The Void operate outside of the boundaries of popular convention, always avoiding of the comfortable, easy thing in favour of the road less travelled. Established as an all-nighter event that went against the grain of everything in Oslo, including the law, it didn’t take them long to become the byword for uncompromising, raw Techno in the city. Revered in hushed tones, their statement on the scene was a short, but impressive one, leaving a hole in the city that no one’s been able to fill ever since. The brainchild of Ole-Espen “O/E” Kristiansen who had found a mutual spirit in Joakim “Jokke” Dahl Houmb, The Void came together as an all-night event right around the time when the world was crying out for something new and exiting and Techno provided the answer. Unintentionally setting the Techno scene in Oslo, The Void offered the marginalised musical populist an escape from the tyranny of Deep House that had saturated everything for some time, internationally.
Ole-Espen and Jokke brought in some of the biggest names in Techno to the city, names like Lucy and Ø [Phase] – artists that have gone onto remarkable acclaim, but at the time were fairly inconspicuous. It all came together with Ole-Espen and Jokke’s impeccable shared tastes and ability to create a rounded clubbing experience. The Void’s existence on the scene might have been short with only 5 parties ever, but their impact can still be felt today, and the good people of Oslo couldn’t be deprived of their existence much longer. The Void makes a return with their 6th event at the Vulkan Arena this weekend, and with Techno’s prominence in Norway at the moment they didn’t have to look further than their backyard to book some of the most impressive names in music today, booking the likes of +plattform, Weideborg II and Pagalve for this event. It precedes the appearance of Jokke and O/E next week at Jæger alongside Kobosil and when I found out that The Void had never recounted their story, I felt it necessary to jump on the case and make my way to Jokke’s so he and Ole-Espen could enlighten us further on The Void.
Why did The Void all-nighters come to an end?
Jokke: A lot of other people started putting all-nighters together, with a really shitty quality, so the police shut down a couple of parties and the fire department…
O/E: They started to focus on all-nighters.
J: We wanted to just chill for a bit. We were really trying to be pro. When we were looking for locations for parties, the first thing we were looking at were how many exits there were, and can people get out if needed. That was the first priority and then came all the concrete and metal and you know… Techno kind of things. We just stopped because some other people trying to arrange parties fucked the scene.
O/E: To use an extreme example, one event built a bar in front of the emergency exit. How stupid can you be? And for my part, The Void was becoming exhausting. Jokke and I actually built the club every time.
J: Every time we changed location, we built a new club.
O/E: We worked every day for a month and by the end of it, we were just like, why can’t this be over now. The last party we did at Helsfyr, some idiot smashed the fire alarm five minutes before we closed, so the fire department came, but we managed to talk ourselves out of it, because they were going to call the police.
J: Yeah, because they were really happy about the fire exits.
O/E: It cost us a lot of money in fines. At that point there was also this student magazine, who asked us the day after if they could ask us some questions about The Void. They sent us the questions and it was just all about drugs and we weren’t interested in talking about these things. They actually wrote an article after all and it was all about drugs and that was tits only focus. People didn’t give a fuck and they didn’t appreciate what we did. I was so tired.
If the law were to change and allow parties who take the necessary precautions like The Void to pursue these events would you go back to doing all-nighters?
O/E: But they wont.
J: And still it will be hard to get a place where you wont disturb the neighbours, because they are building apartments everywhere. For void’s 2,3,4 and 5 we had to insolate the ventilation just to get the sound a little lower. A single mom, who had just had a baby, was complaining when we had the party at Tøyen. I went over and just asked if we could send her to a hotel, because we’re just going to have one last party. She was just happy that we had talked to her.
A bit of a dialogue goes a long way.
O/E: Yeah, that’s important in those parties.
J: You can’t just be punk rock, and do what you want; you have to work with people.
I have to ask, why go through all that effort for a party in the first place?
J: Ole-Espen and I, when we met, we felt like outsiders. Nobody was digging Techno. We tried to get a couple of gigs. We asked some promoters and they asked like what kind of Techno and we showed them some stuff, and they were like…
O/E: Way to hard, woa.
J: they were like this is not going to work in Oslo, you need to move to Berlin. Then we decided; ok nobody wants us to play, so we’ll have to take matters in our own hands. It was actually Ole-Espen’s idea to start The Void.
O/E: I was working with Christian Fish and he had these parties called Primal Behaviour. That was my introduction to the all-nighter scene in Oslo.
J: mine too.
O/E: Christian and I did like four parties together but it didn’t work out because we had different visions. I learnt a lot from him, he’s a great guy, and I have a lot of respect for him, for what he did for the scene. At that point I had this idea for The Void and pounding die-hard Techno. I had asked Christian Fish, but the he was like no. He was almost there but not in to the Tresor, Berghain type of thing I was into at that point in 2010/11. I went to Fisk & Vilt, and I didn’t know Jokke at that point.
J: It was one of my first gigs ever.
O/E: And he was playing the stuff I had just started to buy. Then a week later I went to his studio, and said: “hey do you want to start a Techno party.”
So basically you saw a need that you just had to satisfy?
J: And we also we realised we completed each other, because Ole-Espen was good at sound at lights and I was a carpenter and together we could make things happen without to rely on any other people.
2010 was still pretty much dominated by Deep-House as far as I can remember.
J: Yeah, Nobody played Techno.
O/E: We actually had Lucy in a place that could take 150 people. That was pretty wild. It was so packed.
Right from the beginning then there were people in Oslo in the same frame of mind as you.
O/E: They’ve always been there, but there were never any opportunities to experience this in Oslo before.
Ole-Espen, I know you like a lot of the EBM and synth-wave stuff from the early eighties. How and when did you come across that music at first?
O/E: Ah, in 2004 I was sixteen. But I was always into electronic music and always, the harder stuff. A few months ago I found this Sven Väth CD at my parents’ house. It was a compilation disc he did in 2000 or something, which I bought at some point. I remember I didn’t like it, and I checked it now, and it’s got Terence Fixmer on it – the stuff I play all the time now. And I’ve always been into the more, some people call it cheesy, eighties synth pop stuff too.
So everything kind of connects early on. Nitzer Ebb, DAF and Front 242, I liked that stuff for a long-long time and when I was at Berghain in Berlin, and suddenly I heard that stuff, I was like wow, this just feels right.
It’s funny that you mention “cheesy” synth-pop, because if you go back far enough, you end up at Human League and Depeche Mode, and if you listen to their earlier stuff that was like prototype Techno.
O/E: Europe started really early with electronic music, and then it went to the US and they developed it further.
Jokke, was this something that similarly spoke to you when you caught the Techno bug.
J: No I picked this up later, Ole Espen introduced me to the good stuff. He showed me the Apoptygma Berzerk stuff when we first met.
O/E: I was like: you need to listen to this! (Laughs)
J: Yeah it took me almost a year while we lived together. He tried to show me as often as he could, and after a while, an understanding of industrial and EBM came along with our friendship.
O/E: You love it now. He sends me stuff all the time I hadn’t even heard of.
What sort of stuff were you into then at that first gig in Fisk & Vilt?
J: Mark Broom, the Klockworks stuff. I remember I actually played with a mask. I didn’t want to call myself a DJ at the time, because I didn’t want to be influenced by the scene here. Even now I struggle to call myself a DJ, because I’m just collecting music and mixing.
O/E: And it’s the same for me, it is just pushing stuff that I think is important.
J: Never try to please anybody if it doesn’t reflect your taste of music.
You guys always seemed more like facilitators to me.
O/E: It’s really important. For me the appeal is in the technical aspects of it and of course the vibe.
J: There’s a lot of sound design in Techno
O/E: Not only that, but the technical thing, do what you can with what you have.
J: And also the BPM. Stuff under 130 isn’t Techno.
O/E: I can play slower. He’s getting more and more BPM horny. (Laughs) For me it’s always been about the technical part.
What do you actually look for in the technical aspects?
O/E: A groove, is the first thing. Lately I have been into more melodies. In the beginning I loved all the tools more. Now I’m more interested in actual songs.
J: We’re both a bit tired of Techno tools; we’re missing arrangements, because tools are so easy to DJ. I’m missing actual tracks, where something is actually happening in the music.
O/E: …when you almost have a verse-bridge-chorus. I’ve always been into that kind of music. It takes me five seconds when I’m browsing for new music.
Which tracks or artists are particularly speaking to you these days?
O/E: I’m really into Shlømo and Antigone as well, but Shlømo.
J: And Boston 168
O/E: Yeah, amazing acid stuff. For me it’s really been Shlømo. And of course the +plattform stuff. I was also into super cheesy Ferry Corsten Trance as a teenager for a while, and I’m not afraid to say it. The fun thing is that Techno has started to have this epic thing on top of these pounding beats. I can really relate to that, and that’s interesting I think.
When you guys started The Void it was all about bringing in international acts over. Why did you mainly focus on bringing these foreign artists in the beginning?
J: Because we felt like outsiders. There wasn’t actually a tree to pick DJs from. Nobody here actually played what we liked at that time.
O/E: At that point nobody, I knew, played that kind of music. I was at Tresor and Berghain right before, and I had never heard this stuff before. The Ostgut Ton label was into this strange vibe then for like two years, and then they changed. Remember the first Marcel Dettman album? Maybe in my mind it connected to the EBM industrial stuff I was doing at the time. Then I started to dig, and no one did it, so what to do? We need to bring people in that knew how to do it.
J: Of course we had Roland Lifjell; he played at the second party. He was on the list from the beginning.
It became very successful quite quickly.
O/E: The funny thing is that when this was a success everybody wanted to be a part of it suddenly, after the first party. Everybody hated it before, now it was suddenly cool. Natt & Dag suddenly wrote about it every time.
J: They nominated us for best club and stuff.
O/E: Yeah, that was the worst thing we ever did.
J: We just felt a little appreciated. We got a lot of attention we never wanted.
O/E: We were actually stoked that we built something that no one believed in, so we just said yes to everything.
But today you’ve got only Norwegian acts in your next line-up. Norway today is a different place for Techno than what it was back then I Imagine, possibly just part of the international hype.
O/E: It’s an international thing for sure and we jumped on it at the right time, without knowing it.
Where do you see it going next, especially since your taking the legal route for this next event?
O/E: We’ll see. I’m kind of nervous about it. Because there’s a lot of cash as well, because we’re focussing on video and light stuff.
J: And running extra PA building feedback solutions for turntables. (Laughs)
O/E: For me personally, I’m also focussing more on producing and working with sound. If this works out, we’ll do more parties. But I don’t know we’re just gonna do what we do.
*Photo by Lina Wensell