from working full time to part time in an effort to spend more time on music, and the pandemic turned out to be “great in terms of getting more time to make music.”

Just hit play

Yet, even though he’s making more music, Henrik stresses “quality over quantity.” “I can take my time, and I don’t feel the need to put out music all of the time.” says Henrik. “You have to find the balance between doing a solid release and doing a lot of releases.” It’s this mantra he’s extended to his latest endeavour, a record label, event series and collective he’s founded with Anders “Clastique” Hajem. In his efforts to connect more to a local community since moving back to Oslo, Henrik found a kindred spirit in Anders, and the pair have set up a collective and a label Bitch Club Records. ”I think that’s what we’re called” says Hendrik hesitantly. “You don’t sound that keen on the name,” I suggest. “No, because I’m unsure how it will be perceived by anyone who hears the name… I like the abbreviation more.”

BCR, like everything, started with a chat over the internet. Exchanging ideas about music over soundcloud, an invitation to Anders’ studio eventually planted the seeds for a label and a collective to form. Hosting parties out of their Grünnerløkka studio at night and releasing records during the day, Henrik and Anders have established a small community around BCR over the course of the last year. “The idea is that we release music that we like,” says Henrik and theirs is a determined force. Encouraged by their similar tastes in House music, they are able to get the “music out there for everybody to hear” without the extensive waiting period that usually comes with putting out records on other labels. 

As the label started to come into ficus so did their events. What started as inviting “some friends over to play music all night long” from their studio, has  turned into regular occurrences of late. “That’s when I realised that I really like DJing,” exclaims Henrik. Besides making more music, he’s also used the time of the pandemic to hone those skills as a DJ through the BCR concept. He says it’s “a great feeling to see people react to what you play,” and while it’s always “hard” to play his own music, lately he’s “been much better at incorporating” his tracks in his sets recently. These sets don’t often extend outside of the BCR concept, but with an upcoming gig at Jaeger for Øya Natt alongside Olle Abstract, that is certain to change in the future. He’s nervous, but “looking forward to it” trying to “mentally prepare” for this set out of his natural “comfort zone” which is BCR. 

I am confident however that Henrik’s set will not disappoint. Between the music he makes and this conversation there is something reassuring about Henrik Villard’s work. It’s something familiar and comfortable. It’s simply House music and it’s rooted in everything he does. His music goes back to the roots of the genre, maintaining those essential formulas that will undoubtedly live on forever through each new generation, and now it’s Henrik Villard’s turn to fly the banner for the music tradition. And whatever he does next, here will be no mistaking it for what it is… this is House music.

Reflections on Bjørn Torske’s Ismistik

Before Bjørn Torske was Bjørn Torske, he was merely a name on the back of a record sleeve. A producer/writer-credit appearing on numerous EPs and LPs under various aliases and collaborative efforts, few knew the man behind these projects as we would come to know him today. Open Skies, Volcano and Algeria mark some of the early days of Bjørn Torske’s work in the field of electronic music, at a time before the name would become synonymous with the Space Disco sound that would sweep the world and install Bjørn Torske in the echelon of electronic music greats.

We’re going back to a time before the great wave of Norwegian electronic music, when Bjørn Torske was still a student radio disc-jockey in Tromsø. It was a time of great experimentation in electronic music, a time when Bjørn Torske, Rune Lindbæk, and Ole Mjøs, creating music under these various guises, would lay the foundation for a group of electronic music heads and DIY enthusiasts to build a scene that would make a serious mark on the world stage and imprint itself in the electronic music history books. 

It all started in a storage-room-cum-radio-station called Brygga and while Bjorn Torske’s own star would cement in the firmament of electronic music with records like Trøbbel and Nedi Myra enjoying the ranks of classic electronic music records today, it wouldn’t be if it were not for those early projects that first established Bjørn Torske’s talents for this music and there’s one project in particular that set this artist on that course. 

That project was Ismistik and today it marks the start of an immense and significant career some thirty years on. Those early records that Torske created together with Ole Mjøs as Ismistik continue to make significant impressions, drawing newer audiences to this incredible music thanks to a 2020 re-issue on Emotions Electric, and holding their own in the classic canon of House music.   

Originally released on the legendary Dutch Techno label, Djax Up Beats between 1991 to 1995 three EPs and an LP constitute the entire Ismistik catalogue and it reflects a time in electronic music that has aged significantly well. Floating between elements of Techno, House and Ambient styles, these records came from a time as electronic music matured into a serious artform, predicated by new technology and latent professionals exploring the limits of production and composition in this field. 

As electronic dance music went from an adolescent pastime to a viable career, it garnered a new reputation that lived beyond the corporeal as a thinking wo/man’s music and a serious music, which unlike rock n roll for instance, maintains a countercultural appeal today. 

It’s at this point that Ismistik appears with Bjørn Torske and Ole Mjøs siphoning sounds from Detroit and Chicago into an approach that seemed to soften the harsh edges of that music and brought a refined atmosphere that seemed to imbue the spirit of the music. It lived beyond the functional aspects of the music and while the EPs could and would be played in DJ sets, the album would certainly have accompanied a fair few after-parties in the mid-nineties.

“Ismistik as a project mirrored my early years when Chicago and Detroit were my biggest influences,Bjørn Torske told If Only UK back in 2018. The project came about as an extension of Bjørn and Ole’s tastes as reflected by their “Brygga” radio station show, where they piped out these new American sounds to the local students, who would reluctantly, but eventually endorse and perpetuate the sounds, starting what would become a virile and legendary Norwegian music scene in what was essentially a small fishing town at that time.  

That “freedom to play what we wanted was the main trigger to start experimenting with crude ‘remixes’ and tape edits, which in turn led to the employment of drum machines and synthesisers,” suggests Torske. “We got access to tape recorders, four-track cassette recorders so we could develop our pause button remixing ideas,” he continues in a Paperrecordings interview. “We started to make remixes and megamixes for our own shows, splicing tape and other techniques. Before we knew it, we had our own sound.”

When that sound eventually matured, Bjørn Torske approached friend and fellow producer Geir Jennsen, whose reputation as Biosphere at the time, helped the young Torske get a foot in the door, releasing his first record as Algeria in 1991 on a crammed disc imprint. That almost certainly led to an introduction to Djax-Up-Beat where he and Ole Mjøs released their first record as Ismistik in the same year. 

Quite possibly the rawest of the Ismistik releases, their debut, Bonus Bouncers features a fearsome onslaught of staccato drum machines, punching out irreverent rhythms through a foggy atmosphere of chirpiing synthesisers and luxurious pads. It has that unhinged energy of a debut dance record, but there is also this sense of trying to wrestle something into something more than just a beat to dance to. Melody and harmony conspire throughout to give the listener more than just a marching order and, possibly inspired by what was happening in the UK at that time, Ismistik finds something beyond the immediate, displaying an uncanny maturity through a first record.

It’s even more refined on the second EP, Oasis released the following year, as they seem to draw their main inspiration from Chicago rather than Detroit in what is arguably one of the best House records of that or any time. Flickers of the bubbling “disco” sound that Bjørn Torske would later cultivate, emerge in the bubbling bass-line of the title track, while everything else is ingrained in the sound of Chicago House music of the time. 

It is particularly the production of this record that sets it apart for its time. It’s a refined, honed sonic aesthetic that sounds out of place with contemporary records of that time, and listening to the record today it could easily be mistaken for a modern production. It’s that level of skill in the studio that would later set Bjørn Torske apart from every other producer, and start the beginning of that crossover success he would enjoy later on.

By the third EP, Bjørn and Ole would cement the sound of Ismistik, leaning towards the more harder sounds of Detroit again with 3rd Trace. Retaining something of that refined aesthetic of their second EP, but applying it to the harsher metallic sounds of Techno at the time, it sounds like Bjørn and Ole found a comfortable balance between their Chicago and Detroit influences on  this record. 

Later, Bjørn Torske, would reflect that although it was the sounds of Detroit and Chicago that piqued his interest, in recent times he sees “music more as a whole rather than fragmented in different styles.” This comes to the fore already in 3rd Trace, with a sound that is not already breaching the borders between Techno and House and beyond, but also incorporating those bubbling melodic phrases that would later help cement the appeal of Space Disco that would shadow Torske’s solo career.

In 3rd Trace you find a sound coagulating around Ismistik and with the backing of Djax-Up-Beat it seemed like only the start of something great, but just as they built it up, it would almost immediately cease to exist with 3rd Trace being the last record Bjørn Torske and Ole Mjøs would make together as Ismistik. It’s unknown what caused the collaborative project to dissolve, but Bjørn Torske maintains that Ole was “crucial” in the success of Ismistik to this day. A quick search of Ole Jon Mjøs suggests that he veered into a career as an academic, which might be the reason for his ultimate departure from the music scene. Whatever happened, it was not to be the end of Ismistik however… well not  for Bjørn Torske at least. 

Two years later, in 1995 Bjørn Torske would revive the project for its finale, an LP with an ironic title. In many ways Remain would be the perfect title for the record, because while the project might have dissolved the record sealed the fate of this brief, but significant era in Bjørn Torske’s legacy, one that might have all but disappeared in the the long shadow that his future records would cast, had it not been for Emotions Electric who bought these records to the fore again. 

While the EPs were a collaborative effort, Remain is a Bjørn Torske record through and through, and an album that negates the immediate impulses of a dance record, for an album narrative in a format Bjørn Torske would perfect on later records like Trøbbel. Bouncing between elements of Ambient, House and Techno, the record takes us on a journey through the earliest influences of Bjørn Torkse’s music and those first steps towards what has become a legendary solo career. 

Bubbling basslines and friendly keys cut through the icy arrangements where sharp metallic stabs and foggy atmospheres create immersive textures. It’s the type of record that could live beyond the club and the soundsystem with its charming melodies and welcoming atmospheres indulging a more introspective listening experience. It has those key ingredients that made the EPs so popular, but it’s a record that lives beyond the DJ’s record crate today and while it might be an underground classic, it still sounds as fresh as the day it left the pressing plant. 

Today, the LP together with the 3 EPs might all seem a bit arbitrary in the legacy of Bjørn Torske as the first, youthful impressions of a career that would only mature later on, but all the ingredients for that career are contained within, and thirty years later, these records are now classics in the House and Techno music canon, or at least they should be. They show a marked technical advancement in the genre and a singular voice, which still stands apart from anything coming from that era.    

And it was only the start of a career which lives on in the archives of electronic music legends today. Bjørn Torske might have moved on from those sounds, but it’s still there in his music, and even a record like Byen is very much familiar in a catalogue that also contains Remain. The genius is already present in those early records. It’s just the versatility and the skill, which is yet to come, and by the time Nedi Myra arrives on the catalogue it’s all ingrained in the legend that has become Bjørn Torske. 

 *Bjørn Torske plays ØyaNatt for Frædag.

 

It’s 3 O’clock in the morning – Are we saving a scene or an industry?

It’s 3 o’clock on a Friday morning and I’m still on the dance floor at Jaeger. I’m stepping my way through a heady onslaught of 909 kick drums and toms in what seems to be a perpetual state of motion. This is unusual for me. It’s just before the pandemic would shut us down, and  I rarely come out for the visiting DJs at Jaeger at this point, and if I do, I don’t stay beyond the first hour of a set. Something told me I had to be here. This is Jeff Mills of course, a bonafide legend, playing to an intimate crowd in what is arguably one of the best sounding rooms in the world at the moment.   

I have seen and heard Jeff Mills before, but it was a truncated festival set, barely an hour long, through a sound system unable to cope with a light breeze, let alone the relentless pressure of Mills’ brand of Techno. I don’t remember the festival, or even which country it was in, and as I write  this, I feel that it might even be an amalgamation of two completely different experiences. It’s one of many experiences since I started working in music that has been facilitated by an industry that has been homogenising the electronic music scene for the better part of a decade. Where something like Jeff Mills should be a rarefied experience, it’s become so ubiquitous, dictated by social media trends and an increasingly institutionalised music industry, It not only undermines the significance of the event, but has completely killed any possibility of a virile, localised scene to exist.

Where something should be an occasion it’s become an expectation, and this expectation has come to dominate an international industry where agents, record distributors, and the music media have dictated the sounds of the dance floor rather than your local DJ. Festivals and club nights, focussing on booking the same headlining DJs, have gentrified European dance floors and eradicated any claim for a sub- or counterculture to exist. Any remnants of a scene has been co-opted by industry in a universal definition that has whitewashed any chance for regional eccentricities to mature in the microcosms of the local community. With dancers and enthusiasts flocking to DJs, as dictated by mainstream media outlets, proliferated by PR and booking agents, it has left no room for anything close to a “scene” to survive unless they adapt to the same universal sonic approach.

It’s this predisposition in the belief that a ”scene” is a universal community, with its roots in one or two, remote origins like Berlin, that have taken the agency away from isolated, nuanced musical communities; free from the influence of a contemporary zeitgeist as proliferated by the extensive reach of the internet. In this culture, DJ bookings determine club nights rather than the residencies providing the platform for these visiting DJs to perform and exist.

Earlier that evening, before Jeff Mills quietly assumed his position in the booth, Daniel Gude was in our lounge, playing a heady mix of Jeff Mills classics; those tracks tame enough to facilitate a crowd just stepping into the evening. Daniel is aware of his audience as one of the longest serving residents at Jaeger and a dab hand at Thursdays. He gently eases the crowd into the event, playing those archetypal Detroit sounds, where elements of soul and funk channel reluctant machines beyond perfunctory demands. It’s the type of music that you would have heard any Thursday night at Jaeger, but Daniel wrestles the dynamic sounds toward temperate tempos and restrained volumes, accommodating the nascent crowd and encouraging them to move to the lower level, where local Techno stalwart, Jokke is currently playing through a determinable vinyl collection. The needle seems to saw its way through the pliable shellac, unearthing jack-hammer rhythms and sneering bass-lines. Jokke is keeping the beats per minute in the high 130s, greeting people to the floor, with waves and high-fives, people I recognise from other local Techno gatherings, but who I hardly ever see at Jaeger. 

There’s an unlikely bonhomie in the air for such an event. The cooler-than-thou Techno brigade, spending weekends in Berlin and weekdays trolling through Resident’s Advisor’s self righteous dribblings about music. The foundation is vibrating with low murmur to Jokke’s records, playing music from a collection that grew out of a savant-like enthusiasm for all things Techno. Jokke was an early adopter of this latest wave of popularity for the genre, as one of the people behind the Void club nights and for a while, Jaeger’s go-to Techno DJ. He’s played alongside the likes of Funktion, Sterac and now Jeff Mills; the vinyl enthusiast and DJ often out-shining some of the more expensive bookings. For the occasion he’s picked his way through the Detroit corner of his record shelf, fortified with rarities from the Underground Resistance catalogue. There’s some sympathy with his audience, giving them enough room to move, while slowly increasing the energy for his successor.

We’re all here for the main event, Jeff Mills, but without Jokke, and Daniel’s residency there would be no night to facilitate it. It can’t exactly exist in a vacuum, with the infrastructure of a local scene required to stage an event like this. In the background, Jaeger booker and owner, Ola Smith-Simonsen is aware of the risk of putting on an event like this, but he’s grinning. Jeff Mills is an expensive booking and even with a packed crowd, Jaeger is losing money. As a resident DJ with his own Friday night residency, Ola could have booked Mills for Frædag and have made a much more profitable night, but Retro and it’s weekly thematic pursuit in shining a light on the original vanguard in the electronic music community, made more sense. His instincts paid off. The night lives on in infamy for those who were there, and I still hear people echoing my thoughts as they conjure the night in their words; “when would you ever get the chance to hear Jeff Mills in a small club like this.”

Before the pandemic struck, Jaeger’s calendar was filled with more bookings than usual, because of that expectation of a “headlining” DJ. It was at a point where it seemed that bookings determined the quality of the night for audiences rather than the night and the space.  DJs playing loops from three decks or more in an endless reaffirmation of the 4-4 beat, forge flatlining soundtracks for perfunctory dance floors, with audiences either hanging over their shoulder in search track titles or completely disengaged as they stagger towards the next hangover or sexual conquest… whichever comes first. They are only here because the DJ has gained some notoriety of late; a track or online-set, together with some backing from notable label or media outlet pitching the scales in their favour. 

These DJs have become like the reality TV stars; fame is only a picture away and technology has democratised the skill-set to something like paint-by-numbers for adults. Whatever happened to the art of DJing? I was never truly convinced it was an artform and especially in the age of the CDJ, but some individuals have been more adept at programming a night of music for an enthusiastic dance floor than others. With a focussed, at times obsessive appreciation for music, they’ve managed to hone it into a unique craft. Many of these DJs are, or have been residents. They cut their teeth playing to the same audiences week in and week out, unlike the next generation who are coming to the fore, already “touring” before they’ve even seen the inside of a booth . Even the term resident has now become conflated as one of these DJs coming to the same venue three or four times a year. Those aren’t residencies, those are just sheer hubris from DJs believing their own hype. People didn’t go to Paradise Garage for instance to see David Morales, they came to see Larry Levan, because of his inherent knowledge of music, his relationship to his audience and the hands-on approach to the club and its soundsystem. Larry Levan was a pioneer in many of those aspects and that’s why his reputation still precedes him today. In Oslo DJs like Daniel Gude, Jokke, g-HA, André Bravo and Øyvind Morken are cut from that same cloth, even though they might bring different moods and sounds to their nights. n lieu of manufactured celebrity they had to graft at their work, garnering an innate bond between the music they play, the audience and the atmosphere. 

That skill is still there amongst some, but it’s been saturated by a virtual scene predetermined by social media and industry, where every middle class kid with a USB stick and a successful instagram account is a DJ today. The music has become mere surface noise to the celebrity of the DJ and as a result the music has suffered. I am rarely able to distinguish these DJs and their sets, as the music gets diluted down to its simplest forms so as to not supersede the ego of the DJ. There is no defining characteristic in music subjugated by their sense of artistic identity, imposing the culture of the DJ on the dance floor rather than the music. 

With DJ fees before the pandemic reaching an average of around €3000, not including the flight, the hotel and the 15% he agent asks on top of that, the industry has ensured to install the idea of the DJ as celebrity at all levels for the sake of their over-inflated economy, that makes a few key individuals richer on the back of the people sweating it out at the lower levels of club culture. Intentionally or not, this takes the necessary economy away from a local scene to thrive. It takes the job and the money away from an equally skilled, often better local DJ, who is forced into doing support or opening slots at a fraction of those fees, because they might not have the same social-media driven pull of their more expensive counterparts. How did we get here?

A status quo has been installed, calling the shots from Berlin, London et al. Perpetuating the idea that an artist/DJ with a release on a high-profile label, a featured article in an on-line magazine and a recent set at Panorama bar is somehow better than the resident DJ with years of experience and intimate knowledge of his/her crowd and club, the industry has forced the idea of the “booking” on smaller scenes in order to compete in an increasingly saturated economy. All over the world clones of Berghain and imitations of archetypal DJs (Harvey, Villalobos, Väth, Mills)  are increasingly narrowing the talent pool to familiar DJ rosters in the hands of a select few agencies. High-profile DJs dominate these rosters, garnering their position through irrelevant factors. While some of them, like the aforementioned in parenthesis, got to those positions through talent and as elder statesmen of the original scene, it’s become increasingly dictated by what a PR or booking agency deems their next big payday. A lot of the time the celebrity of a DJ is predetermined by agents, managers and labels who have a vested interest in creating a lot of hype around their DJs to get bookings, by buying their way in. 

This holds the position of power with a universal industry rather than a local scene and as younger audiences and new promoters and DJs come into music, this is the only model they know, and adapt accordingly, even in remote places like Norway. Those nuanced, focussed conditions that made it possible for a genre like Space Disco to exist, is no longer possible, since people are working within complete isolation of the internet, following a model of a club night and its music, which is not always that transferable in a different region and very rarely as good. For example, while those big-room Techno sounds that shake the cavernous rooms of communist-era factories every weekend might work there, they don’t work in a smaller room with fewer people and an early curfew. Those things that make Oslo unique and created the perfect conditions for Space Disco to exist are largely ignored for a universal approach, relayed down from the mountain of some indeterminable consortium of media outlets, labels and agents. 

DJs like the residents that graft every week at Jaeger, are of a dying breed and even DJs established in an international circuit like Øyvind Morken don’t find any room to operate within their own community, as younger DJs buck to trends directed by an increasingly institutionalised industry, where conformity to the most recent “hype” dictates their bookings and the music on the dance floor. Everything has become incredibly entrenched, and as the pandemic seems to ease out of its restrictions it seems that they’ve only fortified their ranks. Even the DJs, clubs and club nights operating on the fringes, are operating on the fringes of an extended universal scene with any idea of a community, barely existing in the superficial vacuum of social media. I simply can’t see a way out of this current situation. How did we get here?

It’s 3 0’clock in the morning and I’m on the dance floor. It’s 2008 and I’m in London’s east-end  at On the Rocks, a former working men’s club, which is the host for this week’s Trailer Trash event. One of the speakers on the left side has just blown, rattling in its enclosure like a klaxon in a plastic bag while the DJ, Hannah Holland is playing a blend of classic acid House and a new UK-based Ghetto tech sound she’ll later coin Batty-Bass. The lysergic 303 bass is trying to punch a hole through the noisy speaker, but the packed dance floor and the DJ seem unphased, pushing triumphantly through the noise as some promotor-cum-technician sets about replacing the speaker.   

It’s the recession, and yet I’m going out every weekend. Even though I’m already older than median age at the nights I attend, it’s one of the most exciting times in terms of clubbing for me as I’m catching the last intense flicker of a real scene before it’s almost completely eradicated by gentrified apartment blocks with pretentious names like “vanguard” and a street of “Urban Outfitters”  selling dubstep records. Plastic People is still there, but not for long as Shoreditch is already filling in the cracks with boutique clothing stores and gastropubs cropping up on a daily basis. On the outskirts however, Hackney Road, Dalston and Hackney Wick is brimming with a new young energy and something interesting is happening at the intersection of fashion-, DJ- and queer culture. The fashionable kids, having just read/seen Party Monster, are co-opting New York’s early party-kids aesthetic and together with a rolling roulette of local DJs are appropriating old man’s pubs, strip clubs, empty warehouses and squats to throw parties. All around London’s east-end music, performances and fashion converge every weekend for the students and new art-school emergés currently renting cheaply in council estates.

The recession is in effect, but everybody at these events is broke anyway. I have £20 a weekend, and I’m not spending £15 of it on the door at Fabric, to hear some over-paid DJ ego-tripping through a tone-deaf Tech-House set. I’d rather spend my weekends listening to over-taxed PA systems straining under the weight of ghetto tech, acid house and electro, playing in impromptu venues around my local area for a procession of ”freaks” moving on the dance floor like a catwalk, at the more affordable rate of a fiver (or free if you know somebody) on the door and £3 a drink. 

After a decade of clubbing being the sole domain of super clubs and superstar DJs this is clubbing and club-music going back to the bare-boned, white-knuckled roots of the scene. There is no headlining DJ, or specific musical theme, but everything from the flyer to the covergirl is imbuing the spirit of the party. Resident DJs, often playing extensive all-night sets cloaked in the darkness, do their due diligence, playing bass-heavy constructions while forging a sense of trust with their weekly/monthly audiences. The recession has levelled the playing field, killing off most of the big clubs in the space of a year, with only places like Ministry of Sound luring uninformed tourists every weekend; their prominence based on an ancient, hyperbolic reputation born before most of their punters. It’s broken club culture down to fundamentals again with a DIY attitude and people creating club nights for a community rather than platforms for headline-grabbing guest DJs.

It was an intense two-year period, where I don’t think I ever left the E2 postal marker, and it was its own little contained world and counterculture. Leafing through MixMag and DJ Mag at that time, it’s the fall out of the summer of new rave and Deadmau5 and Calvin Harris are grabbing headlines for their bastardisation of Filter House, while in the more serious “clubs” that innervisions Tech House sound is staking its claim. Dubstep has already been co-opted by the middle class elite at this point, and is facing a commercialisation that would see characters like Skrillex reaching billboard charts. On the margins however, avoiding the mainstream and completely disengaged with pop culture, while forging the next movement in popular culture, this period in London’s east end seems to exist in complete isolation. It’s uninhibited by the larger trends sweeping across the dance floor and it’s attracting people, who are living an alternative lifestyle.The naked reveller, the salacious sex fiends and the fashion kids, wearing American football garb as a defence against the conservatism taking a foothold in the UK, have created a verile counterculture and an actual scene for a short time in London’s east end, and unless you were there and part of it you wouldn’t have known about it. 

It’s almost impossible for a microcosm of a scene like this to exist today, even within a large population like that of London’s, because of the internet. With information being so readily available today, it leaves no room for a counterculture to exist. People will be writing about it before it even gestates, often with the fixed objective in creating a scene where none actually exists beyond a self-involved DJ. It’s why the term “underground” vexes me today. Nothing can truly be underground in the age of the internet, and if you’re using that term to describe your music or your night, it’s usually in some pretentious way that appropriates some original ideology, long-since unrealistic. What was originally underground culture is now popular culture… it has been for a while, and it’s been milked for the sake of an economy, and the only way we can get back to the community is for the industry’s demise. The only issue however is that there are too many invested in it for it to fail now. 

Those two years in London, Space Disco, the M25 raves, Detroit Techno, Chicago House and Paradise Garage, these were fleeting moments of brilliance in a history of electronic music that went to define cultures. They were never meant to last beyond the generation that installed them in their time of adolescence. Today however an increasingly profitable industry has commodified what should be a culture, with clubs, DJs and festivals lasting way longer than their expiration date. It has left no room for subculture to exist without paying its dues to the industry and the entrenched status quo of club music. 

It’s 3 0’clock and the dance floor is empty and the soundsystem is off. It’s the time of the pandemic, there was a lot of talk about saving a scene. But is it really a scene or simply an industry we’re saving at this point? Nothing seems to have changed and it seems that any promise of a pandemic changing this perspective is moot. Any delusions that we might have about some great cultural development should be realised for what it is. Everything from the music DJs make to their instagram profile is there simply to perpetuate the industry and I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we’re all complacent in it. There are some trying to use this time to reflect on these aspects, but I fear at this point it’s a fool’s errand. Already prominent Berlin DJ’s are packing carryáll bags with 20 records and a USB stick to take a flight to their next overpaid DJ gig. 

The industry is too big to fail now, and any hope of a new local scene flourishing in the wake is going to be reduced when those high profile DJs are back at it, propped up by the “cultural” institutions big enough to secure their hand-outs. These established clubs, magazines, DJ booking agents and promoters have the resources and the prominence to ensure they’ll survive. They’ll continue to put DJs front and center that they believe should be in the limelight, and it’s these DJs that will be running the “main” room again when things open again, and the local resident that had grafted all year to keep the place open and operating. The things that are going to suffer are not the big clubs with huge investors, it’s the smaller DIY communities that barely stayed afloat before all this. 

Perhaps the problem is the idea of a “scene,” a word that has been used perhaps too liberally in association with club culture, with its origins in something very specific. The Oxford dictionary still defines a scene as “a social environment frequented by homosexuals.” By that definition, the few places that can lay claim to a scene are nights like Horse Meat Disco or Honey Soundsystem, and like everything else, the industry has merely co-opted the term for the association. This culture might have been born from a bonafide scene with the likes of Frankie Knuckles and Larry Levan as the founders, but it’s long since been appropriated by an industry, using counterculture language and themes for the sake of commercial success, commodifying the term “scene” to where it can mean anything related to electronic club music.  

This isn’t a scene any longer, it’s a business, and like all business it is predicated on the economy of the music and its culture. For all its aspirations of being a truly independent culture, it now operates very much like any major record label with its subsidiary agencies, PR companies and management consortiums all working towards the same model. There’s still this glimmer of hope that rests with the next generation, the people coming of age during the pandemic who will have a completely different perspective on a scene. Perhaps out of the ashes of the pandemic, they can strive to build an actual scene again, a scene that will eschew the importance of the celebrity DJ and the commodity of club music, and will get back to the dance floor and that sense of community. 

I’ve seen flickers of brilliance from them just before the pandemic, and it seems to be growing from a few, but determined actors in Norway at least. I have a lot of faith that the next generation will start to negate the industry for individuality again. With a DIY attitude and a passion for music, they’ve taken to the forests, with an emphatic admiration for the music, bringing people together that share that passion. They’re doing it on their own terms, making stars of local heroes again, finding some sympathy with today’s sounds, bolstered by their own individuality and the voices of their generation. They’ve taken some cues from the last generation, but carting funktion one systems to undisclosed locations and with a community of DJs that extend beyond national boundaries they are also bringing a sense of professionalism that had sorely been lacking in the past.  

If anybody is going to stop the wheels of industry churning up what’s left of this culture and spitting it out for the sake of commodity, it’s this next generation. They’re the ones that will save a scene.

 

Words by Mischa Mathys

Deconstructed club music: A Q&A with KOSO CLUB

*Photos by Martine Stenberg

It’s hard to get away from the four to the floor music that dominates Jaeger’s dance floor week in and week out. House and Techno et al have made indelible impressions that have subverted most other dance floor styles from making an imprint and while rarely homogenous it can often be a little stifling for more adventurous and eclectic tastes. 

Wednesdays at Jaeger have long been the welcomed break from this status quo with nights that feign the conformity of the dance floor for something a little different and since 2019 KOSO CLUB have been an integral part of this weekly sojourn to the fringes of club culture and its music. 

KOSO CLUB has been carrying the banner for a more diverse club life for the past eight years. They’ve been highlighting those integral, but often overlooked voices in club culture through an expanding cast of members that are SOLDAL, SVANI, PIIKSIGRAM and HANNEKS today. With an alumni that extends abroad with names like Mike Q and Zora Jones, they’ve established an international connection to Oslo and Norway’s own club culture.  

In 2017 they were awarded NATT og DAG’s esteemed club of the year for their efforts at Blå, which have seen the collective tour abroad, and start new franchises like the one at Jaeger on select Wednesdays. It was one such Wednesday in June 2021, when they made their return to the Jaeger’s booth for the first time in 2021, bringing their idiosyncratic blend of “deconstructed club music” and ideologies to what was still a dormant dance floor.

Even under the ongoing corona measures, they continued their unwavering efforts to bring a femme touch to the backyard and assisted by magnus ah ok, they brought an ecelctic selection of scatter-brain rhythms and growling bass-lines in their unique interpretation of what a club night could entail. Hip Hop re-constructed in UK bass flavours and House music emerging through wavy indie soundscapes provided the soundtrack for a night under clear skies for the largely seated audience. 

With the memories of the music and the mood lingering, we caught up with them shortly after via email to get the lowdown on KOSO CLUB, their ideology and their musical tastes. With a radio show in the works and more nights to follow we unpack what the past and the future hold for the collective.

How did you all meet and what encouraged you to start KOSO CLUB together?

 KOSO CLUB is a branch that grew from the KOSO family. KOSO started out with a wish to see a more varied and balanced music scene that later included artists, designers, dancers and other creative people. Marit, who had been DJing for some time, started the club concept in 2013 with Juno Jensen. Svani joined in 2015, and Piiksi and hanneks in 2019.

 How long has the collective been around and are there any activities beyond hosting club nights that you’re involved in?

 KOSO CLUB is a brand and a group of DJs, we book nationally and internationally, and are always on the lookout for new impulses and ways to make each night stand out. We have been doing some fun gigs in Norway and abroad besides hosting our own club nights at Blå. We’ve done dj workshops with kids, made merch and hosted live events.

 You all DJ, but do you have set roles within the collective outside of the booth?

Piiksi is our own little in-house graphic designer, hanneks is holding on to our monthly picks-playlist, and soon to come a collab with a radio station. Svani is constantly on the lookout for artists and DJs to book to our club nights, and Soldal is holding it all together kind of like a CEO of KOSO CLUB.

 PIIKSIGRAM and HANNEKS joined after establishing the concept. What did they bring to KOSO CLUB, and will the collective continue to expand into the future?

Bringing hannkes and Piiksi in was a natural process of sharing the same passion for the music and club. KOSO CLUB is a dynamic hub and by bringing in guests we hope to give more people a space for their creative outlet and that our audience can discover new artists and styles.

 You describe the concept as “highlighting more femme people” in the club space. How would you define femme people in this context?

When we started out in our perspective the scene was lacking women behind decks, the word femme was used to include not only cis women. In later years we see that the representation should also include others, our main goal is to see a more varied scene and the creativity that follows it.

 How do you set out to achieve that objective?

We always try to be aware of representation when we book DJs/artists to our club nights within our musical universe. We want KOSO CLUB to be an inclusive and fun place and a space that can challenge the idea of what a club night can be. It is important for us that it’s a safe space for anyone who would want to join them.

 Considering club culture has been appropriated by a straight male culture, what are some of the obstacles you face in putting on KOSO CLUB?

In the beginning there were few role models to look up to but we think this has changed a lot since we started. 

 Does it look like the landscape is still changing?

Yes, we see a lot of different styles and DJs appearing in the club scene, not only in Norway, but also in Europe in general. That is great to witness, and we hope it continues.

How do you relay that objective into the music you play or the guests that you bring to the concept?

 We try to be conscious about our bookings, our track collection and what we are bringing to the scene in terms of representation and inclusiveness. 

 Is it something that extends beyond the musical component too?

 In general we like everyone to feel at home at our club nights whoever they are. So it is also a social perspective to it. 

 When you play at Jaeger it’s nice to get a break from the four to the floor that dominates Jaeger’s weekly lineup. Is there a style or mood to the music you play that underpins what KOSO CLUB is about?

 We play a lot of deconstructed club music, and mix different genres, but we try to divide it into a chill mode and a club mode so the concept can work both sitting down as what we’ve done after the rona situation or in a dark club as we hopefully can do soon!

 Do you ever feel that you have to adapt the concept or what you play to Jaeger’s audience, current circumstances notwithstanding?

 No, actually we stick to the style we usually like to play. But, of course, we have to adapt to “sittedans” nowadays – we save our hardest tunes until the club is completely open again.

 How has the music evolved since the start of KOSO CLUB?

We think we have been in the same musical vibe since we started. But we are always checking out new artists and when they evolve our sound evolves also. 

 As we get back into it in 2021, what and who are you looking forward to bringing to KOSO CLUB in the near future?

Right now we’re dreaming of a packed club full of sweaty people, and we are hoping to do a radio show. We have a lot of people on our international booking-wishlist so hopefully we can proceed with actually getting them here in the future! 

 

Urban Psychedelia: Has Techno assimilated Goa Trance

There’s a great big honk as a saw tooth synthesiser stabs a chord and dissipates into the veil of the surrounding ether. The atmosphere is dense enough to sustain life and melodies echo through the entire arrangement like moths to a flame, landing on something familiar before fluttering off into distant resonances. There’s mystery, intrigue and a solemn wonder contained in each phrase, unfolding like a David Lynch narrative with a little more purpose. 

I’ve heard this sound before. It’s slower and it’s missing a semi-quaver bass-line running through the whole arrangement like a freight train, but the similarities are striking and there’s no doubt that whatever we’re listening to today lends as much from the psychedelic offshoots of Goa Trance as it does from Techno. I’ve been hearing these sounds echoing through Jaeger’s dance floor, as the city descended on our enclave this summer. It’s evocative of a sound usually found in the forests around Oslo or the beaches in India, propelling tie-dyed writhe figures to ecstatic heights as devil sticks and ribbons dance an improvised ballet in the air. 

It’s always feigned the urban for the natural, but in its new hybrid form it has found a rhythm in the city propelled forward by the more dominating foundations of Techno. It’s been propelled into the mainstream, by a new generation of DJs with the predisposition for the hippie lifestyle, growing up in the harsh urban landscape of a metropolis city, and like its predecessor, born in Goa, it borrows indiscriminately from a vast array of musical genres in pure escapist hedonism. 

Melodies touch the firmament, echoing at times space disco’s sonorous voice, while rhythms thump in militant measures to the wide-gated stomp of its audience. It’s unsure how or when these sounds started infiltrating Techno or if in fact it’s not the other way around, but as the week rolls by at Jaeger it’s a sound currently dominating the speakers through various, unrelated club nights and residencies. 

From the first moment man put stick to skin, music has always been about touching those hedonistic heights, and nowhere else is this better elucidated in Goa Trance’s origins; A style of electronic music, associated with a specific destination in pure pursuit of relinquishing the shackles of conformity for a pure spiritual pursuit. DJs and party goers alike have completely disappeared into the music and the aura of Goa Trance, with tales and legends born from fleeting characters that have immortalised the spirit, rather than a single individual. Figures like Laurent and Dr Bobby, armed with little more than a pair of walkmans were the pioneers, and while few have heard these names, everybody today exactly knows what Goa Trance is and what it stands for. 

It’s never really been about a specific style of music. Trance as in the German version of Techno, had been there before, and Goa’s earliest soundtracks have ties to the industrial synth pop sounds of Europe in the eighties, but combine this arching melodic sounds with a group of people imbued by sixties hippy romanticism in one of the nature’s most idyllic locations and you have something that extends way beyond any music. It’s a spirit and that spirit lives on today in a youth culture on their way to an enlightened trip. 

It could well have started in Berlin… don’t all things? German Techno and what we call Trance today, has always enjoyed a fluid relationship, but I believe spurred on by cheap bargain bin records, and an enthusiastic desire for something new, it’s now found a footing on an international stage. It’s moved out from inconspicuous shadows for niche audiences, to places like Jaeger, with DJs like Safira and Lente and their extended network of DJ cohorts perpetuating  the sound while new institutions like UTEKLUB continues to burr with the spirit around Oslo’s forests. 

This summer it’s started making further ground in Oslo too as weather and nature merge in the perfect backdrop for this music and this spirit to live on. Through this spirit individualism makes way for the unifying tether of music with spotlight-seeking identifiers disappearing in the wake of sardonic titles looking for an open platform. It’s an un-choreographed dance between a piece of music, a DJ and an audience, grown from something organic into a unified entity, where no-one thing subverts or dominates the others. 

Now, it lives beyond the forests and beaches of its natural habitat and has found a new place in the city, a true hybrid of some of electronic music’s most important chapters and looking well on its way  to writing a new chapter of its own. 

 

New opening hours

Jaeger will be open longer and later from the 5th of July

As the threat of covid starts to dissipate in Norway,  we can go longer into the night from Monday. In accordance to the new regulations from Oslo kommune we are able to open til 2am and 3am on certain days with some covid protocols still in effect. Our new opening hours are:

Monday 19:00-02:00
Tuesday 19:00-02:00
Wednesday 16:00-02:00
Thursday 16:00-02:00
Friday 16:00-03:00
Saturday 16:00-03:00
Sunday 19:00-02:00

No-one will be admitted entrance after midnight as per these new regulations so make sure to arrive before. We’re still implementing covid protocols during this time, which is table service only and maintaining 1 meter distance between guests.

We’ll keep adapting protocols in accordance with the city’s covid regulations.

 

Back in Business: A mix and interview with Skatebård

Over 3 hours of uninterrupted Skatebård recorded live from our sauna.

You couldn’t keep Skatebård out of a DJ booth before the pandemic hit. The Bergen DJ was playing at least three times a week, travelling all over the world to some of the scene’s most revered and established venues.

Observations from his vigilant agent, queried the sustainability of Skatebård’s work ethic, with Bård dismissing suggestions of “taking a break” with playing more, and more frequently. By the time the pandemic hit he had been one of the most in-demand DJs on the scene. His amenable personality in the booth, where accessibility and function permeates with hedonistic pleasure, has secured Skatebård as one of the most prominent fixtures on the DJ circuit.

Then the pandemic hit, and Skatebård, like all the other DJs, was forced into the hiatus that followed. His indelible presence in the DJ booth, before proved to be prescient, and while DJs scrambled to social media streaming platforms, the Bergen-DJ could comfortably retire to his sofa with a good book and wait out the storm.

He kept at it, consuming new music where it informed his sets and honing his craft even further from his home-based hi-fi DJ set-up. He continued to play select dates, even making an appearance in Jaeger’s basement in 2020 for what turned pout to be the last night we could be open until 3am. Ultimately travel restrictions and lockdown rules had forced everybody, including Skatebård into forced hibernation.

Efforts to get him back to Jaeger when we could were left unsatisfied as quarantine measures and lockdown rules got more extreme during the winter. Eventually we had to take a page out of a Skatebård’s book and resign ourselves to the sofa, to wait out the storm.

The storm eventually dissipated and when we opened up the sauna in May and by Skatebård was on a very short list of guests we wanted back. By June he was int he sauna again, back in business, answering the call to the dance floor in pure Skatebård fashion. As our first guest outside of Oslo, there was a noticeable anticipation in the air and as Skatebård he didn’t disappoint. We pressed record and sat back and listened in awe at the enduring DJ.

It’s with great pleasure that we can present this recorded mix to our Mixcloud select subscribers today. Listen to over 3 hours of unadulterated Skatebård, while catch-up with the man behind the controls in a brief Q&A.

How does it feel to be back in business?

Feels really, really good to be playing again. But… It’s a while yet before full on travel will be possible.

What’s been the most challenging thing coming back into it after such a long hiatus?

It’s just a joy, I’ve been finding a lot of music to play in the last few months, that’s all I’ve been doing, so I’m just so ready to play all these tracks.

What did you have planned for this mix at Jaeger?

I entered the booth (tønna) with an open perspective, I can always go in many directions. But you know, my style is pretty eclectic most of the time anyway.

Did it go as planned?

It was a lot wilder actually, I was expecting maybe a more laid back night, I didn’t even know dancing was allowed in the backyard yet! With one meter distance though, mind you. But was a super energetic vibe.

I don’t think I ever saw you not smile throughout the night. What is it about a good night like that, that just makes it all worthwhile?

I was super happy, my first visit in Oslo since last August, and even a few of my band colleagues that I hadn’t met for almost two years showed up!

There’s a bit of everything in there. Was there a phase or a track that was a personal highlight? 

I was especially looking forward to playing Pais Tropical – Melodya. That piano riff… And a couple of other newly acquired italo house records. Well of course also some brand new tracks from friends!

Do you feel you’ve had to adapt or change the essence of a Skatebård mix in any way to accommodate the situation?

I always adapt a wee bit to any kind of party I play, but I mostly just play whatever I feel like anyway.

I saw a post on instagram suggesting that you’re ready to hit the road again. Is that the thing you’ve missed most?

Suggesting yes, but I also think I wrote something about that I don’t rush it either, so in the next couple of  months it will only be like a gig or two abroad a month, and outside Europe will be difficult for a while, I guess. But I appreciate everything! If you’re reading this and would like to book me, just contact my agency and we can work something out.

How do you think the DJ scene will change going forward from this, and what are you personally looking forward to in the near future?

I think that from both travel restrictions and economic perspectives, that parties will stay a bit more local for a while. That’s been my thought during the pandemic. In the near future I’ll enjoy the Norwegian summer, and I’m also very much looking forward to a festival in the Faroe Islands in the middle of July, then Trevarefest (Henningsvær), Summer Contrast Festival in Poland and Dekmantel Selectors in Croatia.

I can also add Festifest, Amsterdam, DGTL, Amsterdam, and Night Tales, London to my list of stuff looking fwd to. All in August/September.

Sous-Vide arrives on Sundays

Sous Vide takes over Sundays at Jaeger with residents Ida B,  Dolbah, Ole and Skjaerstad in our courtyard in July

After establishing Sous Vide as a label in 2019, Thomas Skjaerstad and his crew quickly added club night to their repertoire, with some label showcases at Jaeger in 2020. With  steady stream of releases coming from the young label, the people started piling in on Wednesdays to hear the resident DJs and their guests re-affirm the minimalist sound of the label from the booth.

“We had quite a nice first year of running Sous-Vide Records and in August we have been catching up with our first release made 12 months ago.” says Thomas Skjaerstad of the label’s advancements. With help from Norway’s culture board, and despite the issues with vinyl pressing plants during the pandemic, they’ve established Sous-Vide as a serious force in their field getting early love from the likes of Mixmag and Trommel.

“In summary we still believe the pandemic was a good thing for our label as we now are standing way stronger on several legs and our team is really finding their positions in the label,” explains Thomas. With Ole Henrik and Rado Kirilov joining the Sous-Vide team have grown and 8 releases in they’ve established their prominence not only as a label, but also as an event, especially at Jaeger.

After a year of successful Wednesday nights at Jaeger, and as we return to 7 days a week in the booth, we are eager to announce a new Sous-Vide residency at Jaeger. Taking over Sunday nights at Jaeger, Ida B, Dolbah, Ole and Skjaerstad will be in the booth every week, expanding Sous-Vide to a residency with their singular musical purpose.

Sous-Vide Records is a small Norwegian vinyl & self releasing imprint focused on the grooves of minimalism. Their vision is to build a sustainable, timeless portfolio of both rising stars and established talent who are fuelled by genuine passion for music. They seek to spread  inspiration and creative fuel to music enthusiasts everywhere, and they’ll be bringing this philosophy to Jaeger’s courtyard throughout July.

Check out their releases here.

July Lineup:

04.07: Ole + Ida +Dolbah +Skjaerstad

11.07: Rado + Skjaerstad +Dolbah

Lente carries the torch for Loving Tuesdays

As Tuesdays return to the calendar, Lente returns for Loving Tuesdays… with a twist.

It’s all about “tonics and tunes” says Lente about the new Tuesday club night. As we start coming back into our stride in 2021, we’ll be open seven days a week and that means Tuesdays gets a new residency. Well… a new residency bearing a familiar name. Lente brings back the Loving Tuesdays name for July 2021.

“I talked to Vari Loves and she agreed that I should carry on with Loving Tuesdays,” says Lente. The night comes back with Lente implementing some exciting new developments, featuring guest bartenders, interesting bar menus, record label showcases and podcasts from Lente’s extensive list of personal projects.

Brining his Panograna podcast to the physical realm and featuring regular showcases from his own Edelgran Records label, Lente is putting a new spin on Tuesdays with the DJ and artist at the centre of it all.

“Panograna” is music and art combined with Scandinavian environments,” explains Lente over an email. “We are a group of friends which has been dedicated to the electronic music scene for long time. The goal is to bring the beats from a vibing
dancefloor to unique experiences in different sites and venues.” With a new episode in the first week of every month, Ponograna will become an integral part of the Tuesday residency, alongside Lente’s other musical outlet,  Edelgran records.

Alongside Edelgran records, he and those friends have established a scene onto themselves with the record label bringing the Scandinavian environments to the rest of the world in the form of new sounds. They’ve already released Eps and various singles from artists like Crussen, Lente, Alex.k and Dennis Jernelius. With 2 new singles coming this summer, it looks to fortify the label’s resolve, which will come intertwined with Loving Tuesdays indefinitely as the new residency settles in with Lente at the forefront.

Lente is a familiar face on the scene today and when in the booth he creates sounds from a groove and playful palette. The Oslo native DJ and promoter is known for long and deep sets that play against the floating backdrop of Oslo’s electronic music scene. Along with his regular partner in crime Crussen, he’s played in famous clubs, like Sisyphose, Kater Blau in Berlin and many more while observing a regular release schedule in between through his Edelgran imprint.

After sharing the night with Vari Loves in the years just before the pandemic, he adds Loving Tuesdays to his list of personal projects and debuts the new night in July at Jaeger.

Here’s the lineup for July:

6th of July: Premier of “Panograna Moodcast” interviews and recording.
Hosts by Lente & Brandbrandy.

13th of July: “Exotic” with special guests Tariq and Saul Sanches.

20th of July: Resident Lente all night long.

27th of July: “Edelgran Records showcase”. Single release from Lente &
Dennis Jernelius

 

 

Everything for the vibe: Introducing SYNK

There was a tangible excitement in the air that first week back at Jaeger. People were still resigned to their tables and the volume was tempered, but the atmosphere was thick with anticipation. “You could tell it had just opened again,” says Ida Stein from SYNK a week later. “People were so positive.” Warm welcomes precipitated through the bright night as old acquaintances were re-affirmed and social human contact re-established. 

“It was great to see people again,” says Naomi Camilla, weaving between her cohort’s sentences like they were going back to back in the booth as SYNK. They came prepared on the night, “hoping to play some electro/break-beat stuff” for the mostly seated patrons, but quickly realised that it wouldn’t work as an eager audience demanded something more energetic and the pair “jumped over to a House vibe.” Moving through the great expanse of influences that informed House music they set a distinct path through the genre, capitulating to the mood.

Mix now available to Mixcloud Subscribers

That mix is now sealed in time, and listening back to it today, it marks a very clear objective and concrete statement for the future of the dance floor after the pandemic. At a time when you’d think slower tempos and reserved energies would prevail, an obvious desire for the sounds of a  dance floor undermined the situation and SYNK acquiesced with a set that felt both urgent and inviting. Melodic flickers from disco’s earliest influences charmed alongside pulsating rhythms that moved through Garage, Acid, House, Trance and Electro phases.

SYNK has been a DJ duo since 2018, and while the pandemic has claimed the dance floor for the moment, it has shown no signs of slowing the duo’s progression as a formidable force on the Norway’s DJ scene. They added producer to their list of accomplishments after releasing their first single “Lykkemaskin” on Prins Thomas’ ever-present Full Pupp label in 2020 and have since been playing regularly around the country; made mixes for European radio stations; established residencies; worked on more music than ever; and most recently, started a new club night in Oslo. It’s ahead of this first club night at Mir, that I call Ida and Naomi up for a chat. 

They’ve found a shady spot in a park to take my call as Oslo’s early summer continues to cook the city, and while a tad nervous – “we have never been interviewed together”  – the pair are chipper and easy to talk to, the best kind of subject for an interviewer whose muscles have atrophied somewhat during the pandemic. 

Unlike me, however, Ida and Naomi have been busy and Ida suggests that they’ve “developed more into a producer duo in the last year,” in large part due to the pandemic. “We had these good vibes together and really wanted to dance,” remembers Ida of the moments right after the first lockdown. “Like other people in the club scene we really missed it… so the pandemic times really started off making some really danceable harder tracks…” “and some ambient tracks,” chimes Naomi from the other side of the phone. “It went through periods in the pandemic,” recalls Ida. “It felt like we went through an emotional musical trip together.” 

A “quarantine soundwave” playlist on their soundcloud page holds a remnant from this period. A chugging atmospheric track called “be my quarantine” is all that remains unclaimed by future releases and showcases both similarities and differences with their breakout single “Lykkemaskin.” Building on those eclectic notions they’ve formed in the booth together, they’ve channeled their music through an individual approach that focuses on inviting melodies and cosy soundscapes punctuated by challenging, percussive movements. “Our style is pretty eclectic as a producer and as a DJ-duo” confirms Naomi and while the pair call on a vast array of sounds, genres and styles, there’s an underlying feeling to their sets, which generally lends itself to the music they make today. In an email later, they confirm my suspicions that it’s something that they’ve both cemented from an early age in their individual musical experiences.

Ida and Naomi both grew up in what they consider a “small town” called Sandefjord. Both had taken an early interest in music albeit from different points of view. While Ida was “drawn into singing very early,” Naomi was an avid listener, consuming all she can from Beyonce to Dimmu Borgir. At around the age of 11 Naomi’s dad built her a dance studio in the basement with “some cheap speakers and different kinds of disco lights” encouraging the impressionable youth towards electronic dance music. She would be “dancing like a crazy person to Benny Benassi” in her basement enclave she remembers fondly today. 

Ida, it seems, took a slightly different path as an insular artist “creating her own world” through mediums that ranged from dancing and singing to “painting and writing.” It was pure expression at a time when “you sometimes as a kid feel like nobody else understands anything,” remembers Ida of the experience today. A microphone and a guitar fed that expression into music, where a laptop and synthesisers awaited just beyond. Ida played in bands and eventually moved into electronic music through electro-pop as an established solo artist before meeting Naomi and forming SYNK. 

Ida feels those early introverted childhood experiences evokes a “nostalgic feeling” when she’s on the dance floor today, “cause one can get so brought back to that space – just that you’re not alone in it.” Although she is still working on her solo output which maintains an electro-pop aesthetic, Ida is also working “more and more” on SYNK as well as collaborating with Naomi on her solo work, having “merged” their artistic identity as SYNK.

They would eventually meet while Ida was a booking manager at Kurbadhagen and Naomi started DJing. Naomi had “been that girl at the party” for a while; the girl with all the music and an innate ability for musical narrative in a party setting. A few DJ friends encouraged her further and she found herself at Kurbadhagen in Sandefjord struggling to plug a pair of turntables into the predominantly digital setup. “I was super nervous,” remembers Naomi of her first gig  “and was asking Ida where I should plug in my record players.“ 

The pair became friends and started DJing together, bonding over Scandinavian Disco before quickly absorbing their individual eclecticisms. “It’s the feeling I guess and the feeling drew me in,” says Naomi with Ida re-iterating “the vibe” that continues to flow through their sets and music today. 

Moving from DJing to production, Ida and Naomi’s roles are more fluid than most DJ-production duos, sharing responsibilities based on practicalities. “I think because we use two different DAWs (recording platforms) we change between one of us setting up the recording and one of us having an analogue synth,” explains Ida who would be the more accomplished musician of the two, and who I had assumed would take on more of the technical roles in their music. That’s not the case however and as Naomi has just finished her first year in a production course in Oslo, and they’re working more remotely between Oslo and Sandefjord the dynamic in the group is more fluid than the general DJ-production duo.  

Things just “seem to come naturally” for Ida and Naomi when working together, and it’s something that had cemented itself early on in their working relationship. Going from Djing to production was effortless too. While  “drinking some beers” in Ida’s studio, something just clicked and the ideas just came “super naturally” to them. I ask if it’s easier with SYNK than with Ida’s solo project which relies on structured forms and defined melodies and Ida thinks about it before replying:I feel like it’s easier to just jump in and do it with SYNK. When we produce together, it can just happen a bit spontaneously and we’re a bit more free.” 

It’s that freedom that gives them the ability to forego style, genre and categories and produce everything for the vibe. “We started out without defining it under a certain genre,” explains Ida and they “just started off with a vibe… just experimenting.” It’s an attitude that allows Ida and Naomi to “produce what we want to” from the effervescent space-disco of Lykkemaskin to the thunderous onslaught of rhythms of their newest remix of Nattl4ampe’s “Nejjjj.” That remix for the Mhost Likely label is the first of a string of releases waiting in the wings according to Ida and Naomi.

As well as an EP on Full Pupp there are also those missing songs from the “quarantine soundwaves” playlist, and that’s just the news they can share with me right at this point. With club nights and some residencies that should come back after the pandemic, SYNK are sure to expound on their success in 2021. There’s a lot to look forward to from this young duo with established artists and tastemakers like Prins Thomas picking up early on their talents. For Ida, those things and the releases have at least confirmed some feeling that we were on the right track,” dispelling insecurities that they’ve both shared. 

Even so “the tracks we are working on now are a bit different from Lykkemaskin,” warns Naomi and that’s the confirmation transforming into confidence as the pair delve deeper and further into that eclectic realm of their mixes and merging as an artistic unity called SYNK.  

We’re Open!

We’re open Wednesday to Saturday from 16:00 -22:00 with DJs from 19:00.

We’re open! After what seemed like the longest winter, we’re back and the bass bins have been purring along beautifully this last week. As our residents and their guests have been re-familiarising them with the booth, we’ve opened the courtyard just as the  the sun started bearing down on Oslo. After a couple of weeks of spit and polish and a will they won’t they see-saw of emotion as Oslo kept delaying the eventual opening, we’re getting back into the groove and what Jaeger and the DJs do best

We’re open everyday from 16:00 with DJ’s every night from 19:00. Residents G-HA & Olanskii, Finnebassen, BigUP!, Prins Thomas and Ivaylo have thoroughly run the system through its paces with guest appearances from SYNK, Christian Engh, Kompressorkanonen and Spacebear adding to the excitement. The consensus is unanimous, we’re back in no uncertain terms.

There are still covid-19 protocols in place, but they are changing on a daily basis and we’ll keep you informed here as to how they develop. Please observe our cautions at the venue, and we’ll keep eking out the night and the volume as our lives slowly return to some sense of normality. We’re back and it’s good to have you back. You can check our programme page to find out what’s happening in the courtyard.  see you on the dance floor real soon.

PS.: If you’re the person in the picture, please get in touch with us at editor@jaegeroslo.no.

All events cancelled until the 20th of May

“A brighter night” week 1 and 2 will be cancelled and all ticket holders will be refunded in full.

Due to the extenuating circumstances around the covid-19 pandemic, we’ve had to cancel all our events up until the 20th of May 2021. We’re sorry to inform that we are unable to go ahead with our planned Brighter night event series until further notice, and have had to cancel all our events up until the 20th of May. We hope to be back by the 20th of May and pick up where we left off with #abrighternight

A full refund will be issued for everybody that bought tickets via ticketco, and we’ll send you an email shortly on how to retrieve your refund.

We’re still eager to get back to what we do best and hope to continue with the scheduled “A brighter night” events after the 20th of May 2021, as determined by Oslo byrådet. We thank you for your continued patience during this trying time and look forward to continued support. Look for more announcements regarding our events via this channel.

See you on the floor…

BigUp! midweek special cancelled

The first event of 2021 is cancelled due to on-going covid-19 restrictions. Refunds will be issued in full.

Due to the ongoing covid-19 restrictions, we’re unable to go ahead with the scheduled event on the 5th of May. Big-UP! midweek special, which was due to inaugurate the 2021 season will be cancelled and all tickets will be refunded in full via ticketco.

BigUP! will be back in the backyard on the 7th of June, unless subject to any other changes due to the covid protocols and measures. Please look out for more updates to follow about our other scheduled events. We thank you for your patience as we continue to be affected by the pandemic.

see you on the floor…

Greetings from Jaeger: We’ve been hibernating and dreaming of a dance floor

There’s a picture of an empty Jaeger basement that encounter on my computer every so often. It was taken late 2019, and the empty void lingers indefinitely in a reality today where the pandemic has taken an immense toll. Had I known it would be one of the last pictures I took of the basement, I would’ve waited for the crowd to flood in through the doors at least. The empty void is a stark reminder of the reality we find ourselves in, and god knows I hardly need a reminder…

None of us could’ve predicted the science fictitious reality that is 2020/21, least of all me. I remember listening to Jeff Mills in the basement only a few weeks before, like nothing in the world could touch us. And when Jaeger closed its doors for the first lockdown almost a year ago, I was naive enough to believe this would be nothing but a blip, and by the summer we would be back in business. Ola Smith-Simonsen was more pragmatic, saying “the optimist in me hopes that we’re drinking a beer at Øya festival in 2020.” Øya never came and summer went and now in the middle of winter, the dance floor is still in the abstract and the basement remains empty with a faint glimmer of hope that we will be back there in a couple of months.

Although if you’re inclined to believe the pragmatic Germans we’ll be lucky if we’re back to business as usual by the summer of 2022. That makes for some grim reading, but Ola is already hard at work towards a tentative start in May 2021 with a host of Jaeger residents and close friends in the booth again… fingers crossed.

Those first events in 2021 will come almost a year on from the first lockdown and Jaeger’s gone through many different phases since. Ola and co. have done their best to accommodate erratic measures subject to volatile infectious rates, to retain some semblance of a dance floor. From the lenient – listening to DJs till 3am in a seated position – to the downright drastic – the revocation of the license – Jaeger has remained steadfast in its pursuit of the dance floor and its music through some of the most extreme circumstances any of us has ever lived through.

Yes, it’s official… we’re living in the matrix today. We’ve taken a collective xanax disguised as a red pill and our lives have played out online in some virtual reality of our lives. From the uncomfortably safe confines of our “hjemme kontor” we’ve done everything from work to socialise and I’ve personally had enough. Those initial zoom “parties” and streaming sets all seemed so innocent at first, and now we’re stuck with them.  Even the bears had enough at some point. We’ve encountered some inspiring and some questionable actions in pursuit of a dance floor and a sincere focus on local musical talents in lieu of an international industry breathing down our necks. We’ve seen the human spirit eager to adapt to any circumstance and what became abundantly clear through it all is that no matter in what regard the conservatives of the world might perceive this music and its audience, the salient through is that it is a culture and its a stronger unifier than any “dugnad” could ever be.

We are a culture of people with introverted tendencies, and for many of us this is our only social contact with the rest of the world. As we’ve gone deeper into the pandemic we’ve become more reclusive, dreaming of a dance floor and for many our only connection to the outside world. The winter has been some of the most trying times, as we’ve become ensconced in our personal record collections and fond recollections of a heaving dance floor and an indomitable sound system that are now littering instagram feeds like NFT breadcrumbs back to a time when we had some dignity. Those “insta-memories” just don’t do it justice. The visceral sense of freedom that the dance floor instils and the primordial energy that ebbs and flows through a room like Jaeger’s basement is unique to the physical aspects. As Charlotte Bendiks quite rightly put it a few months ago on the very blog:“Music is such a physical experience.” It requires a physical presence and it in most cases it demands a physical reaction, a corporeal expression.

I wonder what the lasting social significance of the dance floor might be after the pandemic? As DJs and producers get older, have children, they’ve undoubtedly come to some serious introspective conclusion, which might even lead to a total abandonment of the culture for a career in… god forbid… marketing. What about the next generation in club music, surely this leaves very little incentive to indulge a hobby or a leisurely pursuit? What about the people that have been able to scratch a meager living from this culture? If the powers that be have their way, we’ll all be quietly compliant in our induction into the temp workforce.

One positive thing that I hope will make a lasting impression is the re-appreciation for the local DJ; s/he who through it all has remained a steadfast tastemaker for the dance floor in any shape or form, at risk of his/her own health during the time of the pandemic. Ola Smith-Simonsen has ensured Jaeger has done its fair share in providing a semblance of a living and a cultural verification for the local DJ during these trying times, and it’s something that he hopes to carry over past the pandemic. Because regardless of what people will have you believe, this is still a culture, and even when it gets corrupted in an industry there are still individuals and institutions pursuing a cultural pastime on a dance floor.

Under these most stringent lockdown measures for the last three months, that’s the crucial ingredient we’ve missed. Jaeger is not a bar, or a café, or a restaurant. The dance floor is where the culture cements itself, and that’s where the pandemic has hit the community the hardest. The dance floor was the first thing to go and it will by all accounts be the last thing to open. We’ve tried to accommodate the lockdown through all its different stages, even go as far to have it open without a license, but the there’s always been something missing and that is the dance floor and the people on it.

There might be some tentative plans to re-open in May (even without serving alcohol), but even then the dance floor is still a pipe dream until the vaccination process is completed and it is confirmed to work. We’ll try to open as soon as we can however, just to keep the pandemic profiteers from the door and ensure a future for a scene. Until then we’re dreaming of a day on the dance floor.

see you there…

Mischa Mathys

A brighter night – Jaeger in May/June 2021

We’re looking to the future across a new horizon and a time when we can open Jaeger’s doors once again. We’ve set a tentative objective for May in the hope that a vaccine and the sun will initiate the return to normality and we want to be at the forefront of it all, chasing a ray of hope and a time where we can have a dance floor in full effect again. 

It will be a good day when we can dust off the cobwebs and bring some life back to a dance floor with the sun looming ever longer in the sky. We look forward to a day when we can invite you all back with the warm embrace of our soundsystem in lieu of a physical hug. It will be  a brighter night as Jaeger sets its sights on a May and June programme.

We’ve started making arrangements with some of Oslo’s leading lights back in the DJ booth, building on the foundations we started laying towards the end of last year. Our closest and dearest are back in the fray with residents and a slew of regular guest DJs providing the springboard into summer 2021 and towards the full return of  the dance floor. Residencies like Lyd, Big-UP, Sous-Vide, Serenity Now and Frædag are all back, with appearances by Prins Thomas, g-HA & Olanskii, Normann and Finnebassen to name but a few.

The full lineup will be confirmed at a later date and with regard to the ongoing covid-19 measures in effect. Watch this space for more details to follow soon and we hope to see you on the dance floor very soon. 

Norske Byggeklosser: Bjørn Torske introduces Trym Søvdsnes

It must take something special and unique for Bjørn Torske’s ears to perk up. The DJ and artist has cemented a legacy in House music in Norway, with a career spanning the great expanse of electronic club music as one of its most celebrated sons. 

From the small university town of Tromsø he was one of the first wave of DJs bringing this music to fjordian shores, and one of the first artists to export it beyond the country’s borders. As he moved from Tromsø to Bergen, he not only established House music in the region, but also played a significant role in establishing an individual Norwegian identity in House music, often referred to as Space Disco. 

With albums that rank in classic lore and DJ sets as intuitive as they are surprising, Bjørn Torske is nothing short of a legend in music. With credentials like these, when Bjørn Torske’s ears perk up so do ours, and when Ola Smith-Simonsen (Olanskii) proposed a Norske Byggeklosser event, Torske had a wildcard poised and ready.  

Trym Søvdsnes was his choice, and together they represent the establishment and the future of a flourishing Bergen music scene for House music and Techno. They’ve have been regular acquaintances in the booth, most notably sharing the bill at this summer’s Sofa House events in Norway.

Søvdsnes is a vinyl enthusiast with an eclectic approach as mixes he’s shared online demonstrates, drifting between the more abstract corners of House and Techno, blurring the fringes of dance music and listening music. With a focus on mood and energy he brings a dynamism to the booth that harks back to the classic roots of club music, the very same roots Bjørn Torske helped seed in this arena. After playing together as DJs, Torske and Søvdsnes expanded their collaboration to the studio when they remixed a track for Diego Carpitella’s album “Tarantismo: Odyssey of an Italian Ritual.”

With their first joint visit to Jaeger looming this weekend we sent out some questions to the elder statesman of House music to ask more about Trym Søvdsnes, about how they found each other, and what this means for the scene in Bergen in this Q&A session. 

How did you first hear of Trym and what was it about him that particularly drew you to his sets? 

Well, he and a friend started playing regularly at Cafe Opera in Bergen, and I took notice of their mixing of styles – somewhat dirty, rough techno and house fused with breakbeats and percussion, sounding quite unlike a lot of the other dj’s playing around Bergen at that time. I mean, locally we have a growing interest in good club music, and quite a few talented people. But Trym had an attitude in the music that is kind of rare these days, where people tend to sort of “polish” their style into perfection, well I feel Trym was a bit opposite to that.  

Why are you bringing him to Oslo for this particular night? 

I’ve been thinking for a long time that we sometime ought to play together in Oslo, I know he’s played a few times at Hærverk with the guys from Oblivion Dip, and so when Ola told me about “Norske Byggeklosser” and the idea of promoting Norwegian artists, that was a perfect occasion to make this happen. 

You’ve booked him, and played alongside him during one of the Sofa House events this summer.  What does a Trym Søvdsnes set sound like to you? 

Depending on the setting, of course, but slightly rough-edged, beautiful and often bound to surprise. 

And how does it compare to what you’re playing at the moment? 

It appears to me that we’re on the same wavelength according to mixing styles and creating a vibe that in some way could be reminiscent of the early styles of dj’ing – a “house (not house)”-approach to dance music.  

I hear a lot of old-school acid and Techno in his recorded sets, something which corresponds with  regional appeal at the moment. For somebody that was there when this music first came round, what  are your feelings towards this music today?  

For me the musical history and development has always been an expanding pallet as opposed to a linear string of events. It’s the sheer quality of sound and music that matters the most, there’s very little place for nostalgia in this for me. If it sounds good, I’ll play it, whether it be from 1990 or 2020.  

From what I’ve gathered through snippets on social media and his mixes, is that Trym is a vinyl  enthusiast and first and foremost, a DJ. What else can you tell us about his musical tastes and  attitude to DJing? 

He likes his vinyl, as I do, and he is an avid crate digger. He’s very good at finding stuff before anyone else, and if there’s a rumour of a new load of second hand stuff coming in to the local shop, he’ll be there first, no doubt, haha. Regarding taste and attitude, I feel it reflects my own – finding the hidden gems, being adventurous and curious in the pursuit of good music. Not being dependent on big hits or hype to play a good set. 

Do you see something of a younger Bjørn Torske in him? 

We just have a similar approach, I think. Age isn’t that important, and Trym definitely has a much broader taste than I had at that age.  

What is your musical relationship like outside of the booth; do you often share and talk about  music, and how would that go usually; like a conversation or more like a student and his pupil? 

We have been in the studio together on several occasions, and our first venture was a remix or rather a remake of some very strange old Italian ritual music. We also did a live studio set for Oslo Club Cast earlier this year, and that would be a good example of how we would be “talking” about music. To me  it’s just a well working musical partnership, where we bounce ideas back and forth. I guess I learn as  much from him as he does from me.  

What, if anything have you taken from your experiences with Trym?

Many good musical ideas, and the sense of playing the ball back and forth gives a lot, especially since I’ve mostly focused on solo work throughout my career. And I think he has the same non-competitive approach. No forcing of ideas, just playing around and letting the music speak for itself.  

What is the major difference in terms of how you got started in this music, compared to a younger  DJ like Trym’s experiences today, from your point of view? 

The presence of the internet, and the fact that there is a Norwegian scene for this music. It wasn’t back  then, the few of us doing this felt isolated on a lonely island in the north. And also electronic music wasn’t  widely accepted back then, quite different from today when you can actually get funds to do a PhD in  electronic music. 

What does he represent for the Bergen scene today in your opinion?  

The underground house music movement. 

Bergen must, like the rest of Norway, encourage a fair bit collaboration across genres, styles and  generations. What do you think this instills in Norwegian club music and culture that sets it apart  from other cities and countries? 

On one hand, it’s a good environment for experimenting and pursuing weird ideas. The challenge is to get a focus in all the diversity. I don’t think that the“next big thing” will emerge here, but probably a handful of  good and interesting music.  

Do you think it is something that’s ever reflected in your work as an artist?  

It suits me well, and yes, the musical openness has definitely influenced my approach to music.  There is room to both play and produce dance music in a broad sense.  

At least, I can see its influence in introducing an artist like Trym to the world, when you work  together like on your recent remix for the Tarantismo record.  What was it like working with him on a piece of music and has it cemented a working relationship that will extend beyond that record? 

Yes, we’ve been working together on some material coming out on Prins Thomas’ Full Pupp label early next year. I also mixed my next mini-album in Trym’s studio. I’m also planning to do few remixes of his stuff.  

Do you think that working on music together might feed back into the booth on the occasion when  you do play together for a set like the upcoming one at Jaeger? 

Yes, I think it does, and vice versa. Production and dj’ing are two sides of the same coin, and this has always been crucial to me – taking dj experiences back into the studio, translating the dynamics of a dance floor into the studio mix. And similarly, taking ideas born in the studio and applying them in the mixing of records.

How a scene is built with Charlotte Bendiks and Olivia Rashidi

Tromsø, has been an unlikely breeding ground for musical talent, with repercussions rippling through  Norway and the entire electronic music world stage since the early nineties. The small university- and fishing town up North, with endless dark days and an uncanny pool of talent, has cemented electronic music in the region, spreading it to the furthest reaches of an international scene, since first establishing its reign.

In Norway, Tromsø’s effect extends to Bergen and Oslo, with long tendrils of influence  connecting generations of musicians, DJs and artists, who continue to embody the original and unwavering spirit of that original scene. Two significant figures to emerge from this region are Charlotte Bendiks and Olivia Rashidi, both from Tromsø and carrying on a legacy that has motivated the community and keeps encouraging new artists and DJs to come to the fore. 

Olivia Rashidi met Charlotte Bendiks coming down a mountain in Tromsdalen, mainland Tromsø. “I was lost, and I met Olivia,” remembers Charlotte of the chance encounter with a chuckle. “My friends call me the de-tourist because I have the smallest hippocampus and I have a terrible sense of direction.” The pair struck up a friendship on the journey home, talking about music and DJing, a hobby and nascent career the younger Olivia had started exploring at that time.

The friendship blossomed into collaboration when Charlotte took on the mentorship role through the “Cloud Exit” talent programme associated with Tromsø’s Insomnia festival. Having established a career as a DJ and artist with ties to Cómeme, a residency at Jaeger and regular playing dates in places like Salon Zur Wilden Renate and ://aboutblank, Charlotte took on Olivia as a mentee, strengthening their friendship and a relationship that continues to bear fruit as Olivia’s own DJ career evolves and grows.

Olivia had just started receiving requests to play outside Norway, when the lockdown struck, while Charlotte’s own career continued to go from strength to strength alongside her younger apprentice. Today, they mark Tromsø’s latest musical exports, enjoying the ranks alongside the likes of Bjørn Torske and Rune Lindbæk, a feat even more impressive considering they are two of the few women coming from a historically male dominated culture.

Representing a blossoming career in Olivia Rashidi and a musical institution in Charlotte Bendiks, the pair constitute a bright and formidable future for club music in Norway, which looks to only consolidate around their individual works in the DJ booth. 

It’s this kind of relationship and these artists, that Ola Smith-Simonsen is trying lift up through the Norske Byggeklosser event series, and it was ahead of their appearance this Saturday, in our sauna, that we took the opportunity to talk to both Charlotte and Olivia in an extensive and all-encompassing interview, covering everything from the gender to the lockdown…you know, Mental Overdrive’s new track… 

* Charlotte Bendiks and Olivia Rashidi plays Norske Byggeklosser this Saturday. 

Are you still maintaining the mentor and mentee relationship today?

Charlotte: To be honest that was just a formality. Olivia and I had found each other and we were exchanging ideas and music before that, which usually happens in small cities like this. That’s how I started making music as well; you meet someone that’s older and more experienced and they show you and share their ideas. That’s how the scene is built. We are maintaining a friendship and sharing our stories of life in general. It’s more of an exchange than a mentor and menteeship. 

Olivia, Why did you feel that you had to go to an established DJ like Charlotte for this kind of relationship and not people within your own peer group?

Olivia: I don’t think it was that I couldn’t go to them. Charlotte is somebody that has always inspired me because she’s one of the few female artists from northern Norway. That’s why it was so easy to talk to her about it and in no way, are there people being exclusive. 

Charlotte: We have similar tastes in music.

Photo by Mats Gangvik

Olivia: I could relate to her in terms of music, but we also come from the same place and have the same kind of experiences.

Charlotte: I wish there were other females when I started, because the pressure that you get from some men is very unhealthy and can be damaging in many ways. To be relying on a female figure that’s older and has more experience in these matters is very important. I was very happy to provide that for Olivia.  

I also took my mentorship into areas beyond music, talking about politics, about equality, and issues in the industry that’s very important to consider as an artist today. It’s important to address these issues, because as an artist today, if you’re not being political then what are you?

It seems that today an artist can’t separate their music from their politics, whether you want to or not. But one thing that you touched on there, is the female perspective. You described your relationship as symbiotic, and from my experiences with men in music, it tends to be very one-directional, with an older generation very much still dominating the conversation about music. 

Charlotte: I’ve experienced that too. I thought this was very important as a mentor to say; “This is my advice to you from my perspective, but there are people that have a completely different  set of experiences and skills, so I would advise you to shop around and make up your own mind on what fits with you and your output.” I wouldn’t say that it is exclusively a female approach, but I would say I’ve experienced it more with other women than men. 

We’re underground artists working on the border of art and music, and there isn’t going to be some recipe for success. You should break the rules, you should be rebellious, you should question the structures or the methods of your forebears.

So if I could try and sum up your relationship, as mentor and mentee…

Charlotte: Good luck (laughs)

It’s not like you are exactly taking Olivia under your wing, but more like you’re helping her in nurturing her own voice in music?

Charlotte: That’s my aim. There are practical things that you can do, and we’ve done workshops on that. The main thing about being a mentor is teaching people to trust themselves. 

Olivia: I want to elaborate on that. After my first back to back with Charlotte, I had another gig the following Wednesday at Circa. I remember you (Charlotte) told me that the Wednesdays at Circa were loungy and it wasn’t a big rave atmosphere, and you challenged me to not mix  half of my set. Up until that moment I had been teaching myself how to mix perfectly, because that’s what I thought you had to do. I started to think about how you put two tracks together without mixing it, which opened up the idea, that it’s not terrible, if you make a mistake or not mix a track into another. It allowed for more creativity and gave me more confidence as a DJ, I stopped taking myself too seriously and began loving those small human flaws you sometimes hear in a set. For me that means you’ve challenged yourself and had fun with it.

Charlotte: I’ve said that to a lot of fresh DJs. I would rather listen to a DJ who can’t mix and plays good music, than listen to a DJ that plays boring music and can mix. 

You mentioned that you had similar tastes in music. Is there a point where your tastes diverged from each other?

Olivia: Not diverged. We’ve had similar tastes, but we won’t have identical sets. 

Charlotte: I have the same with a friend of mine, Miruna Boruzescu (Borusiade). We talk a lot and we’re very in tune with ideas, life, friendship and music. Our DJ sets are quite different, and for our back to backs we try to find out where to meet somewhere in the middle.

Olivia: I also remember playing alone and I played a track that Charlotte has in one of her mixes, and like two people came up to me, and asked if this isn’t Charlotte’s track. It was Ana Helder, but they were convinced it belonged to Charlotte because she played it regularly. I noticed then that people will naturally compare me to her and I don’t find it insulting in any way, but I feel that’s like asking, ”can I not play anything Charlotte might play?” 

Charlotte: That’s such a toxic idea and I’m so against that comparison. Just because we’re two women from Tromsø working in music in the last 40 years of Tromsø electronic music history, that we have to be compared, and Olivia can’t play a track that I had used in a mix?

Olivia: I just chose to own it in the end. I’m going to play it and I’m going to play it my way, and they just have to deal with that. 

I’ve noticed, not only in Tromsø, but Norway, there always seems to be a healthy exchange, not only between generations, but different groups of people working in music. More here than anywhere else, it seems that the scene isn’t as focused on a youth culture as it is perhaps in bigger countries, but more around an established old guard. 

Charlotte: What is the old guard, and what do you say about an upcommer of 42? What is experience and what do you do with it, and what is success and how do you measure success? All these questions are so open, that it doesn’t fit in the world of music and arts for me. 

This idea of passing the torch doesn’t work for me. Yes, there is a nine years difference (in age)  between me and Olivia and I’ve lived longer than her and I’ve had a longer career, but I don’t think there’s been a generational gap. (Tromsø) is such a small town, it’s just a scene with people, with various people with different sets of skills and experiences.  

It’s my experience from places like London and Amsterdam that it’s a very competitive scene and what usually attracts people and especially the media to it, is youth and the fact that it’s something new. I’ve not experienced it in that same way here in Norway. 

Charlotte: In Germany as well. You have this idea passed down through generations of how society, age and human life should be, but I think we should start realising, that that’s about to become outdated; these ideas of generations and age and experience. 

Olivia: There’s also been this misconception that you have to try to make a living out of it, for it to be your true passion. I want to take my time and I still want to figure out what I want to do with my life and I don’t think that question will ever be answered. I love music and I love DJ-ing, but I also want to do it on my terms. 

I remember you telling something similar the last time we interviewed you. You were talking about production, and how you’re refraining from till you could do it on your terms. Is there a pressure to produce too now?

Olivia: A lot of people have told me I have to start producing and I take that as a huge compliment, but I don’t want to produce something just for the sake of it. Someone else’s capacity will differ from mine, I have a lot of stuff going on and I will do things according to my own ability. 

Me and Charlotte have had workshops and I am constantly recording interesting sounds and I write down ideas, but I’m also acknowledging that music production is a long process, I’m aware that I’ll have to go through some failed projects before something is ready to be released. And I’m patient!

It’s the same with social media. When I made my Facebook page I was so stressed out, because I’m a private person and I don’t really do social media. I didn’t expect that cliché about social media being toxic would apply to my situation, but I got so anxiety ridden because I felt that I didn’t do enough whenever I saw someone else post something interesting, even though I got a lot of gigs and people were constantly inviting me to do stuff. I even started getting invited to Russia and Sweden, gaining ground internationally. 

There’s been so much focus on posting on your progress, especially for a newcomer. I think it’s easy to become stressed out or insecure sometimes. I also have to keep reminding myself that my social media content is not a measurement of my success. 

Charlotte: I also have something to add on this note; compulsive production is like smoking cigarettes in the sixties, addiction is sold as freedom. The more you produce, the more you release, I realise as a music lover, a DJ and music producer, that there is so much that each track loses value. 

It feeds into this universal idea of producing content and in a way music has just become another form of content to feed the social media monster. Are you gonna be producing music for the sake of producing music so Spotify can make more money? 

Charlotte: It doesn’t make sense.

Olivia: When I moved to Oslo, I didn’t have a job, so I was trying to make ends meet by just taking on a lot of gigs. There would be places where they would tell me what kind of music they wanted before I even got there, obviously not knowing my style at all. I felt that I needed to get myself out there and to feed my facebook and instagram feed, but really it didn’t make me more inspired and it didn’t make me feel more successful. It was tiring. When I got a job, I just had to listen to Enya for two weeks because I was so tired of electronic music. 

Are these ideas and thoughts on your own career something you were considering before covid?

Olivia: Yes, because I put a lot of pressure on myself and a facebook notification would pop every day, telling me to “keep posting.” I felt that I was rushing something, and I wasn’t sure where I was rushing to.

Charlotte, have you had any similar experiences to Olivia’s?

Charlotte: It also comes from people that I work with, who are constantly telling me to post more and do more. I felt that pressure, and what I’ve landed on is; “ok I’ll put out some stuff so I can stay in people’s feeds,” but it’s also better to work with an organisation that has their own PR strategy. Like working with a label or a podcast. 

Every time I feel this pressure though, I end up posting memes, because I can’t take this shit seriously. (laughs)

I want to ask about the lockdown… 

Charlotte: You mean Mental overdrive’s new track. 

That was a really surprising EP, but no,  in terms of the pandemic; how has the situation affected you?

Olivia: It’s just been a natural hiatus. I’ve been trying to generally keep my sanity and stay busy and stay inspired. Just listening to sets and staying updated on new releases so when everything goes back to (a new) normal again, I wouldn’t be too big a step for me to get back into the mindset of wanting to play.

Charlotte, you were making a living from DJing and music at the point we reached full lockdown, and not anything in terms of high profile travelling DJ, but surely that has had a serious impact.

Charlotte: I lost everything. I’m supposed to be in Tokyo now. I have my calendar reminding me of all these bookings, which is sad. I’m struggling financially, but being an underground musician, I’m used to being broke… so I’m managing.

Both of you have played through during summer, but your experiences from the booth must have been quite different, since in Oslo, where Olivia’s stayed, there’s been almost no dancing, while in Tromsø, I believe the regulations weren’t as strict. 

Olivia:  In the beginning I thought it would be more of a lounge setting and then somebody would come up to me, saying we really just want to listen to really good club music. I’ve gotten used to it and it feels good to be able to play a high energy set and see people enjoying it, even though they can’t get crazy on the dance floor. 

Charlotte: Music is such a physical experience. 

You can’t replicate that on a set of headphones. 

Olivia: Yes it’s something different, when you’re feeling the bass shaking you to your core. It’s not just about physically feeling the bassline, but also kind of how you move your body to the music.

Charlotte: What I’ve been doing is that I’ve started going to classes at the gym, where they do different muscle workouts to music and beats. To be in a room and listen to loud bass music and jump around and be sweaty around people is amazing, even though the taste of music at the gyms is not what I like to listen to. 

Olivia: I also want to add that for a lot of people, just being part of  a music scene is important. It’s about being social, and meeting new people that have the same interests as you.

Charlotte: It’s a shared experience.

Olivia: And that’s also why it’s so nice to see people together, because they need to socialise together.

For a lot of people growing up with this music, me included it’s deeply ingrained in our cultural fabric. 

Olivia: I actually know someone, who was sitting in the front courtyard while I was playing at Jaeger, and around 12 O’clock he texted me on Instagram and he told me had moved here and discovered the scene in Oslo, just before the first lockdown. It was just so important for him to go out. He was telling me how important the scene was for him to find his own friends. It’s a great way of meeting new people, and for some it’s the only way. 

I think that little story perfectly sums up what club culture and music is to us all. Let’s hope then it will survive the pandemic in whatever form it might take after. 

 

Shine a light in the dark

Shine a light in the dark!

Jaeger will remain open for winter warmers and smooth alcohol free cocktails and beers!
Doors open Wednesday through Saturday 14:00 – 22:00.

Our planned musical program will go ahead in the courtyard 18:00 – 22:00! Albeit in these troubled times the show will be more in the spirit of a winter edition Café Del Mar: Outside, low key, and covid safe – but overhead heating, and still serving a vital slice of audio therapy for your soul. Check the events for full the program.

Join us for tea, coffee, gløgg, hot chocolate, or other alcohol free pleasures, plus a little slice of covid safe musical happiness. Come shine a light, but stay safe and observe the rules:

  • Table service only, and no mingling between tables
  • Please keep 1 meter distance at all times, also at the table, unless you are in the same household
  • Please register a name and contact number on entry. We will only keep your details a maximum of 14 days for track and trace.
  • Facemasks are obligatory indoors when not seated at your table.
  • Face masks will be available to purchase on the premises.

With love from Jaeger

15 years of Full Pupp with Prins Thomas

This feels like hallowed ground. The small inconspicuous room is walled with records. Gathering dust in one corner is a drum kit and a cello while a cluttered desk occupies the other side of the room. This is more like a storage unit than a music studio, but it’s here on the third floor of a pedestrian office building where it all started, a record label called Full Pupp.

Across the hallway, Lindstrøm has a studio and a few doors down Todd Terje used to occupy a room, and if these unassuming walls could talk, they’d narrate fifteen years of a story of a label, that brought the sound of Norwegian House music to the rest of the world, and continues to provide a platform for new Norwegian artists working in the electronic music dialect. 

It’s here where I find Thomas Hermansen, the self-appointed Prins of this musical empire, sifting through some older records. He’s asked me to meet him here, even though he spends most of his time in his second studio. Moving his operations to the suburbs, closer to home a few years back, he uses the old studio as storage for a record collection that has spilled over into three different locations. 

Some of the records he peruses I hear later that week in his set Jaeger, during a new residency he’s cultivated over the course of the pandemic. Like the rest of the world, he’s taken the opportunity to take stock and adapt to the situation. “I’m living in the now and actually embracing that once a month opportunity to put music together” he exclaims with a beaming smile. 

He’s seized the opportunity to play some music from the fringes of this expansive record collection for a new monthly night at Jaeger, he’s aptly called Serenity Now! “Everything is set on pause a little,” he considered, “so it’s more a time for reflection, a time talking with other people and to be social.” For Thomas, the DJ it’s getting back to the start of a long career in the booth, where he cut his teeth in the local bars and hangouts of Oslo during the nineties. 

“The stuff I do now at Jaeger is based on stuff I’ve done before,” he explains. “This goes back 25 years ago, where I would play in a social setting for people that are there to do other things but to dance. I really enjoy doing things that are in the cross-section of these two things, when you can get people to dance to low energy stuff, and even do little peaks where you do play some bangers.”

The night has him content with the current situation and “besides the financial thing and the fact that I miss playing Sundays at Panorama bar, I’m actually quite happy as things are.”

A small pile of records starts to gather at his feet while he’s reminiscing in some automatic selection that suggests he knows each record intimately; records that look as if they haven’t seen anything but cobwebs in a few years. The topic of the pandemic, much like the pandemic itself, lingers as we consider the eventual repercussions and the relevance of releasing and playing club music during this time. 

Thomas even has his doubts about Full Pupp and the 15 year celebrations that started earlier this year with a lot of new releases featuring new or unreleased music from the unwavering stable of artists on the Full Pupp catalogue. “I wish we didn’t,” says Thomas more in humour than regret; “I wish we celebrated 16 years next year,” but what had been set in motion before the pandemic couldn’t easily be undone. 2020 had been a bumper year of releases for the label and Prins Thomas, whose own records included an album on Running Back (Træns) and a new album that saw Thomas reuniting with Lindstrøm for the long-awaited follow up to II, 11 years on from their last record. 

It’s picking up a thread from the early 2000’s when Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas introduced a distinctly Nordic interpretation of House to the world. People called it Space Disco; sowing the seeds for a label called Tamburin, which eventually becomes Full Pupp; bringing music from  Todd Terje, Diskjokke, Skatebård and Telephones to the world stage; shooting into new branches with names like Prins Thomas Music and Horisontal Mambo; and now in its fifteen year, gathering more steam with a new digital imprint (Full Pupp Ekspress) and a lot more music planned for the foreseeable future.

It all started here, in this stuffy little room where we slip into conversation with Prins Thomas. 

Congratulations. 15 years is a long time for a label. 

It feels like thirty. (laughs) At the same time, I don’t feel like the music has evolved much during that time. In a way time is irrelevant. 

Do you feel that’s a positive thing?

That’s the nature of this kind of music. Contemporary dance music always picks up something along the way, but it somehow keeps going in circles. You always go back to the seventies, eighties and nineties to pick up inspiration, adding something new to the formula. And that’s fine; for the most part it’s music to get down to. 

So does it still feel like a celebration at fifteen or is it just another year for you at this point?

This is one of the things I’ve been thinking about; opening up to new ideas. Being inspired by working in a different manner. I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a yearly round-up of stuff. There’s also the possibility of tracks doing well, to combine them on vinyl. So maybe now we’ll celebrate  every year. 

Full Pupp, although it’s been claimed by Space Disco, has had Techno, House and Electro records on there. Do you feel it has been able to shake the stigma of Space Disco today and live beyond such constricting parameters?

As inspiration it’s always going to be there, but not necessarily more than House music in general. The canon of hits or the things that everybody likes; the Detroit origins or the New York origins, all these things are part of it. The Disco thing is there maybe more as an approach to making music, where I think a lot of the artists on Full Pupp are good at producing more loose, not so genre-strict music.

Would you say that’s the sonic philosophy behind Full Pupp; this fusion of all these styles in contemporary dance music? 

I don’t know if I actually have a philosophy or strategy at all. It’s never about the last record, it’s about all the records compiled together, whether it’s my label’s body of work or my own body of work. It’s probably the most frustrating thing about having a label, when you get that question; “what is it(?)”…  I tend to say… “Just listen.” (laughs) 

I understand there is a romantic idea behind it, because now there’s all this music coming and you need these genres and tags to help people find this music. I’m still thinking with my old brain, when there weren’t enough records in a genre to keep things interesting. 

You’re talking about the early nineties?

Even in the mid eighties when I was getting into this, I was buying regular pop records with dub versions on the B-side. Even the shitty stuff. You would have Whitney Houston’s I wanna dance with somebody, the dub version and you would play it next to Beastie Boys.

Now it’s relatively easy to get lost in a wormhole. You could listen to one specific type of techno with the same mood on every record, making the job easier for you as a DJ, but generally it’s boring for anybody else. 

What was the pretext for starting the label all those years ago?

I had friends of mine making great records, and I felt it was stupid for everybody to send their demos abroad, and give their stuff to  English labels. At the time, there weren’t any Norwegian labels making House music, everybody was sending their stuff to English labels and everybody believed that was the only way to do it. I’m not saying it was the first electronic music label; there were others, but not doing the kind of music we were doing.

This would have been around 2004-5 and the start of MP3s and what would become the digital revolution in this music. Was there any sense trepidation releasing records in the physical format during that time?

Well the funny thing is, two of our first records, Todd Terje’s first two records and my debut 12”, they sold quite well in the beginning. We even had a long period where we didn’t sell digitally. 

That’s changed now with Full Pupp ekspress. It’s uncanny, but in a way we’re finding ourselves in a similar situation today after what was a little peak for vinyl’s resurgence for a few years. What’s the difference from that era too now for you to start the digital imprint?

The easiest comparison; in the beginning we would sell 2000 copies of a completely unknown artist on Full Pupp. Now we’re selling 300 copies of my records on Full Pupp. We’re very close to the point where just barely breaking even is a positive thing. 

I have to say, for me it was a bummer even thinking about going digital. I’ve said many times that if I have to release stuff just digitally, it’s not a label anymore and I’m quitting. But starting on the process of planning the first releases, it felt really fresh to not work with constrictions of 12”, maximum 12 minutes. 

It’s opened up a new way of thinking; putting the format aside.We’re still planning releases for  Full Pupp on vinyl, so it’s not like we’re done with vinyl. Opening this door, is opening new possibilities.

What changed in your thought process to even consider the digital format?

Less frustration of having to wait out the period of releasing a record. In the beginning it was about getting the music finished and tidy enough to fit on a record.  By the time the record is out your sick and tired of it and your excitement is elsewhere. 

Having a quicker process from when the music is done to when it comes out. I don’t have to be as aware; are we going to get this funded by selling enough records. 

So it comes down to the economy of the label? You wouldn’t be able to justify going on exclusively in the physical format, eventually you and word and sound would run out of money.

I’m not saying everything is not selling, I’m saying there’s far more records not selling enough. It takes too long to recoup the money from the sales. At some point you have to take into account that they have to destroy the records. 

 It’s a good testing ground to see what could sell on vinyl.

Yes. That is also part of the plan, that Full Pupp isn’t just a digital label, we still have the possibility of doing anything or everything on vinyl.

Do you think it will change your approach to A&R for Full Pupp?

I think it already did. There was stuff I was going to put out on vinyl that is now only digital, but it gives me more room to move. I can take chances on tracks that wouldn’t be one of the four on vinyl.

Which seems right in today’s landscape. You can’t expect to make any money releasing a physical record, even if you release it on your own label, it is just going to cost you money.

I think the safest bet is that if you really want to make some money,  is to make some music that people would want to pay for, and fund it yourself. 

Then you would need to play to the common denominator, surely?

Not exactly, but then it’s going to have to be something that more than fifty other people in the world wants. And I think there are too many people making music for fifty other people. I might do it myself, but at least I’ve cheated my way into having a further reach (laughs). So when I make a track that’s probably only meant for 100 other people, there’s maybe 2000 other people, listening to it. 

Does that have to do with your success as a DJ in reaching these people?

I think it’s a mixture, being a recording artist over time, and those first releases with Lindstrøm and having my name out there as a DJ and doing remixes. At different times it seems that it’s hard escaping my name no matter what kind of music you’re listening to.

Do you think Full Pupp could exist without Prins Thomas?

Of course, if somebody wants to buy it, I’d be happy to sell it. (laughs) An important fact about all this is; the only reason there is a Prins Thomas music label is because I was thinking of pulling the plug on Full Pupp. At the time I was really getting fed up with not living up to people’s expectations, when it came to sales and how slow things were going. Now I think it’s like this for everybody.

More importantly is that for the last year Ivaylo (Kolev) has been helping out running it so we can actually call it a record label, because for fourteen years it wasn’t… it was just an imprint. 

I’ve noticed, besides remixes, your own music is mainly coming out via these like International or the Prins Thomas music label. Have you distanced your own music further away from Full Pupp in recent years?

Setting up Prins Thomas music was definitely a way of getting my stuff out of the way, so I wouldn’t clog up the catalogue with my own releases. When I put a record out, it has a bit more spread and coverage, which means the label is probably working longer and harder with it. Those are the times when we can hire external PR and stuff like this, because there will be some revenue. It only took two people to point the finger, saying “when is my record coming out, now that your record is out.” 

But for the last year, I’ve been a lot more involved with the label, and trying to keep up with Ivaylo’s schedule. Because now we actually have a schedule. Getting more involved means that I see more things that need to be done, so I’m much more part of the process. 

As far as I know, you have always had a very hands on approach to the artists on the label, from the point of creation. Is that an integral part of the approach to the label?

It’s a bunch of different approaches, in terms of what the artist wants and what I want to hear. How I perceive what I’ve been sent. If I feel that the message is not coming across in the way the artist solved it, I have to give my own take on it, either by helping out mixing down, arranging or speaking to the person. But sometimes I stay away if I feel there’s something that has a strong identity already, I don’t want to interfere with that.

But that in itself  is something of the sonic identity that courses through Full Pupp?

Yes, but that’s just down to my taste. And it’s already been filtered, not everybody sends me music. I do get a lot of music, that I don’t see a part of any of the labels that I do. And there’s things that don’t live up to expectations.; since starting the label, I’ve always wanted to put out a great rock record,  but nobody has sent me a great rock record.

Have you received any rock records?

Yes, there have been some. But not anything that I think works as a record.

But you’ve started some other labels, that you accommodate things that don’t always fit the Full Pupp sound.

Yeah but there are enough labels now. (laughs)

Where do you see it all five years from now?

I have no idea whether I’ll be doing the label in another five years, I probably will, because I’m a slow quitter… who knows…

Update: New Regulations regarding Covid – 19

We’re open – still serving you our slice of happiness!

Join us from afterwork until midnight, Wednesdays through Saturday.

Some rules apply to keep us both happy and safe:

  • No entry after 22:00 – so come early, stay for the night!
  • Table service only, and no mingling between tables
  • Please keep 1 meter distance at all times, also at the table, unless you are in the same household
  • Please register a name and contact number on entry. We will only keep your details a maximum of 14 days for track and trace.
  • Facemasks are obligatory indoors when not seated at your table.
  • Face masks will be available to purchase on the premises.

Please head home if you feel any signs of fever or respiratory distress or other symptoms of illness.

Stay safe – but don’t stop living!

Don’t worry if you are confused, we are here to guide you.

And we are here to keep you safe, so we can still enjoy these pleasures in life we need to keep us sane.

 

See you at the table!

The cut with Filter Musikk: “kortreist” to sanctuary

Dance floors stand empty; a silent void crushing the ghostly reverberations of a time when they were packed with licentious bodies moving to a provocative beat. Sound systems remain dormant, dust and rust coagulating around moving parts in rictus, where once upon a time their motions could ignite fires on the dance floor. 

Anything resembling a scene is in hibernation and accurately so. Yet every day we’re bombarded by a caterwaul of emails, social media posts and articles proclaiming the next “big room techno banger” about to arrive on the next big techno banger label, spearheaded by the last big room techno banger DJ, desperately trying stay relevant in a scene that has taken to the woods, where their services are no longer required. 

They breathe the air of other planets, their perception of reality emulsifying around the last great night, the last big room, the last DJ set, trapped in limbo like a wary Jack Nicholson trying to force a door open with an axe… yes, subtle. These uncharted territories in charted dance music where adaptation thrives and reluctance to modulate is the death knell in the form of a 909 kick. It’s time to wake up from the lysergic dream of an impossible past, and it’s in situations like these that a new music will thrive. It’s music that is in direct contact with a localised audience, a music in the form of a conversation rather than a monologue. 

Music does not live in a bubble of isolation, it lives and grows within the zeitgeist of society, and in a world where the “big room” is closed; the dance floor is cluttered with tables and chairs; the international superstar DJ is landlocked and homebound; and the festival season is postponed, perhaps now is not the time for your “big room Techno banger.” You’ll have your chance again… but we need something different now; something a little more sympathetic with the situation.

Luckily this music exists too, and it’s happening right on our doorstep. It’s a short trip to liberation, a brief jaunt toward complete immersion of a unique and distinct music culture, with everything from Trance to House finding a new purpose in more uplifting spirits. This is music that soothes and condoles in unprecedented times, the stuff we recognise from the people we know. This is the cut with Filter Musikk on a “kortreist” to sanctuary. 

 

Mikkel Rev – UTE004 (UTE.REC) 12”

Uteklubb have been busy. While they wait patiently for the pandemic to ease and get back to hosting events, the people behind the DJ collective have focussed all their efforts on the label and their music, and 2020 has been a bumper year of releases for the artists behind the label. Settling into a transcendental sonic disposition, Uteklubb have moved out from the dark recesses of Techno into the enlightened sound of Trance, IDM and Ambient music. They’ve established a new label Sinensis with Omformer consolidating those efforts around two releases while the flagship label, re-focussed their purpose on the boisterous tempos of the impromptu forest dance floor with the Groundcontrol compilation and now the latest 12” from UTE.REC founder Mikkel Rev.

Disappearing into fluffy clouds of rich dynamic textures, Rev’s melodies rise above the steadfast rhythm sections that follow the grid in a near-military precision. Pads and keys free the beat from its marching orders as they streak across the tracks in search of some human empathy in lieu of a dance floor. 

Throughout the two-sides, Rev seeks some organic entity within the formulas of dance music, and takes the music out of the stuffy confines of a club into the fresh air, where we’ll dance el-fresco as the uppermost resonances touch the top of fir trees. Between elements of acid, IDM and ambient, Mikkel Rev channels a sound into a style with its major touchstone anchored in classic Trance, revamped for the future audiences of this forgotten, but endearing dance music genre. 

 

VA – 15 Years Full Pupp Pt.3 (Full Pupp) 12″

15 years of Full Pupp. That should be enough. 15 years for any label is a feat worth aspiring to, but for Prins Thomas’ plucky Oslo-based outfit it had always seemed like an inevitability as the only outlet for Techno, House et al from Norway for nearly all this time. And in its fifteenth year, it’s only gone to prove itself as a dominating force in dance club music in Norway and beyond. 

Releasing more music than ever in 2020 – and we don’t think the pandemic has anything to do with it – Full Pupp is putting out enough music the world over, all based on a small enclave of artists working from within Prins Thomas immediate artistic circle, based mostly in Norway. For the last 15 years, Full Pupp has been the measure to gauge the waters of Norwegian club music, and while it would still bear association with the Space Disco epithet for most, its discography reaches far and wide into everything from Disco to Techno, and that’s not considering all the sublabels. 

In the landmark year for the label, Prins Thomas is celebrating the occasion with a series of compilation EPs from the artists that have contributed to the label over the years in a concerted effort from Prins Thomas to wrangle the eclectic sounds of the diverse record label into a concise sonic history. Part three in the series features another star-studded guest list with contributions from Skatebård, Iben Elaster, Magnus International and the second ever release of Wildflowers, the new collaborative project between Kaman Leung and Øyvind Morken. 

Between the warbling acid of Prins Thomas’ treatment of Sitronsyre, to the cosmishe wizardry of Wildflower’s Magic Johnson, it’s a record that covers the vast expanse of Norway and Oslo’s club dialect and music history. It retains that intrinsic Full Pupp identity, which has even gone some way to define an artist like Skatebård’s music. The crisp sounds and the cold atmospheres creeping in between effervescent melodic excursions and lattice-like percussive arrangements, is indicative of the Full Pupp charm that has travelled from Norway to the furthest reaches of Japan and is enshrined in the expanding Full Pupp catalogue. Here’s to another fifteen years, Full Pupp.  

 

Omformer – Ascending /Distance (HMD Records) 12”

I can’t think of a place anybody would rather be than hjemme med dama at the moment. The Oslo-based label and community celebrates five years years as a mix concept born out of the bedroom that has matured into an event series, a label and a festival, only to return to the bedroom in 2020, where it’s found some striking sympathy with the world around it in their latest.

Omformer bring their unique take on Trance and Ambient to HMD. Two extensive cuts, float between beat music and ambient texture across Ascending and Descending, as we go from the main floor to the second room of a nineties Rave across the release. An obscure narrative follows the record over two sides, as that swinging rope bridge from the dance floor to the living room. As Ascending’s lively intro drifts away into pirouetting acid figures and eventually drop into the languid mood of Distance, it marks the serene anti-climax of a night out, captured in sound.

It’s the ultimate come-down record for what’s proven to be the ultimate come-down situation, even though it was made way before the pandemic. But going from those ecstatic highs of the first half to the sluggish relief of the second half of the record, and even in the slow recesses of the Distance’s downtempo exaltations, Omformer find a chipper disposition as synthesisers leap across arrangement in buoyant movements. 

 

Fredfades & Jawn Rice – Remixes (Mutual Intentions) 10”

House music hasn’t sounded this cool in a long time. If Eddie Murphy’s leather suits and Tom Hardy’s sneer made music, this is what it would sound like.  Mutual Intentions have been unravelling the borders between Soul, House, Jazz, Hip Hop and Disco across their affiliates since establishing the concept, but it’s in the recent collaborative efforts of Jawn Rice and Fredfades where they’ve blurred these borders into a House music trope that engages as much as it entices.

After a stint in the hot tub as Jacuzzi Boys in 2018, the pair followed it up with Luv Neva Fades this year, a record that bathes in the same tropical warmth of its predecessor, but refining the sound with the help of a stellar cast of collaborators. Arriving around the same time, was a remix package of some released and unreleased material getting the treatment from the Jacuzzi Boyz themselves, Chmmr, Deep88 and Hugo LX.

From Chmmr re-assembling Show me How’s percussive arrangement to Hugo LX’s soulful excursions through Mutual Love’s horn sections, each artist imprints their own personality on these tracks, but it’s the hazy heat of Fredfades and Jawn Rice originals that remain at the center of the record’s appeal.  

Chmmr’s icy melodic treatments and Deep88’s vision for the dance floor on I believe, show a different side to these tracks, but it’s the dusty keys and muggy atmospheres of the originals that is the glue that holds these tracks together.  

 

Snorre Magnar Solberg – Arkhe Typos (On On Bulk)

Snorre Magnar Solberg communes with aliens on his latest; “A 1 hr journey into the realm of synthesizer shamanism, exploring ambi-trance, textural drone, uplifting acidic, cosmic cradle lullaby`s with added tribal machine rhythms.”

Solberg taps into the primordial ooze of emotion, converting introverted suggestions into movement and noise. Incandescent bleeps and squawks flicker from some subconscious diatribe in a cosmic language, reconstituted as sound and then music. Snorre Magnar Solberg dives deep into the recesses of an inanimate synthesiser on Arkhe Typos in a record that drifts between experimental improvisation and synthetic ambience.

Melodic refrains and harmonic passages with nowhere to go, float untethered, in a void across stark electronic soundscapes that feel more like ambient installation than anything from a dance music dialect. Touchstones from acid and trance coalesce around defiant formations progressing across the record like constellations, briefly revealing a hidden pattern, before dispersing into complete randomness.   

* The cut with Filter Musikk goes live at Jaeger this Wednesday with a Vinyl Messe and DJ sets from Roland Lifjell and Sverre Brand.

Keep it locked on Løkka: Introducing Løkka FM

Air Max ‘97s two stepping their way through the murky bass-spectrum’s of the UK underground as rolling rhythms undulate under growling voices,spreading the poetry of street.  This the  sound original pirate material, the sound of illicit airwaves being broadcast from rudimentary FM antennas hanging from a council estate building. It’s the sound of UK garage, two step, funky and what would become grime and dubstep in later years and it’s arrived in Oslo. This is the sound of Løkka FM.

The Oslo DJ collective and party set are bringing the sounds of UKG, two step and bass over to Norwegian shores with events, online radio shows, merchandise and now a label. Featuring a Norwegian-British ensemble of producers, DJs and music fanatics, Løkka FM have become the new ambassadors for a UK sound in Oslo and Norway. The 4-piece have consolidated their efforts around events like the regular takeover in Jaeger’s backyard and more recently, a label

Løkka FM 001 hit the shelves this summer, with Club Quarantine (indoors), a track that channeled their vibe in the booth to a record that hits it hard on the nose under our current situation and showcases the UKG’s ability to move from the dance floor to the airwaves across one track. It features two of the four Løkka FM affiliates with a guest appearance from Nora Pagu, but who are the rest of Løkka FM and how exactly did they arrive at their sound? We reached out to Marius Sommerfeldt, (aka DJ Bangerfeldt) to find out more about the emerging collective as we stream their last session from the sauna. 

I’ve heard Løkka FM being referred to as a DJ collective, radio show, event and maybe a label. What exactly is Løkka FM?

Løkka FM is a collective, a club night, a label, party central, an Instagram account, a Norwegian-British culture exchange programme, a neverending messenger-chat, a 2hr-mix production company, a T-Shirt manufacturer, a Premier League discussion forum and an ambulatory radio show. Amongst others. 

What were the origins of Løkka FM, and who is involved today?

Løkka FM consists of DJ Bangerfeldt, Toshybot, Goodzee and Andreas 565. Goodzee has been DJ’ing in the UK before moving to Norway, Andreas has been doing different UKG-concepts earlier on, at Revolver and Dattera amongst others, Marius and Toshy has been releasing music for DJ’ing for years… and we’ve all been blending UKG-bangers in our different housey sets, even playing together at different occasions. At the same time we saw a potential to have a bigger impact and cultivate the UK sound if we united in a bigger crew with more outlets. The UK scene has been quite small in Oslo, so it just seemed excessive to compete about the same crowd and the same bookings. In addition we wanted the nights to be fun and a bit more rugged, with Goodzee on the mic and some mix-and-blending throughout the night to make it stand out a bit more from the regular house nights we all have played over the years. And people really seem to catch on!

An honourable mention goes to our designer, Kristian Tennebø for delivering such amazing artwork and packaging for us !

You guys have quite varied backgrounds, but yet Løkka FM is grounded in the sound of House, two-step and garage. What brought you all to this particular sound?

We all have different reasons for loving it – old mix CD’s, MJ Cole, Wookie, UK pirate radio, Air Max 97’s, etc but the timing and the state of UKG is probably a big reason for us doing it now. There’s been a big revival of UKG and 2-step in the UK over the past 6-7 years, with a myriad of young, new producers and DJs fronting a new wave of UKG and UK House and none of us felt it impacted the clubs and parties we attended in Oslo. Whenever we went to London or Birmingham we experienced a young and vibrant scene, whereas in Norway – If UKG-tracks got a spin it tended to be the golden oldies and the usual, predictable stuff. When Løkka FM was formed it was important to recognize these new producers and the new sound as well, and not lean too much on the legacy of great, but also overplayed, UKG-anthems. The sound is therefore evolving with a blend of 4×4, 2-step, bass and vocal chops with a taste of speed garage and bassline when it’s called for! The perfect party-blend! 

What is your connection to the world of UKG, and why did you decide to bring it to Oslo?

I guess we all have our different connection and different favourite parts of the sound that make up Løkka FM. Goodzee being from the motherland obviously grew up with UKG and has spent a lifetime with the genre. Andreas 565 has been in Birmingham a lot and done club nights with Birmingham DJs in Oslo and played at their bassey nights. Toshy fell in love with UK garage on an Interrail trip back in 98 and has had a deep love for the genre ever since. 

Marius dips into the garage scene came mostly from reading mixmag about the new sound and listening to The Streets, Wookie, MJ Cole and rewinding Nice N´ Ripe bangers too many times, in the late nineties.

We’ve also been embraced by different DJs, radio stations and promoters in the UK from the get go – they seem to find it fascinating that we’re carrying the torch over here as well. We’ve even had legends like Matt Jam Lamont and Zed Bias over which was great fun, obviously! The main reason for doing it might just be that UKG is such a versatile form for club music that people seem to fall in love with, even though they don’t have a clue about Garage or UKG. Even though people don’t know they love it, they tend to after a UKG night regardless. After every party there’s someone approaching us saying “I have no idea what you guys were playing, but it’s great. Where can I find more?”. It kind of spurred us on to not only playing it, but also being more up front about the genre and branding it a bit more. 

The “FM” aspect is not something you can ignore, and it evokes something of that nineties/early 2000’s pirate radio spirit. What is the significance of the radio associations to Løkka FM?

When Goodzee is chatting trash on the mic over a bassey 2-step blend it’s hard not to think of pirate radio to be honest. One of the most engaging parts of UKG, and also one of the aspects that sets it apart from more traditional house music is the communication between the DJs and the MCs, and the MCs and the crowd. It has rarely happened in parties in Oslo before Løkka FM, but we love it and we want to emphasize it and develop it even more. When we’ve brought other MCs with us as well the response from the crowd has been great, especially when people get used to the dynamics. Besides, “FM” looks really cool on a shirt, don’t you think?

I don’t suppose you’ve rigged up an antenna on Markveien just yet, but is that something you will be adding to the Løkka FM franchise eventually?

We have been doing different monthly radio shows –  AAJA in Deptford, De3p Radio Network and others, but it would be fun to go back to the roots and do an actual FM-set, for sure! Do people still have their old FM-radios though? LØKKA DAB doesn’t sound as sexy, tbh. 

You’ve had a few successful nights at Jaeger recently. How do these takeovers consolidate what you’re doing with the rest of the concept?

Jaeger is a great place we’ve all been partying at and we’ve discussed on multiple occasions that the backyard would be a perfect spot for a proper UKG-party, so it was fun making it happen! For us it’s a great way of showcasing a house and garage blend for a crowd that knows club music and is used to the dynamics of a club set, while also throwing in 2-step and bassey tracks to keep it interesting. So far – so good! Hopefully we can grow even more and get some of our current favourites to join us, as soon as the UK lockdown is over as well! 

It’s certainly distinctive and there seems to be a shared, dedicated objective to Løkka FM with that accent on a UK sound. How have the Norwegian audiences taken to it from your perspective?

As we mentioned earlier – people really seem to catch on. From the get go we attracted a lot of british expats that were really into UKG and baffled that they finally found a club night in Oslo, but the more nights we do the more people tend to come back. We thought the scene was marginal in Oslo, but we might have underestimated UKG a bit – every night  there’s a couple of die hard 2-step fans we’ve never met before approaching us and after the set there’s always at least a couple of people left wanting to talk about what we’ve played. All in all it’s more than enough people buying in to keep us motivated to bring new tracks and new sets… now we’re just dreaming of a post-Covid dance floor going crazy to a shuffled hi-hat! 

I’ve heard mention of a label. When can we expect some music, and how much will it reflect what you’re doing in the booth?

Our label seemed like a nice extension to the community, and our first release is already out! Club Quarantine, which is a quirky 2-step banger about staying indoors (Covid-19 style) involves Marius & Tosh as Trudee Nite , Goodzee on the mic, the great Nora Pagu doing backing vocals and 565 finishing a pretty banging remix as we speak (coming soon) Andreas 565 has already been producing some banging UK Garage as 565 – they have a couple of releases on Smashing Trax Records and Pogo House Records as well as different remixes that is worth checking out.

Will the label also be a collective pursuit, or will you be looking to induct artists from outside Løkka FM?

Apart from the local crew, Trudee Nite and 565 doing tracks and remixes, we will be followed by some (hopefully) national and international friends of the UKG community in the future.

What else should we know about Løkka FM ahead of your next night at Jaeger?

Not much to say on this one, except: Keep it locked, keep it safe, keep it Løkka!

 

For more information visit:

Where there’s smoke there’s fire and that wasn’t a rave

Let’s just get one thing straight: whatever happened in St Hanshaugen last weekend, it wasn’t a rave. A bunch of entitled, straight, white people shouting over a tinny PA blasting out dance chart music, is little more than a russebuss to Berghain (if I can borrow a phrase from Olanskii). It’s a thinly veiled attempt at monopolising on an aspect of counter culture most of the people involved have never experienced first hand. You’ve read the stories, heard the rumours and saw the debate on television, and I just want to make sure that you know that whoever these people are, they don’t speak for rave- or club culture. These are nothing more than a bunch of kids with more money than sense, but the associations they’ve encouraged with rave culture and the international media incorrectly emphasising this association in a narrative of dangerous liaisons in a bunker in Oslo, could have disastrous ramifications for the last remnants of the original counter culture rave- and club scene. Especially in Norway and Oslo, where an authoritarian nanny state has always had a complicated and mostly dichotomous relationship with dance music culture and the community.

DIY parties and raves, in big part because of this relationship, has always had a presence in Norway. Accessible forests and remote suburban hamlets offer a chance to disappear and have led to some legendary party sets to flourish in Norway with experienced DJs and promoters hosting events that always make sure to fly under the radar, in order to not attract any attention to themselves or their guests. Intimate gatherings in largely open air venues with hosts taking every precaution to ensure the safety of their guests, have attracted less attention in all these years combined, than this one isolated event that shouldn’t even be considered in the same sport let alone the same ballpark. In recent years, events like VOID, Uteklubb and Technokjeller’n have come a long way in legitimising their efforts in Oslo by appearing in established venues like Jaeger and Villa and hosting official stages at the annual Oslo Musikkfest, a city wide event endorsed by local government. In fact to say that events like these are DIY is understatement, since more go into the planning and execution, than what usually goes into a similar event at a club. 

Unfortunately all the good work that these people have done, have just been eradicated, by this event in St Hanshaugen. Career politicians looking for a scapegoat through the blurry vision of political ideologies, and more often than not personal advancements, always fail to see the nuances, and will most certainly now only strengthen their resolve on all they perceive to be club culture. Almost immediately after, just this week in fact, they’ve maintained their position in closing venues before 12:00 when we saw encouraging signs that they would allow venues to stay open until 3AM. It’s just a bit ironic too, considering the fact that it was exactly this reason that these kids sought a cave to rave; the hubris of politics at work in the very denial of reality in every conceivable effort to always appear to be right. Limiting opening hours in a society so conditioned by drinking and socialising habits in the early mornings, in large part enforced by the state’s practises, have not changed these habits in Oslo at all, and in some aspects have only strengthened people’s resolve to maintain their routines. 

What do you expect? Human nature will always prevail, and in a situation like a pandemic, strengthened by the need to escape a grim reality , Oslo has responded, first with impromptu house parties and later with raves and club events happening around the edges of the city’s forest borders. When the house parties got too rowdy and the clubs started closing early again, there was only one option left and those that would usually spend their Fridays at Justisen and their Saturdays at Lawo, had nowhere left to go but underground. Appropriating a model from their more successful and more sincere counterparts, these kids sought refuge in a bunker, but got it disastrously wrong, by poisoning their guests and a couple of police officers with carbon monoxide, their experience woefully inadequate when compared to the real ravers, passing down knowledge from generation to generation. It says something too of the current situation that even a serious, established outfit like Uteklubb have resigned this year to a pandemic, and are only looking tentatively to the summer of 2021 to mark their return to the dance floor. 

People are still going to want to dance however, and during times of strive or uncertainty, that need for human contact, a social engagement, and some kind of release, only grows. Take the story of Tijana T, dancing in warehouses in Belgrade while bombs rained down over Belgrade. “It’s not only about social or economic circumstances, it’s also in our mentality.” she told this very blog, and while I’ve always been cautious about drawing a direct line of influence from the dance floor to politics, there is still some sense of rebellion in going out to a club and especially a rave, and there’s something mentally healthy about just stepping out of reality, even just for a night. Getting bogged down in the woes and existential crises of everyday life will have serious repercussions on anybody’s mental health, and any- and everybody will naturally seek to liberate their mind, even if it’s just for a moment in a leisurely pursuit of their choosing. We chose dancing.  

It leaves an irrecoverable mark however, when something like the event in St Hanshaugen happens, and in a case like that, where it’s completely unwarranted, having no relationship with anything that constitutes the established rave scene in Oslo, their ignorance in calling it rave and the international media on perpetuating that line can really ruin what some serious people and true enthusiasts have invested a lot of time in effort in. It’s important to me then, that you know that whatever happened in St Hanshaugen last weekend, that was no rave.  

 

* The words contained here within are the opinion of editor Mischa Mathys. The views here within don’t ncessarily reflect the views of Jaeger Oslo.

Premiere: Vinny Villbass – Liberty

Listen to a new track from Vinny Villbass taken from the upcoming 20 years of Trunkfunk compilation.

A chirpy synth sequence plays between a couple of marimbas running in counterpoint. Gated percussion, ripped from some elusive 80’s source is repurposed for a modern dance floor, stepping at a moderate tempo, enticing you over to a happy dance floor. Vinny Vilbass frees the feet on his latest, a punchy track called “Liberty” for the forthcoming 20 years of Trunkfunk compilation.

“If you listen very closely, you might recognize some drumsounds and a floaty synth from the Trunkfunk catalog,” says the chipper artist over email. “This actually started as a remix for a NIBC track, but it soon got stripped down to its own self, hence the name, Liberty!” It’s the first of twenty tracks which will feature alongside Voiski, Art Alfie and of course DJ Nibc.

Vinny Villbass has had a long standing relationship with Nibc and Trunkfunk after meeting in Berlin in 2009. “We started throwing big parties together under the name of KonTiki,” says Vinny, who remembers some “crazy lineups ” with Mano Le Tough, BrandtBrauerFrick, Olof Drejer, ToddTerje, and Axel Boman. After making some “great memories” as a club night, Vinny found himself on the Trunkfunk roster and contributed to the label with notable releases like his 2015 EP “Zip Zap.”

“Liberty” finds Vinny in a playful mood with that wonderful marimba floating on and off the beats as it makes it’s way through the peppy track. Although Vinny insists, he’s “not aiming for a Terry Riley minimalistic loop expression here” we can’t help but draw comparisons as he finds some organic pretence in the stark abyss of electronic music. “Guess I’m one of those souls that rather dance in the forrest than in a warehouse… ” he muses.

It’s the first track to come out of his newly built, yet largely empty studio, and which he describes as an “art by accident situation.” Creating it with little more than a computer and a soundcard, Vinny sat down at his makeshift controls “and booom, 3 hours later it was pretty much done.”  It had to put on the bacckburner once the pandemic hit but now it’s finally here today, and just in time for the next edition of badabing.

20 years of Trunkfunk Part 1 is out now on vinyl with the digital release arriving on the 28th of August on Traxsource and the 4th of September everywhere else.

Introducing Sous-Vide Records

Grooves entrenched in the deep recesses of dance floor archetypes; sonic landscapes thriving in the stark progressions of minimalism; and visceral arrangements touching on some deep emotive charge, this is the sound of Sous-Vide, the newest addition to the Norwegian clubbing landscape. The club concept and label with mighty aspirations in club culture, from festivals to community outreach efforts was launched last month with an event at Jaeger featuring Thomas Skjærstad, Dolbah, Pål Thomas and Matiago. 

At the centre of this new concept is Thomas Skjærstad, a DJ and producer that is no stranger to Jaeger’s booth, making waves across Norway and  Europe with his singular sound as a DJ. It’s a sound that he and Dolbah have developed in the concept of Sous-Vide and which will soon make its mark on the recorded format with the first release scheduled for this month. With tendrils stretching from Norway to Europe and South-East Asia, Sous-Vide is Norwegian based label, with international appeal, catching the ear of Mixmag amongst others ahead of its first release. 

It comes as a silver lining on a dark cloud currently casting long shadows over club- and DJ culture’s future. At a time when there’s great uncertainty over the sustainability of club culture in the age of the pandemic, there’s some hope in the continued creative efforts of a new concept like Sous-Vide. How will this situation affect the label, and why use this time to start a new label? These were some of the questions on our mind, when we heard Sous-Vide were returning to Jaeger this month so we reached out to Thomas Skjærstad to ask for a formal introduction ahead of tomorrow’s event with an exclusive stream of their last session at Jaeger. 

Hello Thomas and co. Perhaps we can start with introductions. What is Sous-Vide and who are the key players behind the label? 

Hello Jaeger! Sous-Vide Records is a small Norwegian vinyl & self releasing record label focused on the grooves of minimalism. I started this idea 3 years ago, but never got further than the planning phase because I didn’t have the right people to move forward with. The idea has been laying dormant for a while, but the spark came back about a year ago when I teamed up with Knut Kvien (Dolbah). After giving an elevator pitch of my idea during a car ride up to my studio, Knut was basically all in right from the start. We quickly realized that we share the same philosophy when it came to music and sound. 

From this point on I started developing the business plans, SWOT analysis, presentations, website prototypes and vinyl design mockups. Meanwhile, Knut was locked up in the studio producing track ideas like a madman and finding the right partner for vinyl pressing and distribution. 

After we had the plan down on paper it became clear to me that we had to bring in more resources in order to reach our goals. An important part of the launch process involves creating a series of events both in open-air and club settings, and perhaps even a small festival further down the road. This is when I brought in a passionate minimal soul and a good friend of mine from Molde: Pål Thomas. I met him through playing at a festival he organized, Hjertøya, so he was a natural choice with his experience from event infrastructure and organizing. 

I have a background as digital product developer and art director, so you could say I have a clear vision of how I want to build the SVR aesthetic. For me to be able to focus on managing the label and visual profile, I knew that I needed to bring in another resource to handle everyday tasks and social media. Hello, Mathias! Even though we’ve only known each other for about a year and a half we have already worked together on many different projects and organized several sold-out events in Oslo. Mathias has been an essential person for me to be able to get the heavy lifting done and he didn’t hesitate for a second to jump in with this project either. 

Today our little imprint consists of 4 hard-working and passionate souls who share the same vision. We are working continuously on building a sustainable platform piece by piece, connecting with good people along the way while sharing our story with the world. 

You take your name from a French cooking tradition. How does that tie into music for you and why choose that as the name of your label? 

Great question! There’s actually a lot of thought behind the name and its connection to music. Sous-Vide was innovated back in the 18th century which kind of revolutionized the world of cooking. It dramatically increased the control over temperature and pressure by vacuum sealing the food, allowing for higher precision than had ever been possible before. This enabled uncompromising chefs to consistently deliver the same, delicious taste with every single dish. For this reason it appeals to those who truly love their craft – and this aligns perfectly with my philosophy when it comes to music and the imprint. 

Where do your inspirations lie, both musical and beyond for Sous-Vide? 

About a year ago I felt quite conflicted when it came to my music, kind of dragged between different directions not having a clue of which path to take on. After releasing the Grønland EP with Granbar which made it to 1st place in Beatport releases, I felt like I had to keep producing Progressive House and Techno tracks. The crazy thing about it all is that I didn’t really feel like home in the genre and at some point after playing Techno every gig for about 3 years I started to feel a bit stressed and unbalanced on the inside. 

In January this year my girlfriend and I decided to visit Epizode festival in Vietnam, and that turned out to be the tipping point for me. Being down there on the festival grounds made me feel something I had been missing for a while both musically and personally; a sense of peace and balance, family, and unity. When talking about inspiration don’t even get me started on the music some of these guys were playing… Like seeing Aesel Weiss and Tal Cohen all the way from The Block Club in Tel Aviv seducing the crowd at 9AM at the Egg Stage – that set was like musical education to me. Absolutely mind blowing and I just had to make Asael part of our SVR family.When music becomes more sophisticated and with unexpected elements, it requires more focus from the listener to fully understand and enjoy the music to its fullest potential. To me this translates into an interesting listening experience that can go on and on without becoming boring. 

Much of my driveforce and inspiration also lies in connecting like minded humble souls in a small, tight-knit family where we can create a space for sharing ideas, knowledge and inspiration between us. 

You launched the label at Jaeger last month with the debut release still in the works. What encouraged you to start the label and what should we expect from that first release, when it does arrive? 

The soft launch at Jaeger last month was important to us as it gave us a chance to present our sonic image and some of our upcoming releases. It was a great night that we enjoyed with support from good friends in the scene. We’ve been keeping busy since then, so the whole release schedule for 2020 and through Q2 2021 is actually complete already. Exciting times! 

Basically, the Sous-Vide Records catalogue will consist of two branches in the future; SVR and SVRSR where SVR contains the physical format and vinyl releases, and SVRSR will be our digital self-releasing branch. Our first release is a beautiful 4 track EP by the talented artist Mica (UK) who’s currently stationed in Manila in the Philippines. We feel that Mica really fits well with our vision for the first release as it both challenges our sound and the listener in several ways. You can expect elements of break beats and fresh house cuts with a dash of surprise baked into lush and harmonic soundscapes. The EP will be available on our Bandcamp page this month. This first release will be followed up by the prominent Thailand-based producer DOTT who is currently establishing a physical record store in the heart of Bangkok City. 

Now, our first vinyl release is going to be something special. This 4-track EP is a real masterpiece by the Israel based producer Asael Weiss containing 3 solo tracks and a remix from the Romanian wizard RQZ. Over the past 5 years, Asael has been holding the badge as resident for The Block Club in Tel Aviv, which is counted as a musical institution that is delivering some of the best sound in the world. The vinyl will arrive in October or November and will be an important milestone for us as we put a lot of money, time and effort into making this happen. Our goal is that each individual vinyl will represent a story and to be looked upon as a timeless piece of art both visually and musically. 

Further on we have a 3 track vinyl from Marwan Sabb known from Dubfire ́s label SciTech which over the past years made appearances at events such as Time Warp and Cercle. Marwan will be accompanied by a remix from our own lads Thomas & Dolbah. Following up in high tempo, RQZ will deliver his own solo record and as for the 4th release Thomas & Dolbah will deliver 3 tracks + a remixer that is secret for now. 

Is there a sonic philosophy to Sous Vide and how will it inform the artists and the music on the label? 

There absolutely is a clear sonic philosophy behind the music we are curating and creating. To me it’s important to maintain a clear and consistent musical identity but at the same time a label should have some color to it as well. To translate our sonic signature to releasing artists is key to avoiding mistakes and ending up with tracks that are not suitable for the label in the end. A situation like that would be challenging and frustrating both for the artist and label. 

The coming six months will help us set the foundation for our sonic identity where each artist and release will represent its own outer point on the sonic spectrum. The ultimate goal would be that people would start recognizing unreleased tracks and say “Oh this must be an SVR release” ;) 

It’s a very precarious time to be launching a label, as clubs are still not able to operate under normal conditions and fewer DJ gigs. So why launch a label of this nature now, and how do you think the situation will affect the nature of the label going forward? 

For us the current situation has actually been a positive driving force in establishing our imprint. Once upon a time a wise man told me It’s in times of turmoil that people with a fine idea make it good. To be frank we have been given more time to evaluate and consider everything from strategy, marketing and promo down to searching for the artists and talents we believe will contribute to shaping the future of SVR. 

Building on this, the lockdown situation has pushed large parts of our audience into a position of listening rather than one of partying. For us, this is actually ok as our music is best enjoyed with a degree of focus and attention to detail. Now that many clubs are open but with dancing restrictions, we feel our sonic image suits well with peacefully moving hips enjoying a cold brew in Jaeger’s back yard. 

Your next event at Jaeger will be your third in a month and all this before the first record. What is the significance of the club concept alongside the label? 

Well, there’s a couple of aspects to it actually. We want to help undiscovered minimal artists in Norway to grow and find their footing, while also showcasing our in-house productions and upcoming releases. The order of things is intentional – we’re basically trying to express and help people understand our sonic signature before the first release lands. 

If we look at the bigger picture, there isn’t really a established minimal scene to speak of in Norway and we see it as our mission to help spread the music that we love across the country, while contributing to a healthy growth in the community. 

Will the club events be about testing what works for the floor or providing a platform for the artists and the releases that will make up the Sous-Vide catalogue? 

More of the latter, I think. We are all feeling confident about our sound and what direction our music should go in, so it’s more about creating a fundament and stage for our artists to grow from. It’s also a part of attracting people to our sound and building a community piece by piece. 

The set we’re streaming today was taken from the first event. How do you approach a genre like Techno in the current situation, and in what way did you have to adapt the music to make it work? 

These questions can be a little tricky since it all comes down to our subjective relationship with the term “techno”. To me it’s not a great description of our music and carries with it a more intense, pounding sound. Our music is strictly groove-based minimal that is focusing more on the elegant side of electronic dance music. Given that what we play is naturally a bit muted and less intense, I think we haven’t really had to adapt much at all. In any case way less than someone playing what I think of as techno, in a setting where people can’t get their steam out on the dance floor. 

Is this something that proved to give Sous-Vide and advantage compared to a more traditional approach to the genre in this situation? 

I don’t know if we could call it an advantage given the current situation, but we believe our audience is naturally more in the zone to pay attention to the music and not necessarily the party going on around them. 

Dolbah, Matiago and Pål Thomas joined you the last time at Jaeger. What do these DJs represent for you that’s ingrained in the approach of the label? 

Well, the four of us actually make up the SVR administration right now. Each person holds a key role in the label and are also part owners. 

Keeping in mind the last part of your question, one of my key goals is for SVR to work as a platform for our artists to grow from. Take Matiago and Pål Thomas for example: they are young, up-and-coming artists in the Norwegian scene, and through the imprint they get opportunities to play on good stages with an interested crowd. Seeing moments like these guys’ first gig in the Jaeger backyard is priceless and motivates me to keep working with music. 

It’s a real and passionate journey we have started that I’m super excited to see where it goes. 

Are the DJ’s relevant to the label, or is there a definite distinction between the DJs that you book for an event, and the artists that you’ll put out on the label? 

There is no definite distinction between the DJs and the artists as we will book releasing artists to our events and compliment the lineup with our in-house residents. Some of us like myself & Dolbah will also deliver productions to the label as well as playing gigs. We think all artists booked to an SVR event are relevant to the label because they curate our sonic image. 

Have you finalised the lineup for the next event, and what should people expect for this one? 

Yes I have! We are bringing the two minimal lads Rado and Yordan Kirilov from Trondheim to extend the sound in the sauna together with our residents. These guys for sure know how to keep the groove rolling so expect sexy minimal house cuts and a lot of unreleased SVR tracks. 

We look forward to having you back. Anything you’d like to add before we see you in the sauna? 

I’m really looking forward for our next Sauna adventure as well. Actually, there is one more important thing I want to share with you: 

As you know, our name means “under vacuum”. We want to give back to our local community, and we see it as our mission to help people who might feel like they’re stuck in a vacuum. Walking through the streets of Oslo there are many people who could use a helpful hand, and even the smallest of gestures can make a difference in someone’s life. For example, we plan to contribute by designating part of the proceeds from our overall sales towards providing warm clothes to those who are facing a cold and unforgiving winter here in Oslo. This means all people buying an SVR release will directly contribute to help our friends on the streets.

 

Greetings from Jaeger – A summer like no other

There’s been a tendency in the media to compare our current situation to a lived-experience we’ve not confronted since the second world war. While I’ve found the comparison somewhat disproportionate to the horrifying reality of a war situation, at the same time it doesn’t quite capture just how extraordinary these times are. 

The countless lives lost to this unseen terror, where a mere sniffle to some could be life threatening to others and the constant thought of passing some inconspicuous disease onto somebody else or vice versa, as had us completely re-assess every aspect of how we live our lives. Everything from the way that we work to the way we socialise has changed drastically from the ordinary, and it’s hard to estimate what the permanent repercussions of the coronavirus will eventually be for the human race. Will we go on sneezing forever, our nose buried in our elbows, will the greeting as embrace eventually cease to exist, or will we forever be watching DJ sets from our computer screens?

 While we’re all very hopeful that a vaccine will be forthcoming, this could take years according to even the most liberal estimations and with cases flaring and as the virus continues to take lives, we have to accept these measures as the new norm in our society, at least for the time-being. But as humans we’ve always been resilient and we easily adapt to our circumstances, especially during a time of crisis. Part of our coping mechanism with difficult situations is the need to escape mentality, even if it’s just for a moment, and pursue a leisure activity, to regather the strength to go forward. And that’s why we dance.

For the best part of human existence music and dancing has played a significant role in the purely hedonistic pursuit in our coping mechanism and in the era of electronic dance music, the modern day club has been both initiating the desire and fulfilling the need for generations wanting to escape their daily circumstances. Whether it’s simply finding an outlet for work frustrations or the far more serious escape from racially- or gender incited persecution, club culture is always in constant dialogue with its social- and cultural surroundings to a point where it’s almost always at odds with the world around it. It’s possibly the last truly liberal safe space and that’s why it’s more important than ever that we persevere in our endeavours as a club at Jaeger. 

While the dance floor remains an elusive concept, we’ve been resolute in our efforts to keep the music going and give whatever counts for a scene a home. You might have seen/heard us streaming as we strived to reach those that can’t reach us under the strict conditions of the pandemic and when our diligent residents answered our call as we tentatively kick-started Jaeger’s sound system in May

Playing at a restrained volume and on a tempered beat, we’ve been able to facilitate a limited capacity and a seated audience with a reserved  DJ schedule, shortly after the most severe restrictions were lifted. During this time Finnebassen has joined our ranks as the defacto Thursday resident and Olle Abstract has taken over Sundays, spreading the gospel of House for a new concept called Sunday Service. 

Olle Abstract inaugurated the new concept under the pretext of Black Lives Matter after we bared witness yet again to the institutionalised racism in the American justice system after the  killing of George Floyd. It not only jarred – how can this type of thing still be happening? – but it also opened our eyes to the institutionalised racism happening everywhere, and even affecting some of our closest friends at Jaeger. Jaeger and Olle Abstract  dedicated the Sunday Service to the cause in an effort to raise funds for the cause with a DJ marathon from our sauna booth, with all proceeds going to the Black Lives Matter organisation. It  is but a drop in the ocean compared to what Black American music has given us, so this will not just be an isolated event at Jaeger, and we’ll continue to monitor the situation and help out where we can. We can always do better.

It seemed that between covid-19 and Black Lives Matter, issues kept expounding on each other, in some gloomy apocalyptic glare at our future, and it’s now more than ever that we need some kind respite from the real world, even just for a moment. Luckily we still have the music and as of June we’ve been allowed to stay open longer and move a little freer. We’ve started stretching the legs on our sound system just a little more as we pushed up the tempo and the volume, and while we still can’t accommodate a densely packed dance floor like the kind we had at Richie Hawtin in 2019 under the new regulations, a  shuffle at your table is welcomed and even encouraged. 

In part due to Ola Smith-Simonsen, the authorities pushed through the new 03:00 AM opening hours, but we’re still focussed on the health and safety of our patrons and our staff. We’ll be practising social distancing throughout July, including the queue outside and we urge everybody to help us contain the spread of this virus. The sooner we can curb it, the sooner we can get back to the dance floor. 

With that in mind  we’ve assembled a lineup representing the best of Oslo in July, playing from our sauna with our newly established residencies Sunday Service and Finnebassen settled and a new residency in the form of Loving Tuesdays, presented by Vari Loves starting this month. Our weekday favourite and longest-serving residency, Mandagsklubben is back and we’re operating at seven days a week again… the way it should be. Prins Thomas also returns in July for the second edition of Serenity Now(!) on Saturday the 25th and on Wednesdays we continue to pursue a kaleidoscopic melange of musical flavours from Drum n Bass to Techno.

Downstairs, you might have already heard the low rumble coming from our subterranean cabin as we shake loose the speaker enclosures of the sound system. Ola has been tuning and fiddling there throughout June because as of July we’ll be hosting selected nights from Diskon again. Yes the basement floor will gather dust no longer as g-HA, DJ Ost, Øyvind Morken and Roland Lifjell take up position in the booth throughout Frædag in July.

It is truly the first time in my 5-year history at Jaeger that I’ve seen an all-star Oslo lineup like this, and while the covid-19 situation is hardly something to find positives in, I’m hoping that we can finally turn the focus back on the resident and local DJ during this time. I’ve always been astounded by the quality of DJs in the city, and I’ve often found it a bit odd that we’ve placed so much emphasis on the “booking” than on the DJ  right on our doorstep. If there is one silver-lining that I hope that we take from this is that we realise the importance of the resident DJ, the true facilitator, somebody so embedded in a scene with an intimate knowledge of their dance floor and their audience standing on threshold, rather than warming up for somebody who is often less attuned to Oslo’s needs.

This will be the summer of the resident amongst other things, and we hope you’ll join us as we try to find some solace in these truly unprecedented times. We’ll do everything in our power to ensure your health and safety and provide some escape from the daily worries, even if it’s just a moment of repose as we continue to live with what could become the new norm. We hope you have a good summer and that we can share some of it with you.

See you on the dance floor….

BigUP! – The first and last frontier for DnB and jungle in Oslo

Drum n Bass is stronger than ever and in Oslo where it’s popularity has never waned in the margins of club music, a crew has emerged from the depths of the scene to fly the flag for the genre from this wave to the next. BigUP has been a fundamental force in the current push happening in Oslo, resonating with a renewed interest in the genre happening all around the world. 

Constituting a few generations of DJs and producers who cover the vast expanse of DnB and Jungle, BigUP represents every nuanced corner of the genre and community in Norway. Over the last few years they’ve been bringing sounds from liquid to hardcore to club spaces around Oslo, with regular appearances at Jaeger. They came back to their traditional midweek spot at Jaeger two weeks ago with the cameras trained on them. 

Even during these difficult times, Drum n Bass proved itself resilient yet again, as BigUP made a show of their expansive interpretation of all things drum n Bass and Jungle with Lug00ber, Tech, Drunkfunk, Simon Petter and Fjell representing the crew from our sauna. In the down time between their visit and now, we reached you to the bigUP! crew to ask some questions while we premiere their set on YouTube. 

Tell me about the origins of BigUP! and the circumstances and ideas that informed the beginning of the crew?

Fjell: Late 2017 the guitar player of my band sent me a link to an announcement by Oslo Sportsbar, in which they were looking for DJ’s to play on a monthly basis. 

Having had a concept before (Percussive Maintenance at Skuret bar in Oslo) I sent in my resume, i.e. some poster designs and mixes.  

In January 2018 I got invited to do a short test run in the bar which I did together with Drunkfunk, and from that point on we kept playing on a monthly basis. Late 2018 we moved to Naboens pub’s basement and have been playing there until the quarantine in April 2020, together with the gigs at Jaeger.

The main thought behind Bigup is to let people have a proper night out at a concept where they can expect the deeper and more soulful styles of D’n’B and Jungle. 

Typical for our concept is to have the DJs play 2 half-hour sets: An early and late slot, which brings a lot of variety in both style and tempo. This also gives the DJs the opportunity to play for a smaller and larger audience during the nights.   

How did you all find each other, and was there anything constituting a scene that brought you together?

Fjell: We pretty much ran into each other during the different DnB nights that ran the last decade and a half here in Oslo, both on the dancefloor and behind the decks. The scene here is pretty open and in general both the audience and DJ’s are very easy going. So I can say we were friends quite some years before we became the ‘Bigup’ crew.

My first thought after getting the monthly gig was to share it with the DJ’s I knew who had the drive and the experience from running other concepts:

Drunkfunk and Tech I know from ‘Room 101’ at the Villa, I knew they could deliver good sets and their selections would really compliment mine.

Simon Peter I know from ‘SubPub’ at Maksitaksi (RIP), where he on a weekly basis kept the underground DnB scene alive and delivered deep selections that would fit Bigup perfectly.   

-Tech: I actually played as a guest DJ a couple of times before getting “voted in” for a steady position in the crew ;)  

Who is BigUp! today?

– Drunkfunk: Residents are Fjell, Tech, Simon Peter and Drunkfunk but we are known to invite a lot of local talents.

Drum n Bass in Norway for me seems to congregate around a small but dedicated community today, but what is the history behind the genre here and where do you guys factor into it?

– Drunkfunk: We have to give a massive shout out to the one like DJ Subway for promoting local DJs with Room101 at The Villa for over 10 years and counting. He is now living in Bergen and building the scene there. The scene might be small but not lacking DJ’s with variation of styles. What we lack in size we take back in consistency over many years. 

With Bigup we like to play jungle and DnB from the last three decades to brand new music all in one night.

– Fjell: It is like the Asterix comics; DnB in Norway is the rebellious little village that won’t give in to the greater powers, being house/techno and pop music (The Romans in the comics). We cannot blame the clubs for choosing the more popular genres to attract a larger audience, but as a subculture it feels like we really have to prove ourselves more nowadays.

Luckily, clubs like Jaeger give subcultures like DnB the chance to develop and reach a larger audience. 

-Tech: The popularity of Jungle and DnB in Oslo (and Norway) has had its highs and lows over the years since I moved to Oslo in the early nineties, but being in a good, solid crew helps us to never give up.

Some of DnB’s biggest stars like TeeBee is Norwegian. What is it about the genre that resonates with Norwegian artists and DJs like yourselves?

– Drunkfunk: Future Prophecies, TeeBee and K sure helped to put it on the map here early. Still remember the first time I heard TeeBee track “Fingerprints” on the radio.

-Tech: TeeBee was a resident DJ back in the days when the The Jazid Club started doing the Oxygen DnB nights and it meant a lot. (Jazid was the first proper club I played at and Oxygen was the first crew I joined in Oslo)

TeeBee has been important for the scene and truly deserves the success he has today.

Like so many underground cultures, DnB too went through a heightened phase of popularity with some questionable examples coming to the fore. How do you distinguish the core fundamentals of genre from its more gaudy, insincere interpretations?

– Drunkfunk: We never pay any attention to the charts. DnB has a healthy underground foundation with a well of music to choose from.

– Fjell:  Very much so, only a select few can make a living from DJ-ing and/ or producing DnB, but there are more popular styles that attract a larger audience. They have very little in common with what we play on our nights. 

-Simon: 100% underground. This is without a doubt a labour of love. A shared appreciation of the sound. 

– Tech: Sure, there are DnB charts helping people to discover the genre, but I think we´re more into finding the tracks WE love and presenting them to the audience.

It seems that the genre is experiencing a bit of a revival today, especially amongst younger audiences. Why do you think it’s gained popularity recently again?

– Drunkfunk: DnB is the parent to dubstep that came out in the mid 2000s. I think kids growing up with dubstep as their soundtrack are likely to explore its roots.

– Fjell: I think streaming services like Youtube and Spotify make it easier to find out about DnB and Jungle. The younger generation is somewhat fascinated by 90’s rave culture – Partying seemed less restricted, something I think still resonates with DnB nights. 

-Simon: Not really feeling the growth in Norway, but going to festivals like Outlook in Croatia you can easily see how popular the sound is with youth from all over the planet. DnB never really went away, but it’s definitely making a comeback.

-Tech: It´s always good to see new faces at our parties, but the scene is still quite small, so we never know how many people will turn up each time.

And what sets this era apart from the late nineties early 2000’s when it was at the absolute height of its popularity?

-Drunkfunk: Since the late 90s DnB grew to a worldwide scene online. DnB has always been in fusion with current music and pushing for the freshest sound. The difference now is that we have a back catalog of gems from the last 20 years.

– Fjell: Producing has become more accessible, the sound has become more organic and there are a lot more subgenres than before. Thanks to modern hardware and software it is easier to get into making DnB and experimenting with the sound.

-Tech: Yeah, agree with Fjell here, it´s much easier for new artists and small labels to do releases these days, both digital and on vinyl.

From what I can tell, the BigUP! Crew is made up of a few generations of DJs.  How does the crew keep evolving through each generation? 

– Drunkfunk: That is a great question! 

-Tech: Well, yeah, I´m the oldest one in the crew, but it’s nice to see that new generations (both DJ´s and crowd) have been finding the DnB scene. We don’t care too much about the age difference in the crew, we focus on the music and we inspire each other!

What are some of the seminal DnB classics that you can all agree on?

– Drunkfunk: “Up all night” – John B

– Fjell: ”The Angels fell” – Dillinja

-Simon: “Stalker”  Aphrodite

-Tech: This is too hard!  Q Project – Champion Sound (Alliance Remix) (plus the original and a lot of other remixes)

What is the common thread that ties all these generations together?

– Drunkfunk: Great passion for basslines

– Fjell:  DnB’s easy access. It’s often a blend of different cultures, looks and age on the dancefloor.  No one seems to judge.

– Simon: Love for the sound.

– Tech: Rhythm is key.

And what in your opinion are some of the future stars of the genre here in Norway and further afield and what are some of the newer tracks that are inspiring you today?

– Fjell:  Next to myself (https://soundcloud.com/fjellmusic) I only know a few other people in Norway that are actively producing and releasing, for Jungle I would say ‘Msymiakos’ (https://soundcloud.com/msymiakos) and for Liquid tunes I’d recommend ‘Nostre’ (https://soundcloud.com/nostre-official).

Let’s not forget our frequent guest ‘Lug00ber’ (https://soundcloud.com/lug00ber) and our friends in “Skankin’ Oslo” (https://soundcloud.com/skankinoslo)

Newer tracks that inspired me: ”Jungle Crack” – Forest Drive West , ”True Rebellion” Coco Bryce ft Dead Man’s Chest

– Simon: Watch out for the one they call Bootldr! https://www.mixcloud.com/bootldrDNB/

Is there anything else you’d like to add before we see you again?

Massive BigUps to all the supporting clubbers that have partied with us!

And to the Junglist DJs: Lug00ber, The Skankin’ Oslo kru, Mira Mark, DJ Subway, Harold Lloyd, DJ Hova, DJ Spacebear, DJ Dunder, Digital Cookboy , Instance, This Mean War!, DJ Saraa, Bootldr, DJ Large, Psychofreud, DJ Apecat(RIP), Tony Anthem and Future Prophecies

Thanks to Jæger to having us onboard.

Tickets available for Prins Thomas presents Serenity Now!

Streaming tickets for five hours of Prins Thomas live from our sauna are now available

Prins Thomas hits the sauna this week with a brand new concept called Serenity Now! Under the precautions we’ve taken for the pandemic, we only have a limited capacity for seating room for those lucky enough to join us in person. For everybody else we’re streaming all five hours live, exclusively at TicketCo. Tickets are available now via this link at 50kr per person or 99kr for a pair.

Prins Thomas cooks up some rare grooves and slow steppers from the furthest reaches of a vast record collection for this new residency at Jaeger. Taking the scenic route around his record bag, through the obscure corners of Soul, Funk, Jazz, Psychedelic Rock, IDM and Dub the Full Pupp mainstay and DJ provocateur travels the serene pastures of a vast musical library in search of those records that will bring Serenity Now(!) in these unprecedented times. Prins Thomas comes home in this residency, back to his roots with a flair for the eccentric, for a listening experience that turns the focus back onto the music.

Email info@jaegeroslo.no to reserve your table.

Sunday Service: Black Lives Matter Fundraiser

Olle Abstract and Jaeger dedicates this Sunday Service to the black Lives Matter movement and the victims of racial injustice

Black Lives Matter. Jaeger is the result of the influence of Black American culture on music, and therefore we will always stand in solidarity with all the people behind the Black Lives Matter movement and the victims of racism in America. As a community of mostly white, European music enthusiasts living in Norway we can never assume to know the experiences of Black people, but we’ll support Black Lives and Black Culture in any way we can, because we owe everything to the existence of Black Music, especially House, Techno and Electro. 

Needless to say, we are absolutely appalled by the killing of George Floyd and the unwarranted police attacks – largely incited by the racist tyrant, Donald Trump –  that followed and we stand united with the protesters and the Black Lives Matter movement. As people that have indelibly benefited from the black music culture, we condemn these actions and we would like to add our voice to the growing chorus of dissent and call for an end to the senseless killing of Black people in America and the institutionalised racism that still exists in the US police forces and political elite. We realise that we have white privilege on our side and we’d like to use that privilege today in voicing our absolute contempt for any form of racism, starting with a fundraiser for Black Lives Matter. 

After observing #TheShowMustBePaused, we’re dedicating this Sunday’s edition of the Sunday Service with Olle Abstract to George Floyd, his family and all the victims of racially incited police brutality in the USA. We will donate all the takings from the door on the night to the Black Lives Matter who is currently working tirelessly to end the war on black lives in the USA by mobilising these protests with the “vision to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.”

This is an evening of reverence for Black Lives and Black American Culture so please join Olle and guests in solemn protest as they pick through a legacy enshrined in the records that sparked a life-long obsession and a career. Claes Hogedal, Daniel Gude, Della, Fredfades, Phardin, Ra-Shidi, WNDR and more join the godfather of House music in Norway in the sauna booth in a show of solidarity from our humbled community, saying thank you to the culture that created this music as we stand united in their cause. 

For more information please go to Black Lives Matter and the TheShowMustBePaused

Here are some other helpful resources:

Equal Justice Initiative

Official George Floyd Memorial Fund

Community Bail Funds for George Floyd protests

 

Greetings from Jaeger: Still streaming

We bid farewell to Retro on Thursdays and inaugurate a new Sunday concept with Olle Abstract

These unprecedented times have called for some unusual measures, ushering in a very… unique era for our culture and this music, with everything from DJs to festivals migrating to the virtual realm of streaming platforms. Even in Oslo, where we’ve seen some of the restrictions lifted early, we’ve still had to adapt to the challenging  situation. With a limited capacity and seating room only we’re bringing the party to your screen, streaming every DJ set live to mixcloud from our sauna DJ booth in our backyard.

Our residents and some old friends have gathered in the booth under the camera’s lens these past two weeks to deliver sets that err on the temperate side to accommodate the nature of the situation. Frædag, Nightflight and Retro have hosted lineups featuring the residents and guests with pop-up concepts like Mutual Intentions and Big UP!  jumping in where needed. For the last two weeks they’ve been playing to the intimate crowd in our backyard while our watchful eye, broadcasted sets from the likes g-HA, Olefonken, Fredfades, Daniel Gude, Kompressorkanonen, Doc L, Junior and Olanskii to the rest of the world as part of our new JaegerStream series.

In the third week of JaegerStream we do more of the same, with Frædag, Nightflight and Retro in situ for a long weekend, which sees us bid farewell to the longest serving residency on our weekly calendar and welcome Olle Abstract back to Jaeger with a new Sunday residency. Although, it’s not exactly business as usual here yet, we’re maintaining some sliver of a remanence for our culture and this music, and while the dance floor remains closed, we can at least bring a little of the groove back to our lives, through the new streaming event.

The big news this week  at JaegerStream is that we bid farewell to Retro on Thursdays. Daniel Gude has been at the helm of the longest serving residency at Jaeger since opening and between international bookings and local legends, he and Retro has been honouring the roots of this music all this time. With an esteemed alumni that runs the gamut from Jeff Mills to Sotofett and from Daniel’s extensive record collection, Retro has been our unwavering guide through the classics and future classics of our scene. Daniel Gude hands over the Thursday night to Finnebassen this week, who inaugurates his new concept next week, but while Daniel bids farewell to Thursdays he and Retro will come back on some select Saturdays in the future.

Finnebassen is not the only one bringing a new residency to Jaeger this week as Olle Abstract returns to Jaeger for a new Sunday Service concept. It’s a spiritual movement in music for a different kind of Sunday mass at Jaeger with g-HA as his first guest. We use the long weekend for the first edition of Sunday Service with Whit Monday on the other end to soothe the soul. We’re still not able to go as long or as hard as we’re used to, but we’ll continue to bring the music and the party where we can, even to your screen. Thanks for tuning in…

Greetings from Jaeger.

 

A message from Daniel Gude

Daniel Gude bids farewell to Thursdays with a message on social media.

Ja, da var det på tide å rulle inn og snerpe til denne torsdagsfylla som har pågått i nesten 10 år. RETRO er ikke lenger enn torsdagsklubb på Jaeger. Det var på tide for klubben og meg å finne på noe nytt nå. Konseptet har jo egentlig vært et anti-nytt-konsept, men det får da værra grenser. Noen har tross alt måtte ta ansvar for bevaring og opplæring i hvordan ting ble gjort i gamle daer. De gyldne tider om man kan si det. MEN FY FAEN SÅ MYE MORRO VI HAR HATT DET. Og ikke minst så mange flotte gjester opp gjennom åra. Har gått gjennom notater og det er faktisk ganske sjukt hva man har klart å dra inn på den lille klubben med maks kapasitet på 330 prs(se ukomplett liste nederst). Jeg har alltid strebet etter å fylle torsdagene med innhold av kvalitet og relevans til konseptet. Og når jeg titter på lista, kan jeg fornøyd si at det har vært 94,5% full pott med det prosjektet. Også veldig takknemlig for alle lokale helter som har bidratt med gjestespillig. Har klart å tagge 100 av dere i posten her(sorry). TUSEN, TUSEN TAKK! Må også spesielt takke to av de periodesvis faste partnerne Karima Andrea Furuseth og Nicolai Coltsfoot Gulliksen som holdt ut og bidro i et delvis uforsvarlig arbeidsmiljø(my bad). Men dette hadde heller ikke vært mulig uten sjef og bookingpartner Ola Smith-Simonsen. Som har tatt (mest) økonomisk risk og godtatt bookinger med små muligheter for overskudd just for the sake of doing awesome shit! Nei altså, vi har også følt at det er viktig å bidra til miljøet og gi trofaste gjester noen “gavepakker” som takk for god innsats til et mer hedonistisk Oslo. Det er faktisk heller ikke uriktig å si at dette har vært et idealistisk prosjekt. Men RETRO er ikke helt avlyst. Det dukker opp på utvalgte lørdager på Jaeger, samt tradisjonen Boogienetter i Jul og påske og så skal vi ikke se bort i fra det kan gjeste andre klubber i byen i tiden fremover. Har faktisk fortsatt endel navn jeg gjerne skulle ha booket og spilt spilt med. Men alt dette er jo faktisk litt usikkert å si med tanke på den rare situasjonen vi nå alle befinner oss i. Oslos uteliv kommer nok til å være ugjenkjennelig en god stund fremover, tipper jeg. Selv er jeg i pappaperm nesten til Jul og er mest opptatt av å potte om planter, heve bakst, trille vogn og lære nye ting om dagen, så jeg kan ikke klage 🙂 Torsdag 28 Mai, gir jeg stafettpinnen for torsdager videre til den talentfulle Finnebassen, som jeg ønsker all hell og lykke! Finn er en kick ass dj og en feiende flott fyr. En stjerne, rett og slett.Det er ikke bare bare å hoppe etter Virkola i tåke, sludd og regnføre 😉 Igjen, sinnsykt takknemlig og ydmyk for å ha vært så privilligert til å få gjøre dette så lenge. Takkskarruha! ❤
Alan Fitzpatrick, Alexander Robotnick, Àme, Anetha, André Bratten, Answer Code Request, Art Alfie, Axel Boman, Bicep, Bjarki, Bjørn Torske, Black Coffee, Boddhi Satva, Carl Craig, Curtis Vokda, Dám-Funk, Dan Tyler(Idjut Boys), Daniel Avery, Daniel Kyo, Danny Krivit x 3, Dave Clark, David August, Delfonic, Dennis Ferrer, Derrick Carter, Derrick May, DJ Clock, DJ EZ, DJ Fettburger, DJ Maboku, DJ Pierre, DJ Sotofett x 3, DJ Speculator, DJ Spen x 3, DVS1, Eric Duncan, Floating Points, FunkinEven, Gene Farris, George Morel, Gerd Janson, Greg Wilson, HRDVSN, I Hate Models, J.Phlip, Jackmaster, Jamie 3:26, Jamie XX, Jay Haze, Jeff Mills, Jenifer Cardini, Juan Atkins, Kampire, Karizma x3, Kenny Dope, Kenny Larkin, Khan, Kirilik(KINK), Kirk Degiorgio, Kon, Krystal Klear, Lauer, Legowelt, Lenny Fontana, Lil Tony, Lil’ Louis, Luke Slater, Marc Ernestus, Marcell Dettmann x 4, Marcus Fengler, Massimiliano Pagliara, Maurice Fulton, Mental Overdrive, Miguel Campel, Mike Dehnert, MK, Mr. White, Nastia, ND_Baumcker, Nico Siano, Nicolas Jaar, Norman Nodge, Omar S, Parris Mitchell, Paul Johnson, Phil Asher, Photek, Pscyho Rama, Radioslave, Red Rackem’, Richie Hawtin, Robert Owens, Rolando, Rollerboys, Roman Flügel, Roy Davis Jr, Sacha Rydel, San Soda, Sassy J, Seth Troxler, Skatebård, Soulclap, St. Göran, Talaboman, Tale of Us, Tama Sumo, Telephones, Terence Fixmer, The Mover(m. Gateavisa), TieDye, Todd Edwards, Total Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Trulz & Robin, Victor Rosado, Willie Burns, Xosar og Øyvind Morken.

Daniel Gude

Jaeger to reopen

Jaeger Oslo will open its doors to the public again from the 6th of May, observing the strict guidelines from the latest Covid-19 measures.

We’re pleased to announce that we are opening Jaeger as of the 6th of May at 15:00. It will hardly be business as usual as we’ll have to implement  guidelines to accommodate the measures passed down from Oslo council yesterday in an effort to help contain the spread of this terrible pandemic.

We’ll be running at a limited capacity with seating room only and table service, to abide by social-distancing protocols during our new opening hours from 15:00 – 24:00. We’ll do everything to ensure the Covid-19 measures are continuously observed during opening hours. We’re still ironing out the details, so please watch this space for more information.

For now however, we’d like to welcome everybody back to come have a slice and a cut with us, as we tentatively recharge that spirit of Oslo’s clubbing community. Mamas Pizza will be back with Oslo’s best Italian Pizza during our opening hours with our residents supplying the soundtrack; albeit a subdued one.

We’re still in some unprecedented times, as the world continues to deal with this pandemic, and we’ll be doing our utmost to follow the measures in place, but we also understand the importance of social engagements, and hope to bring some semblance of normality back into our lives.

We will start taking booking for tables and you can send us requests at the info email address. We will post further details about the reopening as they come. Please bare with us as we try to work through these highly unusual circumstances. Hope to see you on Wednesday.

Jaeger – Temporary Closure

Jaeger will be closed until further notice

Jaeger will be temporarily closed in accordance with the new covid-19 regulations imposed by Oslo kommune and the Norwegian government. We’re complying with the earlier, which goes into effect at 18:00 today. We are intent on opening as soon as we can and will keep you posted on any new developments as they might occur. As a result, all listed events are postponed until further notice. Keep dancing wherever you are, until we see you on the floor.

In the booth with David Morales

David Morales has forgotten more about House music than any artist working within the field today can claim to know. The New York DJ, producer, remixer and label owner was there at the advent of the genre, counting Frankie Knuckles and Larry Levan as contemporaries. He had played the Paradise Garage, frequented the Loft and held residencies at places like Zanzibar, but his biggest contribution, remains in his efforts in bringing House music to the masses with remixes for Mariah Carey, Jamiroquai and Michael Jackson dotting an ever-impressive discography.

Alongside Frankie Knuckles, he established the Def Mix label, and as a DJ he was one of the first DJs ever to warrant the superstar status and toured the world. Highlights in the House music lexicon regularly dot his career. Winning the grammy for remixer of the year, sets and residencies during Ibiza’s late nineties reign; and tracks like “Needin’ you,” had maintained his prominence in the House music scene which culminates today in a continued appeal as a world-renowned DJ and producer. David Morales has had a career in House music three times over and in his latest venture, the label DIRIDIM, he’s established yet another new phase in a career that continues to evolve without losing sight of those all-important roots of the genre. 

A figure that assumes the legacy of the genre and the New York faction of its roots, David Morales represents a ideology that we’ve always tried to encourage and underscore at Jaeger and during a recent set at Frædag, he helped g-HA & Olanskii and Olefonken instill this ideology again. Between gospel-influenced vocals, syncopated hats, deep bass grooves and four on the floor kicks, David Morales put together a set of mostly original music and edits, bridging the gap between the origins of this music and its future. 

We caught up with Mr. Morales whortly after to ask some questions while we listen back to his enigmatic set, recorded in our basement. You can read a full profile on him here.

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions for us. We really enjoyed your set here and particularly listening back to it today. Did playing at Jaeger, direct you in any way  you thought you might not have gone into ahead of the night? 

Not at all. Before I accepted the gig I was told that the night was all about house music and that the crowd appreciated good music.

All those classic elements of House are in there, the vocals, the syncopated percussion and four on the floor. While those core elements remain, House has gone through an immense evolution through the course of your career, but what is the ultimate appeal for you as a DJ that keeps you interested and excited about the genre? 

There’s a lot of good new music out. The problem is that you have to listen to a lot of bad music to find it. You have to evolve with the times. The game has changed but music is still music. And people still like to dance to music. I’ve tried every format of Djing as in vinyl, CDJ’s and computer. They’re all interesting. At the end of the day it’s about the music.

I’ve read some interviews where you’ve mentioned that you weren’t really that inspired or influenced by your Latin roots and music, but I thought I heard some Latin rhythms in this mix in the beginning. What is your relationship with those roost today?

It’s funny because since I became a producer/songwriter I got to really appreciate my roots. I’m sorry that I didn’t appreciate it earlier. But I love a good rhythm and when it comes to latin music it’s all about the rhythm.

As somebody that was at the forefront of House music from the beginning, do you feel that distance between you and your audience has grown and how do you try and maintain that relevance? 

That’s a very interesting question… As a DJ that’s been playing for 44 years, I’ve outgrown my audience twice easily, maybe even 3 times. I mean most of the people that I grew up with got married, kids even grandchildren. They don’t represent the scene today like they did when they were younger. If I wasn’t Djing I wouldn’t be going out clubbing unless it’s a reunion night. I know that I’m not in the same demand as I was 10,15, 20 years ago. All DJ’s come up with a following. The hard part is maintaining some sort of relevance. I’m lucky that DJing has no age limit. And as long as you stay current with your music, the art of Djing is what it is.

How do you think the role of the DJ has changed from when you first started playing to today? 

Well technology for one. And now you have social media. Also the biggest change is set times. Rarely does a DJ play the whole night. So the biggest thing is that there’s no continuity or should I say flow. Therefore there are less risks taken. It’s hard to express yourself when you only have 1-2 hours to play. Also the DJ was not the focal point. You were up in the clouds somewhere or hidden in the corner. And let’s face it the money has changed DRAMATICALLY!

Besides “Finally” at the end, all the pieces in your mix favour a contemporary. What do you look for in music today to make it into your sets, and where do you draw the line when it comes to older pieces?

Most of my set is 90% of my new productions and remixes mixed in with other new music. I, on occasion, throw in a classic. What makes a good DJ is choosing good music.

Are you still editing / remixing lots of music to work in your sets today?

Yes very much. I’m in the studio almost everyday during the week. I’m always prepared. I always travel with my studio. Thank god for technology.

It seems that since establishing Diridim, you’ve been far more active in making and producing music again. What inspired you to start your own label again, and what has the label encouraged in terms of music for you?

After DEF MIX I felt that it was time for a new chapter. It’s why I started DIRIDIM which means “the rhythm”. Diridim is all about where my head is at now musically. I want to experiment with new sounds and talent, there’s so much talent out there. I want to branch out into world music and bridge it all together.

Those distinctive elements in your music, the vocals and the progression through your tracks remains central to your work on the label. What are some of the fundamental ideologies that inform your work and the label and how has it evolved throughout your career? 

I grew up on an intro, break and outro. The journey that a track or song is supposed to take you on. It’s no different than any kind of music.

What effect has launching the label and this new music had on your DJ sets? 

It has had a huge effect on my sets. The only difference is that I’m playing my own music more than others. 

Club music and House music is so popular today,  and although it still feels quite a way off from its peak in the mid to late nineties, you’ve experienced it all before I imagine. So, from experience alone, where do you see the music going from here and what do you hope to get out of it in the future?

I just hope to see and keep music alive and thriving.

Album of the Week: Caribou – Suddenly

It seems hardly necessary to sing Caribou and Dan Snaith’s praises for an album that had won its accolades, way in advance of its release. A cover feature on Mix Mag, an 8.2 rating on Pitchfork, and reviews on every popular music outlet have installed “Suddenly” as one of the most eminent LPs of 2020, thus far. Even Resident Advisor’s claim that “Suddenly is a frustrating listen” has only gone to contribute to the its immediate popularity. So why add our voice to a chorus of sycophantic praise for the album? Because on this occasion the hype holds true to the music.

The much anticipated follow-up to “Our Love” (whose grooves had been worn flat from the amount it was played at Jaeger’s cafe), “Suddenly” establishes Snaith’s Caribou alias yet again in that mystic realm between the dance floor and pop music. While his Daphne moniker has pandered largely to the club concept, informed by elements of House and UK bass music, Caribou circumvents the functional in favour of showcasing Snaith’s strength as a songwriter. On this album, he has turned an introspective focus on personal experiences of life, love, birth and death for a LP that maintains his innovative approach to electronic sounds and constructions.

It’s Snaith’s voice which jars the listener into submission from the very first notes of the LP on “Sister” as the raw, fairly unprocessed voice, invites you close to the artist, disarming the listener the intimate experience that follows through “Suddenly.” It’s an album about those “life-changing moments that stop you in your tracks” Snaith told Mixmag in their cover story, but while associations of melancholy and sadness are so easily entertained through these ideas, “Suddenly” indulges a subdued euphoria.

The album thrives on the beatific nature of Snaith’s voice, which is much more prominent than its ever been on his work, and although innocent, the music contains some striking curiosities that have remained central to the Caribou sound. The disembodied vocal samples that float through tracks like “New Jade” and “Lime” and the swirling detuned plucked strings of “Like I loved you,” perpetuate Snaith’s innovative instrumentation. Through texture and arrangement Snaith presents a disjointed pop aesthetic, where a dislocation in music often references a lyrical theme, broaching on sincere personal subjects from death to #metoo.

Lyrics read like fragments of parchment strewn across a living room floor, and can go from a simple line like “You never come back” to evoking weighty subjects like when he sings a lyric like “Brother, you’re the one that must make changes” on the opening track, in a clear commentary on gender equality. Simple, concise lines appear in the abstract, leaving the door open for interpretation and while the lyrics contain some poignant springboards to further rumination, they only work within the context of the songs. Snaith’s voice acts as that tether between the robotic nature of the electronic music and the human condition where “Suddenly” is more than just a dance record; even though the duo of “Lime” and “Never Come back” would make a very affective 12″.

“Suddenly” is a pop record and it should be appreciated as such, but more than that it’s a pop record that has brought something subcultural to the mainstream. Together with the likes of Four Tet and Floating Points, Caribou has done for dance music, what Talking Heads achieved for post-punk. It frames elements of dance- and club music in the popular realm without losing that sincere intent that associates with the more subcultural aspects of the Dan Snaith’s music.

The Cut with Filter Musikk

A simple needle vibrating in reaction to some minuscule peaks and troughs cut into a thin lacquer disc rotating at 33 ⅓ or45 revolutions per minute; who could have ever thought it could indulge an entire culture? In 2020 as DJs continue to flock to the more accessible and unexacting digital formats (who can blame them) the culture has turned cult, closing ranks with an unwavering dedication bordering on religion of the 12” record. 

While DJ music and new releases favour accessibility, and vinyl’s prominence continues to wane in the era of an increasingly informed audience based on the Internet, it takes an obsessive commitment to produce and collect the format today. Contained in the hallowed medium is the last remnants of a culture that defined the DJ for the most part of DJ history, and continues to lure dedicated music heads to new- and previously undiscovered music.  

For some it’s the last bastion of taste, unfettered from the indulgence of hype and trend-informed biases, for something individual and personal; an intimate exchange between the listener and the artist. It lives beyond the immediate and encourages more than just a fleeting relationship. A record is for life, and even if it refuses to satiate, it can always fulfil another’s musical experiences.  

It occupies our physical and mental spaces, informing personalities and encroaching on our living spaces. It is an indistinguishable part of us without making a sound, and contained within its grooves, is a sonic world that is unique to us and our listening habits. You might find the same music online and somebody else could have the very same record, but it’s impossible to replicate the feeling and the mood when you put a needle on your record and disappear into its sonic recesses on your terms.  

There are a few physical places that encourage this relationship with the waning format, but in Oslo we have one of the most dedicated in Filter Musikk and one of the most dedicated enthusiasts in proprietor Roland Lifjell. This is the cut with Filter Musikk. 

 

DJ Qu – Dance To My Ministry EP (HotMix) 10″ 

A beat shuffled into the obscure realm between strong beats and an industro-leaning track siphoning elements of Techno into House bring something a little different to this quintessential DJ tool from DJ QU. The Italian stalwart channels his extensive experience through this plucky ten inch, providing two very different moods across its two tracks.

While “Soul Thing” will happily float between Techno and House as a mix steps up a gear, it’s “Repeat” with its off-kilter shuffling beat and its peculiar atmosphere that steals the show. The percussion meanders through a swampy texture, sluggishly falling between the chasms of integer beats, while legato synths refuse to move before unexpectedly jerking into the next note. Adding the distorted vocal and the menacing bass line through pivotal points in the track, it takes on a very psychedelic affair as the track seeks to challenge a more progressive dance floor. 

 

Low End Activist – Low End Activism (Sneaker Social Club) 12″

Sneaker Social Club has really picked up some steam in 2019, and even as we write about this new arrival at Filter, they’ve released 7 records since. The label, which focuses on music derived from UK soundsystem culture, thrives in a heady mix of Grime, Garage, Jungle and Drum n Bass. Prioritising the sub frequencies, artists like the formidable Neil Landstrumm, and the incorrigible Appleblim have featured on the labels extensive catalogue, which was slung into overdrive last year.

Patrick Conway goes subterranean as Low End Activist in this release for the label. Moving away from the more traditional US-inspired dance floor he’s cultivated for the likes of Forbidden Planet, Rekids and ESP Institute, Conway takes his sounds to London’ streets on this release. Large, bulging waves of bass undulate through six tracks as ghostly echoes of soundsystem MCs haunt the outer fringes of the tracks. Dub figures float between stark metallic percussive arrangements in a misasmic whirlpool of sound, designed for impressive speaker stacks. 

Besides the obvious single of the title track, there’s very little to the EP beyond the immense power of the sound, and in that Low End Activist has created a record to test the limits of UK sound systems. 

 

VA – Acid Virus (Zodiak Commune) 12″

Well, it was 303 day a couple of days back…so it only seems appropriate to have an Acid record here. Zodiak Commune enlists a few underground stars in a nod to the early sounds of Acid Rave. About Blank, Negative Glitch, WaveBndr and Arkanoid all proffer their interpretations of the ever-endearing Acid genre, specifically reaching back into the past when the genre was soundtracking raves across Europe and especially around the M25 in London. 

Updating the sound design for contemporary audiences, stoic 303 basslines march through vacuous textures to the beat of dominating 909 kick drums. From the sampled breakbeat of “Papy 303” to the hoover synthesiser blowing through the middle of “Oracle,” the artists involved make sure to honour the roots of the genre, but ultimately avoid kitsch cliches in their modern take on hackneyed themes. 

Showcasing the versatility of the 303, the basslines go from bubbling along under the surface to squelching on the melodic line, and even though the machine and the music associated with it is closing in on the realm of a midlife crisis, there is still something primal and urgent about the sounds of a record like like Acid Virus. Happy 303 day!  

 

Mike Schommer – Come Home EP (Greyscale) 12″

Deepchord as artists and a label have played a significant part in the role of dub-Techno in the history of club music. Counting Basic Channel, Luke Slater (L.B Dub Corp) and Shed (Wax) as contemporaries the US group had a hand in establishing the genre, and while Rod Modell and Mike Schommer might have gone their separate ways some ten years back, it’s clear they’ve remained dedicated to this music.

After a decade long hiatus, the other half of Deepchord, Mike Schommer has returned to the fray, with releases for Mosaic, and this soulful record for Greyscale. “Come Home” side-steps the dance floor somewhat for three original tracks that appear more like songs, than tracks. At the centre of the record’s appeal is the wraithlike voice of Milly James, moving through the tracks like a breeze, between the dub-rhythms and entrancing melodic phrases Schommer coaxes from minimal synthesisers. 

Much of the excitement for the record comes in the form of a Deepchord remix of “Breathe,” a kind of reunification for Schommer and Rodell. The remix transposes the track to the dance floor, but retains the allure of James’ voice and thrives in the same breathy atmospheres of the original. Together with the original tracks, there’s a lot of crossover appeal between the dance floor and the home stereo. “Breathe” and “Come Home” will continue to haunt the listener long after the record comes to its conclusion.  

 

Benoit B – Caution 9’6″ High (Unthank) 10″ 

There’s something instinctual that attracts us to the Lindsay Todd’s Firecracker and Unthank labels. From the 10” formats he prefers to the designs and the artists that he attracts to the labels, there’s an indefinable allure to the records, which more than not follows through onto the music. 

Benoit B delivers on this occasion with a record that thrives in the unusual, without sacrificing accessibility. A dance record for the informed “Caution 9’6” High” maintains the dominance of a percussive beat, but folds in off-kilter elements that arrive straight out of the BBC radiophonic archives. Using FX as percussion, the record thrives in the uncanny where a metallic swoosh or atonal bang sits happily alongside the familiar sounds of a contemporary dance floor.

While the melodic charm of “Global Go” and the bass excavations of “Cruisin” are immediate and effective, every track brings something unique to this mesmerising release. The quirky percussive pursuit of ”Coconut Groove” (which is just a great title) and the off-kilter beat orchestrations of “Nanga” hold their own appeal. There’s an elusive thread that ties these tracks together through their eccentric sound design, which is what will keep bringing you back to the tracks.  

Seizing the moment with Optimo

Back in the late nineties, there was something close to a movement of music enthusiasts that sought to redefine the parameters of what constitutes a DJ and a club night. It was a bolstered by an unique attitude and an innovative pursuit that defied any idea of zeitgeist or tradition for the sake of infusing some excitement on stale dance floosr. It went from some unilateral persuasion amongst a handful of DJs to spread across the world in a complete shift in the universal spirit to DJing and club nights, and today some of these DJs are held in the highest esteem the world over. 

In Glasgow and Scotland Optimo Espacio held court in this era. The club night and DJ duo, often foreshortened to simply Optimo, had not merely instilled this new attitude to DJing and clubbing in Scotland, but eventually played a significant hand in setting the stage for what soon became an international pre-occupation to dig further and deeper through their record collections, flouting the preconceptions and conventions that had become entrenched in club culture.

J.G Wilkes and J.D Twitch (Keith McIvor) are Optimo, and their club night, Optimo Espacio at Sub Club in Glasgow had been a kind of Mecca for clubbing enthusiasts for over 13 years before they brought it to its inevitable conclusion at the height of its popularity. From the club night, they became sensations on the international DJ circuit and set up Optimo records and various sub-labels as a continuation of the indelible spirit they continue to cultivate from the booth. 

Their legacy is enshrined today in the annals of DJing and clubbing and as Optimo, they continue to imbibe the spirit which has set them apart since their humble beginnings, playing to intimate crowds in Sub Club. Today they are fixtures on an international DJ circuit that they helped establish and through new releases like Bergsonist’s latest on Optimo records, they continue to flout preconceptions and conventions. With a return-visit to Jaeger looming for Hubbas Klubb, we’ve seized the opportunity to send through some questions to the DJ duo in an effort to find out more about the origins of their club night and their continued pursuit of that individual attitude to DJing. 

*Optimo play Hubbas Klubb this Saturday.

Hello guys, and thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. When you started working together and established the Optimo Espacio night. What kind of music were you bonding over at that time and how did it inform what would eventually become the night?

J.G Wilkes: I really think it was more a case of us bonding over the type of music we DIDN’T want to play – that which was prevalent in a lot of clubs and parties around the mid to late 90’s. Something that people were calling Techno but which wasn’t Techno at all! We wanted to play “other” records at the party and make it really fun to play. It was precarious at times and it felt that anything might happen musically. I loved that about it and I would definitely align that kind of excitement with a sense of freedom which is so important when I think about what we do. Maybe that is the appeal of Optimo to a lot of people – I hope so anyhow.

It’s important to remember that it was very much about the people who supported and attended so faithfully week in and week out. They made the Optimo (Espacio) party what it was.

How does it affect your approach to Djing when playing together?

Wilkes: We kept it fun and when something is fun it’s easy to keep your enthusiasm for it and keep challenging oneself. I guess there must be a shared energy we possess for making what we do evolve and stay interesting. 

Jonnie you came from an art background, and Optimo Espacio came at a time when there was a confluence between clubland and the artworld. Were these two things something you could consolidate around Optimo Espacio as well?

Wilkes: At that time I was still showing work and was represented by a couple of galleries but I wanted to withdraw from the art world. I was finding it increasingly difficult to exist there for many reasons. When Optimo Espacio started we were building something from scratch and that was a great opportunity for me to both commit fully to dj-ing but also to get a degree of fulfilment from “making” and “doing” visual stuff as well… 

You’ve said in the past there was an idea for the night before it happened. What was that initial idea and how did it change through the course of its lifetime?

Wilkes: The best way I can describe our initial idea was that we seized the opportunity to play a real breadth of music in a club context – at a location (The Sub Club, Glasgow) that was pretty much known only for house music prior to that. It was something we really craved at the time and that I personally had not been brave enough to do very often before. There was no manifesto or rigid strategy initiated when we embarked on the journey but I would say, our openness to all sorts of music coupled with a kind of DIY approach to organising the parties – a quite anarchic spirit for want of a better term remains with us still.

In a recent Interview with Erol Alkan, he mentioned you as one of the contemporary spirits in the international DJ community – DJs that were essentially bringing a much needed diversity to dance floors again. Were you aware that the diversity of you were bringing to your nights was happening simultaneously all over the world at that time, or were you operating in a pretty isolated scene? 

J.D Twitch: We had no idea initially; not a clue. We started Optimo in 1997. I didn’t get on the internet until 1999 / 2000 and it was only maybe around 2002/3 that we became aware of other kindred spirits and started to play outside Scotland.

How was it all interpreted differently perhaps in Glasgow compared to places like London and Paris?

Twitch: I think people in Glasgow, at least back then, were less concerned with being caught up with perceptions of cool and just 100% devoted themselves to having the best possible time, and having wide open ears.

Sub Club played a pivotal role in the success of the night too. What made it so special, and do you think it was something that you could have recreated in any other venue

Twitch:  It was by far the best venue in the city but the thing that was really important was that they believed in us, much more than we did ourselves. For the first 18 months of doing our weekly nights there the crowd was wildly enthusiastic but small. Maybe 100 people would come which was fine with us but probably not financially good for the club. I think after a few months of this most venues would have booted us out but The Sub Club really believed this was something important and was going to really take off, and of course they were right.

When you started playing abroad as Optimo, how were you able to transport that spirit of your nights to different places all over the world? 

Twitch:  By not giving a fuck really, but actually it was probably more naivety. We were used to doing what we did every week so initially just did it without thinking if it would translate. Of course often it didn’t and sometimes we would tone it down a bit or at least modify it slightly as to me there is no point emptying clubs.

You ended Optimo Espacio on a significant high note and besides that and your growing DJ commitments, what was the reason behind shutting the residency down at that exact time? (I believe you were still on tour when you made the announcement.)

It felt to me that we were at the absolute peak of the weekly night and the only way was down. It could almost certainly run weekly for a few more years but the idea of it slowly dwindling away was too depressing so it felt right to end on a massive high. Also, it was so all consuming and it was important to have time to do other projects, like having the labels etc. 

13 years is still a long time for a club night, especially at that time, when everybody was going from one thing to the next quite quickly. How did you maintain that excitement around it for so long?

Twitch: By being in love with what we were doing and giving it 100% dedication, every week. It was such an incredible experience every single week that that was enough motivation to put 100% into the next week. I devote huge amounts of my time to sourcing music for my DJ sets, music that is mostly unique to me, not just playing promos I get sent to my email inbox. What is the point of that? I might as well be a jukebox as everyone else just does that too. Working hard to find music is something I think is hugely important and that having a unique voice is the single most important thing about being a DJ. I think most DJs are pretty lazy about this but I am lazy compared to how I was when we were doing the club weekly. I would dedicate insane amounts of time to making sure it was always fresh, always exciting, never boring. 

Were there ever times when it went through slumps, and how did you usually overcome those kinds of obstacles?

Twitch: No, never. After 18 months of there being 100 people there it totally took off and for the next 12 years was always packed. I don’t ever remember worrying about the numbers attending.

Going from residents to touring DJs and then also establishing a few labels around the concept, the Optimo name lived on, but was it a case of directing the ideas and philosophy of the club night into these different avenues? 

Wilkes: Something I’ve realised – we work really hard to make very aspect of what we do as good as it possibly can be. We tour really hard, Keith’s commitment to the label is ferocious, if we do are own parties we put the same energy into this as we always have, the same applies obviously for our DJ sets. All this is done well because we really enjoy it. As I said before, it’s not a rigid strategy but we do possess this shared energy and a strong work ethic which feeds into everything we do. 

I believe your most recent endeavour is a new sub label called Weaponise Your Sound. Where does this fit into the Optimo spectrum?

Twitch: It is a sub- label run by my friend and ally Kristina McCormack who does the Diet Clinic show on NTS which showcases women DJs and artists. I just facilitate the releases – the A&R is 100% down to her. It fits into the Optimo spectrum as I trust her taste and vision and have known her a very, very long time.

The Optimo label is still putting out quite a diverse range of music, and the most recent addition is Bergsonist, whose music plays between elements of electronica and traditional eastern influences. What usually draws you to the records that make into the label?

 Twitch: So much music comes my way. I can only explore a fraction of it, but am blessed so much of its is unique and great. Bergsonist reached out to me and I was instantly smitten by her music. She is madly talented. I am drawn to artists that sound like themselves, have an outlook and attitude I can relate to and make music that blows my mind. 

I know it’s mainly Keith that runs the label, but is there any relationship to the label, and the sound of your DJ sets?

Twitch: Yes, the labels are my thing and that causes some confusion. I have some new labels launching, the first of which is called Cease & Desist and is a label for compilations. . I wouldn’t release anything I wouldn’t play in a DJ set so there is a relationship for sure.

As DJs, you continue to bring that diversity to your sets, and even if there is at times a theme tying your sets together, you seem to be able to extend it to the absolute limits. It’s always dynamic and exciting, especially in an era dominated by very niche DJs. What do you think it is about your approach to music that still sets you apart from the rest?

Wilkes: I guess everyone is wired differently and perhaps some dj’s feel that they want to stick to what they know they are good at or what has always worked for them or what they see as their area of expertise – that’s fine. I admire a lot of dj’s who have this high level of detail to what they do – or as you say, it’s a kind of niche. If it is our thoughts on music in a broad sense, the notion that music in many different forms possesses power, can move people, can bring them together, can inspire radical thought, can convey feelings – it you think those things are real, like I do then maybe it’s a factor in our approach to the role of dj-ing and the music we choose to play, yes.

Do you ever find you have to adapt to a crowd, and how do you usually try and find a compromise then?

Wilkes: Yes we adapt. We feel the space, feel the sound, look at the energy spots in the crowd and work from that. 

There’s a lot of similarities between Oslo and Glasgow’s club scene, and you guys have played here before. How might that knowledge affect what you prepare for the night ahead on this occasion?

Wilkes: You feel that little bit more comfortable for sure if it’s not the first time in a room. One thing that stayed with me about Jaeger was the exquisite sound. When the system is that good then you are at a real advantage when it comes to playing more challenging sounds…with power and detail in the sound you can incorporate music that is just lost on a poor system. It’s very disappointing when you literally have to exclude certain records from the set because a system isn’t capable of conveying their sound the way it is meant to be – so thankfully we don’t have to do this at a club like Jaeger! 

 

Album of the Week: Ex-Terrestrial – Gamma Infolded

During a recent resurgence of melody on dance floors, a whole generation of artists, DJs and producers have excavated dusty bargain bins the world over in establishing an alternative sound to the draconian Techno and bland House that saturates the scene. Taking their inspiration from 90’s Trance, IDM, Ambient and Electro, artists like Ex-Terrestrial have foregone trends in an amalgamation of influences that defies categorisation and marks some of the more innovative records being released today.

Ex-Terrestrial is hardly the enigma his alias might suggest and has been spearheading this latest evolution in electronic club through his Naff label. Between running the label and releasing his own music on the likes of Lone’s Magicwire imprint, the artist is a scene onto himself, moving with the tide of the trend, but also laying the groundwork for something beyond a nostalgic revisionist music. “Gamma Infolded” is the latest in a string of records that has seen him engage with an older aesthetic in looking for something unique for contemporary dance floors.

The LP arrives via Naff records and breaks from the sound of previous records on the label, which through “Perishing Thirst” and “Priori” has favoured a 90’s leaning Trance and Techno aesthetic. On “Gamma Infolded,” Ex-Terrestrial ventures into the more experimental  realm of IDM, with an album that jumps between serene melodic compositions and distorting noise collages. As is the case, this kind of nostalgic flair can often succumb to irony and while a title like “Bored of Canada” might suggest the artist has a sense of humour about his own work, there seems to be more of a serious conceptual thread tying this record together.

Ex-Terrestrial avoids the kind of Trance-based Techno that warmed audiences to his sound on singles like “Euphorbia” for a record that channels the late-nineties sound of Warp records. Glitchy rhythms and abstract atmospheres dominate the record with obscured samples and ebullient melodies floating through the individual pieces in search of a narrative through the album.

Individually, tracks like “Gguunngg” and “Scatterbrainn” might leave the listener somewhat disorientated, but as they appear through he sequence of the record, these pieces find a form over function. It might leave fans somewhat disillusioned with the record, but perseverance is key, as the record resolves in the more tepid realm of “Travel Safe” and “Trains.” For those that might have come to know the artist through his various 12″ records, there is something familiar contained on those last two tracks, and yet they only seem to make sense in the abstract noise contained on the triptych that makes up the C-side of the LP.

“Gamma Infolded” might distance itself from Ex-Terrestrial’s previous works, but it continues that spirit of exploration, informed by the past in search of a future we seemed to have lost along the way. It is perfectly suited for the album format and re-enforces the artist’s position in the  new vanguard of electronic music artist.

Just doing my thing with Danny Daze

Converging on the sounds of Miami Bass, Electro, and Detroit Techno, Danny Daze is a DJ, producer and label head that has forged a singular sound in the booth and the studio for over a decade. 

Born Daniel Gomez, and raised in the vibrant musical landscape of Miami, everything from Salsa/Merengue, Hip Hop and Miami Bass encouraged an audacious youth to a life in music. Break dancing lured a young Danny over to the turntables, establishing a strong tether to contemporary music styles like Electro, where he would forge a career as a DJ. 

Inspired by a local scene of characters like the flamboyant Otto Von Schirach, DJing eventually led to production where Danny almost immediately carved out a career with his debut single, “Your Everything.” 

The Electro leaning track with its mammoth bass-line was strangely co-opted into the all-consuming Deep House trend of the last decade and sought to pigeonhole the DJ and artist into its ranks, but with his signature sets that ran the gamut from Detroit to Miami, critics couldn’t accurately consolidate his sound, which usually erred on the darker edges of body music. 

That criticism merely strengthened Danny’s resolve as he forged ahead in his enduring philosophy of “doing my thing” and after some releases on Jimmy Edgar’s Ultramajic, Ellum Audio and Kompakt Extra, the rest of the world eventually tuned in on to the Danny Daze wavelength. 

While he was establishing his singular sound as an artist, he was also breaking down boundaries from the booth. Informed by the same eclecticism from his youth where Bjørk could make an appearance in a Hip-Hop and R&B set, Danny’s DJ sets propelled his career even further. His bass-heavy selections, which played on the same corporeal intuitions he had cultivated as a break dancer, had endeared him to an international scene where he has staked an individual claim as a DJ today. 

Sets like his now famous Dekmantel Boiler Room mix, continues to set him apart from the trend-informed contemporaries, with a sincere focus on treading a unique path between elements of Electro, Miami Bass and Techno, leaning towards the darker hues of those musical universes.

In recent years, he’s channeled this unique approach to his music and sets in the equally distinctive, Omnidisc record label with releases from a close knit community of like-minded artists like RHR and Anthony Rother and the rare contribution from Danny Daze.

Between the label, the DJ sets and his music, Danny Daze has foregone the paradigm of  Dj-based music for the sake of the individual and after almost a decade of an internationally renowned artist and even longer as a DJ, it is this what remains at the core of his appeal. It’s Danny Daze doing his thing, and that’s what we found too, when we sent out some questions to Danny ahead of his set at Jaeger next weekend for Frædag

Miami has got such a vibrant musical legacy. What role did that play in your formative years as your ears were opening up to music?

Being able to listen to Salsa/Merengue, Hip Hop and Miami Bass all in a matter of 20 minutes from each other on radio was something I wasn’t aware would push my sound to where it is now. It’s the main reason my taste in music is quite wide. 

As you were coming into your own and aspiring to music was there any kind of scene that you would’ve gravitated towards?

I was always a dancer. When I was 5 years old I was already throwing myself on the floor thinking I was break dancing so naturally I gravitated to that scene. The break dancing scene was commanded by electro and funk so essentially it’s what led me to listening and playing electro. 

How did break dancing lead into DJing?

It happened rather easy. I was obsessed with all forms of break dancing music. From Jimmy Castor to Newcleus. A lot of my friends would come to my house to practice and I had a selection of CDs we would dance. It just naturally progressed to my mother buying me turntables and me DJing around for free at peoples houses. 

I’ve read (although not confirmed) that you were playing Hip Hop and R&B at first. What  influenced you to move over to those Miami Bass, Electro and eventually Techno sounds that you are associated with today?

Nah it’s the other way around actually. I started off in ‘99 playing Electro. I played old school Electro then in ‘00 I heard Nu-skool Electro for the first time. I then got into playing hip hop around ‘03/‘04 because I saw there was money to be made and I enjoyed the turntablism aspect of it. I started a remix/mashup project called DiscoTech which took off really quick in the US. I wasn’t expecting it to take off at all to be honest. I just wanted to earn a living doing something I loved and it ended up taking my partners Joe, Matt and I all over the world. Very unexpected. 

And was it always the darker elements of these genres that attracted you to these sounds?

Always. I remember when I first got into DJing. I got into Florida Breaks which is quite happy. I knew I liked it, but I knew I wanted something darker. Then I heard the Mandroid – B-boy No Comply album and my entire perception of broken beats changed. Then immediately after, Anthony Rother – Dont Stop The Beat absolutely flipped my head upside down and I knew there was no turning back. 

You’ve on more than one occasion mentioned one of my favourite and one of the most underrated electronic music artists in my opinion, Otto Von Schirach as an influence in the past. What role did he play in your development as an artist?

Otto was one of the first live acts I saw in Miami in the very early 2000’s. Along with Dino Felipe and Soul Oddity/Phoenecia. What attracted me to Otto was the fact he just did his thing and till this day he remains focused on his sound. Not only is he the nicest human on earth, the dude just does his thing and that’s it. I was very attracted to that attitude as a youngster because I was surrounded by people in school who constantly looked for some sort of approval or confirmation. I would say that the entire IDM/Electro scene in Miami really changed me as a young teenager. A lot of my friends noticed that change in me early in my high school years.  

I know like Otto, you like those alternative elements to dance and electronic music. How do you factor those elements into your DJ sets today?

Those elements just come in. Not sure how to answer that as it’s the only way I’ve known how to DJ and it’s what I thought DJing was about. Having your own style so you’re not just another jukebox. Even in the Hip Hop days, I experimented. I’d play Bjork right smack in the middle of a 1000 person club who all wanted Biggie. 

You got pigeonholed as a DJ, somewhat unfairly, in that Deep House trend after “Your Everything.” What effect did it have on what you would do next and how did you eventually sidestep it as a DJ?

Yea, that was quite fun to watch and be part of to be honest. That “Your Everything” track to me is not even remotely close to what I used to call Deep House. I always considered Deep House artist like Rick Wade and Mike Huckaby. When I finished that tune, I thought I had made some sort of Miami Bass/Electro-clash/Disco fusion thing. I wasn’t aware it would take me in the direction it took me but I’m glad it did. I got to learn a lot about the industry and how it works within 18 months of that record coming out. I’m honestly not sure how I was able to sidestep it and have people now understand what I’m about, but I think just doing my thing and not worrying too much about what people think really helped. Also, as time went by I think people just noticed my mixes, Dj sets and production just didn’t fit the deep house thing so slowly started peaking into what I do. 

Did you feel you had to adapt the way you produced your music as a result?

At first yes. I thought “oh well, I guess this is where my career is taking me now, might as well try to enjoy it”. It was way better than the Hip Hop/Mainstream world I was part of 6 months prior. I wasn’t aware my record collection from when I started DJing would actually be something I could continue playing over in Europe. As soon as I started touring Europe I noticed I’d be playing clubs where artists like The Advent and Cari Lekebusch were playing the second room. It surprised me and I immediately knew I needed to stick to my guns and not conform but by that time, the pigeonhole had already been cemented and I really needed to push hard so people knew exactly where I came from. It was quite a wild ride.

It was the first Ultramajic release that I always thought defined your sound as producer from that point on. That’s Detroit, Electro and Miami Bass all rolled into one. What was the crucial evolution that established your sound as an artist for you?  

It’s funny cuz what’s established my sound now is me simply rolling back the clock to what I started doing as a bedroom DJ. I was buds with Jimmy Edgar and he had heard some tunes I was working on and asked if I wanted to drop it on a label he was starting. I think that first release on Ultramajic surprised some people because everything about it was a bit different than expected. Not saying it was good or anything, but it was definitely different than expected for many people. Lol. 

Is there a conscious idea behind your music before you create it?

It depends. Sometimes I just wanna bang something out that was an idea floating around in my head, sometimes I’ll go into the studio wanting to experiment with one piece of gear causing something to happen that wasn’t expected. It’s finding that balance between both and knowing how to utilize that time. 

How does your own music relate to the sound of Omnidisc?

Omnidisc is an extension of my musical taste. Stuff I would play in a club, stuff I would listen to at home. It’s helped me shape the sound I want people to expect whenever they hear me play. 

What do you look for in music to make it on to the label and how do you usually come across this music or these artists?

I always look for experimentation in the recording process and want the tracks to tell a story. I get many demos where they simply sound like jam sessions and although these tracks may work in a club, I want people to walk out of a venue and specifically remember a song they heard. All of the artists I’ve released … I either know them personally or their demos have come to me via another artist on the label. At times I’ve received some demos that worked for the label and I signed them, but I really enjoy having a circle of artists who all feel like family with each other. I believe that’s extremely important for the growth of the label both sonically and maintaining its ethos. 

There’s quite some variety in there in terms of the pool of artists. Is there a concerted effort in them to make music specifically for the label, or is it just of you finding music to fit the label, regardless of the artist?

Nah, I like having an artist come back to the label. Artists like Shokh, Anthony Rother, Dean Grenier, Drvg Cvltvre are artists who’ve released multiple times. I’ve never told anyone to make music to “fit the label”. The only criteria I’ve ever had for something to fit the label is the music needs to tell a story. The sound of a label shifts of course, but the main thing for me is for the artist to feel free to experiment and not worry if it will top the charts or not. 

And is there ever a case of adapting the sound of a record to fit the label?

No. I just won’t release the record if too much has to be done to it. It’s happened often where I’ve gotten incredible records that I would play out, but I just don’t release it because there are plenty of other labels that would fit much better with it. It just doesn’t fit the label. 

Your own output remains quite reserved. Is it a case of being your own worst critic?

I’ve always produced music but I like to keep things at a minimum and not over saturate. One, maybe two EPs a year is more than enough for me. This year for example I have an EP coming up on Omnidisc, then releasing some stuff on Schematic Records which includes an album towards the end of the year. 

So what makes a Danny Daze track or record worthy of release?

I’ve got no idea lol …… it mostly has to do with whether or not it feels new to me. It doesn’t have to be anything groundbreaking, but I’ve always needed to feel like it’s something a bit different than what’s popular at the moment. 

Is there a lot of confluence between the music you make, the label, and your DJ sets?

It’s pure confluence that’s for sure. Everything merges and everything shifts at the same time. 

You’ve spent a lot of time between the US and Europe, DJing. How do you feel you have to adapt your sets accordingly and what effect has it had on your DJing in general, playing for a variety of audiences?

Part of being a DJ for me is being able to adapt and embrace without fully removing yourself from your original message. We’re living in a time now where “DJ” doesn’t mean much, but I’ve always respected those who just stick to their guns. Thus why I feel it’s important to have a wide spectrum of influence so you can adapt to what’s needed but maintain the core message of what you want to put out. 

Are there elements in the kind of music you play that is universal between these two regions?

Electronic music is pretty damn universal to be honest. Things have become much more commercial now that the internet is the main source for all things music, but good drums and proper bass lines will always do the trick. No matter where you play. 

This will be your first time at Jaeger. Do you have a way of testing the waters in determining which way your set will go on the night?

I usually go into the venue about an hour before I play and check out the crowd. Depending on set length, I take some left and right turns seeing how weird we can get with the crowd. The weirder the better. 

How do you expect your set to go on this occasion and are there some tracks you’re particularly looking forward to playing?

Absolutely no idea how my set will go buy I hope people don’t start throwing tomatoes at me. Haha. I’ve actually just gotten back the masters to my next Omnidisc EP which features RHR so I’m really looking forward to trying them out at Jaeger. 

http://omnidisc.co

http://instgram.com/dannydaze

http://instagram.com/omnidisc

The spirit of community with Dugnad Rec

Dugnad is a Norwegian term for voluntary work done together with other people.

Dugnad Rec. is a record label, an artist collective and event series with its origins in the communal spirit of Norwegian culture. Founded by Kjetil Jerve and Erland Albertsen and born within the vociferous cauldron of Norway’s improvised Jazz scene, Dugnad Rec began with a single aim in mind. After recording an album together, Kjetil and Erland had struggled to find an outlet for their work, and instead forged ahead to do it themselves. Dugnåd Rec was born. It was a preliminary introduction however and after releasing a second record it almost immediately went into hibernation. 

It would remain dormant, waiting for some coincidental prospect to emerge, but with the two core members not releasing anything, it would take someone working on the fringes of their community to give it the injection it needed. Enter Bendik Baksaas. The Norwegian artist had been sitting on a wealth of material he had created in a fusion of music that channeled the improvised nature of Jazz into the electronic realm and the dance floor, but had yet to find a suitable outlet. Sensing an opportunity and recognising Baksaas’ talents, Kjetil proffered his services and said “release it on Dugnad.”

*Dugnad Rec play Jaeger this Wednesday

“The giant awoke again,” says Gabriel Varskog, sipping on a tepid black coffee across the table from me. He looks like he just woke (and he did), his big mop of curly hair bulging at the sides framing his pinhole eyes and warm smile. As an artist, he performs, DJs and composes by his middle name, Patås  and he’s one of the central figures in the Dugnåd collective which today constitutes Kjetil Jerve, Erland Albertsen, Fredrik Høyer, Bendik Baksaas, Joar Renolen, Kim Dürbeck, Gabriel and many more that makeup the fringes of their community.

“At the core we’re 7 people,” explains Gabriel, “but the outer core is around 30 people.” There are no designated roles within the collective and the label as “everybody contributes what they can to a common goal,“ and “nobody expects compensation.” It’s an ever expanding community, cooperating with the larger improv and club music community in Oslo. The core constituents take all responsibility for the daily operations between the label and the periphery of the collective, with outsiders often lending a hand on single aspects. Over the course of their existence Gabriel says that they have “grown into designated roles” with Kjetil as the ”driving force and glue,” balancing a life with newborn triplets and Dugnad Rec. 

Kjetil and the other instrumental figures of the Dugnad Rec. society, have entrusted Gabriel to represent them for the interview and he’s eager to relay the central ideologies. An artist with roots in Norway’s Jazz scene, currently making club music he’s contributed the latest record to the Dugnad Rec. catalogue, with four stark atmospheric tracks that float between ambient and Techno across the release. From the subtle plucked strings of ”Siste Dag” to the breathy beat sequences of “Techslo,” two hemispheres in Oslo’s music community between Jazz and Techno converge for a record that connects a thin redline between these two distinct worlds.

Bendik and Kjetil had “been ripping my songs apart for a year” before it was released says Gabriel, wincing through the thought. Although the criticism might seem harsh to the outside viewer, it’s this kind of honesty that has strengthened Dugnad’s resolve in determining the sonic identity of the collective. There’s an “underlying trust in the communication” between them which is “very direct” but efficient as each artist involved benefits from the shared experience of the collective. 

The “evolution in our sound has just skyrocketed” during this second wave of Dugnad Rec. according to Gabriel, “because the feedback loop is so short” between them. “You kind of get the experience of all the people around you as well as your own. This is how we as human beings can grow to our fullest potential, in these small groups of like minded individuals.” As the latest addition to Dugnad, Kim Dürbeck has also had to endure this trial by fire, relinquishing his own artistic identity for the greater good in one of the future releases for the label. “Acceptance is key,” stresses Gabriel as he reflects on an email he had sent that very morning to Kim, unpicking the latest version of some new music from his label co-hort. 

“We don’t try to change the sound,” explains Gabriel, “but we try to perfect that sound so it’s enhanced to its fullest potential.” It means whittling away at the excessive inconsequential elements in a piece of music and cutting everything down that “does not contribute to the main idea.“ In their efforts Dugnad Rec. have cultivated a sound that thrives in a stark minimalism, devoid of some external objective pursuit beyond the act of making music.  

Improvisation is key in all their endeavours and activities and it’s improvisation that constitutes the fundamental essence of the label, regardless of whether their artists are working within the Techno- or Jazz’s parameters. “Rec doesn’t stand for records,” says Gabriel by way of explaining, “it stands for the recording button.” The central idea comes down to recording everything and conditioning the artist to work beyond the recorded format. “If you’re not used to the record button being on,” explains Gabriel pointing to the device currently recording our conversation, “your behaviour changes.” Dugnad Rec. is about “getting used to this feeling” of being recorded to a point where you can completely ignore it and live in the moment of making music.

While this kind of thinking has permeated through Jazz for a long time, it’s something that has only crept up in Techno occasionally. The objective is to set it apart from the popularised form of the music, while conveying the fundamental ideology of the music. It’s at its heart an improvised music with a foot in the technology (music and otherwise) of the future. “I really feel Techno is the Jazz of club music,” proposes Gabriel. “That’s where the experimental stuff is happening and where the boundaries are being pushed.” 

Dugnad Rec. is based on the belief that the person who is willing to explore improvised Jazz is the same kind of person that would appreciate Techno. This is not just some glassy-eyed sentiment on Dugnad Rec’s behalf either, they are actually putting it into practise. They regularly host events around Norway as Dugnad Rec. and their events at Hærverk have become the most concrete realisation of this confluence between these two distinct worlds.

Hærverk’s location between these worlds; a live Jazz venue in the week and a bristling Techno club on the weekend, have assisted in Dugnad Rec. strengthening the connection between these two musical worlds. The “goal is to expose these two scenes that are very apparent in Oslo, and underground” to the other according to Gabriel. Going from live bands to DJ sets and improvised electronic performances, the night “jumps from one to the other,” with artists having “to make a transition” between their opposing music styles. They’ll “have to improvise with each other and this creates a lot of very special moments,” according to Gabriel. 

With many of these new electronic artists coming from a Jazz background like Gabriel they’ve merely transferred their skills to this new domain. “When we switched over to playing machines,” he says “it is only natural for us to continue improvising” and one day they hope to eventually incorporate both these aspects in a truly new fusion of music. “We’re definitely getting there.” 

Besides Gabriel’s own ruminations on his last record, the closest they’ve gotten is Bendik Baksaas and Fredrik Høyer’s collaboration on “Til Alt Ute.” While the record failed to garner much by the way of critical success according to Gabriel it was a breakthrough record for the label, in every other respect, specifically the awareness that it cultivated for people that “really love records.”  “I guess it didn’t really speak to any trend that was apparent,” considers Gabriel about the lack of press on the record, but the fact that they packed out Blå for the official release, speaks for itself.

If you take away Høyer’s vocal, “Til Alt Ute” is little more than a Tech-House record, but it’s in the amalgamation that the charm of that record lies. It’s not merely an extemporised  conversation between man and machine, but also between two very different factions of the artistic community in Oslo. While the record certainly had an impact on the label’s prominence, Gabriel believes “Dugnad’s breakthrough has been a slow thing” with small elements contributing to the larger picture. With “everybody being so active as they are and always pointing back to the community,” it’s raised their profile and “made (the collective) grow in both the jazz world and the club world. “

Oslo has facilitated this growth with its “long tradition in free improv” and “vibrant club scene,” but ultimately it’s up to those very defined parameters that makeup the collective’s ideologies.  “Limitation is liberation” says Gabriel echoing Bendik Baksaas in an interview from last year with this blog, and between, the convergence of musical styles, the freedom of expression in improvisation, the shared experience and the permissive attitudes, Dugnad Rec are making a serious mark on Norway’s music scene. 

The Norwegian word “dugnadsånd” is translatable to the spirit of will to work together for a better community. 

Jeff Mills – An unwavering original

“Now electronic music is primarily made by a certain type of people,” Jeff Mills told French Radio station 24 in a candid interview last year; “typically middle class that probably have a pretty comfortable lifestyle.” 

It is this suburban bourgeoisie that has facilitated Techno’s incremental rise to popularity over the course of the last decade with Berlin playing host to a new generation of artists and enthusiasts, dressed in black playing and listening to a kitsch assemblage of Techno non-sequiturs, largely designed to exploit the popularity of the genre today. 

It’s the result of a culture of distillation, stretching back to the gestation of the genre and particularly advancing over the course of the last decade to where it’s completely eaten away the original eccentricities of the genre. Techno today constitutes little more than a percussive loop and a brooding atmosphere, gathering on the resonant frequencies of the percussion.

Self-proclaimed “underground” DJs and producers have watered down the music to an indistinguishable trope as the Muzak of the dance floor in 2020, leaving the door wide open for hackneyed appropriations. Today, Techno thrives in a kind of honorary superficiality as it’s inducted into popular culture where the suburban masses are commodifying it on a perfunctory level.

In this era, two distinct strains of the genre emerge, with the sub-cultural origins of the genre retreating back into the shadows, back underground, where  Jeff Mills still represents the genre and its original principles.

 

The invention

Techno has begged, stolen and borrowed to get to where it is today. It follows several different  narrative threads, open to all kinds of revisionist plotlines, and you can unpick it at any point, it will completely dissolve in your own biased social perspective every time. Positioning the gestation of Techno at the end of the 1980’s in Detroit with Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May, collectively known as the Belleville 3, is the most accepted origins of this story, but it comes with its own issues. Significant figures like the enigmatic Eddie Fowlkes are all but written out of this narrative; Germany’s initial involvement is erased; and most problematic is that it doesn’t figure Jeff Mills into the first wave of Detroit Techno artists exactly.

Even in Frank Broughton and Bill Brewster’s thorough compendium of DJ culture “Last night a DJ saved my life,” they couldn’t quite place the assent of the DJ and producer within the rhetoric of the Belleville 3, so he just appears like an apparition on the radio, independent of what was happening in Bellville. While it’s appropriate for the lore of the enigma, Jeff Mills has always cultivated, it unduly writes off his role in the extensive origins of Techno. 

Frank Broughton would later set the record straight in the collected interviews for the “Record Players: DJ Revolutionaries.” While Atkins, Saunderson and May were doing their thing in the suburbs (let’s not forget) Mills was pursuing a similar strain of music on his own in the city of Detroit. 

Growing up in the urban sprawl of the city where heavy industrial machines and brawny V8 engines would paint the sonic milieu of the city by day, at night, a very young Mills would be glued to the radio.“It was a source of music that everyone depended on: on your transistor radio, in your car, on your home stereo,” recalls Mills in an interview with the Fabric blog. “What radio is like,” he continues is “what a trip to the moon is supposed to be like, what the lunar surface is supposed to be like.” It was a distant world, mesmerising and alluring to an inquisitive mind like Mills’. 

The only real common thread between Mills and his contemporaries in Belleville at this point was a radio DJ called Electrifying Mojo. The “little man with a big voice” (Derrick May once claimed) had a profound impact on the gestation of Techno, bringing the electronic sounds of the European continent converging around groups like Kraftwerk to the US airwaves in the late 1970s. 

As well as electrifying Mojo, Mills would tune into Chicago’s Hot Mix 5 and make regular trips across Lake Michigan to his midwestern neighbour city to buy records when he was still a teenager. He naturally gravitated to DJing from the radio, with the likes Grandmaster Flash and Jazzy Jeff inspiring an early interest, which he quickly turned into a commanding talent.

He started Djing at high school parties, before falling in with his brother’s DJ crew. From there he rose swiftly through their ranks and by 1980 he had his own residencies around town, playing all night long in clubs that he was barely old enough to patronise. The crowd was young and eager, but Mills always remained at the cutting edge of new music, and by the time Juan Atkins’ first musical project Cybotron arrived, he was playing it alongside new music from the B-52s and Pink Poodles too.

In 1982 he was plucked from relative obscurity to the radio when an impromptu recording session captured his unique skill as a DJ, and the Wizard was born, an anonymous radio personality that would command the local airwaves with an exciting blend of new electronic music.  

Techno as a genre had yet to be invented by 1981, but in Cybotron’s music Atkins and Richard Davis had laid the foundation for the genre to emerge out of Detroit. Their music wasn’t exactly groundbreaking at first, amounting to little more than a pastiche of Kraftwerk’s sound at that time, but there was something unique bristling through on a track like “Cosmic Raindance,” where you can hear the first strains of what would become a repetitive electronic dance music.

Whereas Kraftwerk were traditionally trained musicians, wrestling with high-brow concepts in their music, artists like Cybotron were musical dilettantes playing with machines like toys trying to make electronic pop records. On “Cosmic Raindance” the classic music structures of Kratwerk disappear as improvised keyboards hover around a tonic with an unwavering 808 groove and bitonal bass line staying the course as the rhythm section. That kind of extemporised  “jam” is more Motown than avant garde German post-rock, encouraging that association with the soul of Detroit that has become something of a key distinction to set artists like Cybotron apart from its European counterparts. 

But who invented Techno? “When did you first hear the word Techno,” asked Broughton in DJ Revolutionaries. “Probably in ‘Musique Non Stop,’ by Karftwerk,” replied Mills. That record from 1986 actually appears a bit late in the etymology of the word, or more accurately, the abbreviation of the word Technology. In 1984 there was already a “Technoclub” in Frankfurt, coined by Talla2XLC, who would be playing musical styles like new beat, industrial and synthwave at Dorian Gray under the all-encompassing banner for the first time. That very same year Cybotron would release a record called “Techno City” too, although the synth-pop sound of that record is a far cry from the more industrialised sounds they were listening to at Talla’s parties, where the likes of Nitzer Ebb were staking their claim.

While it was Virgin records that first attributed the word Techno to a genre of music in 1988 with their compilation, “Techno, the new Dance music from Detroit!,” it was a word in common parlance, used to describe anything electronic or futuristic at that time.

Techno as a music existed way before anybody started calling it that, and it was Europe informing Detroit, before Detroit evolved it into the next phase. And like Kraftwerk’s undeniable influence over Cybotron, acts like Nitzer Ebb would inform Jeff Mills’ first steps into production. 

Radio and specifically Electrifying Mojo, was exposing a young Jeff Mills to all these sounds, which he would take into his own radio show. Because of Detroit’s industrial history, its people “adopted a more progressive way of thinking” according to Mills in DJ Revolutionaries. That kind of thinking was handed down through the generations and influenced a very broad intellectual horizon in his opinion. Mills’ own family came from the north and the south to work at automobile factories in Detroit and “like many other black people, they discovered a whole new world, that was futuristic,” which nurtured an inquisitive nature in their progeny that always looked  “beyond the boundaries of Detroit” according to Mills. 

While his peers from Belleville were looking to Kraftwerk, Mills was looking to groups like Nitzer Ebb and Front 242 as well as Kraftwerk, and while playing on the radio between 1982 and 1989 he was developing his own sound as an artist and producer in what would become the prototype for all Techno to follow.

It started with the Wizard, programming simple beats on machines as a way to stand out from other radio stations. He would segue records from three decks into the machines and back again, interspliced with sonic effects played back from tape, creating a bold and dynamic sonic collage that has remained the ultimate allure of his work as a DJ to this day. 

Developing  those arcane sequences from his drum machines and synths into original material, Jeff Mills founded a group called Final Cut with Anthony Srock, which took its cues from the industrial sounds happening in Europe and Detroit simultaneously by that time, influenced by the likes of Nitzer Ebb, but negating vocalists and pop arrangements for a pure machine music. Final Cut’s first record, the “Bass has Landed” is the archetype for most Techno today, even though it started out life as a House a track.

While many consider “Strings of Life” by Derrick May (Rhythim is Rhythim) as the precursor to Techno, Final Cut’s minimalist approach, where the track constitutes little more than a drum machine, will probably be more recognisable to dance floors today. May’s opaque arrangement between piano and synthesised strings, playing in combatant keys sounds puerile against what would constitute Techno, whereas Final Cut’s debut could stake its claim amongst any new record in a 2020 DJ set in the right hands. 

Mills only recorded two records with Final Cut, leaving the group when they started pursuing the industrial aesthetic in accordance to European trends. By the time Mills retired the heretofore anonymous Wizard alias, Techno in Detroit had emerged as its own independent sound, developing on its own as the genre stepped into its next phase with a second wave of artists and producers, in part spearheaded by Mills. 

 

The Emancipation 

While the debate rages on over the origins of Techno, there is absolutely no denying that by 1990 it was the domain of Detroit and a faction of DJs and producers including Jeff Mills, who weren’t merely creating a new form of music, but were consolidating an entire ideology around this abstract electronic music.

Detroit in the 1980’s was a hopeless landscape for a bunch black kids immersed in science fiction and drum machines. Kevin Saunderson once said that there were only two options for black kids growing up in Detroit and that was the army or prison. While Saunderson chose the army, the ones that remained avoided jail by making music. With no help from the American government, who had continued (and continues) to enslave its black population through the prison complex, people like Mills, turned to music to emancipate themselves from the system.

He found a kindred spirit in Mike Banks and together they formed the Techno collective, Underground Resistance. “Planets and stars and futurism and time travel — these types of visions aren’t supposed to come from black guys from Detroit,” Jeff Mills has often said in interviews, but it’s exactly these things that brought he and Banks together and enlisted Robert Hood as the original trinity that inducted the UR collective.

UR was more than just label releasing beat music. It was a way of life for all the artists involved and a platform to get out from under the commercial machine that constituted the dominantly white male record industry and take the power into their own hands. Feigning individual artistic identities for the sake of the collective, there was clearly a political agenda at the heart of their pursuits, but what that was, and remains completely open to interpretation.

That’s the appeal of Techno for many. This abstract form of music is all but completely devoid of any literal meaning. A vocal snippet, ripped out of context or an obscure track title relays little information or direction from the artist, so as a listener you always get what you put into the music. And UR exploited that, turning all the focus on the music, and making their impact more profound. Many labels and artists have since blatantly imitated this model, with mixed results, but UR remains unique in the initial diligence of their pursuit and what they established for all those institutions that followed in their wake.

Although Jeff Mills’ tenure at UR was short lived (only two years), that sense of agency that UR established for artists of their ilk, remained at the core of what he’s pursued as an artist, DJ and label owner ever since. “My hope is that the listener gives up on the idea of trying to recognise anything or relate it to something they know,” he told Fabric in a recent interview. There is a kind of freedom that Mills instills in the listener through his music, but when he is talking “about being free, it is not just music,” he explained in the France 24 interview “but in your thinking.” 

The idea of cognitive freedom is something that has suffused black American music since time immemorial. Cultural appropriation is nothing new, and even as early as Jazz music’s origins, a musical elite (largely white males) have been trying to co-opt any black musical tradition into the larger universal western narrative. Since the days of Will Marion Cook and just after the civil war, there had always been vocal dissent in black American musicians about their music being co-opted into the classical western canon. Merely exploited for their exotic charm, this narrative would deny black American artists their own culture where they controlled the parameters of the music and its legacy.

With figures like Cook and Duke Ellington publicly expressing their disdain and on the merits of their artistry, Jazz and Blues had managed to disentangle itself almost completely from the western canon, but Techno would not be so lucky. 

In an interview with Carl Craig last year, the producer and DJ mentioned that Derrick May stopped making music in the 1990’s, because he had become agitated by people in Europe frequently and blatantly copying his style. Even while the version of Techno, made popular in Europe through the more industrial inclinations, had started to inform its own strains of music including EBM and in some way Trance, it seems that what was happening in Detroit was also informing European trends, where new artists were imitating what was happening stateside, quite often resulting in bland, watered down versions of the same music. 

In an effort to buck these trends, Mills and his co-conspirators sought new realms in Techno, often encouraged by some conceptual thought and/or musical experiment. While the rest of the world was packing in warehouses with big sound systems playing House music to people in their thousands enraptured in ecstasy, Jeff Mills was making a deep, conceptual record with Robert Hood as X-103. “The world was raving, why would we make an album about Atlantis” he mused in a Wire interview and while it might not have made sense at the time from a commercial perspective, it certainly exposed a depth that few ventured beyond in Techno.

Although the LP was released on Tresor in 1993, the “Thera” EP that preceded it came via Mills’ newly established Axis records label. Unlike his debut record, “Waveforms Transmissions” which played to the militant intensity of the German dance floor, “Atlantis” and especially “Thera” played to Mills’ more experimental inclinations. The lead single is essentially an ambient piece, with a rich harmonic texture developing around a singular drone, and dissipating in staccato releases of atmosphere.

While in “Waveform Transmissions” you can clearly hear those first faint echoes of what would eventually become the sound of Techno in Europe today, “Atlantis” seems to expound more on the soulful traditions that had informed Detroit in the sixties and onwards. Lush, synthetic strings, defined melodic movements and dynamic beat constructions, distinguished it from its eastern successors, while the theme behind the music asserted Techno beyond the mere corporeal into the cognitive, a philosophy that Jeff Mills continues to pursue today in all his endeavours. 

Later Drexciya would take this idea even further with the nautical, afrofuturist theme, based on a black atlantis populated by the children of slaves. Using what they learned from Underground Resistance (Drexciya’s James Stinson started out in UR) they too emancipated their work from the increasingly indoctrinated version of Techno that was laying claim to dance floors around the world. This was tactical in distinguishing the Detroit faction of Techno from the increasingly popular form of the genre, which was infiltrating mass culture steadily, throughout the 1990’s. It’s in this spirit that Mike Banks still refers to the genre as High-Tech Jazz, to liberate any associations with this other vapid interpretation of the term Techno, which has largely commodified the term. 

 

The eternal  innovator 

“There were times earlier in my career when partying, entertaining the ladies and making a lot of money were my top three goals!” Jeff Mills told the Monument in an interview last year. “But like anyone that cares about something, in time one’s craft and art form require more attention and focus. For me, this difference happened around 1995.” 

The mid nineties had been definitive time for Techno too. Robert Hood had released Minimal Nation on Mills’ Axis records, creating a new branch of Techno in its wake (which would again be adopted and distilled down to a perfunctory music in the mid 2000’s). Jeff Mills released the hugely influential “Bells” and alongside artists like Carl Craig and Kenny Larkin, he also constituted the second wave of artists, producers and DJs from Detroit, strengthening the resolve of their predecessors’ music as the rightful pretenders to the throne. Even while Jeff Mills was there from the onset, the most significant contribution came during this era, as he established the genre beyond the confines of a sweaty dance floor. 

Techno as art had hardly been a notion before Jeff Mills posited it to the world as such. He realised early on “the genre could contain more than just dancing” he said in an Electronic beats interview and that it could relay “a certain subject to certain people.” 

While “Atlantis” was an early effort, Purpose Maker was certainly about redefining the genre with a multimedia project incorporating film, performance and music. Essentially pre-dating Boiler Room by 20 years, the Purpose Maker video was a DJ set captured on film as performance for the first time. As well as introducing the world to Octave One, it played a significant part in established DJing as an artform too with Jeff Mills giving his audience and intimate look up the Wizard’s sleeve. 

Focussing, quite literally, on Mills’ technique, closeups on the decks revealed the artist manipulating three decks at the same time, lifting the shroud on his unique practises for the first time. While most Techno DJs at that time were manipulating two records in some seamless segue between tracks in one uninterrupted musical journey, Mills was expounding on it by essentially creating completely new compositions in an improvised manner. The idea of DJing as an art form is essentially born. 

Jeff Mills had been a DJ innovator from the very beginning on radio, and while even some of his Detroit peers still struggle with the practise he had mastered something unique in his abilities. In the age of CDJs (CD players emulating record players, made for DJs) it’s not uncommon to find DJs using up to five players simultaneously, but when all they had were vinyl and record players Jeff Mills (and Carl Cox of course) stood apart. When he eventually moved over to CDJs in the 2000’s he would start incorporating a drum machine, in that ceaseless sense of curiosity and experimentation that underlines all his work. 

“My interaction and application of always using a Roland TR-909 drum machine in a more hands on way” he explained in Monument, “is an example about how I’m trying to regain some of the human-ness back into my DJ sets.”

Even as a DJ, the idea of “Techno as loops for dance music” never quite sat well with Mills. His experience with that kind of narrow approach in Techno has been “very negative… For many many years“ he told Wired. “Not just with my peers but also in the press.” His views expanding the dimensions were “being totally ignored” for the longest time and even by time the millennial bell rang in and he signalled his intentions for the turn of the next decade by soundtracking Fritz Lang’s silent film Metropolis, his efforts still went purposefully unnoticed. It didn’t quite fit the devil-may-care hedonistic approach of the dance floor where superstar DJs were asking exorbitant fees to play mind-numbingly formulaic pieces for an increasingly disengaged audience. 

While Jeff Mills was trying to revolutionise the genre, it dug its heels in even further in the first wave of popularity that sought to codify the genre in recognisable tropes for these numbed hedonists. Many of Techno’s architects abandoned ship, seeking refuge in everything from Drum n Bass to Post-punk music, but even during this time, Jeff Mills remained an unwavering presence with a resolute philosophy in expanding the collective consciousness of the genre. He would release some stunning records like the conceptual album “Time Machine,” as his music moved further into the abstract realm, perhaps even too abstract for the new Techno elite that were only just cottoning on to his early work like “Waveform Transmissions.” 

During this time he made the “Exhibitionist,” a follow up to the Purpose Maker – after the advent of CDJs and incorporating a drum machine in his Dj sets – while unilaterally exploring the absolute limits of the music, extending his experiments into film too with concepts like “Three Ages.”

By the time people started flocking back to Techno through the thunderous sounds of Berlin at the turn of the first decade of this century, Jeff Mills was still there, he never left, and still constituted the determinable ideologies of the genre. With Techno’s profile rising however, Jeff Mills’ profile rose too naturally, and today with the recent re-issue of “The Bells” some nearly twenty five years on from its creation, he is possibly the most referenced artist out there today, but his hesitation at the popularity from the start of this piece is warranted even more today. Those certain types from the suburb, have effectively exploited the origins for some kind of gain (whether for money or profile), effectively white-washing the original principles of what Mills and his Detroit cohorts set out to create at the beginning. 

It’s why Jeff Mills is still such a significant figure in Techno at the age 56, because even at Techno’s heightened popularity, there are very few artists pursuing a unique voice in the genre like he still is. Everybody seems to be playing to the common denominator, making bridge and tunnel journeys into the city’s clubs for simple escapist pleasures.

As Techno’s popularity continues to grow, it’s reached a point where everything we experience as Techno is just some bland version of what Jeff Mills has done at some previous point in his career. Whether its referencing Waveform Transmissions, the Bells or utilising four decks in a DJ mix, everything in Techno today can be distilled down to its archetype, Jeff Mills. And yet, when it’s Jeff Mills pursuing these things, it still manages to set a tone apart from the mainstream. Jeff Mills remains the original. 

 

From Arla to Bromley – Profile on Overmono

Ed Russell was 8 years old when he started eavesdropping on his older brother, Tom mixing records in the room next door. At 18 Tom had gotten his first set of decks, and although Ed can’t really infer what kind of impression it made on him today, by the time he was 11 and set out on his own path with a set of decks, he was regularly “pinching” records from Tom’s room, according to an interview with the Quietus.  

Tom had started making music and DJing as Truss while Ed was still coming of age and honing his nascent skills between DJing and production. As Truss, the older brother played sets and released music that focussed on the darker shades of Techno, infused with elements lifted from UK dance music- and sound system culture. With Perc Trax as a vehicle for his music, he made a significant impression as part of a wave of artists pursuing Techno in the UK capital after Dubstep’s descent.

Records like “Kymin Lea” and his collaborations with Perc, had brought an abstract era of Techno to the dance floor, punctuated by militant drum machine arrangements and suffused with experimental sonic designs that went beyond the functional.

Artists like Truss and Perc facilitated an era in the UK’s clubbing community that ultimately provided a platform for a whole post-Dubstep generation to come through and develop unique strains of music. Infused with a heady mixture of UK rave culture, whilst drawing on influences from Berlin, Chicago and Detroit, this next phase was fertile environment for a new burgeoning eclecticism. It’s in this scene that younger brother Ed would make his debut as Tessela with the much hyped and still magnificent, “Hackney Parrot.” 

“Hackney Parrot” would be the first time that Ed and Tom would work together (although indirectly), with their joint venture and label, Poly Kicks expediting the release of the debut record. “I’ve never been one for subtlety really,” Ed told Resident Advisor at the time of Hackney Parrot’s release, and the record honours that sentiment with a screaming, chopped vocal undulating between the raucous, bass-heavy breakbeat arrangement. With later records on the likes of R&S,  Tessela established a unique sound that flirted with Techno, while retaining those expressive UK rave influences that he had picked up from his brother’s records. 

While they had been working in close proximity to each other, it hadn’t occurred to the brothers to combine their efforts yet. Besides an isolated release as TR/ER in 2012 for the aptly-named Brothers imprint, they stuck to their own worlds. “We never actually meant for TR\ER to be a thing” explained Ed in an interview with De School. It was a lone incident for them and it didn’t establish anything that would eventually inform their sound together as Overmono.

The idea for Overmono and serious collaboration would only really come much later. “We were driving down to our Mum’s one evening,” Ed Russell told the Quietus ”and it suddenly just hit us that we should start properly making music together.” While they’ve never confirmed what encouraged this epiphany (or what music might have been playing in the car at that time) what followed was a five-day writing session in a cottage away from the distractions of city life in London.

Before the writing session, Tom had received a box of unwanted records from a brother in law, and while it was largely inconsequential records, one box had contained “loads of amazing early Detroit stuff like Underground Resistance and Transmat records,” encouraging the older sibling to “take the lot.” From this they sampled what they could, building “a big library of sounds we thought were interesting, and that was almost the start of Overmono.” 

Processing the samples beyond recognition, Ed and Tom laid the foundation for what would become the first in a series of three records for XL Recordings called “Arla.” “There was a tinge of nostalgia to the Arla series of records,” Tom told De School. “Those three records were very personal to us in trying to establish a blueprint of our references and define what Overmono is about.” Creating that blueprint from those early Detroit influences, Overmono is built on a foundation of Techno, while channeling everything from those pivotal UK influences to trance into their music in an abstract collage of the history of dance music. “I guess we don’t specifically see Overmono as a solely techno-focused project” Tom explained in the Quietus, and while Ed considers Tessela as “something that definitely folded into Overmono,” they’ve severed any ties with their solo aliases in Overmono. It merely came down to the box of records.

While they established something individual in their solo projects, “Overmono offers us the chance to be much more expansive in our productions,” Ed told De School. Pursuing melody rather than function, the duo set out to create music that although more abstract, could live beyond the dance floor and the 12” through the Arla series of records for XL. It’s only during their fourth EP, Whities 019 that they would emerge with a sound that would define their more recent records for the likes of Poly Kicks, which brought their sound further to the middle of the dance floor again. 

While Arla was based around samples, from Whities 019 forward they were creating their own unique and individual melodic pieces. “We both love a bit of trance,” Tom told the Quietus, somewhat predictively in strains of music that could be heard through their more recent records like the self-titled EP from this last November. Between buoyant melodies and percussive rhythms that ricochet between quaver notes and broken beat samples, Overmono has defined a sound over the last three records that has found some synchronicity with current dance floor trends, without pandering to them. 

Records like “Raft Living” infuse this stark melodic element with the roots of UK rave culture, where blistering beat arrangements envelope everything else in that very same lack of subtlety that defined Ed’s work as Tessela. 

What sets Overmono’s music apart is their ability to bring this sound beyond the recorded format to the live stage. With a visceral approach to their machines, their “music is defined by the kit that we use” according to Ed in a Resident Advisor feature. That translates to a live situation too with a “more cohesive set” emerging as the pair unpack their music with their machines leading them down a path to a “middleground between freedom and improvisation.” 

Between making records, their individual output, and playing live, they also managed to find time to collaborate with Joy O, in one of the biggest tracks on the dance floor during 2019, ”Bromley.” It emerged closer to those UK Rave influences, with a perfunctory percussive arrangement, where minimal is key and every element needs to count, bearing closer resemblance to a track “Daisy Chain,” than the more recent “Le Tigre.” 

As Joy O’s music is want to do, there was an incredible hype surrounding the track, and with good reason, and while Overmono had already garnered a lot of attention for their music and live show, it has only gone to cement Overmono as a tour de force on the electronic club music scene of today. From their first records to where they’ve channelled their sound and their live show, they’ve established something unique together as Overmono. 

Introducing: DJ Krass

Krister Kolstad was christened DJ Krass long before he even approached a DJ booth in a club setting. His critical listening habits had inspired the epithet when some friends came to the conclusion; “You’re so crass when you talk about music.”

Krister Kolstad comes from a fine musical lineage. His father owned a prominent record store in Oslo while his big sister, Sandra Kolstad is a distinguished musical artist in Norway’s music scene today. While they’ve all played together before as the Kollstad Killers (at Jaeger), Krister’s own efforts as a DJ and artist, is still at the burgeoning stages.

Growing up in a very musical household, music has played a prominent part in Krister’s formative years, and while he had been entertaining the thought of DJing for some time, he only started playing out a few years ago.

Fraternising with the more obscure corners of the larger Oslo DJ community like Oblivion Dip and Den Gyldne Sprekk, he has been inducted into the scene with eclectic sets that span the realm of recorded music today. 

When Sprekken’s Raymond T. Hauger (Lekkerman) had other commitments in February, he asked DJ Krass to fill in for him. Krister agreed, with Raymond going “great, can I have the program by tomorrow?” It’s an impulsive DJ Krass takeover of Den Gyldne Sprekk at Jaeger this month as a result, prompting us to find out more about this new DJ.

Introductions are in order I believe. 

I’ve noticed that your name often comes up in events around town recently, especially alongside Oblivion Dip. What is your connection to those guys and that world?

Oblivion Dip, I got to know them a few years ago, and they are good people. We’ve been working a bit in the studio as well. They invited me to play at one of their release parties in 2018, and we’ve been playing a lot since then.

And Raymond and Den Gyldne Sprekk?

I’m not sure when I got to know Raymond exactly, but it was around 2015/16. In 2018, I played Sprekken for the first time. 

When did you start DJing

Out and about it’s only been since the start of 2017. I played with a friend for a few years before that, to learn how to play. He’s actually going to play with me on one of the dates.

Who is that?

Very Friendly. It’s an old friend of mine, I’ve known him since I was 13. He’s always had great taste in music, and we’ve always shared a lot of music. The first time at Sprekken was also with him. 

Tell me about your taste in music. 

Originally I started  with Hip Hop. I’ve always been all over the place. Hip Hop and then later progressive Rock and space Rock. That was mostly through my father, because he was an old hippy. (laughs)

I was going to get to your family, because of the Kolstad Killers and because your sister is Sandra Kolstad. There’s been a lot of  music in the family for some time I imagine.

Yes, because our father used to run a record store in the eighties. He’s obviously very interested in music, so I guess we listened to a lot of different stuff from him.

Which record store was this?

It was called Utopia.

So dad must have brought a lot of music home with him, but what was the first style of music you got into?

I would say Hip Hop. I guess I would listen to some other stuff before then as well. I remember one CD called 1995 hit mix, with all these dance mega hits. I was really young, so it wasn’t really a conscious choice. I had some friends that listened to Cypress Hill and Bone Thugs n Harmony. And I was like; “wow this is cool.”

As kids we usually rebel through music. How do you rebel in a household like that with your father being a hippy and running a record store?

I know they weren’t too happy with the lyrics in the Hip Hop stuff. But it wasn’t a rebellion on my part. That’s what I liked at the time, and I still do. 

Were you playing in bands as a kid?

No I wasn’t. I was just listening. At some point in my twenties I started playing the guitar. So, late. I was inspired by the early folk-blues guys in America in the 1920’s.

Like Robert Johnson?

Yes, and Mississipi John Hurt and stuff like that. So I started playing the guitar and then jamming with some friends. It never amounted to anything, it was just good fun. At some point, I became interested in electronic music as well, and my big sister showed me Ableton. 

Is that Sandra?

Yes.

Do you and your sister ever collaborate?

We’ve done some stuff, but not really. 

She must be quite busy.

She’s always busy with loads projects all the time. She’s involved in theatre and stuff like that too. 

And your dad, is he still excited about new music.

Sure.

You all played together a while back as the Kolstad Killers at Sprekken… 

On Raymond’s request. My dad came with two burnt CDs which were both the same. He had no idea how to use the CDJs, and he asked me to help his  So I just played the songs in the order he wanted. 

What kind of music was that?

It was mainly psychedelic Rock and space Rock. A lot of Hawkwind. 

Are you making electronic music now?

There’s been a couple of digital releases and there’s more stuff coming this year, I hope. Oblivion Dip has a compilation out some time soon where I have on track with Kristian Dugstad, who runs Oblivion Dip. 

It’s a varied compilation. We have an Electro track and there’s an Ambient track on there. 

So you’re also entering into a career as a producer?

Well I’ve been doing it for nine years, but I just never felt it was good enough. Now it’s starting to meet my standards. In the last few years, I’ve been branching out and meeting new people doing the same thing. Before I was just alone at home. Now it’s more out there. 

Another project is that I’m remixing the whole Beglomeg album

The whole album, how did that come about?

Yes, on Raymond’s request. It started with him asking me and Snørre (club No No) to remix a track and then he said you have to remix the whole album. Then Snørre left for Bergen and I took over the whole project. 

Are you re-mixing it or remixing it?

The tracks are getting remade. The one track is Jungle, one is Trance, and one is Ambient. It’s all over the place.

Where do you start with something like that, because it’s such a unique album?

We just loaded all the different elements into a sampler and we didn’t listen to the original track before we started. It could go both ways, but it just flowed out. We were done in four hours. Eventually I heard all the tracks, and now I just start at one point and go with the flow.  

It’s a very organic LP, did you have to add loads of new elements?

No. I’m just using what’s there, because the raw material is so great, it’s just a pleasure to work with. 

There’s also a very obscure concept behind the album. How do you try and relay that into the remixes?

I try not to think about that. 

In terms of what you play as a DJ, is it as eclectic as your tastes? 

Yes, I’m all over the place. I guess I prefer Techno, but anything goes. 

 

What are your plans for Den Gyldne Sprekk takeover?

The first night is David Dajani, and we haven’t talked about what we’re going to play. The last time it was when he was curating the month, and I asked if we could play, progressive rock. I guess we’re going to do something else this time. 

The second Tuesday is Very Friendly, which again we didn’t talk about what we’re going to play. Probably just a good mix of stuff. 

The third one is with Hertug Skule & Big T and it’s a concept called Gangster Galore, where they takeover a place and play gangster rap for 9 hours. They’ve had it at Freden’s cafe in Fredensborg veien. 

Besides the last one, there’s no distinct themes emerging. So will you be a bit more free flowing in your selections each night?

Yeah. I’ll go anywhere. 

Within that wide musical scope, what do you look for in music, what’s the underlying thread?

It’s mainly just records from the 90’s, mainly Techno. I’m always looking for cheap, but good records. It takes a bit of time and you have to listen to a lot of shit.

It’s very rare, since everybody knows what they cost, because of Discogs.

Yeah, the Discogs effect has been going on for the last few years, where everybody is doing the same as me. They are cheap because nobody has been wanting them for 20 years. So when they get sold out on Discogs, they don’t just arrive at the same price. I have many records that I’ve bought for 2 Euros that are now 150 euros.

And what do those records sound like?

European and American Techno records and Trance records, and Breakbeat records.  

TBT: Joy Orbison – Hyph Mngo

A faint thewy organ, floats in from the distance, reluctantly filling the stereo field. A mere suggestion of tension accompanies the augmented volume, before the body of sound reveals itself as some distorting imitation of an organ, most likely coaxed from a FM synthesiser. The year is 2009 and the song is “Hyph Mngo” by an unknown artist called Joy Orbison and before it’s even reached the pressing plant, it’s been widely acknowledged as the track of the year, by some of London’s most significant selectors and tastemakers. 

It was a debut release by an unknown artist on an independent label called Hotflush recordings, but it preceded to garner a kind of hype reserved for pop music. Indie magazine Pitchfork called it a “spectacularly well-crafted dubstep song,” singing the track’s praises well in advance of the official release date on more than one feature, while XLR8R quite rightly called Joy Orbison an “artist to watch.” It seemed that every DJ of notable repute in the UK had a copy of this record, tucked away in their arsenal and if they wanted a lethargic dance floor to go off in the summer of 2009, all they had to do was play “Hyph Mngo.”

London in 2009 was an exciting landscape for electronic music. Dubstep had been firmly inducted in the underbelly of the UK capital at places like Plastic People and had started to make waves in the mainstream through artists like Skream and Benga, but a new generation of artists had begun to redefine the parlance almost at the same time. Formed on of the foundations of the extended UK Bass music family (most often UK garage) Dubstep started to incorporate a heady mixture of influences from the extended comos of dance music culture, developing the term beyond its original parameters.

A group of aspiring artists, producers, DJs and enthusiasts, converging in online communities like Dubstepforum and at club concepts like >>FWD started to penetrate the slowly stagnant Dubstep scene. Armed with the knowledge that the internet facilitated, and hugely respectful of the origins of UK’s music subcultures, these artists, DJs and producers would change the face of music in the city and the country to eventually become international pioneers in the booth and the studio that soon leaped beyond dubstep.

Peter O’Grady, who would later take on the name Joy Orbison (in some punchline of an undefined joke) , was one of these people. Growing up in greater London, O’Grady discovered UK dance music from an early age thanks to an influential relative. His uncle is Ray Keith and had been a pivotal figure on the UK’s Drum n Bass scene from its inception, contributing a few seminal moments on the dance floor in the late nineties and early noughties. “I had started to become interested in dance music,” O’Grady told Factmag during a rare interview at the start of his career, “so he would send me his albums and records.” Only 12 years old at the time, these albums arrived to become an obsession, spurred on by an enthusiasm only youth could bring. 

It expedited an entry into DJing, with a set of decks at 13 and between collecting records and honing his craft as a DJ, he was immersing himself completely in the sounds of Jungle, Drum n Bass, and most significantly Garage. “I was just a kid in awe of the culture,” he reminisced in a recent Dazed and Confused interview with Gabriel Szatan. He was eager “to go to record shops and get involved, but never holding any power,” he needed to make an impression first. “Production was always the natural progression” to that next step he told Factmag “but I actually waited quite a while – ’til I was about 18 – before I really gave it a go.”

As the darker hues of UK Garage developed into Grime on the estates of London, O’Grady took first steps into production, “trying to imitate those 8 bar grime tracks” on the predominant  Fruity Loops software. Little more that an ingratiating “hobby” at first, O’Grady’s skills developed as his musical purview grew to include everything from post-rock (he was even in a band at one stage) to classic House, laying the foundation for what become the fusion of styles that would gather round Joy Orbison and his first release “Hyph Mngo.”

“Why is our enthusiasm for Joy Orbison so outsized compared to what we express for his peers?” asked Little White Earbuds a few years later via a review of “Ellipsis.” It’s an interesting question, and the answer still eludes us today. “Hyph Mngo” wasn’t necessarily breaking any molds per se at that time. The two step garage rhythm had become quite pedestrian at that point and it wasn’t the first time producers flirted with classic Garage in the scope of Dubstep either. The year before Skream had released Skreamizm 5 which contained the bubbling “One for the heads who remember” – a track that bore some striking similarities to “Hyph Mngo” in its use of a fractured vocal sample, a two step percussive loop and a lot of emphasis on the sub-bass frequencies.

By 2009 that scene was moving at a staggering rate however with the old guard like Skream (who is only a few years O’Grady’ senior) quickly moving over for the next movement in the UK’s dance music scene. New labels like Hessle Audio were emerging and encouraging a wave of new artists to explore every shadowy enclave of UK dance genres and further afield. It was a very innovative era for the music, and borders were completely broken down, with Dubstep’s ingrained formulas becoming almost immediately passé. 

The lfo (low frequency oscillator) “wobbly” basslines and syncopated rhythms that had defined the genre were now holding it back, as artists, some of whom were active in Dubstep, looked beyond those features in developing the music at a rapid pace. An artist like Joy Orbison signalled the latest in a movement that was always looking to the next, but unlike many tracks that came and disappeared from the XLR8R downloads section, “Hyph Mngo” had the presence to back up the hype. 

Its magnificence is ingrained in the fundamentals of track and its Garage foundations.“I think a lot of my sound comes from UK Garage, producers like Todd Edwards, Zed Bias and Groove Chronicles,” admitted O’Grady in Factmag, and that’s quite significant in the appeal of the record. Instead of relying on what was becoming tired tropes in the world of UK’s dance music, O’Grady proffered an interpretation of the classic UK Garage sounds from a modern perspective. 

Two-step garage rhythms forged in the cold metallic percussive range of Grime, bounce  through thinly splaid house chords. A disembodied vocal sample haunts the progression, only on occasion revealing the lyric “it’s you” while wave after wave of sub-bass anchor the track to its ratcheting beat. 

Elements of House, Garage and Dubstep are all accounted for, but they are unfamiliar, re-contextualized in the confluence. The “wobble” bass line is there too, but completely devoid of the rasping sonorities of its Dubstep origins, it’s been relieved of its cliché. It’s set to the back, where it serves as a harmonic accompaniment rather than taking center stage. The bass line and the curious use of an FM organ synth, sets the tone for a track that floats between distant worlds of House, Grime and Dubstep. 

In a recent interview with the Quietus, O’Grady told the writer: “I think people like to assume you’re quite ignorant when you’re younger, and people maybe thought we were just these kids into jungle and garage and that, but I was interested in lots of styles of music.” That eclectic approach encouraged in some part by a youthful enthusiasm might have played an integral part in how that track turned out in fact, and although unique, it was the machinations behind that track that played the most significant role in the eventual success of “Hyph Mngo.”

It wasn’t exactly anything was well defined as the Dubstep scene that enabled the hype, but with a few key figures shouting its praises in an extensive online community where blogs had surpassed the music press for a while, the popularity of that record, and many more among it, took on a life of its own. O’Grady had tentatively handed a few copies to some DJ friends at first according to the factmag interview, and he was “really unconfident about the reaction” it would get. It went “‘pretty crazy” however and exceeded O’Grady’s expectations by far. 

One DJ, in particular, played a fundamental role in the track’s reception. When Martin Clarke (aka Blackdown) played it for the first time on Rinse FM in the summer of 2009, he claimed in no uncertain terms, that “this tune is massive” and proceeded to proclaim it a “dubstep anthem” in a feature for Pitchfork.  

Between Clarke, the DJs playing the track, and the blogs picking up on it on an almost daily basis, it catapulted the name Joy Orbison into the public psyche for anybody interested in alternative club music. It didn’t take long for that track to live on its own terms however. On the ten-year anniversary of its release, Gabriel Szatan writing in DJ Mag called Hyhp Mngo “a touchstone, firmly fixed in contemporary electronic music’s vernacular and its bloodstream,” and if I could offer even the slightest criticism, it would only be that success of “Hyph Mngo” detracted from the equally brilliant B-side “Wet Look.”

It played some part as a catalyst beyond Dubstep, which other artists and DJs took into Techno and House, and Joy Orbison even further (81B on Hinge finger is a great example) , which continues to fuse and merge with everything from psychedelia to proto House. “I don’t resent that exposure,” he told Factmag about his sudden rise,  “but I’m definitely more excited about what’s to come than what I’ve done so far.”  

With what we know today from releases like “The shrew would have cushioned the blow,” “Big Room Tech House DJ Tool – TIP!”, “Ellipsis” and his recent collaboration with Overmono for “Bromley” those words come as an uncanny reminder from the past.  If I could pose an answer to LWE’s initial question, and with the advantage of hindsight, our enthusiasm for Joy Orbison is the result of his unique ability to surprise around each corner. He makes effective dance music that feigns preconceptions. You never know what to expect from a Joy O track and it’s always a pleasant surprise. 

The cut with Filter Musikk

Can you hear it? The distant ticking of the doomsday clock. It’s getting closer, louder. It’s just slipped past 100 seconds to midnight on its irrevocable path to the inevitable. Nothing we cdo, can stop it and everything we do is accelerating it. Even those most ancient of past times, music has become a taboo. Everything we’ve done to record and listen to music since the advent of the 20th century is killing our planet, and taking us with it. 

Irregardless of format, hope is infinitesimal and at a time where the world is only just waking up to the sounds of the rest of the world, it is ironic that now more than ever, we need to stop. Restrain our listening habits, slow your breath, cease to exist… just… stop. There is no acceptable resolve, short of the simple vocal chord, and who can possibly know the noxious effect of the human voice or the lyricist’s pen. Can you hear it yet… a life without music.

It’s incomprehensible, so I’ll play the devil’s advocate and say it without fear of retribution… Vinyl is our only option. Yes, the most poisonous of formats. A composite of music, locked in plastic through a dirty industrialised process using waste chemicals, that’s where we’ll find our answer. In a disposable consumer culture, a record is a lifetime acquisition today for many (even if you can’t listen to it anymore, it will make a nice bowl) and if it’s not in your collection it’s in a record store, on the used shelf, waiting for a new owner. 

In a world where accessibility is key and a world of music waits at your fingertips, records require a level of dedication, a long term investment that’s just expensive enough to garner more than a fleeting interest and valuable enough to live beyond temporal trends. In an age where music is created, produced and discarded over a New York minute, a record takes a little more commitment in for all parties involved, so if you’re going to leave a footprint, leave few impressions, and make them count. Exorbitant costs and availability, encourage limited presses for the reserve of only those most excellent and worthy pieces of music.

In Oslo, there’s a small store at the end of Prinsens gate that is toiling away in its bid to help facilitate a more sincere and less wasteful musical experience. Behind the counter is a man, whose dedication to the format and curation skills has offset all of Oslo’s musical carbon footprint alone. He hardly takes holidays and when he does it’s by train. That man is Roland LIfjell and the shop is Filter Musikk. This is the cut with Filter Musikk.

 

James Ruskin – Siklikal EP (Tresor) 12″   

James Ruskin continues to be an innovative figure in a canon that is currently being commodified in obnoxious DJ Instagram posts and music that constitutes little more than a tired loop. His latest record comes at a time when everybody is pursuing tawdry interpretations of the sound he in part created at the turn of the century through Blueprint and Tresor. 

When Techno fell from grace, artists like Ruskin continued to make music with the futurist resolve that guided their predecessors, becoming the archetype for what Techno constitutes on European dance floors today. At a time when Techno is possibly at the height of its popularity, it comes as no surprise that  Ruskin would contribute to the scene with a record like “Siklikal.”

The EP on long-time-collaborator Tresor, finds the artist in an introspective mood, feigning the dominance of the kick drum in murky atmospheres. Clattering industrial sounds emerge from a hazy confluence of noise where repetitive sequences lay the foundation for improvised machines.

Like some industrial process imagined by Fritz Lang, the machines take on a life of their own, as chirping formats and oppressive textures obfuscate any central theme or dominant rhythms pattern. Only on “Nepte” and “Nocke” does any kind of percussion exist, but it appears lost in the context of the factory-like  ambience that smothers the music. 

 

DJ Richard – Eraser (Flexxseal) 12″ Ltd Ed 

Slow, marauding rhythms punch holes in distorting pads, while clumsy elements churn around the eye of a sonic tornado on DJ Richard’s latest, “Eraser.” The music seems to float around in a stupor, travelling through some gloomy tunnel, strewn with used needles and discarded dreams. 

A slow pulse dominates “Eraser,” and even when the kick drum is pounding out semiquavers on “Casca’s Theme” there’s an oppressive front lingering on the surface, instilling a druggy haze through the record. The staggering 303 and awkward accents of the title track is this record’s calling card, as DJ Richard establishes a particular mood throughout this record.

It’s a long way off from the chirpy records he has made from Dial in the past, but the layers of  texture that dominated those records are still prominent and notable here. They’ve taken a more menacing turn, playing in gloomy chord progressions and distorting percussive arrangements that cling on those claustrophobic mid range frequencies.  

 

Ludwig A.F. Röhrscheid – Between Worlds (Exo Recordings International) 12″

There’s been a significant return to these 90’s rave and trance sounds in the last couple of years. A new generation of DJ/producer, trying to sidestep the Discogs effect has been digging deeper and deeper into the bargain bin, where they’ve defined their sound in the unwanted records. They’ve found a new value in the discarded sounds of 90’s Trance, Breakbeat and Techno and it was only a matter of time until it started informing their own music.

Artists and DJs like Ludwig A.F. Röhrscheid are re-appropriating these heretofore tawdry aspects into serious music, in interpretations that thrive in the original DIY values of these genres, landing on the ears of the modern dance floor enthusiasts who have no relationship to the origins of this sound.

Sparkling 303’s and wispy pads hover just above the corporeal delights of a 909 kick. Updating those stale sounds for the digital realm, Röhrscheid avoids nostalgia, but delights in the charm of melody and harmony that his predecessors enjoyed. There’s a lo-fi element to “Between two Worlds” that plays up to the zeitgeist, and while that familiar flute lifted from that Enigma record for the umpteenth time might sound cute again, you have to wonder how long those bubblegum sounds that dominate the A-side of the record will stay relevant in today’s ever-changing landscape. 

“Leave” and “Between Worlds” on the B-side contains something far more substantial than the sugaryA-side. The artist is certainly caught between these two worlds on the record, but as is true of most records, it’s the B-side that will make more of a valuable contribution in the long run. 

 

Heap – Beat Nouveau EP (Mechatronica White) 12″ Ltd Ed

A label will never make any money from a limited press. Even if it sells out completely, which believe it or not is still not a certainty at a mere 616 copies, the record might only recoup its costs if you’re lucky. As a second pressing is highly unlikely, you’re putting everything into this one shot, and that takes a sincere commitment to the music. And then imagine basing a whole label on this ideology. 

Mechatronica’s white sublabel is all about that and while the parent label is no commercial success either focussing on the obscure strains of EBM, Electro, and Synth Wave, when they release a record like “Beat Nouveau” it’s worth a listen at the very least.

The thing that strikes you first on this record is the snare (pun intended). Heap avoids the ratchet snares of the commonly used 808 for something with more body and a gated reverb, lifted from some eighties EBM track. “Beat Nouveau” is electro, but it opens the genre up to outside influences. From the snaking downtempo slant of “Beau Geste” to the muted synth wave of “Tat Ark,” there’s a consistent variation to this record, that makes each track count on its own terms. 

 

Jeff Mills – The Director’s Cut Chapter 5 (Axis) 12″

Like Ruskin, Jeff Mills remains the original architect and innovator of the Techno genre. While people are still playing  “the Bells” in DJ sets as if to prove their unwarranted significance, that record is the mere tip of the iceberg in a legacy that is so much more than the sum of its popularity.

Re-issuing that track in December last year  in the most recent of his Director’s cut compilations (probably why we’re hearing it all over on social media at the moment), it overshadows the extensive scope of Jeff Mills and his music, so it was with a conscious decision that we chose  to include the 5th in the series in this list. It contains some of Mills’ more obscure pieces from the mid 2000’s and especially the beautifully orchestrated “Above Waiting Worlds,” one of the prettiest pieces of Techno ever created. 

While the rest of the world has only just caught up with the Waveform Transmissions/Bells era, I’m curious how long it will take them to eventually arrive at this era. Another twenty years perhaps?

Ever the sonic auteur, this edition of the Director’s cut re-issues, showcases Mills’ cinematic pursuits, where he constructs pieces in a sci-fi narrative that continues to mystify. There’s that human touch that he always brought to this machine aesthetic, where a visceral component clouds the stark electronic landscape. Even at almost twenty years, these pieces still sound unique, like they’ve arrived from the future.

 

Album of the Week: Claro Intelecto – In Vitro – Volume one

In Vitro greets the listener with Claro Intelecto’s  classic “Peace of Mind” descending down the familiar melodic movement, chiming between luxurious pads. It seems appropriate that the track that broke Mark Stewart as Claro Intelecto, is the track that would introduce the first of a two-part compilation cataloguing the producer’s work. The track hasn’t aged at all, with the subtle details and entrancing textures captivating as much as they did back in 2004 when the record was first released.

When the rest of the dance floor was chasing the Electroclash trend, Stewart gravitated towards the Detroit influences and produced a pure Electro classic, that has outlived any of his trend-informed contemporaries. The track  has been a touchstone in the Electro genre ever since,  re-issued on Delsin in 2014 and then again today on the compilation, and its appeal is as strong as ever. Stewart eventually moved on from those early Electro and Techno LPs for the likes of AI records evolving into the more dubby realm where the likes of which Basic Channel were conjuring deep Techno, but at the core of his music as Claro Intelecto, and reflected in this compilation, is a sonic mysticism that captivate beyond those boundaries.

Deep chords and lingering pads suffuse the determined pulse of drum machines and bass synthesisers in music that flourishes in a humid atmosphere. Sifting through the outer layers of a track like “When the time is right,” you only find a kick drum buried deep in the lower frequencies, where you have to extricate it from a swampy confusion of sounds that suffocate it.  There’s a severe attention to the details in sound design, where even though a melody, harmony or rhythm might not develop through the course of track, that these accents develop like a cinematic diorama unfolding.

The compilation takes huge leaps through Claro Intelecto’s back catalogue, and without following some sequential route, it immediately exposes a singular sonic identity to Stewart’s work under this alias. Even the surprisingly raunchy “Two Thousand” with its growling bass line and excessive beat is usurped in its efforts to indulge an immediacy as the repetitive lines of the track, lock the listener into some trance-inducing wonder. The track at first jolts you from the daytime reverie of the first of two records, before slipping you back into the sanguine sounds that will eventually conclude that side on “Beautiful Death” – even through an abstract collage of Claro Intelecto’s work, a narrative exists.

While, through the course of Claro Intelecto’s discography, Minimal, Dub, Techno, Electro and even Deep House would label his work, Stewart’s sound would ultimately avoid all of these designations and  today it thrives on its own terms. Between album cuts and EPs, there is a distinctive sound. Often, it might resonate with some trend or zeitgeist, but as a recent LP like “Exhilarator” demonstrates,  Claro Intelecto’s music exists irregardless of such confined parameters. In Vitro – Volume one exposes a truly individual artist that remains apposite to the electronic music landscape.

Raw Soul with Detroit Swindle

House music is a machine-music imbued with soul. This has defined the characteristics and the limitations of the genre for four decades as artists and producers strive to parlay that human touch into a communal experience, coaxed from rigid machines. A sample, a choreographed modulation, a swing in the rhythm or a simple error, bring back House music to its origins. It’s where Funk, Soul and Disco still informs the work and artists like Detroit Swindle thrive in their modern interpretations of this ever-lasting genre. 

Lars Dales and  Maarten Smeets have been making music together as Detroit Swindle since the early part of the last decade. Both successful DJs and producers in their own right, the pair merged as a DJ/production duo when Maarten started playing at the club Lars was programming. Maarten’s underground sensibilities didn’t go down well with upper management however and Lars was forced to fire Maarten. They had started to bond over a shared musical passion at this point however, which developed into some studio time and eventually the start of Detroit Swindle. We don’t know what happened to that club…

As Detroit Swindle they released their first EP on Dirt Crew recordings, channeling those irrevocable Soul influences into the deeper echelons of House music. Gospel vocals and sparkling Rhodes keys streak a path to the dance floor on “Guess What,” establishing a Detroit Swindle sound that has veered little from these prominent roots up to today and their last release for AUS music “Rhythm Girl Swing.” Incorporating some elements of UK Garage and Disco in this latest release, the foundations of their work remain unchanged with an analogue warmth enveloping their sound.

Between releases for Dirt Crew and AUS, they’ve developed their own Heist imprint, providing a platform for others to extend the Detroit Swindle sound into new musical universes. Between their own EPs, running the label, playing live and DJing they’ve also released two LPs, which saw them re-imagine the sound outside of the club. From “Boxed Out” to “High Life” they’ve extended the Detroit Swindle sonic palette and with the assistance of some key collaborators on “High Life,” they created one of 2018’s most captivating House music LPs. 

All through this Detroit Swindle have remained steadfast in their sonic approach and true to the original themes of House music that brought them together. Whether they’re distilling it into original music, performing live or DJing, Lars and Maarten have found a unique voice on the musical landscape.

Detroit Swindle play our basement at Frædag next week

I’ve heard the story about the circumstances that brought you together to lay the foundation of Detroit Swindle. But Lars, did you end up firing Maarten from the club, like your boss asked?

Lars: Well, Maarten had the choice to either change what he was playing, or stop playing at the club. He chose to stick with the music he liked playing and I think he didn’t really mind not playing there anymore. It was a shame though, since all the bar staff and the regulars really liked to hear the music he played.  

What happened directly after in terms of the club and both your positions there?

Maarten: I’m not sure if the place still exists, but if it does, it probably isn’t the type of bar I’d go to for a drink. I was fine not playing there anymore and Lars quit his job as a programmer quite soon after to have more time in the studio together with me, which ended up being quite a good choice for the both of us. 

So all’s well that ends well. What was the music that you bonded over in the beginning that cemented what you would eventually do as Detroit Swindle?

Lars: It was mostly soul, funk, motown that we both grew up with. We were both also really into old school hiphop and that was really the foundation for our sound. We wanted to add our version of soul to modern day electronic music.

You were both accomplished solo artists/DJs before coming together as Detroit Swindle. How did you experience your individual tastes converging as Detroit Swindle?

Maarten: having had another career and another partnership with its ups and downs really helps in your growth as a person and an artist. We both had worked with someone else before and have learned valuable lessons from it. From a taste-perspective, we both add something that’s really from ourselves to the table. The combination of Lars’ interests and taste together with mine is what makes it click. It’s not always easy as a duo since you’re always creatively dependent on the other, but in the end, it’s a combination that just works really well.  

Did either of you ever feel you had to adapt your approach to music to accommodate the other?

Lars: During DJ sets, you can’t always decide on directions to take. Sometimes, it’s important to follow the idea of the other and that means finding a record to play that connects with the vibe the other is trying to go for rather than going for something different. Dj’ing in a duo is in a sense always about accommodating to each other’s ideas. And that’s how cool new things can emerge with combinations you’ve never thought of before. 

When we’re producing, there’s a golden rule that we both must really stand behind the track that we’re making. Whether it’s a b2 for an ep, or a big remix, we only release it when we’re both happy. That means that sometimes you have to make compromises to create something that’s really ‘us’.

There’s a lot to unpack in the name Detroit Swindle, but I think the connection with Detroit is an interesting one. There’s always been a tradition of Detroit in the Netherlands, from what the Bunker guys were doing to what the Dekmantel boys were doing at the start. I know you are only able to speak for yourself, but why do you think this relationship with Detroit is so strong in the Netherlands?

Maarten: That’s an interesting question… I guess musically, Holland has always had a big jazz, soul and disco scene with its eyes firmly set on the midwest with record import, festivals, stuff like that. For us, it’s the raw soul and unconventional approach to music in a sense. Whether it’s arrangement, the raw way of recording music, or the loose programming of samples, it’s all so very ‘alive’. That’s probably the biggest reason why it appeals to us so much.

Detroit’s legacy is kind of enshrined in Techno. Has it always been about House music for you, and where do you usually draw the line in your productions and DJ sets in your interpretation of a Detroit sound?

Lars: It was always Hiphop for me actually, with Dilla really being the main inspiration for me for a long time. If I look at our record bag, there will probably always be a Moodymann whitelabel, Omar S. or Underground Resistance record somewhere. That said, there’s so much great music out there and musical inspiration can come from all over the world these days, which is a good thing. It’s just great to be knee deep into soulful electronic music and hearing it pop up all over the world. 

Is the Heist platform just an extension of this sound?

Maarten: Heist is an extension of our sound so you could definitely say it’s an extension of where our inspiration comes from. We’ve had 6 years worth of great releases and in 2020, we’ve got some great diverse music coming up again, so we’re also pushing the sound to new places and drawing new inspiration from that. 

 

What do you look for in artists or music to make it onto the label, and is there any direction, from your part that you’ve always instilled in the artists coming to the label?

Lars: most of all, we look for artists who have their own sound, or at least something identifiable and unique to him / her / them. How well that thing is shaped is not really relevant, but it has to be there. We are really actively involved with the music our artists make and send us and with that, we help them shape their own sound. At the end of the day, we’re just very happy to be the messengers of all these amazing records.  

Over the years and your releases, you’ve stayed very close to the foundations of your sound, but you must constantly be evolving as musicians and artists. How have you experienced your own music evolve over the years?

Maarten: We’ve obviously learned a lot more about production techniques and mixing down, although I would still gladly leave the more technical stuff to real pro’s and stick to writing music myself. We’ve started working way more with analog equipment which really helped us in expanding our sound, understanding synthesis and also, very important, has ensured we still have loads of fun jamming in the studio. Our sound has definitely evolved as well, but I still feel very much connected to the music we made in the first part of our career. Change is a natural thing and we really embrace it with our productions. Moreover, we both really don’t see the point in repeating the same trick over and over, so it’s also in our character to keep on looking for fresh ideas.

I’m thinking about your last release on AUS, Rhythm Girl Swing. I picked up on hints Disco on Vibrations and a little bit of Garage on Wado Bayo. Was that something that you were actively trying to achieve on that record; expanding the repertoire?

Lars: To be honest, not really. We rarely go into the studio with a real plan or direction we want to take things. We just let the vibe of the moment take us wherever it goes. When we put together an EP, we always like to fit in some different styles, types of energy. Wado Baya is quite deep for us but still has that soulful warmth. The disco vibe on Vibrations is something that’s very close to us. We still like to switch it up though, for instance with this track with the more techy stabs, which gives the track a nice edge. 

What did you take away from that EP, that might inform future releases?

Maarten: It had been a while since we released on a label other than Heist, but it was nice to get this EP out there on a great label like Aus. The EP did really well and that felt like a nice encouragement to explore that deeper side of things as well. Funnily enough, the next record we did was a full on house record, so that kinda proves the point we made in the last question. We just go into the studio and see whatever comes out. 

With Techno’s popularity at an all time high at the moment and with House music favouring a kind of lo-fi soundcloud aesthetic, how do you feel you have had to adapt if at all with the current sounds on European dance floors?

Lars: We both have a weak spot for classic techno, so we always bring along a few bangers if we play a late slot or do an allnighter. The lofi house aesthetic is kinda interesting, because it’s a subgenre really focused on sound design, which I really applaud. That said, there’s loads of badly executed good ideas and well executed bad ideas in both genres (and every other genre) so it’s still all about making that right selection when you’re playing. As far as our sound goes, we’ve been playing music from all kinds of genres and love switching it up, no matter what genre is currently getting all the buzz.  

We really loved your last LP, High Life here and still play it in our café. It’s perfect for breaching that space between the cafe concept and what we do at night. How do you approach the LP differently to what you do on EPs and singles?

Maarten: That’s great to hear. Our intention with High Life was to create a soulful electronic album with a lot of live elements. When we made it, we took 3 weeks off of touring, which we normally never do. During those 3 weeks, we had guest musicians come over, locked ourselves up in the studio and lived the music, closing ourselves off for all external influences. During the process, we also have let go of the idea of creating music for clubs and just went into jams with an open mind. It’s with that mindset, along with the fact that we had no real pressure on, that we were able to write that album. The process for us when we’re writing music for an EP is different, but also really fun. It’s a more lightweight approach, where you get to put music together you’ve written in the studio, in an airplane, waiting for a pickup, or wherever. It’s also nice to write music without any time constraints, which makes it possible to let something sit for a while and you get to think about the direction you want to take the track, think about possible collabs you could do, etc. Both processes are really nice to go through and the variety in output makes it really worthwhile to work on EP’s now and plan for a new album in the future. 

 

There were a lot of collaborations on that LP compared to Boxed Out. What encouraged these collaborations and how did it affect the sound of the LP as a whole?

Lars: Our good friend and live collaborator Lorenz Rhode was there for quite a while to write keys for a lot of the tracks, which was great. We did a studio session with him and Tom Misch which ended up being a super special jam session. The recording with Jungle by Night was done in the Amsterdam Red Bull Studios and was amazing as well, having all these super talented guys jam on our track and have fun with each other. For us, these collabs have really made the album more diverse and give it a nice live touch. The combination of programmed electronics, sequenced synths, drums and samples and those unquantized live recordings give the whole album a real special feel that makes the album more than a dance album, but more a  journey through our view on electronic music.

You’ve toured the album for a bit, playing live, but you’re coming to Jaeger to play a DJ set. What’s the correlation between live, the label and DJing for you that makes it a distinctly Detroit Swindle experience?

Maarten: The live show is pretty much all original DS tracks and during our DJ sets, we try and play all different kinds of music. We play a lot of unreleased Heist tracks in our Dj sets and I guess all the music we play, whether it’s live or DJ, have a role in our the Sonic space of the DS sound. The live show has a certain energy with all the equipment and keyboards, all the live playing, a lights show, etc. It’s more of a show than when we’re DJ’ing. While DJ’ing, we really get to connect with the crowd, and in the interaction, we try to get a feel for the musical direction to take. In a way, the label, the DJ shows and the live shows are different ways for us to express our view on music and together, they form a really solid basis for the Detroit Swindle sound.

And what  should people expect from your upcoming set at Jaeger?

Lars: It’s been quite a while since we were at Jaeger and last time we played the courtyard, so we’re super excited to play here again. Usually when preparing a set, we go through the latest promo’s, get the latest tracks on Heist on the USB and check if there’s a new DS track to try out before we send it off for mastering. There’s always a nice combination of old and new music, as well as a trip through various styles. I couldn’t tell you now what we’ll play, but there’ll definitely be some unreleased tracks in there, as well as a few really nice records we got at a recent shopping spree. 

Influences: Beyond the arctic circle with Charlotte Bendiks

In the 1990s, music in Norway had largely been the claim of a small University town just beyond the arctic circle. Uncompromising figures like Bjørn Torske, Per Martinsen, Rune Lindbæk, Ole Mjøs and Geir Jenssen had found an affinity for machine music, that had put them and Tromsø on the map and paved a way for a whole lineage of artists that arrived after them.

There was no universal sound or even genre underpinning these individual artists or their music. The glacial ambience of Jenssen‘s Biosphere; the ecclastical highs of Torske, Linbæk and Mjøs’ Volcano; and the futurist machine rhythms of Martinsen’s Mental Overdrive stimulated nothing of a scene and yet there was something distinctive in the music that every artist brought to their individual musical destinations. 

Even though most of those original torchbearers have moved away from the region, Tromsø’s legacy is enshrined in those pioneers’ early accomplishments, with younger artists like Charlotte Bendiks imbibing that same  legacy for this generation and the next. Charlotte Bendiks has been a pivotal figure in the modern history of Tromsø and Norway’s electronic music scene with records on Per Martinsen’s Love OD label, Correspondant and Cómeme. A DJ, live artist and producer, her music has reached a global audience, and has found a fair few influential record bags. 

Last year’s “Hjemme Erotic” on Matthew Herbert’s Accidental Jnr. label, found Bendiks harnessing familiar traits in her own music, with polyrhythmic percussion and minimalist arrangements defining her sound as an artist. In the title track, Bendiks yet again reflects on home (hjemme) in literal terms, but with a breathy vocal and a drum machine evoking some intangible tribe, it also traces a faint lineage towards the earliest musical traditions from the region.

Like a post-modern nod to Joik, “Hjemme Erotic” continues to permeate with the sounds and atmosphere of Charlotte Bendiks’ roots. It lends that distinctive charm that has informed much of the music of the region, but it’s still an elusive appeal that remains largely undefined in Bendiks’ music and her influences from the region. Here she uncovers some of those influences ahead of her next  appearance at Jaeger for her IRONI residency. 

 

Kolar Goi – Audio Krill 

Kolar Goi, Aedena Cycle, Dr Gaute Barlindhaug – the man, the myth, the legend! One of the key figures in the Tromsø music scene is this guy,  as a producer, festival organizer for Insomnia festival and teaching music production for the university. Audio Krill sums up everything good about Gaute for me, and it is one of my all time favorite arctic tracks.

There’s quite an experimental element to this track. Is that something that you’re naturally drawn to in music, something unusual?

Yes, everything that stands out as different is interesting to me. Something with its own personality. 

I’ve always found a coldness in the music from the area. That’s obviously subjective, but the environment must have some effect on the music that’s made there. How do you think it’s informed your listening habits and the music you make?

That is very hard to answer. In my experience the same musical element that some people find cold, others find warm. The cold dark weather outside might influence the amount of hours you spend inside a warm studio in the winter, and that affects your musical output…

Beatservice, like Gaute has been a pillar of the Dance music community in Tromsø. What kind of influence do you think that sense of community has on the music from the region?

Tromsø is a very small city and the community of underground music is even smaller, so I think every person that takes part has shaped the music scene in a much bigger way than they know themselves.

 

Mental Overdrive – Diskodans

This genius of a track goes beyond genres and styles and stands out in it’s own way. I also love how Per used a vocal sample of a famous finish disco dancer and teacher Åke Blomqvist. It’s really the cherry on top for me, and what brings the quirky nordic vibe to the track. 

Per is such a versatile and prolific artist. Is this something that you try to emulate in your music?

I wanna be – I wanna be like PER!

Why do you think that “quirky nordic vibe” is so important in electronic music, not just from Tromsø, but the rest of Norway too?

I am not sure if I would say it is important in nordic music, but it is an important part of the northern Norwegian culture. It is also a big part of northern Norwegian storytelling traditions, and I find that this (dark) humour in music can motivate to take risks, stand out and dare to be different.

Per moved back to Tromsø a while back and it’s a small city where you’re bound to bump into figures like that regularly. Is there a healthy artistic exchange between this old guard and some of the new artists coming through, because of that?

That of course depends on each and every individual, some are more open for communication than others. Of course, it helps that it is a small and tight knit community. It is easy to know someone who knows someone, and that makes all the creative people in the north connect. The music scene is well connected to the film-, theatre- and art scene as well. There are a lot of collaborations across various expressions.

 

Nikkeby Lufthavn – To the moon

Nikkeby Lufthavn is my favorite rock band of all time. I discovered them when I was a punk-interested teenager, and to me Nikkeby Lufthavn is Tromsø’s best kept secret. I love the lyrics in To the Moon!

What was it that eventually lured you over to the electronic arts?

I don’t think of it like that anymore. Music is music. I discovered punk because I met some people who were in the punk scene, later I met some people who were into Detroit Techno and discovered electronic music via them. So I guess my answer is accessibility. 

How does this kind of music reflect in your own music and DJ sets?

I like the DIY punk attitude a lot. I think you can hear from some of my music that I am more into a “dirty” and “home made” sound than keeping it clean and smooth.

 

Mari Boine & Liu Sola – Maze

Mari Boine is a otherworldly and one of the most powerful artists I know. This track is my all time favorite of hers, I can’t begin to describe it, just listen and feel it!

How did you come across Mari Boine and why is her music so powerful to you?

Mari Boine is a very famous artist in Norway, so I discovered her and her music at a very young age. Her music is very emotional, and her emotions are very powerful.

Those sami roots are obviously strong in the north, but is it something accessible, or do you still have to seek it out to find it? 

Oh lord, where to begin… This is a history lesson of the Norwegian state’s discrimination that I won’t try to take on here. The roots are strong and all over, but a lot was hidden and some is even lost forever.

There’s a primal quality to the drums in that piece, and it’s something that I often pick up on in the rhythms and percussion in your music. Are you more likely to take your cues from a folk tradition like this than say, Techno when it comes to those elements in your tracks?

I like to think of all percussive music as primal or trance music. Repetitive percussive music to me is primal trance music, and I like to think that it has been part of human culture since before electricity was invented. I combine acoustic and electronic percussive sounds, and I don’t think of it as one or the other, it all comes together to make the vibe and groove I want to express. 

Bjørn Torske – Spelunker

Bjørn Torske aka The Codfather. Spelunker is a track I fell head over heels in love with when the Feil Knapp record was released back in 2007. 

All the electronic music music you mention in this list is from around this time. What was it about that era in music that influenced you so much?

These are the tracks I discovered when I started going out to clubs in Tromsø, kind of my introduction to electronic music. Also some of the tracks I started playing when I started “DJ-ing” in bars. They shaped my taste a lot!

That “quirky nordic vibe” is strong here too, like 8 bit dub. Torske has always been a versatile musical figure too. How do you think those elements still inform your tastes as a DJ today?

I like Bjørn Torske a lot because of his musical freedom across different styles and genres. He is the original Codfather and pioneer of Norwegian electronic music. I think without him all the electronic music from Norway would be very very different.

Album of the Week: E.R.P – Exomoon

Gerard Hanson had a prolific decade the last time around. A string of EPs and a couple of LPs under a couple of aliases had made the artist synonymous with the revival of an early Detroit electronic aesthetic, even as his own releases were setting the tone for the future. Active in music since the mid nineties, Hanson had enjoyed an immense flurry of creativity in the last ten years in the perspective of his earlier years, punctuated by Ancient Light (Hubble Telescope series Vol.II),  2845 (Convextion) and the highly anticipated and critically received LP, Afterimage. These records and the ones that bookended them, and their reserved release schedule, had made E.R.P’s music a constant fixture in the last decade, always leaving you wanting more a with a new record, never it seems to far away.

Exomoon arrived as if to punctuate the end of the decade with an E.R.P! After the success of “Afterimage” on his own Forgotten Future imprint, the year before, E.R.P closed the period with a sophomore LP, installing the artist as the flag-bearer for the future sounds of that Detroit Electro sound, while heading into the next decade. Exomoon doesn’t necessarily advance the sound of the artist, but merely delivers on a formula that he has mastered through records for the likes of Frustrated Funk and Harbour City Sorrow. If anything,”Exomoon” errs on the darker side of the genre, as E.R.P plays in menacing textures, travelling on the sine wave of brooding Moog bass lines.

Where Electro has always struggled with finding a balance between the DJ’s needs and song structure, Hanson has found a distinctive place within the genre, where he continues to infuse the music with a melodic approach, but retains the functionality that’s required from the dance floor. Exomoon drifts even further to the latter with tracks like “Searchlight”, “Lost Colony” and “Blockade” giving the sub-bass speakers a proper workout. Hanson becomes a denizen of a nocturnal subterranean habitat through Exomoon, as his focus strains on the rhythm section with marauding drum machines and menacing bass-lines capitulating the electro genre to the modern dance floor.

When Hanson gets pensive like on “Light of S.A.M” or “Ice Mine” glimmers of “Ancient Light” shine through with lush harmonies and captivating frosty melodies displacing the insistence of the beat. It provides a little space and depth to an otherwise stark and functional record intended for DJ record bags. While “Afterimage” showcased E.R.P’s more experimental aptitude, this is a record that favours the simple pleasures of the electro genre as dance music.  It’s a record that cements the decade for Hanson and E.R.P, but also facilitates a more effective gateway to the dance floor for the Electro genre for the future.

Seminal moments with DJ Spacebear

*DJ Spacebear stands in for DJ Lekkerman at Den Gyldne Sprekk for the month of January.

It’s still early on a Tuesday night and the song “Street Life” is playing on an empty dance floor, waiting for the night to officially start. The upbeat Disco groove, slinking strings and Randy Crawford’s beatific vocals contrast the gritty subject contained in lyrics like; “Prince charming always smiles, behind a silver spoon.” It’s the Crusaders, Lars Moen (DJ Spacebear) informs me, without a beckoning question. “It’s a long track” he tells DJ Kompressorkanonen (Orjan Sletner), who is leaning on his flank with the next record, Lars implying that he would like to hear the song for its entirety.   

Much like the Crusaders song, Lars is something of an enigma. His long, straight hair, tied up in a neat ponytail, an ageless physiognomy and his earnest speech pattern are at odds with the stereotypical image of a DJ today. A loose-fitting, Rush Hour records sweater lends the only clue to his musical passions and if you didn’t see him behind a set of decks, you’d hardly place him there. Yet, he’s been a central figure in House music and Techno in Oslo for the last thirty years, playing records for audiences in their thousands in and around Oslo in the mid nineties, before it fractured and retreated to the underground, where DJ Spacebear continued to be a constant presence in the DJ booth. 

Today he regularly plays places like Hærverk, where he’s shared the booth with legendary underground figures like Terrace and Spin Fidelity, and his sets can go from Deep Ambient Techno to the Disco he’s currently playing through Jaeger’s soundsystem in the lounge.

“I like soul,” says Lars in a bare whisper, “because it has an atmosphere” and lately he’s been enjoying excavating some of those records again in what seems to be an endless pursuit of discovery for the music enthusiast. Recently, he tells me Disco and Soul has led him down a path t to “swing jazz from the thirties and forties,” and even after doing this for nearly thirty years, he’s still finding music he’s never heard before. Through his own 10 000-strong record collection and an unceasing habit of collecting he keeps going “back in time” and still comes across some things “he’s never heard before.” 

The first record

Lars grew up in the suburbs of Oslo listening to a lot of Rock music. “It was a really boring place,” but he seemed to find some solace in music from an early age. He “forced” his father to take him to his first concert in 1988 to see AC/DC, but around the same time he was listening to Kraftwerk and Break Machines. “I was really impressed by Kraftwerk,” he remembers. “We are the robots, is a record I really remember that is important for the introduction to electronic music for me.”

Lars developed the introduction into a hobby and started buying this new music through the cassette medium. He bought Break Machines’ seminal debut on cassette and it’s a record he will still return to, on the various other formats he’s acquired over the years. “I still like it” he says, but if there’s one seminal record that set him on path to DJing it has to be Humanoid’s Stakker. He originally “recorded it from the radio” on a cassette tape, but he “didn’t know what it was,” setting him on a journey to find the first Techno record he ever owned. “It was like zero for me” he recalls. The “crazy breakbeat, acid vocoder Techno” had arrived from space it seemed and while Lars had been familiar with these kinds of themes through Kraftwerk’s music, Humanoid was “more raw and rough” and its lack of identity consolidated music with  another passion for Lars… an interest in space.

Lars “was really into astronomy” and from that moment, he would spend evenings listening to Techno while drawing imagined landscapes from space. At one point he had to make a decision between a telescope and a record player and he chose the record player, taking the first steps to becoming a DJ. He christened his new DJ alias DJ Spacebear to convey  what he thought about this “music from space with the power of a bear.” 

The first DJ set

Lars retreated into his fantasy landscapes and the radio, where he found a wealth of new music that sounded like Humanoid. Radio stations like Radio Nova and their jocks DJ Apple Pie (Christian Grimshei) and DJ Hanza (Hans Erik Hansen) introduced Lars to the world of Techno and House. “These DJs were important to me,” stresses Lars and some of the shows he recorded on cassette back then are still in his possession today. He found “a lot of inspiration from these shows,” but it would remain a largely solitary passion for him through his teenage years. He was “too young” to go to raves and his insular environment found very few kindred spirits on his block. 

Hip Hop had reached the height of its popularity in Norway by then, and these were the only kids that Lars could relate to during that time. “I had five or six friends that were into Hip Hop, so I hung around with these people, but they didn’t like Techno.” He bought his first record player in 1991 and had to wait another year to save up for the second, but would join some of these friends in their basements to play some records. They would often get angry when he played an Underground Resistance record. “No, don’t play Disco…” they would complain before Lars could defend himself proclaiming “this is not Disco, it’s Techno!”

While he “was really alone” in his love of Techno and House at home, in Oslo city a record store owned by Morten Winsnes became a refuge for the aspiring DJ. Winsnes had worked with the likes of radio DJ and hip Hop mainstay, Tommy Tee at Innova Music before establishing his own store and club in the city. Located where the Duo sex shop is today on Møllergata, Morten had stocked the shop with “mostly House and Techno.” Personally, the shop owner “was into the hardstuff ” according to Lars, but he had all the records from Lars’ radio shows with music from Underground Resistance, R&S and Strictly Rhythm lining the shelves. 

Winsnes “imported a lot of good stuff,” and had started to notice the young Lars’ purchases.  The older collector saw something in his younger contemporary, who had still to graduate from bedroom DJ, and snuck the under-aged DJ Spacebear into the booth of his club, CB4,  “the first permanent Techno club in Oslo.”

The first Clubbing experience

“I was never really interested in clubbing,” says Lars. “There was no club culture” in Oslo in Lars’ opinion, but he was undeniably intrigued by the raves that started cropping up around the city, and naturally gravitated to the music they were playing. 

After he played his first gig in 1994, this music and the rave scene would grow exponentially, and DJ Spacebear would become a familiar name appearing on marques around Oslo. At the height of its popularity, Lars would be playing a rave at Oslo Spektrum with 8000 people in attendance, but unlike most of his peers of that generation, Lars refuses to look onto those times with the rose-tinted hue of nostalgia clouding his memories. At that time the scene was “too commercial,” he explains “and I didn’t like it, because you had all these separate rooms.” There’s always been a refinement that appeals to him as a DJ that has only matured since his beginnings, when “everything was a mess.” It  was an “exciting mess” nonetheless, and it was through this sonic disarray that he would find his more rarefied style as a DJ.

DJ Spacebear was one of the first DJs I had seen after moving to Oslo. He was playing in Mir, when it was still in Toftes gate, crouching over the mixer and two technics turntables, making minute adjustments on the faders. Two tracks were overlapping like two waves merging on a calm beach, with only slight adjustment in volume between the two pieces. Lars completely ignored the EQ section, merely fading one record into the next with a care that suggested a personal dedication to each track. “I like to have respect for the music,” he says when I ask him about his curious style. “I think you should show what the artist expresses.” He feigns from using “FX” in his mixes and although he’ll be more adventurous with the crossfader when he’s playing more jacking Chicago House, that attention to detail in the music prevails. 

It’s something that can be heard in the meta narrative of any DJ Spacebear DJ set too. His parents, a pair of “old hippies” that were “really into music” had always given Lars a very liberal freedom to “listen to what I wanted,” but when it came to DJ mixes, it was he who started to define the boundaries. In a record collection that nearly covers the recorded format, Lars doesn’t consider himself an “eclectic” DJ. “I wanted to create my own worlds,” he explains and strives to create mixes designated to distinct spheres in electronic music. While he can be found  “jumpin between planets” from time, these only cover short distances beholden to the theme of the mix, defined by succinct categorisations like Acid, Jazz or when Lars gets particularly contemplative, Ambient. 

The first Ambient record

Ambient music like Techno arrived from space with the Orb’s Blue Room in 1992 for Lars. “I was totally stunned by the lush, atmospheric cinematic sound on that record,” he remembers “and it had the same otherworldly sound as techno and rave.“

Ambient music had already been indoctrinated in rave culture at that point with raves sequestering a specific space for this kind of music in the chill-out room. While “train spotting some records that Mr.Kolstad (one of the members of Superskill) played at a rave in 1994” in one such room, Lars’ interest piqued and “started crate digging in used record shops to find out more about this old future.” It was music that extended long tendrils into the furthest reaches of recorded music, and it informed a large part of Lars’ own “experimentations” in the booth. Even today, he’s looking for those gateways to different planets between techno, house, acid, breakbeat, hardcore, and trance with ambient records like Pete Namlook’s FAX record, often bridging these gaps in one single record. 

At some point these fluid transitions between genres would start stretching the divide and that’s when the rooms at raves started splitting further and further apart in Oslo. Euro trance eventually ascended on the city too, saturating the last embers of a dying rave scene that couldn’t compete with the commercial dominance and people like Lars “pulled back to the underground.” Clubs like Skansen and Escape established new microcosms in Oslo clubbing shortly afterwards and Lars naturally moved with the Techno crowd and became a regular fixture in the booth at places like escape. 

The first drum Machine

During all this time he was nurturing a slow and steady development as an artist. He had bought his first drum machine, a Roland TR606 for 300kr after he saw DJ Hanza and Lars Petter Holte perform as D.A.C in a record store in Oslo. Already harbouring a curiosity for the mechanics of the music, there was an “a-ha moment” when he saw their performance. “It looked like a spaceship” he remembers with Holte and Hansen pushing buttons and turning knobs from their unusual control panel. “I have to do this,” Lars remembers thinking at the time and he would start incorporating the TR606 in his DJ sets at home. “I didn’t start making music,” he insists, “I just played with it.”

Getting to grips with the machine was easy and eventually he made some “really horrible” music with a friend, but it was only much later in 2008, that he would release his first records. It was “horrible time” however as the vinyl market had all but collapsed with Tech House DJs spawning like a digital virus on beatport. DJ Spacebear released three records on his own Retrace label in that year nonetheless. They were a selection of “old music” that Lars had been gathering over the years, with frenzied analogue drum machines and sinewy synths, playing to the functional demands of the DJ in a kind of modernised interpretation of retro Chicago sounds. 

They are records that were ahead of their time in terms of 2008 and would probably be more appreciated today, in the resurgence of the DIY nineties trends, than they would’ve been at the time of the uber-produced minimal Techno and Tech House that dominated the later half of the naughties.

“I think it’s more exciting than ever,” says Lars about the conditions today as we talk about some of the younger DJs and producers coming through in Oslo, appreciating these same sounds. “People are really interested in the history” he believes while “looking to the future.” It’s in this landscape he will be releasing his fourth record on Retrace as DJ Spacebear, informed by that same “retro Chicago” sound that defined his earliest music. The two tracks on this next release will be a couple of “jacking acid, old-school” tracks says Lars, but at the same time he’s already talking about the release after that one.

While his first records came out when everybody in Oslo was gravitating to Rock music, and DJ gigs were few and far between, this time around it seems that the rest of the city is finally on his wavelength. He had remained dedicated throughout those quiet years, biding his time with a radio show on Skranglebass and DJing when the rare gig cropped up, and today it seems that he is as busy as ever with a residency (or as close to one as you can get it) at Hærverk and playing every week, often twice. 

While the week before he had been playing a selection of Jazz electronica at Hærverk, on this occasion it will be Disco. In the week coming there’s a liquid drum n bass set in the wings, while the future will also see him playing alongside Detroit legend Orlando Voorn at Hærverk. 

He’s still digging through it all and while we wait around for Tuesday night to swing into action, he’s talking about a recent trip to Brazil, where he found some records of field recordings that “you can play in an ambient set” and the hidden treasures of Phillippenian Disco. 

He is still digging for new and old music in search of any “creative surprises” and he continues to “discover a lot of interesting Drum n Bass, Ambient, Dub, Drone, Dubstep styles like Martsman, James Clemens, Synkro and Shackleton.” It’s just one “smooth transition” to the other for Lars and as a music enthusiast the limits to his curiosity continue to go undefined. He’s merely an intrepid, intergalactic traveller, moving from one body to the next in an unabating curiosity, and a truly musical dedication for the records he plays. 

 

A legacy in House music: Profile on David Morales

By 1998, House music was no longer the reserve of a clandestine underground, operating out of New York, Chicago and Detroit. House music had reached the masses on an international scale with everybody from MTV to the Rolling Stones looking for a stake in genre. It had become big business beyond the majors as chartered flights to Ibiza grew exponentially and Pioneer introduced the CDJ 100s, turning DJing into an increasingly popular past time and a commodity for the brand.

In that year David Morales won a Grammy for remixer of the year, ironic since he’d all but given up on the studio, and released the original track ”Needin U.” It was a track that exceeded all expectations, and which some people still look on today as the track that solidified their love for House music. To Morales however this was just  “some sample shit I fucking slapped together,“ according to an interview with the artist on Finn Johannsen’s blog. It took him 2 hours to make that track and it was little more than an amalgam of two records he used to play back to back as a DJ, but the record lived on beyond Morales’ initial rejections and it became a definitive hit for the artist.  

The video for “Needin U” is a time capsule of that era and would make regular appearances on MTV’s late night programming well into the 2000’s. Filmed on location in Ibiza, it features an incredibly tanned David Morales arriving at the airport, with a record under his arm and a set of headphones in his hands – and no other luggage oddly – indulging in the heady excesses of the late nineties Ibiza from the beach to the club, featuring Morales in various stages of undress. Girls in bikinis, sand, sea and sun had distinguished that summer that House music reigned supreme with DJs like David Morales becoming household names for a new generation of kids flocking to the popularised sounds of the genre.  

David Morales had come a long way by then since his humble origins, and his is a story that echoes the story of House music. Born to a Puerto Rican family in New York, Morales was “living in the ghetto” when he discovered American music for the first time. There had only been Merengue, Salsa and folk music from Puerto Rico playing around the House before a babysitter had introduced a very young Morales to a 45 record called Spinning Wheel by Blood Sweat & Tears. “I can remember I was really, really young” he told Finn Johannsen, but it had released an early interest in music that soon saw the curious youngster frequent the local “illegal social clubs” in his neighbourhood. Under-aged, but unperturbed he would explore these new sounds at these illicit joints, one of which was in his building below. “It was all about the O’Jays and that kind of music. And I liked that.“ He bought his first O’Jays record and remembers “playing that record a hundred times a day” with a speaker hanging  out of the window so the whole neighbourhood could hear.

At 13 he had heard his first DJ playing Disco records consecutively, and by 15 he went to his first club and bought “Ten Percent“ on Salsoul. The speaker hanging out the window soon developed into a party in his apartment, and requests to play at other people’s house parties followed as he became a local mobile Disco music of some repute. “I just loved the music, it was just everything for me,” he remembers. At 18 he had made something of a career out of it, playing mostly commercial music, before somebody dropped “a stack of what they called Loft records” at his feet. “I was like ‘Whoa, what is this sound?’” It was a selection of expensive, limited press- and imported records, the kind of which they had been playing not only at the Loft, but also Paradise Garage. Although Morales had not yet been to either club, since they were strictly private clubs, he started making inroads as a dancer frequenting venues like Paradise Garage and the Loft through acquaintances with memberships, and eventually befriending people like Mancusso and DJ Kenny Carpenter. It was through Carpenter that he was inducted into a record pool, the first organisations that supplied DJs with new, unreleased music for the club, and it was through this pool that he would have his first major break as DJ.

He had already started playing at a club in Flatbush called the Ozone layer as a resident when somebody at the pool recommended Morales to Paradise Garage owner Michael Brody. Morales had only “been to the Garage five times just to hang out” according to an interview on the DJ History blog, when Brody called him up and Morales almost dismissed the request as a joke. “‘Hello, my name is Michael Brody, I own a club called Paradise Garage’” he tells Johannsen, re-enacting the scene, “and I’m like ‘Yeah boy, who the fuck is fucking me.’” Brody had never heard Morales play, but offered him a weekend at the Garage to cover a DJ that had “been playing like shit” purely on the recommendation of the record pool. 

“This wasn’t about doing two-hour sets,” he told Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton at DJ History, “this was about 11-hour sets, beginning to end, 12 to 11. And you had to beg me to stop!” It cemented Morales’ reputation amongst the best of them, installing the twenty-year-old at the same echelon as Larry Levan and Frankie Knuckles, sowing the seeds of what would become House music, in the bed that Disco cultivated

One of the places that was at the forefront of this new era in music in the early eighties was Red Zone in Manhattan where Morales soon took up a residency after his Paradise Garage debut. The Red Zone was where he “really made a statement for the new age” according to the DJ history piece. “I think the Red Zone was definitely the turning point on the maps for music changing.” The Red Zone played to dancing audiences with music that was “mostly no vocals or some vocals” according to Morales in Johannsen’s blog with tracks that favoured “the dark side.” “Red Zone was the only place that you were hearing that kind of music,” and this new music was the turning point that would take Disco out of the the glitzy realm of Studio 54 and re-invent it in the grimy underbelly of New York, Chicago and Detroit as House music. 

Red Zone and what Morales established there was instrumental in House music’s history and it went hand in hand with the advent of the 12” format and the remix . It’s in this context that David Morales would make the greatest contributions to the genre. It was the remix where he staked his claim as a pioneer that bridged the gap between popular music and dance floor functionality. In a career spanning nearly forty years as a remixer, he helped establish it as an artform with his interpretations often exceeding the popularity of the originals or in the case of Shabba  Ranks’ Loverboy reworking the track to inform most of what came of the original. His credits include Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson, Jamiroquai, Depeche Mode, Aretha Franklin and the Spice Girls and besides winning the Grammy in 1998 his accolades included the highest paid remixer for his work on Michael Jackson’s scream at that time. “I spent a week in Michael Jackson-land,” he recalls in DJ History. It was´ a remix that he believes, he had to “compromise the most on” through his career and probably played some part in his eventual decision to stop making remixes and essentially “creating hits for other people.”

It all started simply enough in 1984 with a reel to reel “editing my little mash-ups” before he met remixer Bruce Forest, and set out to create a remix of “Instinctual” by Imagination. The Arthur Baker-produced original had been given the Stock Aitken Waterman treatment with something that sounded like a trifling attempt at “Rick Aistely” according to Morales in Finn Johannsen’s blog. Morales didn’t win over Baker and the band either with an out-of-key interpretation of the original, but it sounded “great” to Morales and his resolve paid its just rewards when it became his “first real hit.” In DJ History he remembers “Larry Levan telling me, ‘Great, great job.’ I was like,’Wow, Larry told me I did a good mix.’” That remix laid the foundation for more remixes, leading him onto a path to Def Mix and working with Frankie Knuckles.

Frankie and Morales had been on familiar terms since his time as a dancer at the Loft and had shared the same manager, a studio and musicians for their individual remix requests for some time before forming Def Mix. “That’s why we had the so-called Def Mix sound,” Morales told Johannsen. With requests flooding in from everywhere, both artists occupied their own sphere in music, with Morales luring major labels to his work, remixing songs like “Dreamlover” for a young Mariah Carey. It’s one of the remixes he remains the most proud of today, “because it was a pop record and we did something different with it,” he told House of Frankie in an interview. Mariah Carey came into the studio to re-record her vocals and together with the songstress Morales practically re-wrote the song with an intended purpose for the club and today it marks as one of the highlights in an extensive discography.

Morales and Frankie were Def Mix, with each artist bringing their own unique talents to the music of others. Eventually Morales got “fed up” with other people “running to the bank” on his ideas and with requests that were becoming increasingly “one-dimensional.” He decided “to draw a line” and “stop giving his ideas away.” “ I’d rather make my own music for that,” he told Johannsen “than to keep doing the same.” 

By 1998, after being nominated two times before, he was finally honoured for his contributions to the world of remixing, but by that time Morales had moved on, stopped working on remixes and created  “Needin U.” That record came at a time when “Morales sort of got bored of the studio,” according to an interview with Higher Frequency. “I was asked to go on the road and I ended up constantly spending more time on the road and didn’t have much time in the studio.” 

The studio eventually beckoned again, and off the back of the success of “Needin U,” Morales started releasing more of his own original work, culminating in the 2004 LP, 2 Worlds Collide. Eleven David Morales originals, featuring vocals by Tamra Keenan, Angela Hunte, Lea-Lorién and Vivian Sessoms, set the tone for this next phase in his career, in which creative compromises would not be entertained for the sake of appeasing a major record label. “I financed the whole album myself and I didn’t really care about being on a major,” Morales told Higher Frequency around the time the LP was released. “They don’t care about the creativity and the heart that goes into it.” 

There was a crossover appeal that went to the LP. Staccato horns and strings jut out of the rough orchestration with lively percussive arrangements bulging through the tracks. On the title track, guitars and a snare lifted from an eighties synthwave track almost seem out of place in the rest of the acid House arrangement, but it’s uniquely Morales with a verse chorus structure guiding Keenan’s vocals through different phases of the song. David Morales had “learned a lot about producing vocals” and it would inform much of his work as a solo artist going forward right up to the present and his last release, “Freedom” with Janice Robinson on vocal duties. ”I suppose if you just work within your own entity, you’re just working for yourself,” Morales explained of his work with vocalists in Higher Frequency, ”but when you bring somebody else in, then you somehow have to work it so you get a great piece of work.

While 2 Worlds Collide started a healthy relationship with Ultra Music, Morales also started releasing music on labels like Rekids and Cadenza, and when Def Mix relaunched as a label in 2013, he would return to the franchise with original releases and edits most often under the auspices of the Red Zone project. 

He was with “Def Mix for a very long time” he told House of Frankie. He had been with the institution for over thirty years and had played an integral role in its creation, but it was only by 2018 he was looking for something more from a label, and set up Diridim. “Diridim is just me moving forward on a global scale,” he explained to House of Frankie. While Def Mix and Morales’ previous work was all about classic “House” Diridim is “about making vocal music.” The venture is for “new artists and not just soulful-house music” and Morales is always on the lookout for artists to contribute to the label’s “worldly music” vision of House music. 

Morales’ unique approach to House music is what informs the sound of the label. His earliest musical roots, playing commercial music to the neighbourhood; his extensive work with female vocalists; and the integral role he played in the earliest development of House music, continue to inform Morales’ work. 

We’re further away from 1998 today, than 1998 was from the gestation of House music, and David Morales continues to wave the banner for House music today. He will always be a significant figure in House music history, as one of the pioneers of the genre that brought it into the mainstream, and as a DJ, producer and artist, he’s cemented a legacy intertwined in the legacy of House music.

Album of the week: Placid Angels – Blue Sky

In the current resurgence of classic sounds from House and Techno, a host of young producers have surfaced, tilling forgotten fields of ambient, break beat and trance music in search of something refreshing in contemporary electronic music. Groups like Perishing Thirst facilitated by labels like NAFF and Magicwire are using ancient machines (and new versions of old ones) to create lush sonic echoes of the first decade of electronic music. They are succeeding in re-awakening a dormant musicality that has eroded to a bare functionality in the hands of DJs and through their interpretation of an old sound they’ve established the closest thing to a scene we’ve seen in some time. Some might just prefer to call it Trance, but it goes a little deeper that that with broken beats, and even dub influences cropping up in electronic music born of the dance floor, but exceeding the limits of the DJ booth.

Lone and Gabriola has been championing this sound at their joint venture Magicwire with the label providing a platform for new artists like Ex-Terrestrial and Ross from Friends to explore these retro musical worlds, which has begun to define the label with entrancing melodic pieces surfing on a more visceral wavelength. Although the label had been focussed on new artists for the most part, last year they assisted  John Beltram in reviving his Placid Angels alias for an LP that proved to be so popular, we’ve only managed to get our hands on a copy on the second run of pressings.Placid Angels is from an era of the archetype of this sound. The only other LP created under Placid Angels is the 1997 classic on Peacefrog today and its predecessor doesn’t fall far from the mark, bringing a lot of fans back to Beltram’s sound and introducing a whole new generation to the entrancing sound of that alias.

It makes an immediate impression as a dusty broken beat introduces the LP with “First Blue Sky” and chirping synthesisers and legato pads eventually smother the energetic beats in a ghostly ether. Placid Angels was always considered an ambient project in the Beltram catalogue, but ambient as a derivative of Techno, not quite beat-less, but hardly excessively percussive. Pads moving in windy glissandos dominate tracks, with happy arpeggios and sweeping melodic movements saturating the sonic atmosphere in bold strokes of synthetic tones.

Stripping back the humid layers of synthesisers and pads, often a raucous beat emerges, but you only really get a sense of their tumultuous energy when Beltram strips everything back to its foundations like on the opening of “Earth and Everything” or “First Blue Sky.” These moments really contrast the rest of the album as booming kick drums suggest a path that quickly diverts into an ambient realm, but it’s between these overt percussive rhythms and the striking melodies that a dynamic narrative exists on the album.

Beltram doesn’t however simply revive Placid Angels exactly like it was back in 1997 with “Cry,” as contemporary production touches and stylistic approaches modernise the project. Beltram’s pitchy treatment of vocals on tracks like “Vent” humanise the machine music in the latest century, with new techniques emboldening the synthetic sounds that would have often appear wispy and thin back in the nineties. Beltram doesn’t compromise on the Placid Angels sound on “Blue Sky” and in the twenty two years since “Cry” it seems it’s only matured as Beltram refines it in this  latest resurgence of a sound he helped establish the first time around.

The Cut with Filter Musikk

Predictions have been abound with the musical trends and artists that are going to soundtrack the next decade. From folk industro-pop to Techno’s successor, everybody is waging their bets in an increasingly banal world of music dictated by industry. It’s an industry we’ve facilitated in an era of homogenized lineups and repetitive loops where the banal thrives and the esoteric is slowly being choked out. It’s where conformity prevails more than ever, at odds with the original spirit of this music and its scene. We are both victims and agents in the business of DJing and club culture, leaving little room for the freaks and geeks operating in the margins. But not all is quite lost.

There are still some places and institutions that remain loyal to the spirit of it all. They’ve been there since the beginning. They’ve endured the hardships of a failing record industry and thrived in the popularity of the music, but they’ve remained steadfast in all their endeavours and have avoided hype over something more sincere and committed. In Oslo, one of these places is called Filter Musikk. A record- and music store, Filter Musikk and its proprietor Roland Lifjell have been an institution in the city, supplying the city’s DJs with music and facilitating a scene around it working on the fringes of electronic club music.

The vinyl format might never be as popular as it was in its heyday in the nineties nor will it play continue to play a role in the future of DJing, but what it signifies today and what a shop like Filter Musikk perpetuates by stocking records, is the essence of club culture. And for those that continue to release records and DJs like Roland Lifjell who still carries a bag of vinyl to every set, there’s a dedication and sincerity to the original spirit that remains central to what they do. It’s an enigma, elusive to those that seek to capture it and inherent in those that live it. It will prevail long after the industry implodes, with places like Filter Musikk and figures like Roland Lifjell as beacons. 

This is the cut with Filter Musikk. 

 

Plaid – Peel Session 2 TX 08/05/99 (Warp) 12″ 

John Peel was a leading light in radio broadcasting, the likes of which we’ve never seen before or since. He had been there at the forefront of punk, assimilated post-punk into the UK’s living room and continued to pursue new and innovative music through his long  and extensive career at the BBC. When electronic music had arrived through labels like Warp he was one of the first people to pick up the clarion call for the emerging music and through his Peel sessions, he shined an incandescent light on the scene. 

At a recent NTS label showcase, the label unearthed some Peel Sessions from the label’s stable of artists and after some public demand these sessions have been released as records via the label. Warp stalwarts, Plaid’s 1999 session follows Aphex Twin with 4 heretofore unreleased recordings from the UK duo.  

The record is a pristine archive of its time as the fusion digital-  and analogue synthesisers in the dominance of computer technology that laid the foundation for IDM – the genre that defined Warp and continues to inform labels like CPU and BBBBBB. The live element brings a dynamic progression to this kind of music, one we rarely experience in the age of sleek perfection that dominates the computer mixing today. 

Plaid’s playful video-game-melodies and abstract rhythms find a happy common ground in this record with everything from dub to broken beat informing their unique style. Tracks like “Kiterider,” which was never recorded before or after give us a glimpse into the past where a revisionist rhetoric has smoothed over much of the eccentricities of this music that went beyond Aphex  Twin and Authechre. “Lazybeams” and “Kiterider” show a penchant for melody over functionality that eludes modern interpretations while retaining that level of inquisitive exploration that was the original charm of this music, and drew a forward-thinking radio broadcaster like John Peel to this music. 

 

Rikhter – RIK2 (R – Label Group) 12″ 

Even while it looks like Techno is going to maintain its position as a leading light on club dance floors for the first part of the next decade, there are still factions within Techno pushing boundaries beyond conventions while others merely add to the ubiquitous pile of records cluttering the scene. Kobosil and his R-label group is one of the prior, picking through influences of EBM and industrial music in search of a sound to soundtrack our post-digital age.

There’s very little by way of conformity on the latest edition to the catalogue coming by way of anonymous label affiliate Rikhter, who is sure to be the alias of a DJ and artist of some repute, judging from the sonic quality of the music. This is music made for vacuous concrete spaces and unforgiving sound systems. 

While it’s certainly contemporary in its sound design with bold atmospheres and prominent percussive arrangements, the music contained within harnesses echoes from a distant past where melodies and harmonic progression inform dogged machine rhythms. It goes a little beyond the simple functionality where the distorted electric guitars of “11F66” and the monophonic arpeggios of “Dissolution” distinguish RIK2 from the rest of Techno the scene. It remains a functional record and it’s resolute in its marching rhythms, but it’s not exclusively about the beat on this record.

 

Marcel Dettmann – Bad Manners 3 (Bad Manners) 12″ 

For the past 3 years, it seems that Marcel Dettmann has been re-inventing his sound as a DJ, producer and label owner, slowly disentangling himself from that Berghain Techno sound that established his international career. His sets have been re-appropriating the EBM and minimal wave sound of his formative years in modern electronic music dialects, moving away from the stark minimalist sounds that has followed him throughout his career.

In the latest iteration of this next phase, he established the Bad Manners label, as a sister label to his highly successful MDR with the aim to find an “undefined space for expression while encouraging unpredictability in format and sound”. That’s quite a sentence to describe  what is essentially Techno DJ tools, but over the course of two releases, Dettmann has favoured a more oblique view of Techno through the Bad Manners imprint. 

On this second release for the label – yes, second even though it’s numbered 3 – Marcel Dettmann delivers some previously unreleased remixes from his own catalogue via the Bad Manners conduit. Morphosis droning progressive take of “Work” and Anthony Shakir’s racaus interpretation of “Eruq” sit side by side on a record that could facilitate two very different parts of the night. That pristine perfection that dominates Dettmann’s earlier work has coarsened to a calloused noise with both remix artists finding something visceral in the boisterous machines.

It contributes to what seems to be Marcel Dettmann’s growing dissolution to the business end of Techno; a music that bastardised what he in part established at the genesis of Berghain, and confirms that you can still find a space to explore beyond the increasingly narrowed view that dominates the dance floor.  

 

Freak The Machine – Am I Dead? (Murder Capital) 12″ 

Speaking of which… Murder Capital has never so much as feigned an interest what’s happening in the popular realm and the little Hague label running on the side of Viewlexx has maintained a vision of Techno as the honorary descendents of their Detroit counterparts. Submit X by Gesloten Cirkel stands as a landmark LP, not merely in their discography, but in the bigger narrative of Techno for anybody with an interest in the more obscure corners of the genre. 

The sub-label’s reserved output hasn’t seen any new contributions since 2016 until now with unknown newcomer Freak The Machine. It’s a record that harnesses all that attitude from the DIY origins of Techno with energetic drum machines, distorting kicks and some faint strain of an undeveloped melody coursing through the four tracks of this EP. 

Snarling synth bass-lines count out rhythms between crushing kick drums that stay the course through Techno’s 4-4 insistence, but with other percussive parts counting out syncopated beats, there’s a definitive electro mood that courses through the EP. On the A-side it’s at its most developed with the disembodied vocals of the the title track and share your fear channeling some Nitzer Ebb and Front 242 into a modern dialect with a sinister slant to modern Techno. 

There’s a claustrophobic air that suffocates all the tracks and especially, “Can you feel the rain” with muggy basslines and sweltering acid motives raining down on the track in tyrannical power. That track, and it’s unusual development is in fact what stays with you long after, and while the a-side caught your attention, it’s the finale that offers something incredibly unique across the release and will keep you coming back to it, even in the next decade. 

 

I Hate Models – Intergalactic Emotional Breakdown (Arts) 12″ 

This kind of new wave, EBM and breakbeat interpretation of Techno has been en-vogue across Europe the last couple of years, and while there’s been a lot of stress on the DIY aspects with noisy machines, distorting percussion and untreated samples dominating the alternative landscape, there are also super-producers like I Hate Models, who have taken those ideologies and harassed them in totally modern way.

Traces of a broken beat arrangement haunts “Intergalactic Emotional Breakdown,” but instead of utilising the obvious amen-break sample, I Hate Models synthesises the trope, in piercing metallic sounds that weave their way in and out of a very sleek production through the opening and title track. 

Through the three tracks of the digital release, I Hate Models favours progressive arrangements, with long sweeping modulations that appear point perfect on designated beats. The syllabic vocal hook of “Death Engine,” the entrancing melodies of “Velvet” and the metallic snairs beating out a reluctant melody on the title track, add a dimension beyond the superficial which endears the listener to the record and makes for something that can stand out in a Techno mix. It’s not a mere tool to be played on the fourth deck of droning Techno set, but something that can hold its own on the dance floor and beyond. 

Chasing the spirit with Erol Alkan

When the London party Trash closed its doors in 2007, it marked the end of an era for DJing and club culture. The eclecticism that founder Erol Alkan and guests like Soulwax (neé 2 many DJs) had brought to the DJ booth, born from the embers of electroclash, had fuelled a new kind of club culture built on a heady fusion of alternative music and fashion as embodied by Trash. The boundaries between music, born from Rock n Roll and it’s estranged electronic club cousin had been erased, and the Monday night party had been instrumental in the era with visceral selections that “joined the dots” between Bowie, Daft Punk, The Stooges, LCD Soundsystem and even Motörhead. 

By 2007 that style of club culture had reached fever pitch, with new DJs and producers adopting the sonic aesthetic, but without care for the detailed subtleties in knowledge their predecessors brought to their skill, it had also become something of cliché. “That kind of musical dilettantism,” Soulwax member and Trash regular David Dewewale told the Guardian in a reflective 2017 piece about Trash “became a terrible sport afterwards.” 

“A lot of people did that back then, but you could tell it wasn’t really in that spirit,” says Erol Alkan over a telephone call. “Not because we thought we should play a rock record, because we’ve got to play an electronic record after that,” but because of something that went “beyond taste.” 

A brief video transmission shows Erol in a room with a wall of records behind him as he settles into our conversation. It’s the first week in January, and he sounds relaxed considering he had played an extensive set at Bugged Out on new year’s day. A few years back he started cutting down on his DJ commitments, from “eight gigs a month,” to playing only every other weekend in order to spend more time with his family, but even in a career spanning thirty years, his ”love” for DJing and making music remains as strong as ever.

*Erol Alkan is at Jaeger this week for Frædag

Today he’s a sought-after DJ, regularly playing around the world, and an in-demand artist who although he releases music reticently, is constantly making music or working on other people’s music as a remixer and producer. When he’s not working on music he’s facilitating new and established artists through his Phantasy Sound label and while he might not play as often as he did perhaps five years ago, Erol Alkan continues to be a significant figure on the international DJ circuit.  

At the height of Trash, Erol would have been playing every week at the famed residency to a packed crowd, which for any Monday night anywhere remains a rare feat. It was a night that truly blurred the lines between genres and thrived in the eclecticism of tastemakers like Erol Alkan. When it disappeared from the scene, nothing quite like it would ever take its place again in London or anywhere else. 

Everything became “slightly segregated again” shortly after according to Deweale in the Guardian, with defined borders appearing between genres and microcosms like minimal Techno and Electro-House finding their own dedicated scenes. Trash was the “perfect celebration of eclectic taste” according to Deweale, and while there are DJs that still perpetuate this  spirit, there’s never been a night or a scene quite like the one that Erol Alkan and his guests cultivated during that time. 

What was it about the time that was so perfect for Trash to exist?

I think it was because of electroclash happening and having such a strong visual identity at that point. It embodied the fashion and the aesthetics of the early eighties where there was a brilliant fusion between electronics and avant garde pop music, like post-Bowie glam rock giving birth to the new wave. 

I suppose finding all these electronic records, inspired from that era, you would find their natural cousins from the rock or alternative scene that worked so well alongside each other. 

It was also a time when that scene was truly international. I think that was as important as the way the records sounded. I was in London and you had people like James Murphy and in New York; Soulwax in Belgium; Gonzales in Berlin; Tiga in Canada, and I suppose Daft Punk were a big part of that in Paris. In the UK I also saw the Chemical Brothers as the precursor to that spirit, and Optimo in Glasgow and Andrew Weatherall… All these people looked at the musical landscape with as much width as possible.

All these people you mention there are the DJs and artists that are very much at the forefront of that spirit today.

And because of that, you can’t really question their appetite for it. I don’t think we view records via genre. I certainly don’t.

It’s that broad view and what he established through his Trash nights that had set Erol Alkan apart from his more orthodox contemporaries at that time and still does today. Alongside DJs like Soulwax, Optimo and Andrew Weatherall, his reputation preceded him wherever he went after Trash. The event and Erol’s sets found audiences that were hungry to hear new music on nights that pushed the boundaries of club culture from the music to the fashion. 

“That gave me the confidence to take risks in everything,” Erol told the Quietus in an interview from 2013. “Break eggs to make omelettes, never be complacent or think ‘I’ve got a career here, I’ve got to keep it going.’” It continued to inform his sets and music even after Trash and cemented a reputation in the booth as a modern day archetype with a drive to explore the absolute limits of his iconoclastic musical tastes.

He had “always enjoyed DJs that brought in other influences in their sets” in an ethos that continues to inform his own DJ sets. That is still “one of the beauties of Djing”, he claims, which is in his view “as expressive as any other form of art… in the right hands.”

While what he and his guests pioneered at Trash may have become a trend shortly after, Erol has never felt the need to perpetuate that particular sound and has always favoured evolution over distinction. “As a DJ you can