In the moment with Dandy Digital
Anders Åkergren appears in silhouette within the frame of large window letting in a blinding array of light from the outside world. Anders’ features are indefinable, a visual metaphor for what I know of the prominent Swedish DJ that goes by Dandy Digital. Anders’ history and his DJ career is an opaque collection of small facts: A DJ that’s been very active on the Stockholm circuit, an association with Axel Boman; and an upcoming appearance at Jæger. But there’s a very tangible sense that a lot more awaits to be uncovered just beneath the surface of a 20-odd year career as a DJ, so with that I call up Anders Åkergren and find a personality that’s eager to share more, and a voice with a lot more to say than the stereotypically obvious.
Anders has been ”very active in the electronic music scene” in Stockholm “since the late nineties” when he started collection records and playing to a variety of crowds all over the city. An affection for electronic music since the tender age of nine when he first experienced Kraftwerk, Anders had the adventurous/curious personality of a DJ ingrained in him from the very beginning and “knew from that moment on that there is so much out there to find”. And was it always electronic music that intrigued him? “Yes, it’s always been electronic music, but I love everything really.” Although his tastes had always been far-reaching it was the music from a measured 4/4 beat that would lead him on a path to a DJ career and the beginnings of a record collection he could play to other people. “It was ‘97 and at that time I was really into House and Techno”, remembers Anders. Although Dub and Disco was also making an impact on his musical personality, it was House and Techno that would lead to beat-matching and particularly “Jeff Mills and Detroit Techno” that cemented what would become a career as a DJ.
At 20, Anders found himself moving in the same DJ circles, playing the same places and events as Axel Boman with a noteable friendship and even creative collaboration blossoming from there. They were “DJ partners before he (Axel) got very successful with his productions” and on a harddrive somewhere there’s even a track they produced together for Adam Beyer’s Drumcode label. “Adam Beyer liked it but didn’t consider it an A-side“ and wanted them to make “a Techno Banger” for this purpose, something both Anders and Axel didn’t feel too comfortable doing. “We were like are we going to make music for Adam Beyer or are we gonna make music because it’s fun, so we declined.” While it could’ve have certainly propelled Anders’ career along, he has no regrets. “I want to feel really secure about what I’m releasing” he explains and has always considered himself a DJ first.
It’s in the role of selector which Anders has carved out a career as Dandy Digital, a career which has taken him from Stockholm to Berlin and Amsterdam, where today he features on the Studio Soulrock roster – an organisation and label headed by “Is Burning’s” Carlos Valdes. Although quite successful in DJ terms today, Anders has always maintained an underground approach to music and DJing, which has its roots in his origins, becoming a DJ and hosting events.
It was in a fertile landscape after the infamous “Rave Commission” in the nineties, when Swedish authorities were intent to “destroy the old Techno scene, because they thought it was all about drugs” that Dandy Digital would first emerge. Finding success as a DJ we would also turn his attention to hosting events in Stockholm, something “that got a bit easier in the Techno scene when the Rave Commision turned into the bar commision”. Hosting parties and Djing e lead to a residency at Regnbågsrummet from 2000-2003, an experience that Anders says taught him “the most about taking a session/night from A to B”. That residency lead to a residency at Grodan Cocktail club, playing an audience of 250 every week, before he and his former partner brought ESQUE into the world in 2007. A 400 capacity club in Stockholm it featured the first Funktion One system in Sweden with Anders playing an integral part in its music policy. It was an experience that Anders “learn a lot” from, but unfortunately what could’ve been “a beautiful thing” with excellent international bookings like Len Faki and DJ Koze soon turned sour when certain “factors came into play. It ended up that even my best friends didn’t want to come because they had been humiliated by the bouncers.”
A sad situation like that and Stockholm’s “really trend sensitive” society means that Anders “feel(s) more at home in Berlin and Amsterdam” where there’s more of a liberal attitude and organised community around clubs and club music. At the time of writing, Anders is back in Stockholm and has been for the past six months, where he’s been quite optimistic in terms of what’s happening in the city’s party scene. It seems that the air is turning towards a more liberal approach, with a younger generation throwing parties and ”the older generation being allowed to go about their business more and more”. There’s still “a kind of cocky vibe going on” according to Anders where “ people are more comfortable wearing expensive clothes than going out and meeting new people”, but on the whole Anders is very hopeful about what’s going on. “Lately, one of the best venues I’ve seen in Stockholm is Texas Sauna”, says Anders ”a fetish Sauna club run by Mickel Eklöf, who threw the first raves in Sweden.” Anders is also inspired by the persistence of Damien Eie, a stalwart on the scene who is still “throwing underground parties for different people at different locations” even after years of harassment by the authorities. “They are letting him go about his business, even though he’s taken a lot of punches over the years.”
In all appearances, Anders seems to be a very positive character, finding a silver lining on even the gloomiest of clouds. As we start to delve further into more conversation territory away from the usual Q&A topics, we talk about Amsterdam and all the “beautiful” things and people he enjoys while being DJ. And the thing he enjoys the most? Connecting with other people through a DJ set and in explanation Anders shares a story of a recent experience.
“I had a really beautiful moment when I played in Berlin recently. About an hour after my set a girl came up to me and she had heard my whole set and she described and what she experienced and it was like hearing myself talk. I felt like she knew what I was doing even though we’d never met before. That’s really the meaning of Djing to me.“
Today Anders’ selections are more eclectic than his earlier career, more in-line with his musical tastes. He’s still a student of the Jeff Mills’ school of mixing and its “skillful beast-matching” approach, but today he gets “more pleasure mixing more genres and eras together”. He always brings a “lot of music” and lets the night take him where it may. “I don’t plan my sets, I take it as it comes and I do what is suitable in the moment.” Anders adds that he is very “stoked to be coming to Jæger” and that he has never been to Oslo before. so we are very curious to see where the night might take us when Dandy Digital drops by in our basement.