Premiere: Center of the Universe – Flash Forward (Endless Winther Flutemix)

At the center of the universe is a musician, surrounded by his instruments, collected from around the world. Center if the Universe is Jørgen Sissyfus, the unconventional artist and DJ at the heart of an expansive musical universe that covers the entire musical globe.  Channeling elements from traditional folk music from various regions through a modern electronic music palette Center of the Universe makes beatific albums with purposeful themes in the style of DIY left-field pop music.

Since the turn of the century Jørgen has been releasing LPs and EPs under the Metronomicon Audio imprint out of Oslo, following a very DIY approach. Underpinning his music, there’s a pseudo mysticism that flows forth from his music, which when combined by the striking themes of records like “Taking a nap with the Center of the Universe” and “Selected Modulations”, brings something exotic to the fore.

From the abstract, where Center of the Universe’s music is informed by ideas like space and time to the very literal form his lyrics can sometimes take, Center of the Universe skirts a line between something severely cognitive and very innocent. Although he’ll often collaborate with other artist (most notably on signing with the Center of the Universe) Center of the Universe is very much a one man show, but on his most recent record, he’s opted for a very different approach, putting his very idiosyncratic sounds in the hands of other producers for a change.

Expansion Pack, which will be officially released tomorrow, is a collection of remixes from Center of the Universe’s back-catalogue from remix artists across the globe. Original pieces have been re-interpreted by the likes of Magnus International, Boblebad and Sloth UK through 10 tracks and today we have the privilege of premiering the opening track, “Flash Forward (Endless Winther Flutemix)” on the blog while we chat to Jørgen Sissyfus about the new record and his upcoming gig at Jaeger for Vinny Villbass and Daniel Vaz’ Badabing.

Tell me about the origins of the EP and some of the ideas that informed it?

(It’s not an EP it’s a full length of mixes!)
The last years I have been releasing some EP’s and albums, most of them with names commenting the format, like Extended Play and Maxi Single Last year we did Singing with the Center of the Universe where 8 singers made songs to my beats. This is not really commenting the format, but now we’re back to that with Expansion Pack, which is the name of this collection of mixes.

Why these particular remix artists?

This release started with producers asking me to do mixes of some of my songs, the results were great in my ears, and I asked some of my favourites like Mesak and Magnus International to do mixes so it would add up to an album. It’s wonderful having people like Sloth UK and Endless Winther to voluntarily do mixes, I am very happy that they have faith in my music! All of the mixes are quite different from the originals, and Toshybot even made a love song from one of my instrumentals.

I don’t assume you have any favourites, but which remix took you most by surprise?

I got the remix from Guvi straight after I played in Germany and he heard my track. He was so quick and I was super happy about the sound of it. Now that’s a year ago, so I am very glad we’ll get this out. I hope some Norwegians will check out his music now.

There’s always a kind of mysticism to the atmosphere to your records. What outside of music inspires you?

I would say I am very inspired by the endless topic of curiosa in all its myriad forms. I am also thinking a lot about time, space and both the very small and enormous things in the universe. The physics and science of sound is also an inspiration, even if it’s both outside and containing music.

Your music seems to channel melodic and harmonic structures taken from folksy traditions, channeled through a modern electronic palette. Where and how do these elements converge for you as an artist? How does it reflect your own musical upbringing?

As a DJ I used to play a lot of folk music and music from around the globe, both original and hybrids/edits. I also used to play bass in a band that played arabic music, kurdish music and music from balkan and greece when I was young. I grew up with that (and electronic music) even if it was and very far from the norm where I grew up. It’s quite natural for me to add some elements from this music, but I don’t want it to be a pastiche. It’s not supposed to be bread with some spice on top, but a well baked børek. Off course it would be easy to attack this as cultural appropriation, but DJ’s from the areas I “borrow” from are among the people that play my tracks the most.

This record is all remixes; “Selected Modulations” was like a homage to synthesisers; and “Singing with center of the universe” was all about the vocalists. What is your working process for these albums and their very distinct themes? Do you find the theme solidify around the album or do you have an idea laid out before you even record a single note?

I really used to start with an idea of something cool to do or make, and after that it’s the same process again but for every track. Most of my recent tracks starts with a “what if”. A very concrete example is a track from Extended Play called Acid Rembetiko which is “about” what would happen if you fuse greek traditional music in 9/4 with Acid house. I have a lot of stupid experiments, but I have to be happy with the actual musical output to use them.

 *Expansion Pack is out tomorrow via bandcamp


What will be the source of inspiration for your next work?

Good question, I have already started making what will be the Unknown album. It will be one for the dancefloor, and obviously it will be packed with riddles and mysteries!

You collaborate a lot with other artists. Why is it so conducive for you?

Since I do everything (also mixing and mastering) for C.O.U. it is even more important to have input from others. Actually it’s bordering on a paradox, I’m the Center of the Universe, but the project is very much about relating to, and collaborating with other people, also the people listening to the music.

You’re performing live at Jæger this Saturday, and it won’t just be you on your own. You’ve you assembled for the live band and what will it sound like?

There will be Singing with the Center of the Universe this saturday, so four singers are coming along to sing their songs. Apart from them it’s me playing different instruments. We are really looking forward to playing at Jaeger, it’s a great place for electronic music!